West Bank / Jerusalem / Historic Palestine
Video: Arab Knesset member removed from meeting by force after telling Jewish MKs ‘your hands are covered in blood’
Middle East Monitor 15 July — Arab Member of the Knesset Dr Jamal Zahalka, who heads the National Democratic Alliance bloc in the Israeli parliament, was expelled from an Interior Knesset Committee session by force yesterday after his removal was requested by the Chairperson of the Committee, far-right Likud Knesset Member Miri Regev. This came after a heated confrontation in the session which began after the committee viewed video footage, presented by the commander of the police operations, of clashes in Al-Aqsa Mosque which saw young people as they threw stones and firecrackers at Israeli police. The far-right MKs Miri Regev and Moshe Feiglin of Likud, and Orit Struck and Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party, began yelling that Muslims must be prevented from praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque, to which Zahalka responded with: “How can you have the audacity to talk about building the temple? This is a sacred place for Muslims and will remain so. “And how can you talk about the construction of a holy place while your hands are covered with blood?
Settlers attempted to kidnap and shoot two young Palestinian children
DEIR ISTIYA (ISM Nablus Team) 15 July — Yesterday in the village of Deir Istiya, two young boys, Hasim Abu Zeed (13) and Hathem Yaser Abu Zeed (9) were attacked by Israeli settlers. Every day Hasim and Hathem’s family have to cross a road, which separates their homes from the village. This puts them in a dangerous position, exposing them to settler harassment and violence. Yesterday evening when they were passing a road to visit a store in the village, a car drove by and dragged the two boys inside. Hasim screamed, causing people to wake in the village, this appeared to unnerve the settlers and the two boys managed to escape into the olive fields, close to their house. While the boys ran, one of the settlers pulled out an M16 and tried to shoot them, and also fired into the sky. Thankfully neither boy was injured. When the Israeli soldiers arrived, they offered the family protection for four days, but left after an hour. The family is now extremely frightened; especially as this was not the first time one of their children was targeting by colonial settlers.
Seven months ago, Hathem’s younger brother, Ibrahim Yaser Abu Zeed (8) was crossing the street when a settle car ran him over, dragging him several meters before driving away. When the boy was found his wounds were so severe that it seemed likely he would die. He was taken to a hospital located inside the state of Israel and fortunately survived, traumatized and badly injured, he returned to his family. Several months later, he still has to use a prescribed cream on his wounds [see photos] to help the scar tissue heal. The cream costs 170 shekels, which is a serious financial burden … Nine people in the Zeed family live in two rooms. The father of the family attempted to erect a tent for his goats beside the house, which Israeli soldiers immediately demanded him to destroy himself, or they would force him to pay them to destroy it.
Clashes at Aqsa as deputy Knesset speaker tries to deliver speech
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 July – Clashes and fistfights broke out inside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound Tuesday morning between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police officers who escorted the right-wing deputy Knesset speaker Moshe Feiglin into the compound. Witnesses said Feiglin entered the compound and arrived next to the Dome of the Rock. He started to deliver a speech in front of TV cameras, expressing his support to the Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip. After that, worshipers interrupted him shouting “Allahu Akbar.” At that point Israeli special forces broke into the compound and attacked worshipers and employees of the Palestinian ministry of endowment.
Israeli extremists attack Palestinian lawyer
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 July — Three extremist Israelis assaulted a Palestinian lawyer and a woman in Deir Yassin in west Jerusalem. A Ma‘an reporter said the three pepper-sprayed lawyer Sanaa Dweik and a woman that was with her when they were leaving a courthouse in western Jerusalem. Lawyer Dweik told Ma‘an that “when I finished my work at the courthouse in Deir Yassin on Monday I headed to my car with my client where we were surprised by two extremists who at first accused me of parking my car in their spot and then of hitting their car.” “One of them opened the car door while verbally assaulting me and then slammed it hard and another one pepper sprayed me and my client.” Dweik added that the extremists fled and pedestrians who were in the area did not try to catch them, call the police or an ambulance; two Arab young men were passing by and called authorities. The lawyer highlighted that this was the second time she was assaulted; the first was during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2012 when seven extremists punctured the tires of her car and attempted to stab her with knives. She managed to lock her car and call the police who arrived and detained them. Dweik added that the suspects appeared to be in their early to mid-20s.
Anti-Arab graffiti found in town [in the] north of Israel
NAZARETH (WAFA) 15 July – Anti-Arab graffiti slogans were found in the town of Nazareth Illit, in northern Israel. WAFA correspondent said that anti-Arab slogans, such as ‘death to Arabs’, were sprayed in the town. The Israeli police proceeded to investigate the incident. Our correspondent stated that Israelis assaults against Palestinians living in Israel have intensified recently, particularly in the wake of the war on Gaza; a number of Israeli citizens assaulted Arab women as well as attacked and damaged Arab citizens’ cars. To be noted, the Arab citizens make up a quarter of the total population in the town
Two sisters wounded by rocket explosion in Israel’s south
Haaretz 14 July by Shirly Seidler — Two girls in southern Israel sustained serious and moderate wounds on Monday after a rocket from Gaza exploded near the Negev village of Lakiya. Maram Wakili, 10, is in critical condition, and was evacuated with her 13-year-old sister Atir to Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva. “We heard a very faint siren,” the sisters’ cousin, Omar Wakili, said. “The girls started running but there was no time to hide, the rocket hit our cowshed and shrapnel scattered everywhere. “There’s really nowhere to hide, everything here is made of corrugated iron, there are no cement walls,” he said. He said another rocket exploded a kilometer from the village. Half an hour later officers from the Home Front Command arrived. “We asked them to bring portable shelters, at least temporary ones, so we’ll have where to hide,” he said. “We feel forsaken, we’re worse than second-class citizens.” [One must work out from the clues in this article that the family is Bedouin. Nowhere in the article does it say so.]
Israeli forces detain 18 in Jerusalem, 3 in Bethlehem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 July — Israeli authorities detained on Sunday 18 Palestinians from the al-Aqsa mosque compound, 13 of them minors. The director of the Jerusalem prisoners’ families committee, Amjad Abu Asab, said that Israeli forces detained 18 Palestinians, took them for investigation in the Russian compound center and extended their detention for 24 hours. [list of names follows] In Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, one of them an activist against the separation wall and settlements. The coordinator of a local committee against the wall and settlements, Hassan Breija, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained his brother Muhammad, 37, after they raided his house. Breija added that Israeli soldiers assaulted him, his mother and his brother. Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from Tuqu‘ in eastern Bethlehem early Monday.
7 injured in clashes north of Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 July — Seven Palestinians were injured late Sunday in clashes near Ramallah, locals said. Clashes broke out in the village of Sinjil, with youths throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Seven youths were injured. Witnesses said Israeli soldiers were deliberately firing tear gas canisters at residential homes. Three youths were also detained after being assaulted by Israeli forces.
Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians following Abu Dis clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 July — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians late Monday during clashes in the town of Abu Dis. Clashes erupted following a demonstration against the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip. A spokesperson for a local popular committee told Ma‘an that dozens demonstrated against the war on Gaza before Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at the crowd, injuring 3 people. Two of the detainees are paramedics with the Red Crescent, Ismail Hajja and Samed Qbeisha.
7 Palestinians injured in West Bank clashes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 July — At least seven Palestinians were shot and injured in clashes with Israeli forces overnight in Hebron and Bethlehem, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘n that clashes broke out in Hebron, Beit Ummar and Halhul as demonstrations took place against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Medics said five Palestinians were shot with live fire in Halhul and were taken for treatment at a nearby hospital. Another man shot was in the foot in Beit Ummar. Several protesters were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets in Hebron. In Bethlehem, a Palestinian youth was shot in the thigh with live fire and taken to Beit Jala hospital for treatment. Several people were treated at the scene for tear gas inhalation following clashes near Rachel’s Tomb. [WAFA adds: Meanwhile, Israeli forces fired a tear gas canister towards an ambulance belonging to the Red Crescent while at the bridge of Halhoul, breaking its windows and causing suffocation to the crew. The injured were taken to the Red Crescent ambulance station in Halhoul,]
UPDATE: Israeli military arrests 12 in West Bank, 3 minors in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 15 July – Israeli forces Tuesday arrested 12 Palestinians, including a member in the Legislative Council, during predawn raids in the West Bank districts of Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Hebron, in addition to three minors from Jerusalem, according to local and security sources. In Bethlehem, army forces stormed ‘Aida refugee camp and arrested four residents, including MP Mahmoud al-Khateeb, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). Meanwhile, army stormed the village of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah, and arrested four Palestinians. Meanwhile in Hebron, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians, ages 20 and 18. Soldiers also arrested two university students from Hebron after raiding their dormitory in the town of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, according to security sources. In the meantime, confrontations erupted during the night in multiple areas in the neighborhood of Bab Az-Zawiya in Hebron, as well as in the village of Beit Ummar and al-‘Arroub refugee camp; army fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas canisters towards Palestinians, shooting and injuring several Palestinians as well as leading to several cases of tear gas suffocation. The Prisoner Club said 1079 Palestinians have been arrested since Israel started its large-scale operation in the West Bank on June 12, following the alleged disappearance of three settlers who were later found dead. PPC said, since the beginning of the Israeli operation in West Bank, 267 Palestinians were arrested in Hebron, 186 Palestinians from inside Israel, 166 from Jerusalem, 117 from Nablus, 82 from Ramallah, 72 from Jenin, 37 from Tulkarm, 20 from Qalqilya, while 24 were arrested from Tubas, Salfit and Jericho.
Furthermore, Israeli police arrested three minors from the old city of Jerusalem while they were present at al-Aqsa Mosque. They were transferred to a nearby police station for interrogation. A spokesperson for the Israeli Police said the minors were arrested for trying to fend off a provocative visit to the mosque by Jewish fanatics led by Rabbi Moshe Feglin, Deputy Speaker of Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset.
Israeli forces detain Hamas lawmaker in Yatta
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Khalil Rabai after ransacking his home in Yatta, south of Hebron. Rabai’s detention brings the number of Palestinian parliamentarians jailed in Israel to 35. Israeli forces on Monday detained eleven Hamas lawmakers across the West Bank.
Israel sentences 20 prisoners to administrative detention
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 July — Israeli authorities sentenced 20 Palestinian detainees to administrative detention, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said Tuesday. The PPS said in a statement that Israel has ordered 238 administrative detention sentences since the beginning of the military campaign in the West Bank on June 12. Lawmakers, ex-ministers and ex-prisoners are among the 238 administrative detainees since June 12. [list of latest 20 follows]
List of the 208 Palestinians, including whole families, killed since Tuesday, July 8
IMEMC 16 July by Saed Bannouna — The following is a list of the 208 Palestinians killed by Israeli air bombardment since Tuesday, July 8th. This list is being updated regularly. Killed Wednesday 7/16: 1. Mohammad Ismael Abu Odah, 27, Rafah. 2. Mohammad Abdullah Zahouq, 23, Rafah. 3. Ahmed Adel Nawajha, 23, Rafah. 4. Mohammad Taisir Abu Sharab, 23, Khan Younis. 5. Mohammad Sabri ad-Debari, Rafah. 6. Farid Mahmoud Abu-Doqqa, 33, Khan Younis. 7. Ashraf Khalil Abu Shanab, 33, Rafah. 8. Khadra Al-Abed Salama Abu Doqqa, 65, Khan Younis. 9. Omar Ramadan Abu Doqqa, 24, Khan Younis. 10. Ibrahim Ramadan Abu Doqqa, 10, Khan Younis…
8 Palestinians killed in Gaza; death toll passes 200
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 July — Israeli airstrikes killed eight Palestinians in the early hours of Wednesday, bringing the death toll in Israel’s military offensive to over 200 Palestinians. In Rafah, Ashraf Abu Shanab, 33, was killed in Shabura camp and Muhammad Abu Audah and Muhammad Zahouq were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Abu Audah family home. Four others were injured. A five-year-old girl also died after falling from a building following an airstrike on a residential building in Rafah. Islamic Jihad fighter Muhammad al-Dabari was killed in an airstrike on a Rafah building, while two men were killed in Khan Younis. Ahmad al-Nawajha died from injuries sustained when a missile struck his car in Rafah before midnight. Overnight, Israeli warplanes struck about 40 sites across Gaza, including homes of senior Hamas officials, including Mahmoud Zahhar, but there were no reports of casualties in those strikes.
Israel warns 100,000 Gazans to evacuate their homes
GAZA CITY (AFP) 16 July — The Israeli air force on Wednesday warned some 100,000 Palestinians in the northeastern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, warning a series of military strikes was imminent, the military said. Flyers dropped by Israel said the military would be carrying out “aerial strikes against terror sites and operatives” in Zaytoun and Shuja‘iya, two districts east of Gaza City, saying “a high volume of rocket fire” had been directed from there. A similar message was sent to residents of Beit Lahiya in the north, echoing a similar warning sent by the army on Sunday, when more than 17,000 residents of the north fled for their lives, most seeking refuge in UN-run schools. AFP correspondents saw flyers dropped over Zeitun, and residents elsewhere also reported receiving recorded phone and text messages urging them to evacuate by 8 a.m. “The evacuation is for your own safety,” the leaflet read, warning residents to not return to their homes until further notice. Hamas urged residents to ignore the warnings, dismissing it as “psychological warfare”.
Despite IDF warnings, Gaza City residents remain in their homes
Ynet 16 July by Yoav Zitun — Nearly four hours have passed since the 8am ultimatum the IDF gave residents in the northern and eastern parts Gaza City to evacuate their homes ahead of a planned strike, but residents from the Shuja’iyya and Zaytoun neighborhoods have yet to heed the army’s warnings. Shuja‘iyya and Zaytoun are in the eastern outskirts of Gaza City. There are some 100,000 people in Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, but only some 20,000 of the civilians living there left their homes. The rest remained. There are three possible reasons for this: The first – the Gazans don’t believe that the IAF will deliver a massive pounding to the area; the second – the residents believe the IDF will not attack civilian targets; the third – Hamas is putting extreme pressure on civilians not to evacuate [two more possible reasons: they refuse to be herded like animals, or, going by previous experience, they think that if they left they’d never be allowed to return] …
Hospital hit During the night, the IAF struck a rocket launching pit close to El-Wafa hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. Gaza sources confirmed that the IDF contacted the hospital hours before the strike and ordered the staff to evacuate the facility. Hospital director said that he was having difficulties quickly evacuating the hospital because of the patients with disabilities in the hospital, so the IDF told him it would protect those who can’t evacuate. Hamas, in response, told the director not to evacuate the hospital, and called on people to enter the facility in order to serve as human shields that would force the IDF to call off the strike. Despite that, the IAF bombed the launching pit and caused extensive damage to the hospital.
El-Wafa hospital threatened with bombing by Israeli military
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 16 July — Yesterday evening (July 15th) at approximately 23:05 el-Wafa rehabilitation hospital in Gaza, near Gaza City, received a call from someone claiming to be from the “Defense department of the Israeli forces”. The caller informed the hospital to evacuate everyone by this morning, and then hung up. At 23:10, a recorded message was left on the hospital’s answer phone stating that the downtown area of the Shuja‘iyya neighbourhood should also be evacuated by tomorrow morning. The Shuja‘iyya area is two kilometers from the hospital and has a population of approximately 100,000 people. At 23:55, a third call was placed to the hospital from the Israeli military. This caller repeated the evacuation message, stating that it should be carried out by 08:00, “because we don’t want innocent people to get hurt, we care about innocent people, and ask you to leave because we are doing a mass operation in your area.” This message was also written on leaflets dropped on the Beit Hanoun neighbourhood two days ago. “The patients in the hospital are already in fear. With this new threat, the terror has rocketed sky-high. There is mass confusion.” stated Rina Andolini, UK activist now staying in the hospital along with seven other international volunteers. The board director of el-Wafa hospital called the World Health Organisation (WHO) who then contacted the Israeli military at 00:15. Israeli forces told the WHO that the hospital do not need to evacuate and will not be bombed as, “it is a hospital so we won’t bomb it”. However El-Wafa hospital has already been struck by five Israeli missiles on 11th July, and international activists have been maintaining a constant presence ever since.
Israel resumes air strikes after Hamas ceasefire rejection kills civilian
GAZA CITY (The Guardian) 15 July Peter Beaumont with Harriet Sherwood & agencies — The military conflict in Gaza has continued into Wednesday following a six-hour respite in which Israel halted its aerial bombardment of the coastal enclave after accepting an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. Hamas rejected the plan, continuing its rocket fire throughout the day and killing an Israeli citizen at the Erez border crossing, the first Israeli fatality of the conflict. The dead man was understood to be a civilian volunteer delivering food donations to soldiers in the area. An Israeli soldier was also lightly wounded. Attacks in the early hours of Wednesday killed at least seven Palestinians, Gaza health officials said, and destroyed the house of Mahmoud Zahar – believed to be in hiding elsewhere – in the first apparent targeting of a top Hamas political leader … The first Israeli death added to growing pressure on the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, from hardline cabinet colleagues to escalate the offensive. On Tuesday the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, advocated a “full takeover of the Gaza Strip” – effectively a re-occupation of territory evacuated by Israeli troops and settlers in 2005. “Israel must go all the way,” he said. His deputy, Danny Ayalon, suggested Israeli soldiers were poised to invade Gaza. After an Israeli security cabinet meeting on Tuesday night, Netanyahu issued a statement saying the military operation would continue … Although most international criticism was directed at Hamas on Tuesday for refusing to join Israel in the proposed “de-escalation,” Palestinian sympathisers suggested that the Egyptian ceasefire plan could be a tactical ruse to give Israel cover for intensifying its military campaign.
Israel to ‘expand, intensify’ Gaza campaign
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 July — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to ramp up Israel’s military campaign against Gaza, after an Egyptian truce plan failed to end eight days of cross-border fire. “This would have been better resolved diplomatically, that’s what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian truce proposal today,” he said. “But Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it,” Netanyahu said. “That’s how we will act till we achieve our goal of bringing quiet to Israel’s citizens, while significantly harming the terror group,” he said of Hamas which controls Gaza. Netanyahu’s remarks came shortly after the army and emergency services announced an Israeli civilian was killed by a projectile that hit near the Erez crossing into the Gaza Strip, the first in the conflict in which 194 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes since July 8 … Shortly after Netanyahu’s remarks, his bureau announced he had fired deputy defense minister Danny Danon, a firebrand member of his Likud party, who became a vocal critic of Netanyahu during the operation, calling him a “failure” and saying Hamas was controlling the conflict. “It is inconceivable that the deputy defence minister will attack the country’s leadership leading the campaign,” a statement read.
Teenager killed in airstrike on motorbike in Khan Younis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 July — A Palestinian teenager identified as Ziyad al-Najjar, 16, died Monday after an Israeli airstrike on his motorbike in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, medics said.
Ambulance workers brave Gaza dangers
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 15 July by Mohammed Omer — Paramedics, emergency responders, and ambulance drivers in Gaza City face great risks as they tend to the injured — Ibrahim Abuelkas is eight hours into his 24-hour shift, and every minute is filled with new risks. Suddenly, the 35-year-old he gets a signal from his colleague Saed Zaineddin – the emergency phone call operator – and the red and white ambulance is off again. There is not much talking on the way to the location, as Abuelkas says he is “entering the unknown”. Abuelkas and his driver use body language and gestures more than words. Within a few minutes, they are driving side-by-side with another ambulance, also headed to the city’s al-Zaytoun neighbourhood. Abuelkas does not know what exactly to expect when he steps out of the van… Ambulance drivers in Gaza have been working non-stop in extremely difficult conditions throughout the Israeli military offensive. According to the United Nations, one doctor has been killed and 19 medical staff have been injured in Gaza since July 7, while two hospitals, four clinics, one treatment centre, and four ambulances have sustained damage in Israeli air strikes. The emotional impact has also taken a toll on medical workers in the besieged coastal enclave. Abuelkas told Al Jazeera that one of the worst calls he responded to was to help the al-Batsh family; eighteen members of the same family were killed by an Israeli missile in Gaza City on Saturday.
Four rockets intercepted over Tel Aviv in heavy barrage
Ynet 16 July –After a relatively quiet night, ninth day of Operation Protective Edge starts with at least 8 Iron Dome interceptions over southern Israel — …At around 9:22am, rocket alert sirens were sounded in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Givatayim, Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva, Ra’anana, Herzliya, Kfar Shmaryahu and the surrounding areas. Four rockets were intercepted in an unprecedented barrage at the area. The rockets were launched from Beit Lahia, from which the IDF asked citizens to evacuate two days ago.
US lawmakers boost funding for Israel’s Iron Dome
WASHINGTON (AFP) 16 July — A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a 50 percent funding boost for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. The measure, if it becomes law, would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense programs for the 2015 fiscal year starting in October, including $351 million for the short-range Iron Dome system that has been put to the test over the past eight days. Congress appropriated $235 million to Iron Dome last year. The White House had requested about $176 million for the system for 2015, but lawmakers doubled the amount. Congress often increases funding for Israeli security projects sought by the president. The funding is part of the administration’s request of $3.1 billion for military assistance to Israel, the world’s largest beneficiary of US foreign aid.
Hamas, Jihad claim joint attacks on Israel cities
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 July — The military wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed joint responsibility for launching dozens of rockets at Tel Aviv at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The joint statement by the military wings said they targeted Tel Aviv. Later, Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for launching 6 Grad missiles on Ashdod and Netivot. It was the first time the two brigades launched a joint attack since the start of Israel’s offensive.
Israel shoots down Hamas drone
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 July — Israel’s air force said Monday that it shot down a drone over southern Israel, a statement said. “This morning, IAF located and successfully intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle which was identified along the Ashdod coast line.
IAF engaged the vehicle with a “Patriot” surface to air missile. The UAV was destroyed in mid flight.” Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility for the drone, saying that three reconnaissance flights were carried out Monday with multiple unmanned vehicles.The al-Qassam Brigades said that it was not the first operation of its kind, and that the drones carried out “tasks” above the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv.
Hamas limits crossings at border with Israel
GAZA CITY (AFP) 15 July — Hamas allowed a group of 25 Palestinians, including those seeking medical treatment, to cross from Gaza into Israel after closing the border crossing earlier on Tuesday. But it declined to let anyone else leave Gaza or enter from Israel, a Palestinian official in charge of coordinating movement at the Erez crossing told AFP. He said a group of 13 Palestinians with injuries or illnesses were allowed to cross with 12 family members. But no one else was allowed to use the crossing, he added. A Hamas official confirmed the Gaza side of the border had been reopened for limited movement after it was earlier declared closed. At the time, a Hamas official said no one would be allowed to use the crossing until an international guarantee that it would not be targeted by Israeli shelling. The official said the border was closed for security reasons after the Palestinian side was repeatedly bombed.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad ‘not consulted’ over truce deal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 July — Hamas and Islamic Jihad said Tuesday that they were not consulted over the terms of a truce deal with Israel, with the al-Qassam Brigades branding the proposal as “surrender.” “To avoid confusion and to be clear with our people, al-Qassam Brigades confirm that we haven’t been contacted by any official or unofficial entities about terms of this alleged initiative.” … Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas was not officially informed by any party. “We are a people under occupation and resistance is a legitimate right for occupied peoples,” he said. Egyptian sources said Monday that the initiative was based on consultations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian factions. Senior Islamic Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh welcomed Egypt’s role, but said that there was only contact between Egypt and Israel. “Initiatives shouldn’t be proposed through media outlets, but rather through the obvious channels, which are resistance factions and their leaders.” Deputy secretary-general of the group, Ziad al-Nakhalah, said late Monday that there couldn’t be a ceasefire agreement without guarantees to end Israeli aggression and the blockade on Gaza. Israel’s security cabinet on Tuesday accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, a government spokesman said,
FAQ on failed effort to arrange ceasefire between Israel and Hamas
IMEU 15 July — Rashid Khalidi, Mouin Rabbani, Noura Erakat — Q – Why do you think Hamas didn’t accept the terms of the ceasefire? RK – “Hamas has insisted that there be a lasting resolution of the basic problem of Israel’s siege of Gaza, as was promised as part of the 2012 cease-fire, but never implemented in spite of Israel’s recognition that Hamas scrupulously maintained the cease-fire until quite recently. The Egyptian proposal makes lifting of the siege conditional on Israel’s approval, which means never.” MR – …”In terms of the proposal’s contents, what these organizations and many Palestinians object to is that it simply restores a 2012 ceasefire agreement that Israel has systematically violated and does not provide any guarantees such violations would cease. These violations consist not only of periodic armed Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, but also Israel’s refusal to respect clauses on the rights of fishermen in Gaza’s territorial waters and farmers in land close to the Gaza/Israel boundary … “There is widespread Palestinian suspicion that Egypt, which has shown nothing but unremitting hostility towards Hamas since the current regime seized power in July 2013, released a proposal it ensured would be acceptable to Israel but rejected by the Palestinians, in order to help Israel legitimize an escalation of attacks against the Gaza Strip … NE – “Within two days of Israel’s aerial assault on the population of the Gaza Strip, Hamas announced five conditions for a ceasefire: 1) stop the airstrikes; 2) observe terms of 2012 ceasefire; 3) release the Palestinians released during the Shalit prisoner exchange who were recently re-arrested; 4) lift the siege; and 5) don’t interfere with Palestinian unity government. What little is known about the proposed ceasefire agreement is that it demands a cessation of violence with no conditions thus reverting to conditions that are even worse than the status quo ante.
Full text of Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire
Jerusalem Post 15 July by Yossi Melman — Owing to Egypt’s historical responsibility, and its belief in the importance of achieving peace in the region, protecting the lives of innocents, and ending the bloodshed — Egypt calls upon Israel and all of the Palestinian factions to enact an immediate ceasefire, due to the fact that escalation and mutual violence, and the victims that will result, will not be in the interest of either party; as such, during the period of the ceasefire, both sides shall abide by the following: a. Israel shall cease all hostilities against the Gaza Strip via land, sea, and air, and shall commit to refrain from conducting any ground raids against Gaza and targeting civilians. b. All Palestinian factions in Gaza shall cease all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel via land, sea, air, and underground, and shall commit to refrain from firing all types of rockets, and from attacks on the borders or targeting civilians. c. Crossings shall be opened and the passage of persons and goods through border crossings shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground. d. Other issues, including security issues shall be discussed with the two sides. Method of implementation of the initiative: a. It has been decided to initiate implementation of the de-escalation agreements at 9:00 a.m. on July 15th, 2014, pending the implementation of a full ceasefire within twelve hours of the announcement of the Egyptian initiative and its unconditional acceptance by both sides. b. High-level delegations from both the Israeli government and the Palestinian factions shall be hosted in Cairo within 48 hours of the initiation of the initiative’s implementation, in order to conclude talks for the consolidation of the ceasefire….
Gaza running out of medical supplies, as Israeli bombing continues
GAZA/RAFAH (IRIN) 14 July –As Israel continues to bomb hundreds of targets in the Gaza Strip, hospitals are facing a shortage of medical supplies. Pre-existing shortages are being exacerbated by heightened need and by the border policies of the Egyptian government, which continues to limit entry into Gaza. Gaza’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has announced a state of emergency, with the danger of acute shortages of basic medication. Ashraf Qedra, spokesperson at the MoH, said the needs would soon become critical. “We are already facing a severe shortage – 35 to 40 percent – of needed medicines and disposables, which impacts the treatment of the growing number of injuries because of the current escalation,” he told IRIN. (According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30 percent of the essential drug list and half the disposable medical supplies were out of stock in Gaza – even before the crisis) …At the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, frustrated aid workers struggled to cross into the enclave. Ayman Koueider, a representative of the Arab Doctors Union, told IRIN he and other charity workers were stranded as they had been prevented from entering Gaza to deliver medical and food aid. … The blockade is not only affecting medical supplies. The Ministry of Health estimates that Gaza’s ambulance service is only running at 50 percent capacity due to lack of fuel. Gaza has long relied on a network of tunnels to import basic goods such as fuel but in the past year the Egyptian military has cracked down, closing most of the tunnels. The ICRC’s Cardon added that hospitals, too, could run out of power. “One of the main concerns will be [ensuring there is] the fuel to make sure the hospitals [run] around the clock. We know that there is a shortage of fuel already.”
… According to Mahmoud Daher, head of WHO’s office in Gaza, an Emirati delegation was able to bring medical equipment and a field hospital into Gaza through the Rafah crossing on 13 July….
Protesters chase Palestinian health minister out of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 July — Palestinian health minister Jawad Awad canceled a trip to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital on Tuesday after being confronted by angry protesters as he arrived from Egypt, officials said. Witnesses said protesters threw shoes and eggs at Awad’s car as he entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. Officials said he left the Palestinian territory shortly afterwards. Protesters also gathered at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, carrying posters criticising Awad and the recently formed government of technocrats to which he belongs. The government was sworn in on June 2 following a unity deal between the Islamist Hamas movement and president Mahmud Abbas which ended seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza. “Gaza has been bombed, and Gaza has been destroyed, and now he comes to visit?” protester Ahmed Murtaja said incredulously. “We don’t want this visit and all the Palestinian people are opposed to it and reject it,” he told AFP. Protesters said they were angry that it had taken Awad eight days to visit Gaza, where 193 people have been killed in Israeli air strikes. They also condemned the Palestinian president for failing to do more to halt the Israeli campaign, with some chanting: “Abu Mazen (Abbas) is a collaborator.”
B’Tselem: Israeli forces failed to provide connection between bombed houses and military activity
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 15 July – Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem issued Tuesday an information sheet stating that the interpretation presented by the Israeli forces spokesperson that it is enough for a person to be involved in a military activity to render his home and his neighbors’ homes legitimate military targets without having to prove any connection between his activity and the house in which he and his family live is unfounded and illegal. The Israeli human rights organization added: “It is not a coincidence that the number of uninvolved civilians killed or injured by these bombings is growing. The law is meant to protect civilians and, unsurprisingly, violating it has lethal consequences. Euphemisms such as ‘surgical strikes’ or ‘operational infrastructure’ cannot hide the facts: illegal attacks of homes, which constitute punitive home demolition from the air, come at a dreadful cost in human life.” The information sheet featured a detailed discussion casting doubt over the legality of Israel’s targeting of what it claimed as houses belonging to Hamas operatives.
Gaza families near Israeli border struggle to build a life in the heart of a conflict
GAZA CITY (New York Times) 14 July by Anne Barnard — In 2008, Umm Samer Marouf fled the northern Gaza Strip under Israeli bombardments that destroyed her family’s house and strawberry fields and left her deep in debt. Now, she and her seven children have fled again, from their half-built replacement home, and wonder if it, too, will be demolished. “They should kill us all at once or resolve this for good, not shoot at us every two years,” Ms. Marouf, 42, said Monday at a shelter in Gaza City, a United Nations elementary school where it seemed as if her whole neighborhood had moved, kite-flying children, drying laundry, family squabbles and all … Ms. Marouf grew up in the shadow of an Israeli settlement, subject, she said, to frequent security clampdowns. Her husband waited hours each day to get through security to work on Israeli farms. Then, Israel billed the pullout as the end of its occupation of the Gaza Strip, a narrow, 25-mile-long coastal territory that it seized in the 1967 war. “We built good hopes,” Ms. Marouf said. “We want Gaza to be like any other nation, with a state, a seaport, a future for our children.” But things only got worse. Israel never relinquished control of Gaza’s borders, airspace and waters; Palestinians consider it still occupied. Israel imposed even harsher restrictions on the movement of people and goods as militants periodically fired rockets and Hamas, which had killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, won Palestinian elections in 2006.
Gaza diary: Evacuated, but still not safe
Haaretz 15 July by Abeer Ayyoub — While everyone in Gaza was waiting for the Maghrib prayer so they could break their 15-hour daily Ramadan fast, tens of families who had fled their homes in the northern city of Beit Lahia to UNRWA-run schools in Gaza City were helplessly sitting in the schoolyard. The families left in the very early morning of Sunday, without being able to take any food or money. They had received leaflets from the Israel Defense Forces warning them that they should leave their homes “for their security.” … Doaa Attar, 9, said she was sleeping when she heard everyone in the neighborhood yelling “Evacuate, evacuate!” Attar says she could only find her flip-flops before she ran out, following her parents and siblings. “It was a very long way I walked. It was 2:00 A.M., so dark and scary,” said the pretty, brown-eyed girl. Minutes after the prayer, a Danish-funded NGO came to the school carrying 100 dishes of rice, yet the amount of food was never enough for the large number present … In a press conference yesterday in Gaza City, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl called on Israel to end its offensive against civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. On its Twitter account, UNRWA said that some 17,000 refugees are currently sheltering in 20 of its schools in Gaza City, with some displaced to the same classrooms for the third time in five years. Ali Attar, 30, a driver, said that UNRWA schools – especially the one he is currently staying in – are becoming a bad omen for him and his family, reminding him of the horrible memories he had there in 2008 and 2012. “Every time I passed this school while driving, I prayed that I wouldn’t be back here again. Yet not everything you want happens; I’m here again,” Attar noted with disappointment.
Three-day-old Nour youngest victim of Israeli assault
Middle East Monitor 15 July — An Israeli airstrike targeted the house of the Issa family on Monday night, wounding Nada and her newly born infant Nour, only three days old. Nada and her little baby girl Nour both sustained moderate injuries, making Nour the youngest victim of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. “Thanks to God, I did not lose Nour,” the mother told Anadolu news agency. “I cannot imagine living without my first baby, whom I waited to see for a long time.” Ignoring the pain of her own wounds, Nada rued that shrapnel from an Israeli air strike would hit her little baby. However, she also thanked God that her baby did not become yet another number in the list of deaths from Israel’s aggression. Hayel, Nour’s father, at first did not believe that his baby and wife remained alive after seeing them covered in so much blood. “I did not imagine that this baby would bear such an injury,” he told Anadolu. “I expected she would die just from the sound of the bombing,” he added.
Bilal al-Astal recounts bombing that killed 9 in Gazan café, where he and others were watching a World Cup match
B’Tselem 15 July — Yesterday, Wednesday 9 July 2014, after I ate the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast and prayed the at-Tarawih [Ramadan] prayer, I went to the Waqt al-Marah café [a.k.a. Fun Time Beach] to watch the soccer World Cup semi-final between Holland and Argentina. The café, owned by the as-Sawali family, is constructed of palm fronds. It’s on the Khan Yunis beach, in the al-‘Izbeh area, about 30 meters from the water and 200 meters from the first line of houses. There were about 13 people at the café, all men. We knew that Israeli airplanes were bombing several places in the Gaza Strip at the time, but we thought that the café was safe. We watched the first half of the match together. We drank tea and coffee and there was a relaxed mood. We didn’t hear any airplanes nearby. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion. By the time I realized what was happening, I found myself buried under a pile of sand and dirt. I choked on the sand and could hardly breathe. I manage to get my head out of the sand. The rest of my body was stuck and I started calling for help. It was dark, but I could see that most of the café had been destroyed. It had simply disappeared, replaced by a huge hole in the ground….
Muhammad Shahin recounts bombing of al-Haj home, Khan Yunis refugee camp; 8 members of Al-Haj family killed
B’Tselem by Muhammad Shahin, police officer — On Thursday, 10 July 2014, at around 1:15 A.M., my family was already asleep. I was lying in bed watching the soccer World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Holland. Things were quiet outside. I didn’t hear any airplanes in the sky. I was enjoying the game and waiting for suhoor – the last meal before each fast day of Ramadan. Suddenly I heard a very loud blast. My bed shook and I almost flew out of it. It felt like the explosion had been in our house, or right next door. The windows flew out of their frames. The window by my head was simply torn out of place along with its frame, and fell in the middle of the room. I thank God it didn’t hit my daughter, who was sleeping in the room. Thick smoke filled the house. The power didn’t get cut off so there was light, but I could hardly see through the smoke. There was a feeling of dread throughout the house. I heard my neighbors screaming from the next door homes. I made sure all my kids were okay and gathered them up to leave the house. I didn’t yet understand which house had been bombed. We went outside and so did my brothers and other relatives who live nearby. We tried to figure out which house had been bombed and realized it wasn’t any of our family’s homes. It was the al-Haj family home, which is very close to ours. We reached the house that had been bombed. I know it well. There was hardly anything left. It was totally destroyed. Bits of bodies were scattered on the road … We started looking for survivors in the al-Haj family home. It was a terrible sight. I didn’t think we could rescue anyone from under the debris. All we got out was body parts, people cut in half, torn limbs. Hands, feet, heads. Only one body was taken out almost whole – Basemah al-Haj, the mother, was only missing a leg.
Gaza attacks: Lethal warnings
Al Jazeera 14 July by Eyal Weisman — On the night of January 9, 2009, the Salha family were sleeping, and Gaza was under attack. They were woken by a loud bang at 3am: a missile, fired at the house, entered through the roof, and landed in one of the rooms. What the family did not know was that this was a warning. From that moment of impact, they had just three minutes before the house would be destroyed. After moments of terrified confusion they began to leave. A first group managed to escape but as the second group reached the bottom of the stairs, a bomb struck the building, killing six of them: Randa, 34; Fatma, 22; Diya, 13; Rana, 12; Baha, 7; and Rola, 1. These are the findings of an investigation, one of several produced for a UN inquiry into drone strikes by Forensic Architecture – a project based at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. We interviewed the surviving members of the Salha family in Gaza by satellite link from Al Jazeera’s London offices, and built a 3D computer model of their home with them. Our work was an attempt to reconstruct what happened between the warning shot and the lethal shot. The architectural model provided an aid for the recollection of events obscured by time and trauma. It was evidence intended to counter the Israeli Army’s version of the event and the legitimacy of its “lawfare”. In fact, Israel has been using warning tactics for many years. They started as phoned-through messages, informing people that they had minutes to collect their belongings and vacate the building before it was bombed. Finding that they couldn’t always get through, however, the Israeli Army began to use so called “roof knock” strikes. These involve the firing of a low- or non-explosive missile – usually from a drone – at the roof of a building that is to be destroyed. A bomb that devastates the building follows the missile a short time later. Five years later, neither the tactics, nor the consequences have changed … Israeli military lawyers argue that if residents are warned, and do not evacuate, then they can be considered legitimate collateral damage. Under this interpretation of the law, the civilian victims become human shields. This is a gross misuse of international law. It is illegal to fire at civilians, even if the intention is to warn them. It is ridiculous to ask them to understand, in the commotion and chaos of war, that being shot at is a warning – and it is outrageous to claim that this is undertaken to save their lives. International law should protect civilians. In Gaza, it is being abused in order to enable attacks where attacks should not be undertaken at all … From the air, Israel has started destroying – after warnings of course – not only places it claims are weapon caches but also the houses of Hamas’ field command. Now the target list seems to have extended even to include attacks on hospitals. On July 11, four warning missiles were fired at the Al Wafaa hospital, close to the Israeli border.
UNICEF: Children bear brunt of worsening violence in Gaza and Israel
NEW YORK (WAFA) 14 July – Children are bearing the brunt of the worsening violence in Gaza and Israel with at least 33 children killed in Gaza in recent days, and hundreds more injured, said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a press statement issued on Sunday. Commenting on the impact of violence on children in Gaza and Israel, Lake said: “No child should have to suffer the terrifying impact of such violence.’ ‘The violence is taking a shocking toll on children both physically and psychologically, with alarming consequences for future chances of peace, stability and understanding. Too often children who witness such violence, and come to view it as ‘normal’, are likely to repeat it themselves in later life,” said the statement. UNICEF staff on the ground have spoken with families who describe the deep emotional impact that the current violence is having on children – children who are not sleeping or who are having nightmares, children who have stopped eating, and children who are exhibiting harrowing signs of mental distress. With the possibility of a further escalation in violence, UNICEF joins the Security Council in calling on all sides to urgently exercise maximum restraint and for the protection of civilians – not only for the sake of peace, but for sake of the children who are suffering the worst of this current violence.
Top Obama official blasts Israel for denying Palestinians sovereignty, security, dignity
Times of Israel 9 July by Raphael Ahren — ‘How can Israel have peace if it’s unwilling to delineate a border, end the occupation?’ asks White House Mideast chief, Phillip Gordon, in blistering Tel Aviv speech — …In an unusually harsh major foreign policy address, Philip Gordon, a special assistant to US President Barack Obama and the White House coordinator for the Middle East, appealed to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make the compromises needed to reach a permanent peace agreement. Jerusalem “should not take for granted the opportunity to negotiate” such a treaty with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has proven to be a reliable partner, Gordon said. “Israel confronts an undeniable reality: It cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. Doing so is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability,” Gordon said. “It will embolden extremists on both sides, tear at Israel’s democratic fabric and feed mutual dehumanization.” Delivering the keynote address at the Haaretz newspaper’s Israel Conference on Peace, Gordon reiterated Obama’s position that a final-status agreement should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps … In his 25-minute speech – which marked the first time a senior White House official had directly addressed the Israeli people since Obama’s March 2013 speech in Jerusalem — Gordon rejected any alternatives to the two-state solution.
US warns Israel ally against Gaza ground assault
GAZA CITY (AFP) 14 July — Washington warned its Israeli ally Monday against any ground invasion of Gaza, as Egyptian officials said the US top diplomat was headed to the region to join efforts to end a week of deadly violence. The White House stopped short of criticizing Israel over the civilian casualty toll from its devastating air and artillery bombardment of the densely populated Palestinian enclave that has drawn flak from the United Nations and human rights watchdogs. It said the Israeli government had the “right” and “responsibility” to defend its citizens against rocket attacks by Hamas from its Gaza stronghold. But it said even more civilians would be put at risk were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to heed hardliners in his governing coalition and send in troops and armor. “Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put more civilians at risk,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. It was the first time that the White House has specifically warned in a public forum against an Israeli invasion of Gaza, although other US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have previously said Washington would not like to see such a step.
House unanimously voices support for Israel in current Hamas fight
WASHINGTON (JTA) 11 July — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a non-binding resolution in support of Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The resolution, which had more than 140 bipartisan sponsors, passed Friday by unanimous consent, just two days after it was introduced by Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) in response to the attacks on Israel following the murder last month of three Israeli teenagers. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backed the resolution, praised its passage. “Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to defend its citizens against hundreds of rockets that Islamist terrorists have launched from Gaza,” AIPAC said in a statement. “Prior to this operation, Israel made multiple efforts to defuse the situation with Hamas, but was rebuffed repeatedly.”
Abbas to head to Egypt on Wednesday to ensure success of proposed ceasefire
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 July — Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that president Mahmoud Abbas will head to Egypt on Wednesday to meet with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, for consultation and coordination to insure the success of the Egyptian initiative to achieve an immediate ceasefire and stabilize the truce. He said that Abbas is also scheduled to pay Turkey a visit on the 18th of July to discuss the issue. He added that Abbas will hold contacts with Arab and international sides to work on a ceasefire and to restore calm.
NGO: Israel warplanes hit Syria’s Golan, killing 4
BEIRUT (AFP) 15 July — Israeli warplanes struck three administrative and military targets in Syria’s Golan at dawn on Tuesday, killing two security guards and two women, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “Israeli planes flying over the occupied Golan Heights launched rockets into southern Syria’s Quneitra province at around 1:15 am. Rockets hit Base 90 — a Syrian military airbase — and regime bastion Baath City. Four people were killed,” the monitor said. The strike that killed the women and guards targeted an area where the residence of Quneitra province’s governor is located, said the Observatory. “A second strike on another area of Baath City also caused casualties, but we have been unable to confirm the number so far,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP … The air raids came after the Israeli army said a rocket fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights, falling on open ground and causing no casualties.
Video: Shocking scenes as gang of Jewish vigilantes goes on rampage in Paris during pro-Palestine demo
Middle East Monitor 15 July — Jewish vigilantes brandishing iron bars and cans of pepper spray took to the streets of Paris to attack pro-Palestinian demonstrators, it emerged today (Tuesday). Shocking images shot in the French capital at the weekend show around 150 mainly young men chanting racist slogans as they went on the rampage. It came as President Francois Hollande warned that he did not want to see ‘the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imported into France.’ French Jewish groups have complained about an increase in anti-Semitism in recent months, with many accusing Muslim youths of targeting them. But a video shot close to the Place de la Bastille on Sunday, and verified by police before being posted on YouTube, suggests that the pro-Israel groups are in fact taking the law into their own hands … In Paris, CRS riot police do not make a single arrest among the Jewish gang, thought to be linked to the extremist Jewish Defence League (LDJ), despite them openly fighting in broad daylight. Members can be heard chanting ‘****-you Palestine’ as they smash up chairs and metal tables to be used as missiles. Gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks are used by the vigilantes, some of whom are wearing crash helmets. They run through the streets towards pro-Palestinian demonstrators, and skirmishes break out while the police stand by. When the gang runs back towards police lines, there is no attempt to arrest any of them. In contrast, pro-Palestinian demonstrators were later accused of trying to break into synagogues, and six of them were arrested.
Opinion / Analysis
Lowest deeds from loftiest heights / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 15 July — Israel’s ‘heroic’ pilots push buttons and joysticks, battling the weakest and most helpless of people — They are the most articulate, polished, brilliant and educated of soldiers. They study at the best universities during the course of their military service, come from the best homes, the most highly regarded high schools. For years they are trained for their job, in electronics and avionics, strategy and tactics, and of course flying. They are the very finest of Israeli youth, destined for greatness. They really are the very best, ‘bro: They are the ones who become pilots, the best pilots, and they are now perpetrating the worst, the cruelest, the most despicable deeds. They sit in the cockpit and push buttons and joysticks. It’s a war game. They determine life and death, from their lofty place in the sky they see only black dots running around in panic, fleeing for their lives, but also some who wave their hands in terrible fear from the roofs. The black arrow points at the target, and already a mushroom of black smoke rises – poof, a slight tremor in the wing, as the saying goes; a “good” hit, and they’re already embarking on the next sortie. They have never seen an enemy plane coming toward them – the last aerial battle of the Israel Air Force took place before most of them were born. They never saw the whites of the eyes and the red blood of their victims from up close … And they will forget what they did during their military service. Forget? They never really knew. From the F-16 you can’t see very much. They are not Border Policemen who chase children in the alleyways, beat and abuse them. They aren’t members of the Golani Brigade who invade homes in the middle of the night, in search and kidnap operations. Nor are they soldiers from the Kfir Brigade who stand at the checkpoints. Nor members of the undercover Duvdevan unit or the Duchifat battalion. Nor do they use foul language or humiliate others. Their language is clean. They are the pilots. His Majesty’s pilots, in the most moral army in the world. As of this writing, they have already killed almost 200 people and wounded approximately 1,000, most of them civilians.
Netanyahu finally speaks his mind / David Horovitz
Times of Israel 13 July –At his Friday press conference, the prime minister ruled out full Palestinian sovereignty, derided the US approach to Israeli security, and set out his Middle East overview with unprecedented candor. His remarks were not widely reported; they should be — Does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu really support a two-state solution, or is his rhetoric to this effect disingenuous? Did he genuinely seek an accommodation with the Palestinians during the nine months of US-brokered negotiations that collapsed in April, or was he just stringing the Americans and the Palestinians along, while his heart is truly with the settlement enterprise? These are fundamental questions — questions you’d think Israelis and the watching world would long since have been able to answer, especially given that Netanyahu is Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister ever. In fact, though, while many pundits claim to have definitive answers, most Israelis would acknowledge that they’ve never been entirely sure how Netanyahu sees a potential resolution of the Palestinian conflict, which concessions he’s truly ready to make, what his long-term vision looks like. But now we know. The uncertainties were swept aside on Friday afternoon, when the prime minister, for the first time in ages, gave a press conference on Day Four of Operation Protective Edge. He spoke only in Hebrew, and we are in the middle of a mini-war, so his non-directly war-related remarks didn’t get widely reported … One thing’s for sure: Nobody will ever be able to claim in the future that he didn’t tell us what he really thinks. He made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank. He indicated that he sees Israel standing almost alone on the frontlines against vicious Islamic radicalism, while the rest of the as-yet free world does its best not to notice the march of extremism. And he more than intimated that he considers the current American, John Kerry-led diplomatic team to be, let’s be polite, naive … The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to “take care of Hamas.” But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.” Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” … Not relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there. It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands. This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state … He wasn’t saying that he doesn’t support a two-state solution. He was saying that it’s impossible.
Has Israel appointed a war criminal to probe civilian deaths in Gaza? / Charlotte Silver
Electronic Intifada 15 July — …Earlier this week, it was reported that Noam Tibon, an Israeli major-general, will conduct an investigation into the extensive civilian fatalities suffered in the Gaza Strip from massive Israeli bombardment … Since 2009, Israel has carried out three major assaults on the Gaza Strip, causing a huge number of deaths and injuries, mostly to civilians. After each assault, Israel has appointed its own military to investigate these mass casualties. Each time the military has exonerated itself for the slaughter of civilians and decimation of the Gaza Strip’s resources, including land, buildings, homes and crucial infrastructure. The inadequacy of these investigations has been criticized by the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Israeli organization B’Tselem and many other human rights groups which say they lack independence or transparency …Tibon ascended to his current position as major general and commander of the Northern Formation in 2012, after serving many years in the occupied West Bank. Between 1999 and 2000 he served as a commander in Hebron, a city in the southern part of the West Bank. An April 2001 report by Human Rights Watch documented that under Tibon’s command in Hebron, Israeli soldiers conducted extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians, unlawful killings, wide-scale collective punishment and indiscriminate gunfire into civilian areas. …