Gaza fighters clash with Israeli forces in Occupied Palestine after strike kills eight children on Eid
Updated 8:08 pm: Palestinian gunmen slipped into Occupied Palestine from the Gaza Strip on Monday and penetrated a village near the border before entering clashes with occupation forces, Israeli television said, adding that five militants had been killed.
Hamas said in a statement their fighters had killed 10 Israeli soldiers in the incident before returning home safely. But an Israeli security source told AFP that five Palestinian fighters were shot dead in the gun battle with Israel troops.
Earlier on Monday, an Israeli airstrike hit a public garden in the Beach refugee camp in northern Gaza killing 10 people, eight of them children, according to medics, ending a relative lull in fighting during the Muslim Eid holiday.
The attack brought the death toll in 21 days of attacks to 1,046.
Another explosion shook the grounds of Gaza’s main Shifa hospital, witnesses and an AFP reporter said. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Pools of blood lay on the ground in the Beach refugee camp garden in the aftermath of the explosion.
“We came out of the mosque when I saw the children playing with their toy guns. Seconds later a missile landed,” said Munther Al-Derbi, a resident of the camp.
“May God punish … Netanyahu,” he said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Earlier Monday, Israeli tank fire killed a four-year-old boy in the northern Gaza Strip, in what was the first death since the two sides began observing an unofficial truce, Palestinian medics said.
According to emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra, the child was killed when a shell hit a house to the east of Jabalia where fighting had recently erupted between Israeli soldiers occupying Gaza and Hamas forces.
The boy, Samih Ijneid, was the first person to be killed in Gaza on Monday although three others also succumbed to their injuries during the night, Qudra said, including a man injured in a July 11 strike.
The latest deaths raise to 1,046 the total number of Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of whom civilians, killed in Israel’s US-backed terror campaign against Gaza which began on July 8.
At least 6,233 Palestinians have also been injured since the beginning of the assault.
Israeli media also reported that four civilians were killed when a rocket launched from Gaza hit the Eshkol Regional Council in the occupied Negev.
Israel had initially eased its assault against the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire from the besieged enclave declined sharply on Monday, as a fragile Eid al-Fitr truce appeared to be holding up.
But the Associated Press reported that Israeli war jets bombed three targets in central and northern Gaza in the late morning, shattering nearly 12 hours of relative calm.
The occupation forces had said they would halt attacks against Gaza unless rocket fire is renewed.
But Israeli soldiers were still occupying Gaza under the pretext of searching for tunnels.
Hamas said on Sunday it wanted a 24-hour truce to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan, which started on Monday. In the hours after its announcement, Gaza gradually fell quiet.
Just one rocket was fired out of the battered coastal territory at Ashkelon in the first nine hours of Monday, the occupation army said. Gaza residents reported brief bursts of tank shelling and no casualties.
But just before noon, Israel’s occupation army claimed it bombed a facility for manufacturing rockets, and two rocket launchers in response to the single rocket fired from Gaza.
The UN Security Council called on both sides to implement a humanitarian truce that stretched beyond Eid.
Netanyahu’s security cabinet met into the early hours of Monday to debate ceasefire proposals and also a possible escalation of the Gaza assault.
Israel says 43 of its soldiers have been killed by Palestinian forces, along with seven civilians killed by rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, including four killed Monday.
Kerry calls for Hamas disarmament
Israel and the Palestinians have expressed “serious interest” in a 24-hour truce in the Gaza conflict, but a deal has yet to be reached, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday, as he raised concerns about the proportionality of Israel’s military operation.
“The people of Gaza have nowhere to run. They are trapped and besieged on a speck of land. Every area is a civilian area,” Ban told reporters in New York on Monday after returning from a week in the Middle East trying to help broker a ceasefire.
“The casualty and damage figures also raise serious questions about proportionality,” he said.
Under international humanitarian law, proportionality means refraining from launching an attack when it is expected to cause excessive loss of civilian life in relation to the anticipated military advantage.
Ban, who spoke with Netanyahu on Monday, said the temporary pause in fighting during the weekend “revealed how much the massive Israeli assault has devastated the lives of the people of Gaza,” where some 1.8 million people live.
“Some described it as a ‘man-made hurricane’ – whole neighborhoods reduced to debris, rubble; blocks of flattened apartment buildings; scores of bodies still buried under mountains of twisted wreckage,” Ban said.
“It’s a matter of their political will,” Ban told reporters of the obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza. “They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian.”
He said it was “morally wrong” for the leaders to allow the deadly violence to continue.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday said that international efforts to agree a truce in Gaza must lead to the disarmament of Hamas.
Kerry told reporters he was continuing to work “toward establishing an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.” But he added: “We also believe that any process to resolved the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups.”
Kerry did not discuss the Israeli blockade of Gaza as a solution to the crisis.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
Reham is used to not seeing her husband Ayed for several days on end. During war times, she rarely sleeps. Watching over her little children, she sits by her bed horrified as the radio blares out the news of an air-strike that hit somewhere north of Gaza, where she lives. The restless wife would soon try calling her husband, and more often than not, he didn’t pick up. Ayed would be busy evacuating the injured or rescuing the bodies of people who were killed in the aftermath of an Israeli shelling.
Twenty-eight-year-old Ayed al-Buraey was a Palestinian paramedic from northern Gaza. After he finished his shift, Ayed would normally call his wife to assure her that he was safe. This time however, he did not call.
Ayed was killed on July 25 when Israeli forces shelled the ambulance he was in while he and his crew were on their way to evacuate the injured in Beit Hanoun. The shells struck the ambulance and set it on fire. Hatem Shahin, a volunteer paramedic, was with the crew when the ambulance vehicle was shelled. He was injured in the attack but managed to get out of the ambulance and, with the help of few young men, walked to Beit Hanoun Hospital, where he was then taken to al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya.
“We were heading to al-Masreyyeen Street to evacuate a few injured people stuck there. Once we entered the street, a shell hit our ambulance. I started shouting but couldn’t hear anything. The vehicle was ablaze. I crawled out of it and walked away,” 38-year-old Shahin told Al-Akhbar.
“When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that Jawad Bdeir [the ambulance driver] was also injured and that Ayed was killed. I was shocked,” Hatem said.
Since the start of its most recent onslaught on Gaza on July 8, Israeli forces have on several occasions attacked medical personnel, rescue teams and ambulances. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, Israeli forces have killed seven medical personnel and injured 16 others so far. Nearly 20 ambulance vehicles have been completely destroyed during the same period.
Israeli forces have also attacked hospitals and medical staff such as Balsam hospital, Beit Hanoun hospital in Beit Hanoun, the Algerian hospital in Khan Younis and al-Wafa hospital, which finally collapsed after Israeli warplanes bombarded it several times.
”I came home to tell you I’m safe”
As the Palestinian death toll increased day by day, Ayed would rarely come back home to see his wife and two little children. On the few occasions he did manage to come back, he would take his four-month-old baby in his arms and fall asleep.
“I was always worried to death about him,” Reham said tearfully. “It was like I knew something wrong would happen to him. We rarely saw him, he came home only three times since the start of this war.”
“When I asked him about his work, he couldn’t even reply because of how tired he was. He only hugged the children and slept. He used to tell me, ‘I came back to tell you I’m safe, so don’t worry about me.’”
The ambulance vehicle in which Ayed was killed belonged to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. It was then removed from the street by an Israeli armored bulldozer, which put it on the side of the street. Shortly afterwards, another ambulance arrived at the scene in order to evacuate Ayed’s body. This time, the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinated its access to the area, but as soon as it came into the street, it was fired upon by the Israeli army and another medic was moderately injured.
In another incident, Israeli forces opened fire on medical personnel as they were evacuating a handicapped person from al-Qarara area in Khan Younis. They killed one paramedic. Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza reports: “As a result of the attack, a medic, Mohammed Hassan al-Abadla, 32, was injured when he was outside the vehicle. Under the fire, the ambulance driver drove away. Communication with the injured medic was cut and he stayed in the area for half an hour, during which he bled to death. The ICRC had to coordinate again for his fellow medics to reach him. They found him dead.”Jihad Saleem, 43, is an ambulance officer from Gaza. He says although this has been his job for years, every time he receives a call informing him of a body to be picked up or an injured person to be rescued or a group of people to be evacuated, he feels his heart beat as if it was his first time all over again.
“When I see bodies torn to pieces, sometimes disemboweled, I think of them as my own family,” he told Al-Akhbar.
“We’re always stressed because of what we see and what we have to deal with. We always imagine this is our own family we’re going to save,” he explained, adding that it actually happened to one of his colleagues. “He went to save a group of people only to find out it was his brother’s house and four of the dead were his own nephews.”
Another paramedic, Ahmed Musallam, was injured while he was evacuating residents from a building that was going to be bombed. Even though Ahmed was hit by shrapnel in his leg, he refuses to let his injury stop him from doing his job.
“I just couldn’t sit at home despite the pain in my leg. It pains me much more to see these little children dying under the rubble and hear their mothers mourn over them. I had to come back here,” the 30-year-old told Al-Akhbar. “This is where I belong, and my people need me here.”
Israeli attacks on medical personnel, particularly paramedics, as well as the obstruction of medical access to the injured have been condemned by various human rights organizations in Gaza and described as “a serious violation of the International humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes.”
Today Reham is completely distraught over Ayed’s loss. She described him as stubborn, saying he always refused sit at home. “He used to tell me, ‘If we all sat at home and didn’t go to work, who will save all these people?’”
“But now he’s [the one who] died and no one came to save him. My children and I will never see him again,” she said.
Follow Mohammed Suliman on Twitter | @imPalestine
It’s been a tough week for NBC’s David Gregory.
First were reports that his “Meet the Press” was sinking under even weaker ratings and that he would soon be replaced. Then as we noted here yesterday: Gregory, after a weak interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu, committed one of the worst journalistic ethical lapses of recent vintage. After letting Netanyahu claim, again, that Israel may be blameless in the school massacre, despite all the evidence and logic to the contrary, he brought on UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness–and blindsided him by showing a 10-second, hazy, tape just released within the hour by Israel allegedly showing a Hamas rocket being fired from the grounds of a UN school. Yet Gregory said NBC had not “verified” that it’s accurate–and admitted that Gunness could not view it and had never seen it before. Yet then asked Gunness to respond! Gunness naturally protested the unfairness–and then the segment quickly ended.
Gregory has now issued this statement: “An end note in a discussion about Gaza we asked a spokesman about this video which Israel claims showed rockets being fired by Hamas from a U.N. school in Gaza,” Gregory said. “This is shot by the Israeli government, and that’s their claim. The U.N. has reviewed it, tells us they have confirmed, in their view, the video does not show rockets being fired from U.N. administrative school in Gaza. So this is a back and forth we are not able to settle at this point.” No apology or recognition of his severe ethical lapse. Shameful. And leaves it at the usual “he said/she said”–rather than NBC attempting to verify tape or prove Israeli propaganda. Which it should have done before airing it.
Meanwhile, the NYT has not updated its report last night, that focused on a different Israeli video, to add the UN statement–which Gregory cited 17 hours ago–debunking the one that allegedly shows rockets fired from the school grounds. Surely it’s worth noting that Israel’s videos may be nothing but propaganda. This is what I wrote about it last night:
Will surprise no one that when the NYT tonight reports on Israel’s claim it killed no one at the school–it’s the same old refusal to take on the absurd IDF claims head-on. You’d never know that Israel lied to them for three days [claiming] that none of their bombs even hit the school. It’s as if the reporters say, “More propaganda, please.” As from the beginning, they ultimately rely on “different versions can’t be reconciled now”–even though all evidence and testimony point to Israel being guilty of this slaughter. It’s a false “balance.”
They give their point of view away by not even referring to Israel completely changing its story after three days. That’s more revealing than the totally unverified 10-second video. Most of those who have gone to the site, such as Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, have all pointed their finger at Israel as no doubt the guilty party. Another one here. Not the Times.
And see the IDF spokesman’s “scenario” (below) that maybe the hundreds of wounded and dead were not hit there but brought to the site from elsewhere. The Times now dutifully uses the phrase that 16 were “reportedly killed” at the site. This is the same Israeli official the NYT reporters give the benefit of the doubt to re: the grainy video with no time stamp. See my earlier report on the shameful NYT coverage on this (as with much else on the conflict).
According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.” Other special benefits also flow to the Israeli military. Each year, the U.S. pays for about 20 percent of Israel’s overall military spending, and the total places Israel as the 16th largest military spender in the world. “In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from FY2009 to FY2018.” Obama has renewed that pledge.
The U.S. routinely supports Israel’s policies and avoids condemning Israel for its rights violations against Palestinians. It may never have done so. This week, for example, the U.S. cast the sole vote against the U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The vote was 29-1. A link to the full text of the resolution is here. (The texts vary slightly in different reports.)
Because the U.S. government has made itself virtually one with Israel, we must ask the question: What exactly is the U.S. supporting when it supports Israel? One cannot arrive at answers to this question without examining Israel’s history. One may make a start by reading Theodor Herzl’s 1896 pamphlet “The Jewish State”, a visionary tract. This provides insight into the goals of Herzl and his assumptions behind colonizing Palestine. How the colonization actually worked out has not been as he planned. Israel continues to be a problematic state, an expansionary state, and what is worse, a dangerous nuclear power state. Wikipedia has a number of articles on the history. This one provides a start. One thing the U.S. supports when it supports Israel is what Israel is doing in Gaza at this moment.
Murray Rothbard has a highly readable and valuable account of the history up to 1967.
Although America has stood in theory as a melting pot and a country that favored the assimilation of many peoples from all over the world, and in practice was against Black Nationalism, the U.S. government has supported Jewish Nationalism in Israel. It has supported a society that could only support such a state by being exclusionary and segregated, or even ethnically cleansed. The philosophy behind that state rested on Herzl’s assumptions, which in my view were deeply flawed. He simply ignored the native population of Palestine. He simply asserted that Jews were a people one people, that assimilation was out of the question and that a Jewish State was a solution to anti-Semitism. All of these assertions are questionable. He declared that “Palestine is our ever-memorable historic home.” Can any people or ethnic group of today return to the place where their ancestors originated with the idea of displacing its current residents and making their own State? No one would approve of such an idea. Anyway, this “historic home” idea was really not true of all Jews after 1,800 years had passed and Jews had had many, many homes in many lands. It was an appeal to a subset of Jews who wanted to emigrate and maintain their culture with others of their kind. Nor could this idea justify a Jewish State governing Palestine and its then current Arab inhabitants. But in addition Herzl’s philosophy in practice assumed a much more militant and exclusionary form as new generations appeared after him. In particular, David Ben-Gurion was an exponent of power and force.
Israel is a brutal state as the latest excesses of destruction and killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza show. That’s what the U.S. supports.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
Today in London crowds are gathering to vent their anger in a mass demonstration and march to Parliament to “stop the massacre in Gaza” and call for an arms embargo against Israel. This follows last weekend’s huge protest outside the Israeli embassy and campaigns against the BBC’s pro-Israel bias in reporting the assault on Gaza.
There is growing resentment among British people at being endlessly shamed by their government’s complicity in the mega-injustices and non-stop crimes inflicted on the native people of the Holy Land, exemplified by Whitehall’s attempts to whitewash Israel’s latest genocidal offensive.
And on this the 19th day of Israel’s blitzkrieg comes news of a brief humanitarian “pause”, after which the killing spree will continue while Israel attempts to eradicate Gaza’s tunnels. At this point in the orchestrated tragedy the Palestinian death-toll is approaching 900, three-quarters civilians including around 200 children, and more than 5,000 wounded.
These figures are gruesome enough, but Dr David Morrison reminds me that since September 2005 when Israel pulled out its squatters and withdrew its military from Gaza (but not from Gaza’s airspace and coastal waters) only 24 people have been killed in Israel by rocket and mortar fire coming from Gaza. Of those, 13 died during Israel’s three major military offensives against Gaza (including the present one). In the same period, nearly 4,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli military action.
The unending tragedy is one that Britain created nearly 100 years ago with Balfour’s crackpot Declaration. Balfour, a Zionist convert, wrote: “In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.” He dismissed “the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now occupy that land” in favour of Zionism’s needs and hopes, which were “of far profounder import”.
At the time Lord Sydenham warned: “The harm done by dumping down an alien population upon an Arab country may never be remedied. What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.” Well, the harm is massive and still waiting for a remedy. The running sore shows no sign of healing. The trouble will not end until Britain (with help from the international community) takes some very necessary steps. The problem is the British Government’s acute and persistent lack of integrity and foolish pledges of support to the aggressor.
Why is Hamas banished to outer darkness?
In the last few days I have seen two ministerial statements saying that Hamas, democratically elected to power in the 2006, is a proscribed terrorist organisation, proscribed being a posh word for something condemned as so bad as to be banished to outer darkness.
Earlier this month Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow and Tel Aviv but not necessarily in that order, said in the House of Commons: “Hamas is Hamas is Hamas: it is a terrorist organisation whether it is part of the so-called unity Government [of Palestine] or not.” He wanted the British Government to “give Israel every possible assistance to take out the Hamas terrorist network so that that country can be sure that her children will be secure in the future”.
Hugh Robertson, Minister of State at the Foreign Offce, replied: “Nobody should be under any illusions about this at all: Hamas is a terrorist organisation and remains a terrorist organisation, and one that is proscribed by the British Government. The key thing about the technocratic [Palestinian] Government was that they signed up to the Quartet principles and renounced violence and no member of Hamas is a member of that Government.”
Earlier he had this to say: “If anybody in that Government were an active member of Hamas, which remains a terrorist organisation, that would absolutely be the end of this Government’s dealing with them and would be a very serious matter indeed. That is not the case at the moment; they are fully signed up to the Quartet principles.”
A few days later Baroness Jenny Tonge, in the House of Lords, asked the Government what action it planned to take to open diplomatic relations with Hamas in order to assess the viability of a long-term truce such as Hamas offered in 2006.
Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, replied: “Our policy towards Hamas is clear — we have no contact with Hamas, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation. Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Hamas must make a credible movement towards these conditions, which remain the benchmark against which their intentions are judged, before we consider a change in our stance.”
Warsi is a Muslim and should know better. How can anyone sensibly recognise Israel when it won’t agree its borders? Has she ever put it to the Israelis that they too must renounce violence, recognise Palestine and accept previously signed agreements — the benchmark against which their intentions will be judged?
And given all this stuff about Hamas being proscribed, what are we to make of a Home Office document dated 20 June 2014 in which, of the 60 international terrorist organisations proscribed by the UK government under the Terrorism Act 2000, only Hamas’s military wing – the Izz al-Din al-Qassem brigades – is listed, not Hamas’s political wing?
Why, then, aren’t we talking to Hamas’s political leaders?
How do organisations qualify for the Terror List anyway? Well, in the UK they have to pass a test and the Home Secretary decides. In the US, under Section 3 of Executive Order 13224 “Blocking Property and prohibiting Transactions with Persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support Terrorism”, the term “terrorism” means an activity that…
(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.
This US order and its definition of terrorism, signed in 2001 by George W Bush, is used to outlaw and crush any organisation, individual or country the US doesn’t like. Funny how it fits the Israeli regime — those “amoral thugs”, as one British MP called them — like a glove. And they have been allowed to practise their terrorism on the Palestinians (and occasionally on the Lebanese and Syrians) without interference for the last 66 years.
The long drawn-out siege and blockade of Gaza, and the numerous military assaults on its people and their legitimate government, are only the latest crimes in a catalogue of torment and terror inflicted on all the Palestinian territories Israel occupies. They are clearly attempts to “intimidate and coerce”, while the mass destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure, the withholding of humanitarian aid, the assassinations, the abductions, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes, and the many violent and dangerous acts including indiscriminate bombing and shelling (and the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon), make Israel’s place on the Terror List a sure thing – or should do.
They talk of addressing “underlying causes” but can they agree what they are?
With Agent Hague gone from the Foreign Secretary post, we are beginning to see what his successor, Philip Hammond, is made of. He started by praising Egypt’s fake ceasefire initiative when Hamas hadn’t even been consulted on the terms and instead of coming through proper diplomatic channels it was released to the media as soon as Israel agreed it. Given the Egyptian regime’s hostility towards Hamas it is hardly an honest broker. Unsurprisingly it contained none of the guarantees that would sustain a ceasefire, such as a permanent end to the 8-year siege (promised but not implemented in the 2012 ceasefire) or the release of prisoners who had been freed then re-arrested by Israel. So what was in it for the illegally occupied Palestinians? Nevertheless Hammond thought it was jolly good and welcomed Israel’s acceptance of this piece of nonsense which hadn’t been shown to the other side.
His other statements have to be seen to be believed. They are on the FCO website. Following the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to launch an inquiry into potential violations of human rights by Israel in its operations in the Gaza Strip, a move Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called a “travesty”, Hammond said the UNHRC resolution would not help achieve a lasting ceasefire. “It is fundamentally unbalanced and will complicate the process by introducing unnecessary new mechanisms… The UK could not support this resolution… We will continue to urge Israel to exercise restraint… blah, blah… while recognising its right to defend itself against these attacks.”
And after meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders (though not Hamas), Hammond said: “With President Abbas… I reiterated the UK’s strong support for his leadership and thanked him for his own efforts to achieve a ceasefire. I stressed that, once a ceasefire is secured, there is an urgent need for a long term plan for Gaza.
“With Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman, I expressed my deep concern at Hamas’s rocket attacks and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. I urged that Israeli forces do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties, and stressed the need for a rapid conclusion to their ground operation in Gaza.”
Hammond doesn’t explain how Israelis can claim a right of self-defence against their victims – the people they are brutally occupying and blockading — or how Her Majesty’s Government can possibly “reaffirm” such a crass invention.
He said that for a ceasefire to be durable there must be rapid movement to address “the underlying causes” and find “a wider political solution”. So, Mr Hammond, what “wider political solution” do you have in mind? And, by the way, do you have any idea what those “underlying causes” are? Do you think you could ever get Israel to acknowledge what they are?
Here are some clues from two very knowledgeable sources. In 2010 Archbishop Theodosius Hanna (Orthodox Church of Jerusalem), on a visit to Ireland, told politicians: “The problem in Palestine has nothing to do with religion – it is not a religious issue. It is not a conflict of Christians, Muslims and Jewish people. It is a conflict between those who are the holders of a rightful cause and those who took away that right by military might.”
Fr Manuel Mussallam (formerly of the Catholic church in Gaza), who accompanied the archbishop, told the Irish what things were really like under military occupation. “We have spoken to Israel for more than 18 years and the result has been zero. We have signed agreements here and there at various times and then when there is a change in the government of Israel we have to start again from the beginning. We ask for our life and to be given back our Jerusalem, to be given our state and for enough water to drink. We want to be given more opportunity to reach Jerusalem. I have not seen Jerusalem since 1990.
“We want to see an end to this occupation, and please do not ask us to protect those who are occupying our territory.”
Nearly 4 years on, and what has changed? Can we rely on Hammond to make a difference? Here’s another clue. In a Jerusalem Post report the director of Conservative Friends of Israel remarked that, in his previous job as Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond “presided over a period when the UK-Israel defense relationship has never been better.”
At least 24 civilians were killed and another 85 injured as the city of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine was heavily shelled by Kiev forces on Friday and Saturday, media reported.
The bombardment of the city, home to over 400,000 people, began at around 06:00 PM local time on Friday and went on during the night and through Saturday morning.
Kiev forces hit 22 buildings, including a school and a kindergarten. Self-defense forces told the LifeNews Channel that 24 have died, adding that the death toll may rise as shelling of the city continues.
An eyewitness told RT that around 10 people were killed at a bus stop in the Yubileynoe village, which is also a part of Lugansk.
“Peaceful civilians were torn into pieces at the bus stop,” Viktor said, adding that the attack by Kiev forces was “aimed exclusively at the civilian population.”
“They’re targeting private houses… There are no checkpoints, no troops, no self-defense forces there,” he said.
The press service of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic claimed that government forces used mortars and heavy artillery in their assault. Five people died on Friday and 15 more on Saturday.
“It was the worst shelling of Lugansk that I’ve ever seen,” said Aleksey Toporov from the Lugansk People’s Republic, as cited by the Russkaya Vesna website.
Shelling over night has damaged several power lines, said Manolisa Pilavova, first deputy mayor of Lugansk.
“At the moment, about 60 percent of people are without electricity,” Pilavova told Interfax-Ukraine.
The intensity of Ukrainian fire decreased midday on Saturday, after self-defense forces counter-attacked Ukrainian military positions in the Lugansk airport, the press service of the Lugansk People’s Republic said. Airborn units, who were stationed there, suffered “serious damage.”
Kiev’s military crackdown on the southeast of Ukraine started in mid-April, after residents in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to recognize the coup-imposed authorities in Kiev and demanded federalization.
The Ukrainian military and National Guard resorted to airstrikes and shelling in their struggle against self-defense forces in Donetsk and Lugansk.
On July 10, Ukraine’s deputy health minister said 478 civilians have been killed in the conflict, with nearly 1,400 people receiving injuries, but the death toll has surely in
creased drastically since then.
A fire ball and smoke is seen during an Israeli strike on Gaza City early on July 26, 2014
Updated 2:00 pm: An Israeli air strike in southern Gaza hours before a humanitarian truce was declared killed 20 people, including 11 children, most of them from a single family, medics said.
Separately, the bodies of at least another 85 Palestinians were recovered from rubble across Gaza on Saturday, raising the overall Palestinian death toll in the 19-day Israeli terror campaign to 985, the overwhelming majority of them civilians.
“Ambulance crews have recovered the bodies of 85 martyrs under destroyed houses, including children and women, across the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of martyrs to 985 as a result of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip,” Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army said two more occupation soldiers had been killed, taking its toll to 37.
The strike in southern Khan Younis hit the home of the Najjar family, killing at least 14 relatives, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
Another two members of the Abu Shahla family were killed, along with four other people, two of whom have yet to be identified.
The dead included 11 children, among them a one-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy, Qudra said.
Of the 85 bodies uncovered, 25 were from the northern areas of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, and were taken to the Kamal Adwan hospital, and another 25 to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital from the eastern areas of al-Shujayeh and Zeitoun, Qudra said.
Thirteen bodies received from the central areas of Bureij, Deir al-Balah and Nusseirat were taken to the Al-Aqsa hospital, and another 13 to the European hospital in southern Gaza from the Khan Yunis and Rafah areas, he added.
The toll is expected to rise as bodies are pulled from the rubble of homes in some of the worst-hit parts of Gaza, in northern Beit Hanoun, eastern al-Shujayeh and Zeitoun, and southern Khan Younis.
Soon after the ceasefire took effect, Palestinians ventured out into the streets of Gaza, with many returning to areas that had been too dangerous to enter for days.
In Beit Hanoun, Khan Younis and al-Shujayeh and Zeitoun, they found scenes of utter destruction, with homes flattened and bodies lying in the streets and under rubble.
In Beit Hanoun even the hospital was badly damaged by shelling, and AFP correspondents came across the charred body of a paramedic as emergency workers combed the debris for more dead.
Trails of blood on the ground were crossed by Israeli tank tracks, and there were holes where it appeared Israeli forces had been searching for Hamas tunnels.
Palestinian television showed footage of similar scenes in al-Shujayeh, which has been subjected to days of relentless Israeli tank fire.
Stiff bodies lay on the floor of a room in one building, one caked in dried blood, all of them covered in dust.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – At 19:00 Beit Hanoun Hospital was hit by an Israeli tank shell. Inside the hospital are 61 medical staff, three patients, civilians, and ISM volunteers who are all trapped inside. Israeli soldiers are in the area, approximately 150 meters behind the hospital. Gunfire can be heard in the area.
This afternoon Israeli forces targeted an ambulance with two paramedics inside in Beit Hanoun, North Gaza. One paramedic was killed and another was critically injured.
This is the third Israeli attack on Gazan medical facilities and personnel in the last 24 hours. The first resulted in the destruction of Al Durrah Children’s Hospital in Gaza City last night. A two year-old child in the Intensive Care Unit was killed, and 30 others injured.
Since Israel began its attack on Gaza, 13 ambulances have been completely destroyed and two paramedics have been killed. Throughout the massacre, medical staff and facilities have been repeatedly targeted.
“Israel’s attacks on Gaza hospitals are ongoing, with those in areas by the separation barrier forced to evacuate their patients, paramedics and other rescue workers are doing what they can under conditions of great risk.” Stated Joe Catron, U.S. International Solidarity Movement activist.
According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, six out of Gaza’s 13 hospitals have already been severely damaged. One, el-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, has been completely destroyed. Two medical clinics have been completely destroyed, seven other clinics have been damaged, 13 medical staff members have been injured, and five have been killed.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza has demanded, “the immediate cessation of Israeli occupation military attacks against medical facilities and personnel in Gaza, and demands that the international community soundly condemn this latest Israeli atrocity, and hold Israel accountable for these war crimes.”
Here are some of the numbers you can call:
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
+46 8 405 10 00 
(Plus a load more phone numbers on this page: http://www.government.se/sb/d/2085)
The German Foreign Office:
Federal Foreign Office
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister
Tel. (24 hours service): +49 30 1817 0
Telefax: +49 30 1817 3402
German Embassy Tel Aviv emergency number / for German citizens only: +972-54-9944724 (mobile)
Auswärtiges Amt @AuswaertigesAmt
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
MP Philip Hammond
+44 20 7008 1500
020 7219 4055
US Department of State
Israel Foreign Service Desk: 202-647-3672
José García-Margallo y Marfil
91 379 97 00
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
+64 4 439 8000
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
+61 2 6261 1111 (office)
1300 555 135 (24-hour Consular Emergency Centre)
Venezuelan Ministry Foreign Affairs
+58 212 806.4400
+58 212 8061111
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday praised the Palestinian resistance defending Gaza from Israel’s ongoing assault on the besieged strip, saying that Israel was failing in its war and headed on a path of suicide.
“Gaza today is holding funeral processions for its martyrs, and has achieved victory in resistance,” Nasrallah said in a rare live appearance from a complex in Beirut’s southern suburbs to mark the annual Jerusalem Day.
“When we reach day 18 [of the Israeli assault] and the Zionists together with the world are incapable of achieving any goal in Gaza, it means the resistance has achieved victory in Gaza.”
“[Former defense minister] Ehud Barak … had said in any future war waged by Israel in Gaza will lead to a very quick and decisive victory.”
“Gaza today is responding and saying ‘You the cowardly people who hide behind warplanes and kill children, if you confront our heroes you will be defeated and your army will be defeated’,” Nasrallah said.
“I say to the Zionists, You in Gaza are working within the circle of failure. Don’t go beyond Gaza to the circle of suicide,” Nasrallah added.
Over 800 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them civilians, have been killed since Israel launched its terror campaign against Gaza on July 8.
“The Israeli army didn’t go to war as an army which is fighting. It went as an army which kills children. This is the army we knew in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said.
“We must salute the souls of the martyrs of Gaza and the wounded of Gaza and the mujaheddin and heroes of Gaza and the people of Gaza who are standing with steadfastness on this day,” he added.
Palestinian fighters in Gaza have vowed to press on with the war until Israel ends its eight-year-long land, air and sea blockade of the strip, which prevents the movement of people and goods, including the importation of basic necessities and medicine.
Nasrallah said those demands were just.
“The siege means death on a daily basis for the people of Gaza, not for 18 days but for years. I must repeat, there must be political, media, financial, material support and support with arms,” he said.
“We must remind everyone here, Iran and Syria together with the resistance in Lebanon, and especially Hezbollah in accordance with its capabilities, for many long years never spared any efforts in supporting the Palestinian resistance — politically, on media, morally, financially, from material angles, weapons, logistical support and expertise.”
Nasrallah also said despite all the attempts by Israel to divide Palestinians and force them to abandon their cause, they remained strong willed to return to their land.
“Despite all their pain and suffering and wounds and massacres and all the factors of despair and frustration, they did not surrender and they did not forget,” Nasrallah said.
“Palestinian people in and out of Palestine and in refugee camps, despite harsh living conditions and incentives for emigrating to Canada and Australia and Europe in order to fragment and divide this Palestinian human body, despite all this the Palestinians held on to their land and cause and farms and fields, and they rejected to surrender and to bow down.”
Does Israel Really Want Peace?
Ever since Israel started bombing Gaza on July 7, Israeli propaganda mills, with support from the Western media, are working overtime to justify the attack. The justifications are not new, though. They repeat the ‘Hamas-as-terrorist’ narrative and that the attack is nothing but “self-defence”. The Americans and most European nations endorse this “right to self-defence” of Israel, and deflect any meaningful international pressure to stop the violence it’s unleashing on the people of Gaza. Critics of this violence are often painted as “biased” or even anti-Semites. Let’s take a look at their key arguments one by one.
Did Hamas trigger the Israeli attack?
No, it didn’t. Well before the abduction of the three Israeli boys on June 12 and their subsequent murder, relations between the two sides were tense. Almost a month prior to the kidnapping, on May 15 to be precisely, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in Ramallah, which the international mainstream media still refuse to discuss. Soon after the Jewish kids went missing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it’s a Hamas act, though till date no evidence is provided to substantiate the claim. Subsequently, Netanyahu ordered a “rescue operation” in West Bank that saw the Israeli troops killing at least six Palestinians, carrying out mass arrests, including those released from prison in 2011, demolishing houses, etc. And then a Palestinian boy was burnt alive by Jewish extremists. It’s after all these that Hamas started firing rockets into Israel, which the latter used as a pretext to start its latest attack on Palestinians.
Hamas wants Israel’s destruction
Think twice. Hamas wants an independent Palestinian state. Hamas emerged out of the failure of the PLO in securing nationhood for the Palestinian people after decades of struggle. True, it’s a politico-military movement, but don’t miss the fact that Hamas is resisting the continuing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel. Despite this, Hamas has a number of times expressed willingness to reach long-term ceasefire and peace agreements with Israel. The best example is the incumbent unity government in West Bank. The government, formed after a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Fatah party in April, has Hamas’ recognition. President Mahmoud Abbas had said the unity government would recognise Israel and respect the past agreements between the two sides. The government had even continued its military cooperation with IDF. Israel, however, rejected all these overtures and started attacking Hamas after the kids went missing.
Israel has the right to defend itself
Well, according to international law, as lawyer Noura Erakat argued in Jadaliyya, Israel doesn’t have the right to self-defence against occupied Palestinian territory. One can argue that it ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, so it has the right to self-defence against rockets from Gaza. But effectively, what Israel has won after disengaging from Gaza is a licence to massacre Gazans. What Israel is now doing to Gaza will not come under any definition of self-defence. It has attacked Gaza thrice since Ariel Sharon pulled out troops and settlements from the strip in early 2005. In the first attack, in 2008-09, Israel killed around 1,500 Palestinians and systematically destroyed the public infrastructure in the strip. The New Yorker says 14% of the buildings in Gaza were partially or completely destroyed, including 21,000 homes, 700 factories, 16 hospitals, 38 primary health centres and 288 schools. In the second attack, in 2012, Israel killed around 150 Palestinians in a week. The current attack is already into the third week, and has killed more than 700 Palestinians, with a huge majority being civilians including a big chunk of kids. Is this self-defence or genocide?
Israel is going to wars because of Hamas
Who said so? Not even the idea of Hamas was born when Israel attacked Lebanon in 1978, and then again in 1982. At that time, the Israeli leadership said they were attacking the PLO and wanted to destroy the PLO’s military infrastructure. And then they went on attacking the Lebanese people. They do the same thing now. Israel always wanted one or the other excuse to continue its aggression. Even if Hamas demilitarises itself now, there’s no guarantee that Israel will stop attacking the Palestinian people. Look at the West Bank. There are no weapons in there. Hamas is not in power. Did Israel stop its military bullying in the West Bank? It didn’t. Instead it expanded its military presence, encouraged more Jewish settlements, grabbed more Palestinian land turned the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah into a paper government. This is what Israel does when resistance recedes.
Does Israel want peace?
Its own recent actions suggest otherwise. The frequent invasions of Gaza, the continuing settlements and the subjugation of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, disregard for international law and organisations and the absolute rejection of discussions on the border of a future Palestinian state all point to Israel’s not-so-secret strategy to deal with the Palestinians militarily than agreeing to peace with them. Israel knows that it will have to make some compromises to reach even a pro-Israeli peace agreement. It doesn’t want to do that. It doesn’t want to end the occupation of West Bank, it doesn’t want to pull out the Jewish settlements from Palestinian territories, it doesn’t want to give the land it grabbed back to the Palestinians, it doesn’t want to discuss the status of Jerusalem and it doesn’t want to talk about the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. This is what wise people call Zionist colonialism, and it explains why Israel is attacking Gaza again and again.
Is Hamas a terrorist outfit?
Hamas is fighting for one of the most disadvantaged peoples of the post-War world. They represent the victims, not the aggressor. To be sure, it has attacked the Israeli civilians and is firing rockets into Israel. But if violence against civilians is the yardstick to call Hamas ‘terrorists’ what would you call the state of Israel, given the number of civilians dead in its wars and invasions since its inception? Look at the ongoing Gaza attack. The UN says more than 75 per cent of the Palestinian casualties are civilians, including at least 140 children. Is someone around the corner calling Israel a terrorist nation?
Is Stanly Johny biased?
You are asking the wrong question. The right question is which side you are on, with the bombers or with the bombed? Yes, I am with the bombed.
Stanly Johny is an Indian journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Buttu, Human rights attorney, Ramallah-based analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators, and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
George Bisharat, Professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, and former legal consultant to the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Q – What caused this latest outburst of violence?
DB – “As soon as the Palestinian Authority national unity government was announced in April, Israel set its sights on destroying it. It did so by first pressing for the government’s isolation and, when that failed, it used the deaths of three Israelis (kidnapped in an area of the West Bank that is entirely under Israel’s control) to demonize Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Within 18 days of the Israelis going missing, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank including 11 Parliamentarians and 59 former prisoners who were released in a prisoner exchange three years ago. These people were arrested without any proof that these individuals were in any way involved in the deaths of the three Israelis. In addition, Israel killed 10 Palestinians, including three children in the West Bank and demolished three houses. Israel launched air raids on the Gaza Strip, as documented by the UN, killing two, including a 10-year-old child. This happened before a single Hamas rocket was fired from Gaza. When Israel failed to break up the unity government diplomatically, it turned to a brutal military attack. What is clear is that the status quo is not the answer. Returning to the 2012 ceasefire will not work as it was easily abused by Israel.”
GB – “Israel instrumentalized the tragic deaths of three Israeli youths, abducted and killed on June 12, to attack Hamas in the West Bank and disrupt Palestinian national reconciliation – a goal it had failed to achieve diplomatically. Israel arrested more than 400, searched 2,200 homes and other sites, and killed at least nine Palestinians in the process. We now know that Israel concealed evidence the youths were killed virtually immediately after abduction, and incited Israeli public opinion to a frenzy, directly leading to the brutal immolation of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. These cynical acts led to the escalation of violence along the Gaza border.”
NH – “Israel used the June 12 kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenage settlers to launch a brutal Israeli crackdown on the West Bank and East Jerusalem that human rights organizations have condemned as collective punishment. Israel particularly targeted Hamas members despite the lack of evidence and the organization’s denial of responsibility. The real target was the national unity agreement achieved by Hamas.
“The truth is, though, that this all-out Israeli assault on Gaza would have happened sooner or later. Israelis call their approach to Gaza “mowing the grass”. That is, they must attack and weaken Hamas every two or three years, even though Hamas has proven willing and able to respect a ceasefire, including by reining in other factions. This is one of the ways Israel “manages” its occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its occupation and siege of Gaza.”
Q – Is Israel acting in self-defense?
DB – “No. Israel cannot claim self-defense owing to the fact that it initiated the assault on the Gaza Strip and continues to maintain a brutal military occupation over the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank). Rather, Israel has an obligation under international law to protect Palestinians living under its military rule.”
GB - “Self-defense may not be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its violent assault on Hamas in the West Bank.”
NH - “No. A member state of the United Nations that has signed international conventions pledging to respect the laws of war has no right to indiscriminately attack civilians and civilian infrastructure. The very high number of Palestinian civilian casualties – men, women, children – give the lie to Israel’s claims to self-defense, as does Hamas’ proven willingness to uphold a ceasefire.
“Moreover, Israel cannot claim self-defense against a people whose land it has been militarily occupying and colonizing for decades, part of whose population it has placed under siege. Only a ceasefire can protect Palestinians and Israelis alike, and only an end to the occupation and siege can pave the way to a permanent peace.
“Hamas should also refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure but it is not a UN-member state and has not signed conventions binding it to uphold international law.”
Q – Is Israel attacking “Hamas targets”?
DB – “No. Israel appears to be attacking civilian homes and civilian infrastructure. To date, according to UN estimates, 80 percent of those killed are civilians, including over 150 children. Israel has bombed hospitals, schools and mosques – all illegitimate targets under international law. More than 2,000 homes and entire neighborhoods have been destroyed by Israel’s attacks. This is inconsistent with international law. Civilian structures, such as homes, are only lawful targets when they are being used for military purposes. The Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention on the Law of War provides that, ‘in case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.’ While Israel has argued that Palestinian homes are command centers, Human Rights Watch has dismissed those claims.
“Attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants are illegal. Using Israel’s logic, this also means that any home of any past or present Israeli soldier or police officer is a legitimate target or any civilian area where military is present (such as the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv). Clearly, this is not acceptable.
“This is not a video game in which the Israeli army is allowed to hunt down anyone associated with Hamas, irrespective of whether they are a combatant and without regard for civilian infrastructure.”
GB - “Israel appears to be categorizing any upper-level Hamas member as a ‘combatant,’ regardless of function. For example, it deliberately targeted Gaza police chief Taysir al-Batsh, injuring him and killing 18 members of his family, while he visited his cousin’s home. Police are civilians in international law, and this, on the face of it, appears to have been a clear war crime. So, likely, are the many other attacks that have been launched against private homes, although definitive conclusions must be left to further investigation. Israel has also attacked hospitals, water treatment facilities and sewer lines, and other civilian infrastructure that has nothing to do with Hamas. In fact, despite Israel’s claims to respect the international legal requirement of distinction between military targets and civilians, its actions speak of a policy to deliberately kill civilians as a means of weakening Hamas politically.”
NH - “No. The figures of civilian dead and injured undermine this claim. Compare the 433 Palestinian civilians killed by July 22 according to UN figures, out of an overall total of over 640 Palestinians killed, to two Israeli civilians killed.”
Q – Why has Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire?
DB - “Hamas and other factions were not consulted on the ceasefire proposal; Egypt was. Egypt does not represent or speak on behalf of Palestine or Palestinians; only Palestinians do. It is silly to think that any progress can be made without a major party to the agreement present at the table. Moreover, Israel has currently rejected a humanitarian cease-fire to allow much-needed supplies into the Gaza Strip and to allow Palestinians to bury their dead.”
GB - “Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire offer about which it had not been consulted and which failed to meet basic requirements of fairness. Within 24 hours, however, Hamas and other Palestinian groups offered Israel a ten-year truce that would have ended Israel’s siege against the Gaza Strip, thus guaranteeing long-term stability in the region. Israel had not responded to that offer, but appears to prefer to periodically ‘mow the lawn.’”
NH – “Hamas is willing to accept a ceasefire, but one that would be respected by Israel and that would lift the siege on Gaza. The Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are civilians, as well as the members of Hamas or other factions, have since 2007 faced the choice between a slow death or a quick one. Either they die through ill health and disease due to lack of potable water, poor nutrition, and lack of medical care as a result of the draconian siege imposed by Israel on Gaza that has also been upheld by Egypt. Or they die quickly when Israel decides to ‘mow the lawn.’
“Until the border crossings are open for the movement of people and goods, the Gaza Palestinians will be forced to live without the most basic rights.”
Q – Does Hamas use Palestinians as human shields?
DB - “The Gaza Strip is an area that is 26 miles (40 km) long and seven miles (12 km) wide at its widest point. With nearly 1.8 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Moreover, prior to this attack, 35 percent of the Gaza Strip was off limits – by threat of death – to Palestinians with Israel maintaining a ‘no-go’ zone in these areas. That said, while Hamas fights from within this small area, it does not use Palestinian civilians as cover. To date, international investigations have concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate these long-made Israeli claims and yet the claims continue to be accepted by many, unchallenged. Ironically, the converse has been well-established: Israel has used Palestinian civilians as human shields when carrying out its military operations.”
GB – “Hamas fights from within inhabited areas, as it must in the densely populated Gaza Strip. But few allegations that Hamas deliberately endangers civilians in order to escape attack have ever been substantiated. The claim seems designed to ‘blame the victim.’ Certainly, Palestinians themselves are perfectly clear that it is Israel that is spilling Palestinian blood.”
NH – “Israel has declared 44% of the Gaza Strip – an area less than half the size of New York City – a military “buffer zone.” Who is using whom as a human shield?”
Q – Does the Israeli military take all possible precautions to prevent civilian casualties?
DB - “No. The ‘knock on the roof’ procedure – dropping a missile on a house in advance of its bombing – has resulted in deaths. According to Philip Luther of Amnesty International, ‘There is no way that firing a missile at a civilian home can constitute an effective “warning.” Amnesty International has documented cases of civilians killed or injured by such missiles in previous Israeli military operations on the Gaza Strip,’ he said.
“In addition, while Israel claims that it distributes leaflets, these leaflets do not tell people where they are to go to be safe. As noted by Israeli human rights organizations, ‘Dispersal of leaflets does not grant the military permission to consider the area as if it were so-called “sterile,” assume that no civilians were left in the area and then proceed to attack civilian sites. The military must not assume that all residents have indeed left their homes.’
“Moreover, Israel claims that the Iron Dome defense system has been effective at preventing Israeli civilian deaths. Given this claim and given that the number of Israeli civilian casualties is 2 (as compared to 650 Palestinian deaths), it is clear that there are alternative means to address any rockets launched toward Israel without harming civilians in the process.”
GB – “Of course not, as several responses above indicate. Warnings to civilians to leave areas when they have no effective refuge are meaningless, and a number of Palestinians, including three boys of the Shuhaibar family, have been killed by Israel’s practice of ‘knocking on the roof’ – that is, firing what is supposed to be a warning missile before heavier ordnance is used.”
NH - “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. It is impossible to hit it from air, land, and sea without killing hundreds of civilians. The only way to prevent the killing and injuring of Gaza civilians is a ceasefire – and Hamas has honored past ceasefires. And the only way to achieve peace is through an agreement that ends Israel’s occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza and respects other Palestinian rights long denied.”