Ruins of Ismail Haniya’s office in Gaza City after Israeli strike. (Photo: Jon Donnison/Twitter)
Cairo is host to four-way talks on the Gaza crisis Saturday, as regional parties seek to move Hamas and Israel to a cease-fire and avert an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is hosting consultations with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and several Palestinian leaders.
Speaking from Cairo, a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praised Egyptian mediation efforts, while lamenting Israeli action as further unravelling aspirations for a two state solution.
Ma’an News is keeping a running toll of those killed in Gaza during the ongoing Israeli assault. Here is the current list:
Wednesday, Nov. 14
1. Ahmad al-Jaabari
2. Muhammad al-Hums
3. Ranan Arafat (child)
4. Omar Mashharawi (child)
5. Isam Abu al-Miza
6. Muhammad al-Kaseih
7. Hiba Mashharawi Turk (pregnant woman)
8. Mahmoud Abu Sawawin (elderly man)
Thursday, Nov. 15
9. Habis Masmah
10. Wael al-Ghalban
11. Hisham al-Ghalban
12. Rani Hammad
13. Khalid Abu al-Nasr
14. Marwan Abu al-Qumsan (elderly man)
15. Walid Abadla (child)
16. Hanin Tafish (infant)
17. Uday Jamal Nasser
18. Tareq Jamal Nasser
19. Faris Basyouni (child)
Friday, Nov. 16
20. Muhammad Iyad Saadallah (child)
21. Ayman al-Abid Abu Warda
22. Tahrir Suleiman
23. Ismail Qandil
24. Younis Kamil Tafish
25. Muhammad Suleiman
26. Amjad Abu Jalal
27. Ziad Abu Jalal
28. Ahmad Abu Jalal
29. Hasan al-Heilma
30. Khalid al-Shayer
Saturday, Nov. 17
31. Ayman Salim
32. Ahmad Abu Masmah
33. Mukhlis Udwan
34. Abdul-Rahman al-Misri
35. Muhammad al-Lolahi
36. Awad al-Nahhal
37. Ali Abdul-Hakim Manama
38. Osama Abdul-Jawwad
39. Ashraf Darwish
40. Ahmad al-Atrash
41. Muhammad Yasin
42. Osama al-Qady
43. Ali Bin Iseid
44. Muhammad Aydat
45. Samahar Qidih
Four more Palestinians died today, bringing the total toll to 46, according to Ma’an News’ reporting. And according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, at least 17 civilians have died during the assault–almost half the total Palestinian death toll. 381 Palestinian civilians have been injured in the fighting, including 107 children.
Also last night, Israel destroyed the Gaza City office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. The New York Times reports:
Explaining the Israeli rationale for moving from attacking purely militant targets to government buildings in Gaza, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Saturday, “It is clear that Hamas itself makes no distinction between its terrorist military machine and the government structure and that they are intertwined.
The Times also has more reporting here from Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner inside Gaza. Here’s a screenshot of the frank headline, which is refreshing from the Times:
As if to underscore Israel’s attacks on civilian sites and infrastructure, this is what Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said today, according to Haaretz: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.” The comment is reminiscent of another of Yishai’s comments, this time four years ago during Cast Lead: “It [should be] possible to destroy Gaza, so they will understand not to mess with us.”
Earlier today, the U.S.-financed Iron Dome system in Israel shot down a rocket fired in the direction of Tel Aviv.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has more information on the toll the Israeli assault has taken on infrastructure in Gaza. This is part of their report from November 17:
UNRWA installations continue to suffer collateral damage from the escalation of violence.
16 November, 21:00: Two Israeli airstrikes hit an open area near the Al Naser Health Centre, causing damage.
17 November, early morning: An Israeli airstrike hit the prime minister’s office, causing minor damage to UNRWA’s Rimal Health Centre on Naser Street.
17 November, 03:00: An Israeli air strike hit Al-Rahman Mosque, damaging nearby UNRWA schools in Al-Bureij area. Al-Bureij Co-ed School B and D sustained major damage (see pictures below). Al-Bureij Elementary Boys’ School A had some broken windows.
17 November, 03:15: An Israeli airstrike hit the main police headquarters in Gaza City, causing minor damages to UNRWA’s Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired (RCVI). Other UNRWA schools in the same location have also suffered minor damage.
17 November, afternoon: An Israeli airstrike hit a mosque by the Port of Gaza City, causing minor damage to Tiba 3 and Abu Ramadan Tower, which are security-cleared residences for UN international staff in Gaza.
UNRWA also reports here on “an UNRWA teacher…killed by an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza. Marwan Abu El Qumsan was in his early 50s and an Arabic teacher at UNRWA’s Preparatory Boys School in Jabalia. Reports indicate that he was in a car near the scene of the airstrike.”
Meanwhile, Israeli forces continue to await word on whether they will enter the Gaza Strip for a ground assault. Although the U.S. remains concerned about a ground assault and has reportedly been warning Israel not to extend the conflict, they have also emphasized Israel’s “right to defend itself.” Yesterday, Obama’s National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told Yahoo! News that it’s “up to the Israeli government” to decide whether a ground assault would be forthcoming.
Tunisia’s head diplomat visited Gaza a day after the Egyptian prime minister did. “Our message to the international community is that this blatant Israeli aggression on our people in Gaza must stop,” the diplomat, foreign minister Rafik Abdessalem, said. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet in Cairo with Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi about the Gaza crisis.
And protests have taken place across the West Bank in solidarity with Gaza.