Columns of smoke in Gaza city. (Photo: AP)
Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip has entered its second day. Ma’an News gives the latest casualty figures in Gaza:
The death toll in the Gaza Strip rose to 15 on Thursday as a Palestinian child succumbed to wounds sustained earlier and a man’s body was found buried in the rubble of an Israeli airstrike.
Eighteen-month-old Walid al-Abadleh succumbed to his injuries sustained in an Israeli airstrike east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza early Thursday.
The body of a 52-year-old man was also pulled out of the rubble of an airstrike in the al-Amoudi area in the northern Gaza Strip.
Overall, medics say 15 have died and 150 were injured in the 24 hours since Israel began a major escalation in the Gaza Strip and assassinated a senior Hamas military commander.
At around noon eastern time, a rocket fired reportedly by Islamic Jihad hit a suburb of Tel Aviv. No casualties have been reported. During a press call organized by the Institute for Middle East Understanding, the Palestine Center’s Yousef Munayyer wondered whether the rocket striking near Tel Aviv meant that a further escalation, and perhaps a ground invasion, was on its way.
In other news, the Egyptian government has announced that their prime minister, Hisham Kandil, will “make a one-day visit to Gaza on Friday in a show of support for the Palestinian enclave,” according to Reuters.
Three Israelis were killed when a rocket hit their home in Kiryat Malakhi, a town about 10 miles from Ashkelon. Israel claims that 138 missiles from Gaza have exploded in Israeli territory and the IDF announced it has attacked 227 Gaza targets. Israeli news outlet Channel 10 reports that 70 Israelis have been injured due to Palestinian rocket fire.
A destroyed kitchen inside a house of a Israeli family in the city of Kiryat Malachi, after a rocket fired from Gaza hit the house, November 15, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills)
The Israeli bombardment shows no signs of abating, and on Wednesday night Haaretz reported that the Israeli “security cabinet authorized the IDF to draft reserve soldiers in order to expand the Gaza operation if necessary.”
Meanwhile, Haaretz has more details showing why this Israeli military operation was unnecessary. The Israeli daily interviews peace activist Gershon Baskin, who claims that “Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip.” More from Haaretz:
Baskin told Haaretz on Thursday that senior officials in Israel knew about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination.
“I think that they have made a strategic mistake,” Baskin said, an error “which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on both sides.”
“This blood could have been spared. Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because of this,” he added.
Baskin made Jabari’s acquaintance when he served as a mediator between David Meidin, Israel’s representative to the Shalit negotiations, and Jabari. “Jabari was the all-powerful man in charge. He always received the messages via a third party, Razi Hamad of Hamas, who called him Mister J.”
Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer speaks to Democracy Now.
The U.S. State Department released a statement yesterday defending Israel’s actions. “We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence,” spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
The Obama administration’s support for Israel is on the minds of many Palestinians in Gaza. There was “the green light from the American administration,” said Amjad Shawa, director of the Gaza office of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network, during a press call organized by the Institute for Middle East Understanding.
Steve Sosebee, President and chief executive of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, blasted the U.S.’s stance on the conflict. “We were founded on the ideals of democracy and justice, yet those same ideals are not applied to Palestinians,” he said. “That’s a violation of our basic values, and a certain level of hypocrisy from our officials who are bought off by people who don’t share those values.”
Mondoweiss has been closely following the escalation in the Gaza Strip. See these links for more of our coverage:
- Israel rejects truce and escalates fighting in Gaza with assassination of Hamas leader; 10 killed, 90 wounded in Israeli attacks
- Timeline of Israeli escalation in Gaza and Israel’s history of breaking ceasefires
- Israeli elections . . and death in Gaza
- Almost Dead: An eyewitness report from Gaza
- Nous accusons: Mainstream media fails to report context and severity of Israeli atrocities against Gaza
- On the West Bank, the mood is resigned, edgy
- JVP: It is unseemly for Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’ to invoke biblical passage from Exodus when Israel is dominant military power in the region
- Gaza Under Attack: International eyewitnesses call for action
- Worldwide protests against Israeli aggression in Gaza