GAZA – Palestinian resistance factions have proposed a ceasefire initiative presented with Qatari and Turkish support.
The ceasefire initiative includes an end to all armed hostilities, an end to Gaza siege, and the release of all Palestinian detainees who were recently arrested in the West Bank. The initiative states that the ceasefire must be reached under US supervision.
The initiative was delivered by Qatar to US Secretary of State John Kerry who in turn conveyed it to Israel.
The ceasefire initiative includes:
1. Mutual and immediate cessation of fire.
2. Mutual cessation of military and security operations.
3. Total lifting of the siege of Gaza and opening the border crossings for goods and people and allowing in food, industrial, fuel and construction supplies, expanding the maritime fishing zone to 12 miles, in addition to removing the buffer zone and implementing reconstruction projects.
4. Full commitment to the prisoners’ swap deal reached on 1/10/2011 under Egyptian mediation, and the release of all the Palestinians detained since 12 June 2014 mainly Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Dr. Aziz Dweik, in addition to the reopening of public institutions and improving the conditions of Palestinian prisoners.
The ceasefire implementation mechanism:
1. Determination of a zero hour for implementation of all requirements of the ceasefire.
2. Full commitment to the ceasefire under US supervision.
3. Mutual cessation within 6 hours of its announcement.
The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas hailed on Friday the Ecuadorian decision to withdraw his country’s ambassador to Tel-Aviv in protest against Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Speaking to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Resalah, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “This is a very advanced position, to which the countries in the region have not arrived at.”
Barhoum described the withdrawal of the ambassador as a “courageous” decision.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the Ecuadorian government condemned the Israeli invasion on the Gaza Strip.
“We condemn the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian territory, we require cessation of operations and indiscriminate attacks against civilians,” Patino said.
Barhoum also called for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to lift the eight-year siege on Gaza and stop Israeli aggression on Gaza, which has continued for 13 days.
“At the heart of the blame approach is a system of warfare, which centers on the outcome of moral or legal battles rather than on the resolution of conflict and the prevention of future violence. As such, it neither reduces pathology nor protects the victim.” – Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
Once again, the Zionist entity has unleashed a massive bombing campaign on Gaza, killing over 200 people and injuring 1500, supposedly in retaliation for being targeted by “an ever-escalating number of missiles.”
The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, by responding with over 1,000 rockets aimed at targets within the Zionist entity, is being portrayed as the aggressor and “Israel” as an innocent victim that even agreed to a cease fire while its “terrorist” adversary did not. U.S. President Obama has justified Zionist assaults on Gaza since “there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”
To clarify who is the victim and who is the perpetrator here, we must briefly examine history to see the pathology of the Zionist entity, which has repeatedly launched similar assaults on Gaza under the pretext of its right to defend itself. Most news coverage of the current carnage points to the deaths of three kidnapped teenagers as the immediate cause, falling in line with the allegations of Zionist Prime Minister Netanyahu, who insisted on blaming Hamas for the tragedy. However, taking such a short-sighted perspective can only yield a distorted view of this ongoing colonial confrontation whose roots date back to before the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
To understand what led to the current onslaught, we can begin with the unilateral withdrawal of Zionist occupation forces and settlers from Gaza in August 2005. Engineered by Ariel Sharon, the butcher behind the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, the “disengagement” from Gaza was an excuse to circumvent Zionist responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention as the occupying power, as was clarified in a letter sent to then U.S. President George Bush. The letter stated that, upon completion of the withdrawal, “there will be no basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory.”
By cooperating with Sharon’s disengagement plan, Palestinians expected the Zionists to live up to their word and allow Gazans “to breathe the air of freedom and begin rebuilding their shattered lives.” However, this did not happen: Gaza’s borders remained closed, its airport remained shut down, the sea was still off limits to fishermen, and entry into and exit from the coastal enclave remained a virtual impossibility, subject to the whims of the Israeli entity. Based on the Hague “effective control test,” Gaza remained occupied territory under international law, as research professor of law at the University of London Iain Scobbie wrote, “When we also take into account the views that have been expressed on control of the territory from the air, it is clear that Israeli withdrawal of land forces did not terminate occupation.”
Before the disengagement, Hamas had announced their intention to participate in the May 5, 2005 legislative elections, which resulted in Fatah winning 50 seats and Hamas winning 28, mainly in the major urban areas. Fatah contested the election in court, which ruled in their favor, necessitating a second election that was delayed until January 25, 2006. However, as the date approached, it became increasingly clear, much to the chagrin of U.S. and Zionist officials, that Hamas stood a good chance of winning over the disputing Fatah factions. Their worst fears were born out when Hamas won big, taking 74 seats to Fatah’s 45, something which reportedly surprised even the Hamas leadership.
As a result of the sweeping Hamas victory, rival Fatah, of course, became bitter, but the Bush administration flatly refused to accept the outcome, and announced that they would neither engage the victors in dialogue nor grant economic aid until Hamas met three conditions: First, recognition of the Israeli entity; second, disarming and renunciation of violence; and third, acceptance of all previous Palestinian agreements with Tel Aviv. By placing these conditions on Hamas, the American officials, who, incidentally, were among the staunchest proponents of holding the elections, effectively signaled that, rather than supporting democracy, they were unwilling to accept the will of the majority of the Palestinian people.
In one of the first acts of the newly-elected government, political bureau head Khaled Mish’al unilaterally extended the Hamas truce with the Zionist regime, but instead of welcoming this gesture, the U.S. exerted pressure on countries worldwide not to recognize the incoming Palestinian administration. While Turkey and Russia extended invitations to the newly-elected government, Mahmoud Abbas played no small role in sabotaging meetings between the Hamas leadership and South Africa and Malaysia. Moreover, the outgoing Palestinian Legislative Council gave Abbas sweeping executive powers which gave him the authority as president to have the final word in any disputes arising with the new Hamas government.
The security situation in Gaza became increasingly chaotic due to poor response by Fatah police under the command of Abbas, who himself had a personal security force of 10,000, financed and trained by the U.S. in Jordan with Zionist collaboration. Then, Washington and Tel Aviv imposed economic sanctions and virtually cut off all financial channels by which aid could flow to the Hamas government. Next, armed provocateurs were dispatched to stir the growing unrest into a full-blown confrontation between Hamas and Fatah. Lastly, the U.S. and the Zionist entity resorted to armed conflict in an attempt to bring down the Hamas government.
As the political struggle between Fatah and Hamas intensified, the Zionist regime fired shells into Gaza, allegedly in response to rockets fired from there, and continued to assassinate Palestinian activists from both factions in an obvious attempt to escalate the conflict. Then on June 9, 2006, a Zionist artillery bombardment killed seven Palestinians, one of whom was the father of a ten-year-old girl named Huda Ghalia. The photos of Huda running in tears toward her father after her entire family had been annihilated by an Israeli shell galvanized Gazans, who demanded a response to this Israeli provocation. At that point the Izzadin al-Qassam brigades appealed to Hamas leadership, which finally relented and ended the truce. Nevertheless, Abbas continued to meet with then Zionist prime minister Ehud Olmert, whom the Hamas leaders justifiably referred to as a “terrorist.”
A critical point in the escalating conflict came soon afterward when on June 24 Zionist troops entered Gaza and kidnapped two Hamas members, the brothers Mostafa and Osama Muammar, after severely beating their father who required hospitalization. In retaliation, members of various resistance factions tunneled under the border to the Zionist outpost of Keren Shalom, neutralizing four soldiers and kidnapping corporal Gilad Shalit. The Zionist regime used the abduction, for which Hamas was not directly responsible, as an excuse to bomb bridges, main roads, water plants, power stations and other services in a vicious attempt to dislodge Hamas by destroying Gaza’s infrastructure.
For a time in the summer of 2006, the world was distracted from Gaza while Hezbollah successfully repulsed a full-scale Zionist assault on Lebanon, which killed 1,109 Lebanese civilians and wounded 4,399. Explaining his perspective on cause of the so-called War of Tammuz, one Hezbollah fighter explained, “The Israelis did what they could to destroy our humanity. As a result, the people rose up and resisted. Isn’t that normal?” This statement exposes the Zionist pathology: the desire to destroy the humanity of Palestinians, which is precisely what we see in Gaza, as the victim is blamed for resisting the oppressor.
By 2007, an agreement for a unity government brokered by the Saudis was derailed by the United States, which tasked Lieutenant General Keith Dayton with toppling the Hamas government with the help of Fatah. This act of American adventurism led Hamas to expel Fatah forces from Gaza. In response to Hamas with the backing of the U.S., western allies and Egypt, the Israeli entity launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27, 2008, killing 1,400 during the bloody three-week operation. As if this were not enough, the Zionist regime struck Gaza again in March 2012 for five days, killing another 25 Palestinians in a series of air assaults.
This brings us to the present attack on Gaza, which began on July 8 and so far has claimed the lives of over 200 men, women and children, destroyed 500 homes and cut off water to hundreds of thousands. The Zionist pathology remains the same as it was in Lebanon: the desire to destroy the Palestinians’ humanity. Even more macabre were the actions of some citizens in Sderot who gathered on a hill to watch the bombardment, cheering raucously as each Israeli bomb exploded in Gaza. This is all part of the morbid Zionist pathology.
“Of course, let us not think for a moment, God forbid, that we can be indifferent to the death of innocents. The death of any child, Israeli or Arab, Muslim or Jew, is an unspeakable tragedy that rends the heart,” Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, confided sanctimoniously. This is while three teenage Zionists have confessed to murdering a teenage Palestinian boy by burning him alive. This oxymoron is also part of the Zionist pathology.
The Israeli security cabinet reportedly agreed to a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday proposed by the Egyptian government, but leaders with the Palestinian resistance said that no one had contacted them to negotiate any ceasefire.
According to Israeli military reports, the alleged ceasefire proposal would require the Israeli military to end its aerial and naval bombardment of the Gaza Strip that has been constant for the past week, while Palestinian armed factions would be required to stop firing homemade shells into Israel.
Despite claims of having agreed to a ceasefire, Israeli bombardment continued to pound Gaza on Tuesday morning.
The armed wing of the Hamas party, the Izz-al Deen al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that the ceasefire agreement amounted to a ‘surrender’, and that no representative of Hamas or any other armed resistance group had been involved in the negotiations. Therefore, the group said, they would continue their resistance to Israeli aggression in Gaza.
The supposed agreement does not meet the four key elements reiterated by Hamas leaders in recent days. These requirements include the lifting of the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which has led to the unemployment rate of 80%, the sealing of all borders and the prevention of aid, construction materials and fuel, as well as staple goods, from entering Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh, the elected Prime Minister of the Palestinians people who has not been recognized by Israel because of his association with the Hamas party, said on Monday, “The Gaza blockade must be lifted so that our people live in freedom like all other peoples around the world.”
Egyptian officials negotiated with Israel, apparently without involving Palestinians in the negotiation of the proposed ceasefire. Despite the lack of involvement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the Fateh party urged rival parties to accept the agreement.
Hamas officials stated over the weekend that Egypt was an unacceptable negotiator for any ceasefire negotiations, and only Turkey or Qatar could be considered as potential negotiators of a ceasefire.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has kept the Egyptian border with Gaza closed over the last week, apart from one opening to allow critically wounded patients through. This has led to widespread disapproval of Egypt as a negotiator among the Palestinian populace of Gaza, who have not had any way to escape the near-constant bombardment that began on July 8th.
In the two weeks prior to July 8th, 13 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
In the week since, 195 Palestinians have been killed, including three babies under age two, and several families that were totally wiped out.
2 Israeli girls were wounded on Monday night by a Palestinian shell, the first such injuries in the week of escalation. One of them, age 10, was wounded critically, according to Israeli sources.
Over the past week of escalation, at least 1,385 Palestinians have been wounded, many with head injuries, amputated limbs, permanent disabilities and embedded shrapnel. They include a four-day old infant, who was critically wounded by Israeli forces on Tuesday morning.
More than 180 Palestinians have been killed and 1,385 injured since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza exactly a week ago.
Early on Tuesday evening, as Operation Protective Edge entered its second week, Israeli air strikes and rocket continued to strike Gaza even while reports of the ceasefire began to emerge.
Hamas rockets also continued to fly toward Israel where they have largely caused minor injuries and damage. Monday evening saw the most serious incident of the week-long conflict so far with two sisters – aged 10 and 13 – being hospitalised following a rocket attack. The younger sister, 10-year-old Maram Wakili remains in critical condition.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is strongly concerned by Israel’s conduct of its offensive on the Gaza Strip, and in particular by the widespread punitive targeting of homes belonging to members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
In recent days, the Israeli air force has conducted two phase targeting of fighters’ homes whereby a ‘warning’ is issued to the house in question so that it may be evacuated. This warning takes the form of either a dud missile (termed ‘roof knocking’) or a phone call. The house is then subsequently targeted and destroyed, typically 15 minutes later.
Photo by Palestinian Center for Human Rights
PCHR highlights that during active hostilities, only fighters and military objectives may be targeted. Civilians and civilian objects are protected from direct attack.
Article 52(2) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions defines a military objective as: ‘those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.’
Unless a home is being used to ‘make an effective contribution to military action’ – i.e. unless it is being used to store weapons or as a base from which attacks are launched – it cannot be considered a military objective. A home cannot be classified as a military objective merely because it owned by a fighter. Instead, it must be recognised as a civilian object and protected from direct attack. Issuing a warning does not remove this protection from direct attack.
Significantly, Article 52(3) of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions clearly states: ‘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.’
From the facts of the cases documented by PCHR, in the majority of instances there does not appear to be any military necessity justifying the destruction of Hamas or Islamic Jihad members’ homes. To-date, no secondary explosions have been documented indicating that the houses were used for weapons storage. PCHR highlight that the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and that the targeting of homes inevitably results in significant collateral damage to individuals and property nearby.
PCHR is forced to conclude that the houses are being destroyed as a ‘punitive’ measure, targeting members of Hamas and their families. PCHR notes that Israel has recently resumed its policy of punitive house demolitions in the West Bank. This appears to be a continuation of the Dahiya doctrine, whereby civilian suffering is deliberately caused in order to act as a deterrent. This doctrine was developed during the 2006 Lebanon War, and continued during Operation Cast Lead.
The destruction of homes has resulted in a number of civilian deaths to-date. For example, in an attack on the Kaware family home in Khan Younis, 7 civilians were killed, and 28 injured, while an attack on the Hamad family home in Beit Hanoun resulted in the death of 6 civilians.
The direct targeting of civilians and civilian objects is a war crime. All suspected war crimes must be investigated and, if appropriate, those responsible must be prosecuted.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: a ceasefire with Palestinians is not “even on the agenda”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians, asking the international community to take actions to stop the violence in Gaza.
“It is now more urgent than ever to try to find common ground for a return to calm,” Ban said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday.
The UN chief expressed his concerns over the “Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations.” He said, Israel has carried out more than 500 air strikes and that the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas responded with firing more than 550 rockets.
Ban said some 900 Palestinians have been displaced in the besieged Gaza Strip since Israel began its offensive on Tuesday, while 150 homes were destroyed. He put the death toll at 88 and noted that about 340 others were injured.
“It is clear that the international community must accelerate efforts to achieve an immediate halt to this escalation and reach a durable ceasefire,” he also told the council.
Ban’s remarks came only hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Knesset’s foreign affairs and military committee that a ceasefire with Palestinians is not “even on the agenda.”
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour has said Tel Aviv began the violence in the enclave.
“They started the attack against our people … and the rockets started after that,” he said after briefing the council.
He stressed that Palestinians would honor any ceasefire in Gaza, but it is clear that Israelis “are not interested in a ceasefire and stopping the rockets.”
“The Palestinian people are united … and we hope the Security Council can act in accordance with its responsibilities,” Mansour added.
As Israeli forces began their assault on the Gaza Strip, Israel’s leaders and media ramped up a rhetoric offensive, using dehumanizing discourse to garner support for deadly military action in the besieged Palestinian territory.
Operation “Protective Edge” – Israel’s latest military offensive to be given a name with nurturing undertones after “My Brother’s Keeper” and “Pillar of Defense” – has already killed at least 43 Palestinians and bombarded more than 400 locations in the Gaza Strip in less than 48 hours.
An estimated 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Tuesday, but there have been no recorded Israeli casualties.
Despite the intensity of the Israeli assault on Gaza, Israel’s politicians are framing the military operation as one they entered against their will.
“We are not eager for battle, but the security of our citizens and children takes precedence over all else,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
An Israeli official quoted by The Jerusalem Post lamented that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could not “influence his Hamas partners to exercise restraint and stop kidnapping and murdering Israeli teenagers and sending rocket barrages into Israel.”
“That sort of restraint would have prevented the current crisis,” he added.
The implication of these statements are that Hamas has forced Israel into launching a full-scale military operation against them, conveniently ignoring the recent crackdown on the West Bank after the disappearance of three Israeli youths, which Israel blamed on Hamas without providing evidence to back its claims.
In an op-ed titled ‘Send Gaza to the Stone Age’ published on Wednesday, Israel Hayom’s Editor-in-Chief Amos Regev praised the Israeli government for “the levelheadedness, restraint and sound judgment it exhibited before ordering the Israel Defense Forces [sic] to launch Operation Protective Edge,” calling for a ground operation in Gaza to be “carried out with determination and clenched lips, with the knowledge that this is a war of no choice.”
Israel, its leaders would have you believe, is reluctantly entering an open conflict out of a sense of duty, once again indulging in the self-victimizing rhetoric that all Israeli military actions are defensive or retaliatory.
Israel’s enemy, once again, is Hamas, and Zionist political figures have stepped up their eliminationist discourse.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon called for the destruction of Hamas.
“We are continuing to carry out attacks that are exacting a heavy price from Hamas,” Yaalon said. “We are destroying its arms, terrorist infrastructure, command and control systems, institutions, government buildings, terrorists’ homes, and we are killing terrorists in the organizational high command.”
Other politicians echoed the sentiment.
“A sovereign state cannot allow for a bunch of terrorists to run its life; we must cut off the head of the snake and for every Hamas man to know that his blood is upon his head,” Shas party leader Aryeh Deri tweeted on Wednesday.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon took it one step further, calling on Israel Wednesday to cut off fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.
“It is inconceivable that on the one hand we fight Hamas and on the other we provide fuel and electricity that are used to transport missiles that are fired at us,” Danon said. “We are in a campaign against Hamas, which is firing missiles at Israel’s citizens.”
Neither Yaalon, Deri or Danon have acknowledged the human cost of such actions on Gaza, an enclave already suffering because of the crushing Israeli siege and already struggling with fuel and electricity shortages. Nor did they mention the loss of civilian life which is the inevitable consequence of wide military actions in such a densely populated territory.
Israeli leadership, however, has repeatedly emphasized the plight of Israeli civilians. Israeli news outlets have dutifully reported every siren sounded in Israeli towns since the beginning of Operation “Protective Edge” and lamented the closure of some Israeli summer camps.
Cara Lebenzon, a blogger for The Times of Israel penned a post berating those who have spoken out against Israel’s attacks, saying “I would actually argue we are TOO nice to Hamas and the people of Gaza. I’ve never heard of a single country on earth that supplies their mortal enemies with water, goods and electricity on a daily basis, have you?” For these folk, Palestinians are not people entitled to basic human rights, and an assault on Gaza is not only warranted, but long overdue.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have bombarded Twitter with stylized graphics trying to garner sympathy for the fearful Israeli population who must run to bomb shelters — conveniently ignoring Palestinians’ lack of shelters during its deadly air raids.
The IOF has also shared an image which it claims is representative of Hamas’ own visual campaign to convince civilians stand in as human shields. The graphic, available only on IOF social media platforms, could have been created by the IOF’s own design team, purportedly standing as “proof” of Hamas’ treachery instead of showing actual existing Hamas posters.
The argument about Hamas forcing people to stand as human shields is one Israel regularly trots out, despite the fact that such claims have been dismantled in the past, and that the IOF is itself guilty of using such tactics repeatedly.
But the “human shield” argument is a convenient excuse for Israeli forces to continue with tactics that they know full well will lead to many civilian casualties while rejecting any responsibility for these deaths. Palestinians living in Gaza are not granted the luxury of being considered innocent civilians in Israeli rhetoric; dead Palestinian men, women and children are all guilty of standing in the way of Israeli weapons, despite the fact that there is nowhere to run in the open-air prison that is Gaza.
Dehumanization of Palestinians and demonization of the Palestinian struggle are essential tools of the Israeli military machine in order to continue justifying expansive military action while maintaining its discourse of victimization.
Follow all the latest updates on Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian medical sources have reported that nine Palestinians have been killed by Israeli missiles and shells in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, and Monday at dawn.
Seven of the slain Palestinians are members of the al-Qassam Brigades of the Hamas movement.
The Brigades stated the six fighters have been killed when the Israeli army fired missiles into a siege-busting tunnel in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Their bodies were found on Monday, at dawn.
The fighters have been identified as Ibrahim al-Bal’aawy, 24, Abdul-Rahman az-Zamely, 22, Mustafa Abu Morr, 22, his twin brother Khaled, Yousef Sharaf Ghannam, 22, and Jom’a Abu Shallouf, 24.
A Qassam fighter, identified as Ibrahim ‘Abdeen, died of wounds suffered during an earlier shelling in Rafah.
Sami Abu Zohri, spokesperson of the Hamas movement, stated the assassination of the fighters is a serious escalation, adding that “the enemy will pay a heavy price”.
Dr. Ashraf al-Qodra, spokesperson of the Ministry Of Health in Gaza, stated that five Palestinians, including a child and two young girls, have been injured when an Israeli missile detonated near their homes, in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.
Another airstrike targeted al-Qarara town, east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Missiles have also been fired into agricultural lands in Shekh Radwan in Gaza, causing damage but no injuries.
Two fighters, identified as Mazen al-Jedya and Marwan Salim, have been killed by Israeli missiles in al-Boreij refugee camp. Their bodies have been severely mutilated.
Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza claimed responsibility for firing dozens of shells into adjacent Israeli areas in retaliation to the Israeli military escalation.
Hamas’ Sami Abu Zuhri
Hamas has called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from participation at the Israel Peace Conference scheduled for Tuesday in Tel Aviv.
In a press statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Abbas’s participation “would constitute an insult to the feelings of the Palestinian people,” in the aftermath of the lynching of a Palestinian boy in occupied East Jerusalem last Tuesday, as well as the ruthless beating of his cousin two days later.
Abu Zuhri added that Abbas’s participation would give Israel a chance to “beautify its image” after international anger at its “heinous crimes.”
Haaretz has published the agenda of the conference, which includes a pre-recorded speech by Abbas.
Palestinian chief negotiator and senior Fatah official Saeb Erekat turned down an invitation to attend the same conference “out of respect for the feelings of Palestinians and their plight”.
The Israel Peace Conference is an annual event organised by Haaretz to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how to bring about peace.
Ben-Eliezer is reported to have said: “The government must immediately return to the assassination policy, and let Hamas leaders understand that there is no security for them day and night and that there is no difference between political and army wing leaders.”
He said: “Hamas political leadership incites and inflames the atmosphere [against Israel] and encourages terrorism.”
Ben-Eliezer called on the Israeli government to strengthen Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and to pressure him to remove Hamas from government and then work on the resumption of the peace process.
A child was seriously wounded in the head when an Israeli settler ran her down Monday night as Israeli settlers marched through the city of Hebron demanding vengeance.
Sanabel Attous, 9, from Jab’a village southwest of Bethlehem was hit by an Israeli car which witnesses say deliberately ran her down.
She was taken to the Bethlehem Arab Society Hospital suffering serious fractures and bruises in the head, face and abdomen.
Eyewitnesses said the settler struck her intentionally, and left her in a ditch, on the side of the road without providing assistance to the wounded child, and left the scene.
Israeli troops closed all entrances to the city of Hebron and the village of Halhoul, near Hebron, where the bodies of three settlers were found on Monday.
Israeli extremists attacked two Palestinians in Jerusalem. A taxi driver was sprayed with pepper spray, and a second man was beaten by Israeli settlers in West Jerusalem.
Settlers across the West Bank have stepped up attacks on Palestinian civilians over the past 18 days, since 3 Israeli settlers disappeared.
When the bodies of the three settlers were found on Monday, Israeli settler leaders and Israeli government officials vowed revenge against the Palestinian people and particularly the Hamas party, though there has been no evidence linking the deaths of the three settlers to Hamas.
One former Israeli Knesset (Parliament) member posted a video Monday called Palestinian children “little terrorists”, and called for “Death to the enemy, evacuation, and wiping off of [their] smile”, according to a translation by the Electronic Intifada.
EI also quoted Tzachi Hanegbi, a former cabinet minister from the ruling Likud party, as saying, “I don’t know how many Hamas leaders will remain alive after tonight.”
The WAFA news agency has reported that Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired missiles into different areas of the Gaza Strip, mainly in agricultural and open areas, in addition to several homes and civilian property.
WAFA reported that the army bombarded Gaza, Rafah, Khan Younis, the Central District and the Northern District of the besieged coastal region, adding that Israeli navy ships also participated in the attacks.
Local sources said dozens of Israeli drones remained in the Gaza skies all night, while Israeli helicopters also continue to fly over the Gaza Strip, firing rounds of live ammunition.
Medical sources said Israeli missiles struck agricultural greenhouses seriously wounding four Palestinians, in Khan Younis and Rafah, in southern Gaza.
The four, who worked as guards at the greenhouses, have been moved to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis facing life-threatening conditions.
Israeli officials confirmed the strikes against Gaza, and said that resistance groups also fired shells into Israeli areas across the border.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Hamas would pay the price for the death of the three Israeli settlers, who were found dead, Monday, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after eighteen days of searches and invasions by the Israeli army.
On his Twitter account, the Israeli Prime Minister posted, “Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created. Neither has vengeance for the blood of 3 pure youths who were on their way home to their parents who will not see them anymore. Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”
The Israeli army has killed five Palestinians since the settlers went missing 18 days ago, and dozens have been injured by Israeli army fire. In addition, close to 300 Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned in the 18-day period. Since the bodies were discovered Monday, Israeli attacks, invasions and threats have increased significantly, so these numbers have likely increased in the last 24 hours.
Despite the threats and calls for vengeance, the Israeli government has released no information linking Hamas or any Palestinian groups or individuals to the deaths of the three settlers.