West Bank / Jerusalem / ‘1948 area’
Israel’s Bedouin: Civilians in death alone
972mag 20 July by Mya Guarnieri — Israel denies Bedouin citizens basic services in life but claims them as civilians when they die — Over 400 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its current military operation in Gaza. According to the United Nations, approximately three-quarters of Gaza’s dead are civilians; many are children. In Israel, two civilians have been killed. One was a Bedouin, the 32-year-old Oudi Lafi al-Waj, who lived in an unrecognized village in the Negev (Naqab) desert, near Dimona. Several Bedouin children have also been injured by rocket fire since Israel began “Operation Protective Edge.” Bedouin villages do not have air raid sirens, nor are they covered by Iron Dome. They also lack bomb shelters. In the wake of al-Waj’s death, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a non-governmental organization, “submitted an urgent request” this morning to the Israeli High Court for an answer on the petition the organization filed last week requesting that the state provide bomb shelters for the Bedouin. But in a Sunday hearing at Israel’s High Court, the “state expressed its position that there is no need to provide additional protective facilities to these communities, and advised the Bedouin residents to protect themselves by lying on the ground,” ACRI reports. The organization added that “officials claimed that protecting the Bedouin villages was a low priority.”
Man killed near Dimona as southern Israel comes under heavy rocket fire from Gaza
Ynet 19 July by Matan Tzuri — One person was killed and three others were wounded near Dimona at around noon Saturday by a rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip. The four, including a baby and small boy, are all members of the same family from a local Bedouin community. They were taken to hospital in Dimona by relatives after the strike, and the 32-year-old man died shortly after arrival. The man was later identified as Aluj Aday, 32, from one of the Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev desert region. Of the wounded, a five-year-old boy sustained light wounds, a four-month-old baby is in serious condition and a woman suffered moderate wounds. The children were taken to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva for further treatment. Israel’s southern residents have been under heavy rocket fire throughout Saturday, with sirens wailing every few minutes, and the Iron Dome missile defense system repeatedly in action.
State to court: Negev Bedouin must fend for themselves under Gaza rockets
Haaretz 18 July by Revital Hovel — The state is not responsible for protecting Bedouin communities from rocket fire, the State Prosecution told the High Court of Justice on Thursday. In response to an urgent petition demanding that Bedouin villages in the Negev be protected, the state said it is the residents’ responsibility to protect themselves. “While the state is obliged to its residents’ security in general, it has no specific obligation to provide protection to all residents,” the state argued. The petition was submitted by several forums, including the Association for Human Rights on behalf of the Negev Bedouin, the council of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, and Physicians for Human Rights. Among the petitioners is the uncle of two Bedouin girls who were wounded when a rocket from Gaza hit their Negev home earlier this week. The petitioners, representing some 100,000 of the 200,000 Negev Bedouin, accused the government of abandoning them under fire, due to the lack of any protection from rockets. The Israel Defense Forces said this week that the location of the girls’ home is classified as an “open area.” Small and isolated settlements are given lower priority when deciding on deployments of the Iron Dome, the IDF said … The current situation stems not from discrimination by the state’s authorities, but the Bedouin’s illegal settlement and construction, the state said. “For example, residents of a neighborhood in the center of the country, whose buildings were erected illegally, or not according to the planning and construction laws, would also be inadequately protected,” the state said. The state also said the rocket fire at the Bedouin villages was negligible.
Settlers attack Palestinian family in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 July — Dozens of right-wing Israeli settlers from the Beit Hadassah settlement outpost in the Old City of Hebron on Sunday morning attacked the family of Mufeed Sharabati in their home in Shuhada Street, a local group said. Activists from Hebron’s Youth Against Settlements group told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers escorted the settlers who attacked the Palestinian house. Several Palestinian neighbors intervened to help Sharabati family. Ahmad Amr, an activist within the group, said settlers attacked with a poisonous spray 47-year-old Mufeed Sharabati, his son Marwan, 8, Umm Abed Salaymah, Sultan Zahida, 13, as well as Haytham Natsha and Ali Shehadah. They all collapsed and were evacuated by ambulances to the public hospital in Hebron.
After the attack, young Palestinian men gathered in Shuhada Street and clashed with Israeli troops.
Dozens injured as Israeli forces fire on crowds in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — Dozens of Palestinians were injured after Israeli forces opened fire on rallies in Hebron celebrating the capture of an Israeli soldier in Gaza and in solidarity with the besieged territory, which saw 100 killed by Israeli forces on Sunday. Abdallah al-Qawasemi, the medical director at Hebron Governmental Hospital, said that 20 youths had been brought to the hospital after Israeli forces opened live fire on the crowds. Large rallies also took place in Halhoul, al-‘Arrub refugee camp, al-Fawwar refugee camp, Ramallah, and other cities across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem as Palestinians greeted the news. Occupied East Jerusalem saw clashes with Israeli police forces during the rallies.
The Hamas-affiliated al-Qassam Brigades announced earlier on Sunday that it had captured an Israeli soldier during fighting in the Gaza Strip, which has claimed the lives of more than 430 Palestinians — including 200 in the last three days — since Israel launched an assault 13 days ago. Many Palestinians hope that the soldier will be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which number around 6,000. In 2011, an Israeli soldier was released by Hamas in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. 40 percent of Palestinian men in the occupied territories have served time in Israeli jails since 1967, and for many sentenced the only possible hope for release is a prisoner exchange.
Clashes erupt across Hebron, several shot and injured, dozens suffocate
HEBRON (WAFA) 19 July — Several Palestinians were shot and injured Saturday with rubber-coated steel bullets, while one was shot with live ammunition and dozens others suffocated during confrontations that erupted with Israeli forces across Hebron districts, according to WAFA correspondent. Confrontations erupted in Bab Al-Zawiya area, Ras Al-Jura, and at Halhoul Bridge north of Hebron; forces fired live and rubber-coated steel bullets as well as tear gas canisters towards Palestinians, shooting and injuring one [19-year-old] in the thigh as well as causing several suffocation cases among them due to tear gas inhalation.
Mohammad al-Badawi, a volunteer with the Palestinian Red Cross (PRC) told WAFA that clashes also erupted in Al-‘Arroub refugee camp; forces fired live and rubber-coated bullets, in addition to tear gas bombs towards residents, shooting and injuring three with rubber-coated bullets, while two others were directly hit with tear gas canisters in the shoulder and lower jaw. Dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation and were treated at t he scene.
Similar confrontations also erupted in ‘Asida area to the east of Beit Ummar with no injuries reported, said coordinator of the popular committee against settlements and the Apartheid Wall, Mohammad Awad.
In Beit Ummar town to the north of Hebron, forces turned several rooftops of Palestinian houses into military outposts, during which soldiers used three brothers ages 12, 14, and 19 as human shields against provoked rocket-throwing Palestinians; forces forced them to stand as human shields under gunpoint.
Forces also stormed Safa area to the north of Beit Ummar; soldiers fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters towards residents, causing dozens of suffocation cases among them.
[Added 20 July: (Saturday) Forces also chased several Palestinians at Kharsa Triangle (near Dura) and in the village of At-Tabaqa, to the north of Hebron, causing a 16-year-old fractures in his leg. He was transferred to hospital for treatment.]
Israeli soldiers spray foul-smelling chemical on Manger Street homes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 July — Israeli forces sprayed homes and shops along Bethlehem‘s Manger Street with a foul-smelling chemical on Friday night following clashes with local youths protesting in solidarity with Gaza. On Friday evening, Israeli forces opened fire on youths in northern Bethlehem with stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets after large marches broke out in the area near Rachel’s Tomb. After midnight, Israeli forces brought in trucks that sprayed the sides of buildings along Manger Street with a putrid-smelling chemical known as “Skunk.” The chemical was sprayed along Bethlehem’s main street primarily in the areas in front of the Paradise Hotel and ‘Azza refugee camp, and as of morning the area continued to smell of sewage. The chemical has been used frequently against residential areas in Bethlehem in recent weeks, in what many suspect is a form of punishment toward local residents for nightly protests by local youths against Israeli offensives in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In June, an elderly woman was injured after soldiers fired the chemical with a cannon mounted on a truck into her home, breaking the glass of the window and causing her to pass out from the smell.
Palestinians suffocate from Israeli tear gas west of Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 20 July — A number of Palestinians in Al-‘Araqa village west of Jenin, at dawn on Sunday, suffered from tear gas suffocation fired at them by Israeli forces, said security sources. Sources told WAFA that residents, including many young people, suffered from suffocation due to tear gas canisters fired by Israeli soldiers adjacent the apartheid wall, built on land belonging to the village
10 injured as Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in al-Jalazun
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 July — Clashes broke out Friday evening between Palestinians and Israeli troops at al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah in the central West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that ten Palestinians were injured during the clashes including four hit with live fire, three hit with steel case ammunition and three others were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets. Many others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. Witnesses said two Israeli soldiers were hurt during the clashes which continued until the dawn hours. They said that Palestinian demonstrators showered the Israeli soldiers with fireworks and molotov cocktails. The Israeli troops fired large numbers of tear gas canisters both at the protestors and at Palestinian homes in the camp.
Since Israeli forces started a military offensive against the Gaza Strip more than 10 days ago, West Bank cities, villages and refugee camps have been witnessing demonstrations and clashes with Israeli forces every evening in protest against the attacks on the coastal enclave.
Israel arrests 16 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem
JENIN (WAFA) 19 July — Israeli forces Saturday arrested four Palestinians from the West Bank governorates of Jenin and Tulkarem, in addition to 14 others from the Jerusalem area, reported the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). PPC, in a statement, said that forces arrested two ex-detainees prisoners from the Jenin area, in addition to two others from Tulkarem.
Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested late Friday 14 Palestinians from the Jerusalem area. They will all remain in custody until court hearings are held.
General strike across Palestine on Monday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — Palestinian religious and national institutions jointly announced a general strike on Monday in protest against the Israeli offensive on Gaza, which has left 425 Palestinians dead in the last 13 days. The general director of the Palestinian initiative Mustafa Barghouthi told Ma’an on Sunday that Islamic and nationalist leaders in the West Bank as well as Palestinian leaders inside Israel had decided to go on strike on Monday in solidarity with Gaza.
Death in Gaza, fireworks in Bethlehem
972mag 19 July by Mya Guarnieri — Though tawjihi, matriculation, celebrations seem light on the surface, they point to a bleak political reality in the West Bank — … Last night, I visited some Palestinian friends in Beit Sahour. “Did you hear all that noise on Tuesday?” my host asked, shaking his head. “Unbelievable. There’s a massacre in Gaza and people are shooting off fireworks.” “Okay, if you want to celebrate, fine,” he continued. “But be respectful of what’s happening. Take your celebrations inside.” …“What’s happening in Gaza makes me sick,” my friend Layla said. Layla used to be an activist. Now, she’s just trying to keep her head above water. Layla is angry and sad, but she also feels powerless. We talked about how protesting seems increasingly futile in the West Bank. How the Palestinian Authority does Israel’s bidding by putting down demonstrations. And that, at this point, getting arrested at a protest would not be a provocative act of civil disobedience. It would just seem useless. So rather than rallying for Gaza, the youth celebrate tawjihi. “There are Dayton forces all over,” Layla said, referring to the American general who was in charge of training the Palestinian security forces — security forces that don’t make the people feel safe but, rather, oppressed and silenced. “Maybe we could do more if we were abroad.”
In search of teens, soldiers ‘looted’ Palestinian homes
972blog 18 July by Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din — Palestinians reported numerous incidents of looting by IDF soldiers during Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank. Here’s the first case documented by Yesh Din — During Operation Brother’s Keeper, IDF soldiers invaded thousands of houses in the West Bank, under the pretext of looking for the three kidnapped teenagers. These raids give us brief glimpse at the differences between Palestinians living under Israeli control and Israeli citizens. For instance, were someone to be kidnapped in Petah Tikva, no one would imagine placing the city under curfew, preventing its denizens from traveling abroad or carrying out “searches” in random apartments without the need to show a legal search warrant. Yet that is precisely what happened to Wasafia Sadeq Othman Salah Khater, a senior citizen living in the village of Aqraba, on June 22. At around 2:30 a.m., about a dozen soldiers knocked on her door, entering without explanation nor a warrant. The soldiers found nothing, as there was nothing to be found; but for an hour they wreaked havoc on Khater’s house. Aside from her, the house was home to her pensioner husband and their eight sons. The soldiers were not satisfied with simply ripping off the covering of the sofas and spreading out their contents, nor with breaking a closet door: they did what the army will not speak of: they looted the house. At first, the soldiers stole an expensive wrist watch, worth approximately $200. Then, they looted an envelope that Khater held on her body – a very reasonable thing to do, when strangers invade your home – which contained 15,000 shekels (the equivalent of $4,400) and 1,700 Jordanian dinars (about $2,400). Even if this had been a legal confiscation – and there is no way of telling, since the soldiers didn’t leave any written confirmation – Khater has no reasonable way of getting the money back … Khater’s husband is a pensioner; she herself is a housewife. The money they have comes from their children. They were looted by several soldiers, who were commanded by an officer who either did not know what occurred – in which case he is unfit for command – or knew and turned a blind eye, in which case he is unfit for command and should spend time in prison with his looting soldiers. Either way, he is responsibile for their actions.
Name of main suspect in Abu Khdeir’s murder released
Ynet 20 July by Aviel Magnezi — The main suspect in the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir has been identified on Sunday as Yosef Haim Ben-David, 29, from the Geva Binyamin settlement (also known as Adam). Ben-David had initially appealed the decision to release his name, but Supreme Court Judge Elyakim Rubinstein rejected the appeal. Ben-David is accused of playing a central role in the murder, and setting Abu Khdeir on fire when he was unconscious. He was indicted, along with two others, at the Jerusalem district court on Thursday, on charges of killing the 16-year-old Palestinian from the Shuafat neighborhood in Jerusalem as revenge for the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teens … The attorney general added a special message into the indictment that said that the crime was, “a serious and shocking incident with a racist motive against an innocent boy. I wish to express my deepest condolences for this savage act, which goes against basic human morality.” Currently it appears likely that at least two of the defendants will plead insanity before the court in Jerusalem … Earlier in the week, Ynet learned that Ben-David has had a difficult history of mental health problems, which he will most likely use in his defense during the trial. When his daughter was only one month old he threatened to murder her and was arrested. The police claimed that he had began to choke the young baby, but stopped when his wife entered the room. As a result of the incident his family committed him to a mental hospital and he was separated from his family.
Israel kills 27 Palestinians, UN calls for immediate truce
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 July — Israeli forces continued airstrikes and artillery assaults on the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday for the 14th day, killing two extended families in military attacks as the death toll tops 500. Witnesses told Ma‘an that an Israeli airstrike leveled a house belonging to the Siyam family in Rafah. Emergency services pulled the bodies of 11 family members from the rubble, including an eight-month-old baby … Civil defense forces are still working to find survivors under the wreckage.
In Khan Younis, 16 members of the Abu Jami family were killed by Israeli shelling. Medics managed to pull 13 bodies from the rubble and identified the victims as Jawdat Tawfiq Ahmad Abu Jami, 24, Tawfiq Ahmad Abu Jami, 5, Hayfa Tawfiq Ahmad Abu Jami, 9, Yasmin Ahmad Salamah Abu Jami, 25, Suheila Bassam Abu Jami, Shahinaz Walid Muhammad Abu Jami, one-year-old, Rayan Abu Jami, 9, an elderly woman Fatima Abu Jami, Rozan Abu Jami, 14, and Ahmad Salhoub, 34, a next door neighbor. The bodies of two children and a woman could not be identified.
In al-Nuseirat refugee camp, an airstrike killed a man traveling on a motorcycle at 7:30 a.m., while medics announced the death of two people south of Gaza City.
A fisherman, Raed Bardawil, was also killed in Rafah.
LIVE UPDATES: Major rocket barrage fired at south and central Israel
[continuously updated] Haaretz 21 July —Major rocket barrage fired at south and central Israel, two rockets intercepted over greater Tel Aviv; Gaza militants infiltrate south, casualties among IDF troops; IDF death toll rises to 18, six fallen soldiers named; Gaza death toll rises to 508 — Latest updates: 2:58 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the operation will expand until its goals are achieved. “The IDF is advancing on the ground according to plans, and the operation will continue to expand until its goal is achieved – restoring the calm to Israeli citizens for a long time,” Netanyahu says after a meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the commander of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman. “Achievements in fighting on the ground are clear. I’m impressed by the actions targeting the tunnels, it’s been getting results beyond our expectations. In the name of the nation of Israel, I say to all troops on the ground that we’re proud of their courage and pray for their safety. A military campaign is a complex affair, and it has tough moments. I’m sure that together, with a joint effort, we’ll reach our goal.” (Jonathan Lis) 2:42 P.M. 16-year-old Palestinian hospitalized at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon in moderate condition. 2:42 P.M. Two rockets explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler) 2:12 P.M. Rocket explodes inside town in Sha’ar Henegev Council. (Shirly Seidler) 1:32 P.M. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman issues Facebook call to Israelis not to shop at Arab stores in general strike over Gaza fighting. (Haaretz) The Israeli-Arab population responded enthusiastically to the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee’s call to open a general strike in protest of the operation in the Gaza Strip and the deaths of Palestinian civilians … 1:31 P.M. UNRWA Spokesman Chris Guinness says 85,000 Gaza residents have fled to its shelters in Gaza. (Gili Cohen) 1:18 P.M. Rocket barrage resumes on Ashkelon and Gaza border towns. (Haaretz) 12:53 P.M. UN Human Rights Council to hold emergency session on Gaza on Wednesday at the request of Egypt … 12:48 P.M. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the city of Sarcelles, near Paris, the site of violent pro-Palestinian riots on Sunday … 12:36 P.M. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah told Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah in a telephone conversation that he praised their resistance against Israel, adding that his organization was prepared to assist them in their struggle. (Jack Khoury) 12:22 P.M. Hamas claims it has kidnapped an Israeli soldier, and has created several Facebook pages in the soldier’s name. Ron Prosor, Israel’s UN ambassador, has denied all reports that the soldier had been kidnapped… 11:46 A.M. Two rockets intercepted over greater Tel Aviv (Gili Cohen) 11:42 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in central Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion, in southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and in Beit Shemesh and the hills west of Jerusalem. (Haaretz) 11:34 A.M. Rocket barrage fired at south and central Israel (Haaretz) 11:00 A.M.The Gaza Health Ministry updates death toll since operation began to 508 with 3,150 wounded. According to Palestinian sources 11 people were killed and 25 wounded in the bombing of the Siam family house in north-west Rafah, according to Palestinian sources Among the dead are seven children and two women. Palestinians also say that number of dead in the Abu Jama‘a family compound in Khan Yunis rose to 25. (Jack Khoury)
Worst and bloodiest day since the beginning of the offensive
PCHR Sunday 20 July — …Israeli forces have continued their aerial, ground and sea attacks throughout the Gaza Strip, causing more civilian casualties and damaging civilian facilities, including houses. Since last night, Israeli forces have launched unprecedented attacks on al-Shuja‘iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The neighborhood has been subjected to intensive aerial and ground shelling. Dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed or wounded, and medical crews and the ICRC have not been able to attend them. Women were seen taking their children out to flee from the area, and some of them were killed. People who were not able to leave the area have been trapped under the Israeli selling and their destinies are unknown. This morning, Israeli forces ordered Palestinians living in Khuza‘a village, east of Khan Yunis, to leave their homes and move to the center of the town. The number of forcibly displaced Palestinian civilians in border areas has amount to approximately 130,000. This number is expected to rise in light of the indiscriminate Israeli shelling of populated area, and threats to the populations to leave their homes. The majority of displaced people have sheltered in UNRWA schools and centers, which cannot provide them withminimum services. So, their living conditions are expected to deteriorate. Due to the indiscriminate and intense Israeli shelling, several public and service institutions, including municipalities, have suspended their activities, as 3 municipalities workers were killed in Rafah al-Boreij. This decision will lead to a real crisis in regards to providing drinking water, cleaning and sanitation. Additionally, more than one third of the Gaza Strip’s population lack electricity supplies as Israeli forces damaged major electricity lines and obstructed their repair. From 10:00 on Saturday, 19 July 2014 to 10:00 on Sunday, 20 July 2014, according to what PCHR has been able document, 65 Palestinians, 50 of whom are civilians, including 13 children and 8 women, were killed. Additionally, 282 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were wounded – this number includes 64 children and 72 women. Israeli warplanes also targeted and destroyed 30 houses. The latest developments since the press release issued by PCHR yesterday noon have been as follows:
The Northern Gaza Strip: Israeli warplanes launched 15 airstrikes and Israeli tanks and gunboats fired dozens of shells targeting houses, agricultural plots and open areas. As a result of these attacks, 14 Palestinians, including 13 civilians, were killed – the civilian victims include 5 children and 2 women. Additionally, , and 111 others, including 26 children and 32 women, were wounded. Israeli warplanes also destroyed 4 houses…
Gaza City: Israeli forces committed mass killings in al-Shuja‘iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. PCHR could document 29 Palestinian civilian deaths, including 5 women, 7 children, a paramedic and a journalist. There are reports that more than 50 people were killed and hundreds were wounded, but PCHR has not been able to verify this number because of the extremely dangerous situation in the area … At approximately 10:00, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a press vehicle. As a result, Khaled Riad Mohammed Hamad, 25, a photojournalist in Continue News Agency, who was traveling in the car in an attempt to enter al-Shuja’iya neighborhood to cover the incidents there, was killed. Also at approximately 10:00, Israeli forces shelled an ambulance that attempted to enter al-Shuja’iya neighborhood to evacuate the wounded. As a result, a paramedic, Fu’ad Zuhair Jaber, 27, was killed…
The Central Gaza Strip: Israeli warplanes launched 20 airstrikes and tanks fired dozens of shells targeting houses, agricultural lands and open areas. As a result of these attacks, a Palestinian woman and 9 members of Palestinian armed groups were killed. Additionally, 86 Palestinians including 20 women and 11 children, were wounded. Israeli warplanes also bombarded 6 houses and destroyed 3 of them…
Khan Yunis: Israeli warplanes launched 18 airstrikes targeting houses, agricultural plots and open areas. Israeli tanks and gunboats also fired dozens of shells at agricultural and open areas and at houses. As a result of these attacks, 4 Palestinians, including 2 civilians, were killed, and 30 others, including 13 children and 5 women, were wounded. Israeli warplanes also targeted and destroyed 5 houses…
Rafah: Israeli warplanes launched 27 airstrikes and Israeli tanks and gunboats fired dozens of shells targeting houses, agricultural lands and open areas in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. As a result, 8 Palestinians, including 5 civilians, 2 of whom are children, were killed, and 55 others, including 14 children and 15 women, were wounded. Seven houses and 2 flats were destroyed.
Reports from previous days also available on the site.]
‘Death Zone’ in Shajiya
GAZA, Occupied Palestine 20 July by Rina Andolini — There was a ceasefire today for 3 hours – so some of us internationals went to the area which I refer to as the ‘Death Zone’ – Shajiya [or Shuja‘iyeh], we went to see if we could help with the masses of injured amongst the rubble. The Death Zone is unlike any destruction I have seen in my life – there is no place left without bombing, shelling or sniper shots. Total devastation. We reached and there was a beautiful brother who was looking for his family. Doing our job, we made the decision collectively to help find the brother’s family amongst the annihilation … We were pretty much in the line of fire. However, this was not expected as we were under the impression that we had a ceasefire window to go and do our work and come back safely. There was cover as we were walking but then, there was a clear opening….and we heard the first shot towards us. It missed us, but it split the group. I was on the far side with Mohammed and the brother. And on the opposite side, there was Joe, Charlie and Fred. The brother was slightly near the opening and there was a second shot at 15.27 and he fell to the ground. Nobody could help him, he was in two arms reach, and we could not go to him as the Israelis were shooting and there is no doubt in my mind that the rest of us would have died if we did try to go to him … Then there was a third shot at him, and a fourth that missed him. The second shot to the brother was what killed him. Yet, they shot him again. Four shots in total. Our dear brother – dead, inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon [may he rest in peace]. The Israeli Occupational Forces murdered him. And what for? Why, during a ceasefire were attacks being carried out against the Palestinian people? … THEY MURDERED OUR BROTHER. We are all witnesses to this murder of an ordinary human being, a beautiful brother, who was merely looking for his family. He must have been about 20 years old., with piercing light eyes. We still do not know his name but we are trying our best to find out. My last words to him were “slow down, brother, slow down” – but he wanted his family. He wanted his lost family, and the Israelis killed him for that.
El-Wafa hospital staff attempted to retrieve medicine
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 19 July — Hospital staff and international activists, from the U.S., Sweden, and the UK, attempted to travel to the recently bombed el-Wafa hospital, in an attempt to retrieve salvageable medical supplies. When they arrived at the hospital it was, “still smoking from the attack this morning.” Stated U.S. International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist, Joe Catron. The staff and activists were forced to retreat. Charlie Andreasson, Swedish (ISM) activist, states, “We were waiting to get clearance from the Red Cross to go back to el-Wafa. This is urgent because without medicine, the patients cannot receive proper treatment, and coordination through the Red Cross has not been possible. ” …The staff and internationals may try to retrieve supplies again; for now it was impossible.
WATCH: Dozens of bodies strewn in the streets of Gaza City following bombardment
972mag Stream 20 July by Lisa Goldman — Overnight the Israeli military pounded the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyeh. The social media updates from locals and international journalists on the scene described a terrifying bombardment that continued unabated for 12 hours since Saturday night. This morning Arabic media outlets are broadcasting horrific scenes showing dozens of bodies strewn in the debris-filled streets. There are many women and children. The media is calling it another Sabra and Shatila. WARNING: It is graphic.
PHOTOS: Scenes of devastation from deadliest day in Gaza
Activestills 20 July Photos by: Anne Paq and Basel Yazouri Text by: Noa Yachot [WARNING: This post includes graphic photos.] Palestinian health officials said that at least 66 Palestinians were killed in Shuja‘iyeh, bringing the Palestinian death toll in the current round of fighting – billed by Israel “Operation Protective Edge” – to roughly 425, most of them civilians. A total of 18 Israeli soldiers have been killed, along with two Israeli civilians. Among those killed in Shujaiyeh were at least 17 children, 14 women, and four elderly people. Those numbers could rise, as rescue teams could not safely complete the task of evacuating the dead and wounded.
PHOTO GALLERY: Gaza death toll rises as Israel troops battle Hamas
USA TODAY 19 July by Yousef Al-Helou, Jabeen Bhatti & Janelle Dumalaon — Extensive set of photos from both Gaza and Israel, though mainly the former.
VIDEO: Dozens of civilians killed in fresh attacks on Gaza
[apparently from RT.com] ICH 20 July — WARNING – extremely graphic This video shows the horror and reality of the Israeli attack on the people of Gaza. It should only be viewed by a mature audience. It shows scenes inside a morgue – in particular people identifying their relatives
Gaza’s martyrs have names
Today in Gaza Julie Webb-Pullman reports — The following list contains the name, age, place and date of death of the 453 people killed in Gaza to date. [and the number is now 508 as of 20 July]
1-Ibrahim Balaawi, 24 years old, Rafah
2-Abderrahman Zamili, 22 years old, Rafah
3-Ibrahim Abdin, 39 years old, Rafah
4-Mustafa Abu Mur, 21 years old, Rafah
5-His brother Khaled Abu Mur, 21 years old, Rafah
6-Jumaa Shlouf, Rafah, 26 years old
7-Mazen Aljarba, 28 years old, Bureij refugee camp
8-Marwan Islaim, 24 years old, Bureij refugee camp ….
Palestinian human rights leader: ‘Cast Lead was a joke compared to this’
972blog 20 July — LISTEN: Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard speaks to Raji Sourani, founder and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, about the ongoing destruction in Shujaiyeh, the use of human shields and the fate of Gaza’s civilian population — …M: Israeli friends reported that the IDF, the Israeli army made notifications that the civilians could go to some areas. Are there any areas that are safe to be? R: No, there is not safe place in Gaza. You can be in the street, in my office or home and you will be bombed and away from my house, sixty meters a house was bombed by an F16. This can anywhere, whether it a drone, F16, and tonight they used F22. Gaza, Michael, I’m telling you, 350,000 square kilometers, two million people are living in it. It is one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Anywhere you move. You can ask people from the northern or eastern areas to move but you are taking about 400,000. They ask eastern Khan Younis, where to go? So far there is 70,000-80,000 [civilians] that moved since mid-day yesterday (July 19), but where are the people can go? UNRWA? Each school hold 1,500-2,000 people. There is shortages in the UNRWA schools. It’s madness. I have never seen anything like this in my life. M: Do you think it is worse than Cast Lead? R: That was a joke. This is very, very serious. I think the army is losing their minds. They really want to inflict pain and terror on the civilians … M: Now you told me before that there is a suspicion for the use of DIMES? R: Yes, that is what the doctors are telling us, including international doctors. They see we don’t see clean wounds, they see sharp ones; it is a very strange kind. There are hemorrhages, amputations. You hear the rockets and then it is over, you are hurt. It is like X-Files.
Letter from Gaza by a Norwegian doctor
Middle East Monitor 20 July by Mads Gilbert — Dearest friends, The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent. The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24 hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS! Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!). My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they. Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! Not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes,cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away … to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More then 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hrs. Enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: no electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormously resolute.
Video: Raise Your Head High — Mohammed Assaf
Published on Jul 17, 2014 — Song by the Arab Idol from Gaza — Lift your head up high. It is your weapon. The origin of dignity id humanity The son of the free land of sun Your son Gaza will not be disgraced Gaza is calling But who’s to hear Gaza calls with the might of those hands Throw your enemy with stones And you’ll stand in the face of death….
Israeli military playing a lethal game of cat-and-mouse in Gaza
Haaretz 21 July by Anshel Pfeffer — Officer tells Haaretz: “Hamas’ equipment and tactics are just like Hezbollah’s.” … As more injured soldiers were evacuated Sunday from the intense fighting in Shujaiyeh and brought to a makeshift landing-strip near Kfar Aza by the Gaza borders, the local commander ordered troops to move operations to behind a grove of trees, hidden away from media camera crews. The numbers of casualties hadn’t yet been cleared for publication and the last thing the IDF wanted was footage of wounded, bandaged soldiers being stretchered out of the war zone. The Blackhawk helicopters ferrying their load to hospitals in southern and central Israel swooped in low, firing off flares to ward off heat-seeking missiles. In the space of two days, the limited ground incursion has become a re-run of the Second Lebanon War, with Israel’s high-tech army playing a game of hide-and-seek with small missile teams. One officer, a veteran of Gaza operations, who left the fighting area for a few hours, told Haaretz: “I’ve been to Shuja‘iyeh before, but I’ve never seen it – or Hamas – like this before. Their equipment and tactics are just like Hezbollah. Missile traps and IEDs everywhere – and they stay and fight instead of melting away like in the past.”
#GazaUnderAttack | Shaul Aaron, Army ID number 6092065: Captured by Resistance!
20 July 2014 by occpal — Shortly before resistance announced to have captured Israeli soldier Shaul Aaron. [Tweet] We were expecting something like this since seeing this tweet earlier from Wafa A Al-Udaini: Yaalon admitted:we committed Shejaeya massacre to rescue our wounded soldiers #Israel #Palestine #Gaza http://fb.me/3EzLFH6ka Yaalon made a very important remark as alleged reason for the Al-Shejaia massacre, it can be read in this article of the PalTelegraph where he stated:“…..we intensified our artillery shelling in order to evacuate our casualties”. Yes, in order to rescue their wounded soldiers…” Israel had not declared missing anyone. Nor wounding soldiers, so capture of one or more ?) soldiers was to be expected. In the meanwhile Palestine celebrates the capture by the resistance with fireworks, for one soldier in captivity changes the negotiation position of the occupied, as it did with the exchange-deal for the previous captive Shalit. Although Israel reinstated the “Hannibal Protocol” in case of abductions, this policy seems to have failed. For now Shaul Aaron will be taken care of very well unlike Israel treats its prisoners.
Hamas infiltrates Israel and attacks army patrol, injuring at least 2
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 July — Fighters affiliated with Hamas’ military wing on Saturday infiltrated the southern Israeli region of Eshkol near Ein HaShlosha through a tunnel and attacked an Israeli army patrol, injuring at least two soldiers in the ensuing firefight. Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the raid in a statement, adding that “Heavy fighting is ongoing with the forces of the occupation.” The Israeli military said in a statement that militants opened fire on the attackers with machine guns and an anti-tank missile, “moderately” wounding two soldiers in the patrol. The military said that they returned fire and killed one of the militants, while the rest re-entered the tunnel and returned to Gaza. The Israeli military added that they pursued the attackers into Gaza … Israeli news site Haaretz, meanwhile, reported that four soldiers were injured in the attack, two “lightly.” Earlier on Saturday, Israeli media reported the sound of explosions and intense clashes in the southern Israeli region of Eshkol. Israeli Channel 10 warned Israelis not to enter the region, highlighting that the focus of the conflict was in northern Eshkol, near the central Gaza Strip.
Hamas fighters enter south Israel, clash with soldiers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 July — Hamas’ military wing said Monday that a group of its fighters infiltrated southern Israel from a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip. The operation was in retaliation for the “massacre” in the al-Shuja‘iyeh neighborhood of Gaza City on Sunday, Hamas said, adding that the fighters destroyed an Israeli military jeep. Israeli media reported that 10 Hamas fighters from one of two groups who entered Israel were killed. Residents in Kissufim and nearby areas in southern Israel were told to stay in their homes and a main highway to Ashkelon was closed. Israeli casualties were reported in the media although an Israeli military spokeswoman said she couldn’t confirm the reports.
Army: 13 Israeli soldiers killed, 53 wounded in Gaza Sunday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘an that 13 soldiers have been killed in intense fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday alone, bringing the total to at least 18 since the beginning of a ground invasion late Thursday. The Israeli military spokeswoman said that all of the soldiers killed were from the elite Golani Brigades. The military said in a statement released around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday that it was still “completing the identification process” and that the names would be made public following checks with the families. The military also said that 53 soldiers had been wounded on fighting on Sunday, on top of the 60 soldiers it previously said were wounded the day before. The wounded include a commander in the Golani Brigade. Palestinian militants have engaged the Israeli military in fierce fighting across the Gaza Strip since they launched a ground invasion on Thursday. Since the fighting began, Hamas has released numerous videos and images which purport to show captured Israeli weapons. The Israeli deaths include a Hamas cross-border raid into Israel on Saturday that killed two Israeli soldiers as they were patrolling in the southern region of Eshkol.
On Friday, meanwhile, eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces had been forced to retreat from Beit Lahiya, even while Israeli forces made progress in their invasion across swathes of northern and southern Gaza.
Gaza loses 80% of its power due to the Israeli offensive
Middle East Monitor 20 July — Gaza’s Electricity Distribution Company announced on Saturday evening that its current capacity is less than 20 percent of the power needed in the Gaza Strip, as a result of the ongoing Israeli onslaught. “We cannot talk about a power program in light of the unstable conditions in the Strip,” public relations director in the company, Gamal Al-Deresdawy, said in press statements. Al-Deresdawy pointed out that the available electric power is less than 20 percent, since eight out of ten Israeli wires have been hit by airstrikes and their operation requires coordination with Israelis who do not allow the company’s staffers to enter Israel.
Ministry: 100 schools damaged by Israel since assault began
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 July — The Ministry of Higher Education in Gaza said on Saturday that 100 schools have been damaged in Israeli attacks in the last 12 days, warning that half a million students were suffering from “trauma” as a result of the ongoing assault. The ministry said in a report that 50 percent of the victims in the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip have been children or students, and hundreds of the 2,385 injuries have been children and students as well. The report highlighted that half a million minors in the Gaza Strip were suffering from trauma as a result of the offensive, which entered its 13th day on Sunday, and that large numbers of children were suffering from panic or fear attacks as a result of the assault.
Israeli warplanes blast house of Hamas leader
GAZA (PIC) 21 July — Israeli warplanes blasted the house of Hamas leader Emad al-Alami in Gaza City at dawn Monday with no casualties reported in the incident. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at the house of Alami reducing it to rubble and starting a fire in it. Palestinian security sources pointed out that Alami’s house had been evacuated earlier in anticipation of such targeting. Medical sources said that no casualties were suffered in the airstrike. Israel destroyed the houses of six Hamas leaders since last Tuesday: Mahmoud al-Zahhar, Khalil al-Hayya, and Emad al-Alami, all political bureau members of the Movement, in addition to MPs Ismail al-Ashqar and Jamila al-Shanti, and former interior minister Fathi Hammad.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Gaza on alert for Israeli spies
GAZA CITY 18 July by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Two suspected spies for Israel have been murdered in Gaza since the outbreak of war as locals are on the lookout for suspicious behavior — He walked in silence, looking at houses and examining doors, holding something in his hand. He placed it on the wall of one of the houses, looked up and saw a woman watching him from the fourth floor. He walked away quickly, looking guilty, and broke into a run. The woman began to scream, alerting some neighborhood youths, who grabbed him and found a SIM card on him with an Israeli number. They took him in and handed him over to the security services. According to one woman whose house was bombed by the occupying forces in the city of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, this was enough to determine this mysterious man a spy for the Israeli military. Standing in front of her demolished home, she told Al-Monitor, “I saw him do that a few hours before our house was hit — everything confirms that he is an Israeli spy. He moved alone when the streets were empty and put signals on houses.” One young man from a family whose house in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza was bombed by Israeli forces on the first day of the war told Al-Monitor, “I left the house in the middle of the night and saw, attached to the side of our house, a red light giving off some sort of signal. I wanted to try to break it, but my siblings warned me that it could explode.” He continued, “Not more than an hour had passed when our relatives in the area got a call from an Israeli number and a voice with a Gazan accent informed them that they needed to leave our house. It was bombed five minutes later.” In the first week of the war, which began July 8, the resistance in the Gaza Strip announced that it had arrested a number of spies.
Members of UAE ‘aid convoy’ revealed as intelligence agents
Middle East Monitor 20 July — Forty members of the UAE “aid convoy” which entered the Gaza Strip last week have been revealed as intelligence agents. They were, it is believed, trying to collect information about Hamas and its infrastructure in the besieged territory. According to one informed source, a local Palestinian recognised one of the agents as a soldier in the UAE armed forces. He contacted the security forces in Gaza who took the agent in for questioning. Other members of the “aid convoy” then made contact with officials in the United Arab Emirates. In turn, they asked disgraced Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, who now lives in and is sponsored by the UAE government, to try to secure a safe and swift exit for the agents. “Dahlan called one of his followers from Fatah who spoke with Hamas officials and they agreed to let the convoy leave immediately,” the source said. Palestinians in Gaza were surprised by the sudden exit of the UAE personnel on Saturday. The field hospital that they had ostensibly arrived to set-up was left uncompleted. Commentators say that suspicions should have been aroused when the convoy was allowed by the Egyptians to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, as no other convoys have been allowed to enter since the start of the Israeli attack and invasion. Media reports on Saturday said that the Egyptian army has banned and attacked three international aid convoys trying to enter the enclave. Egypt has closed Rafah and does not allow wounded Palestinians to travel abroad for treatment or let much-needed medicine and medical equipment to be taken into Gaza.
Egypt denies entry of Jordanian medical delegation into Gaza
AMMAN (PIC) 21 July — Egyptian authorities have denied on Sunday the entry of a Jordanian medical delegation into Gaza Strip via Rafah crossing. The delegation includes five Jordanian doctors who reached Cairo on Friday en route to Gaza to participate in the treatment of the growing number of injuries as a result of the ongoing Israeli aggression on the besieged enclave. The delegation was carrying medical equipment and devices offered by the Jordanian Committee to support the health sector in the Gaza Strip. The delegates said that the Egyptian authorities barred their entry along with other Arab and foreign doctors.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/
Israel PM says ‘very strong’ world support for Gaza assault
JERUSALEM (AFP) 20 July — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday there was “very strong” international support for the military’s ongoing operation in Gaza that has killed more than 430 Palestinians in 13 days. “We are carrying out a complex, deep, intensive activity inside the Gaza Strip and there is world support for this … very strong support within the international community for the activity that the IDF is doing,” he said at a press conference in the defence ministry in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu has said Israel won “international legitimacy” for its military operation in Gaza after it accepted an Egyptian truce proposal on July 15 which was shunned by Hamas. “As a democratic state, Israel is using the legitimate tools of self-defence to try and harm those who are firing rockets at us. I think this distinction is clear to most world leaders,” he said. Israel’s right to self-defence in the face of militant rocket fire from Gaza has won repeated broad support from Washington although it has raised concerns about the rising number of civilian deaths. Earlier on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Hamas for perpetuating the bloody conflict in Gaza by “stubbornly” refusing all ceasefire efforts. By its behaviour, Hamas had “invited further actions” by Israel, he said, demanding the Islamist movement take responsibility for the consequences of its actions. Although Netanyahu said the military’s ground campaign would expand as much as necessary to destroy a network of cross-border tunnels used by militants to stage attacks inside Israel, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon suggested it could be over within days. “My assessment is that in another two or three days, the lion’s share of the tunnels, from our perspective, will be destroyed,” he said at the same press conference.
Meshaal still rejects Egyptian initiative and turns down Cairo invitation
Middle East Monitor 20 July — The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal has refused an invitation to lead a high-level delegation to Cairo for talks on the ceasefire initiative, the Palestinian Information Centre reported on Sunday. According to an informed source within Hamas, the movement turned down the invitation indirectly by saying that its position on the initiative is already known. The Islamic Resistance Movement, however, reiterated that it is “ready to cooperate with any side to achieve the demands of Palestinians.” It announced earlier that it would not accept any initiative that does not meet the demands of the Palestinians in advance. Hamas justified its rejection of the initiative “for objective reasons”, including the fact that the initiative calls for a ceasefire without any Israeli commitment to Palestinian conditions, “which [therefore, simply] returns Gaza to square one”. Palestinian resistance groups have also announced their own proposal for a ceasefire, supported by Qatar and Turkey, which includes an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, lifting the siege on Gaza, releasing all prisoners recently rounded up by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and having the US as the sponsor of the agreement. Qatar has submitted the initiative to US Secretary of State John Kerry, who passed it over to Israel.
Kerry travels to Cairo seeking ‘immediate ceasefire’
WASHINGTON (AFP) 21 July — US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cairo early Monday for crisis talks on Gaza, following President Barack Obama’s call for an “immediate ceasefire” between Israelis and Palestinians. The US top diplomat is scheduled to meet with senior officials from Egypt and other countries, the State Department said, in a bid to halt a devastating land, sea and air assault that has sent thousands of terrified civilians fleeing their homes and killed over 500 Palestinians. Kerry will seek “an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said, stressing the need to protect civilian life both “in Gaza and in Israel.” According to the State Department, Kerry supports Egypt’s initiative to bring about a ceasefire. His visit to the region comes in parallel with a high-profile peace mission by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Obama spoke Sunday by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his “serious concern” after more than 100 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in the bloodiest day since the Gaza offensive was launched. Kerry’s high-stakes trip came as US media reported that two American members of the Israeli Defense Force were killed in Gaza fighting…
The UN Security Council deplored the mounting death toll in Gaza and appealed for an immediate ceasefire. Meeting for two hours at an emergency session, the 15-member Council called for the respect of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians. In a statement, the Council threw its support behind Egypt’s bid to broker a truce as well as the peace mission by the UN’s Ban, who is due in Kuwait on Monday before heading to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. Hamas has laid out a set of conditions, including the lifting of Israel’s eight-year blockade on Gaza, the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and the release of scores of prisoners Israel re-arrested in recent weeks. The demands are in line with the position of the international community and human rights groups.
Israel Channel 2 retracts claim that militants used UNRWA ambulance
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — Israeli Channel Two on Sunday retracted claims made a day before that an ambulance belonging to the UN’s Palestine refugee agency UNRWA was used to transport militants, the organization said. UNRWA said in a statement that the channel, which is Israel’s highest-rating TV news network, had retracted the “false and damaging allegations” after being confronted with “incontrovertible evidence” that they were “baseless” by the organization. “There are many false reports circulating about UNRWA right now. This is another regrettable example in that long catalog of sloppy journalism,” said UNRWA Spokesman, Chris Gunness, in a statement … In the past, the Israeli military has used claims that militants use ambulances to transport weapons or hospitals to store them in order to justify attacks on those sites, which are prohibited under international law protecting civilians. [Who remembers the film of the ‘Qassam rocket’ being loaded into a UN ambulance in 2004? That turned out to be a rolled-up stretcher and the Israeli army retracted its accusation, but people tend to remember the initial story, not the refutation.]
Iron Dome: The public relations weapon
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 10 July 2014 by John Mecklin — With the latest rounds of rocket fire from Hamas fighters in the Gaza strip, Israel’s missile defense system, known as Iron Dome, is getting a lot of press again, much of it positive. As with much reporting on missile defense, however, the Iron Dome coverage has lacked context and misconstrued reality. A CNN article, for example, carried the headline “How Iron Dome blocks rockets from Gaza, protects Israelis” and described a system that had knocked down 56 rockets fired out of Gaza at a string of Israeli cities. The article suggests that the system is accurate and used “only against rockets headed toward populated areas.” It does not suggest that there is any question about the system’s effectiveness. The New York Times, noted for its authoritative reporting, wrote that the Israeli Army contended Iron Dome “intercepted about 27 percent of all the rockets fired between Monday night and midday Wednesday.” But the Times did not indicate how many missiles had been targeted, leaving the efficiency of the Iron Dome system in this conflict unclear, even as the newspaper reported that “Israel has said that the system has a success rate of nearly 90 percent in intercepting the missiles it is meant to thwart.” … Ted Postol, an MIT-based missile defense expert and frequent Bulletin contributor, provided a dose of context to the Iron Dome coverage in a National Public Radio interview Wednesday. “We can tell, for sure, from video images and even photographs that the Iron Dome system is not working very well at all,” Postol said. “It — my guess is maybe [it hits a targeted missile] 5 percent of the time — could be even lower. … And when you look — what you can do in the daytime — you can see the smoky contrail of each Iron Dome interceptor, and you can see the Iron Domes trying to intercept the artillery rockets side on and from behind. In those geometries, the Iron Dome has no chance, for all practical purposes, of destroying the artillery rocket.” Regular readers of the Bulletin are well aware of the long history of inflated claims of missile defense efficiency … Meanwhile, the Israeli government presents Iron Dome’s performance as part of a sophisticated public relations effort that aims to persuade the broader public that Hamas is a heartless and calculating terrorist organization and Israel’s defense forces are decent, determined, and effective … To the extent it fills news cycles with reports on Hamas rocket attacks and Iron Dome’s supposed technologically advanced method of intercepting them, this PR effort also deflects attention from the human consequences of Israeli bombing strikes in Gaza.
What if Iron Dome is a bluff? / Rogel Alpher
Haaretz 19 July — That’s what two prominent missile experts assert. Could the Israel Defense Forces and the government be lying to us? — Iron Dome is Israeli society’s deus ex machina coming from nowhere to solve the problems that left us helpless. We worship it. Unquestioningly. We were told up front that it can guarantee interception of only 90 percent of the rockets launched at us, so even a little damage and a few casualties and fatalities won’t cause us to doubt its efficacy. However, Israel Defense Prize laureate and aerospace engineer Dr. Moti Shefer, whose specialty is interception missiles, says Iron Dome is a bluff. It doesn’t intercept anything but rather invents virtual rockets. The explosions we hear are the sounds of Iron Dome missiles self-destructing. As of the writing of these lines, Hamas rockets have done very little damage to people and property. We see this as proof of Iron Dome’s efficacy and reliability; Shefer says the number of rockets coming in from the Gaza Strip is immeasurably smaller than what Iron Dome reports and in any case they are tinpot weapons, so 95 percent of the time we are safe anyway, irrespective of Iron Dome (and the endless “open spaces” with which we have suddenly been blessed, like some new sort of manna rained down upon us by a benevolent deity). In an article in Haaretz in March, 2013, the late military commentator Reuven Pedatzur cited anti-missile defense specialist MIT Prof. Theodore Postol, who after analyzing dozens of videos filmed during Operation Pillar of Defense concluded that the percentage of successful interceptions by Iron Dome was only about 5 percent. Shefer and Postol make the most subversive claim imaginable. If they are right, what we have here is the mother of all conspiracies: The national leadership is manufacturing an imaginary reality and convincing citizens of its truth, out of tyrannical and economic motives. If so, North Korea is here.
Israel’s booming secretive arms trade
NAZARETH, Israel [Al Jazeera] 16 Aug 2013 [but well worth revisiting] by Jonathan Cook — New documentary argues success of country’s weapons industry relies on exploiting Palestinians — Israel’s secretive arms trade is booming as never before, according to the latest export figures. But it is also coming under mounting scrutiny as some analysts argue that Israel has grown dependent on exploiting the suffering of Palestinians for military and economic gain. A new documentary, called The Lab, has led the way in turning the spotlight on Israel’s arms industry. It claims that four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have become little more than guinea pigs in military experiments designed to enrich a new elite of arms dealers and former generals. The film’s release this month in the United States follows news that Israeli sales of weapons and military systems hit a record high last year of $7.5bn, up from $5.8bn the previous year. A decade ago, Israeli exports were worth less than $2bn. Israel is now ranked as one of the world’s largest arms exporters – a considerable achievement for a country smaller than New York. Yotam Feldman, director of The Lab and a former journalist with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, says Israel has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for refining, testing and showcasing its weapons systems.
Opinion / Analysis
Sayed Kashua: Why I have to leave Israel
The Observer 19 July — The Arab-Israeli author moved to Jerusalem as a child and has devoted his life to telling Israelis the Palestinian story. But last week he decided to emigrate with his family to the US — Quite soon I am going away from here. In a few days we’ll be leaving Jerusalem, leaving the country. Yesterday we bought little suitcases for the kids. No need to take a lot of clothes, we’ll leave our winter clothes; in any event they won’t be warm enough given the cold of southern Illinois, USA. We’ll just need a few things until we get settled. Perhaps the kids should take some books, two or three in Arabic, and another few in Hebrew, so they don’t forget the languages. But I’m already not sure what I want my kids to remember of this place, so beloved and so cursed … During these years I also began to understand my own story, and without planning to do so I began to write about Arabs who live in an Israeli boarding school, in the western city, in a Jewish country. I began to write, believing that all I had to do to change things would be to write the other side, to tell the stories that I heard from my grandmother. To write how my grandfather was killed in the battle over Tira in 1948, how my grandmother lost all of our land, how she raised my father while she supported them as a fruit picker paid by the Jews. I wanted to tell, in Hebrew, about my father who sat in jail for long years, with no trial, for his political ideas. I wanted to tell the Israelis a story, the Palestinian story. Surely when they read it they will understand, when they read it they will change, all I have to do is write and the Occupation will end. I just have to be a good writer and I will free my people from the ghettos they live in, tell good stories in Hebrew and I will be safe, another book, another movie, another newspaper column and another script for television and my children will have a better future. Thanks to my stories one day we will turn into equal citizens, almost like the Jews.Twenty-five years of writing in Hebrew, and nothing has changed. Twenty-five years clutching at the hope, believing it is not possible that people can be so blind … Twenty-five years that I am writing and knowing bitter criticism from both sides, but last week I gave up. Last week something inside of me broke. When Jewish youth parade through the city shouting “Death to the Arabs,” and attack Arabs only because they are Arabs, I understood that I had lost my little war.
The overwhelming silence of Gaza’s streets / Rami Almeghari
GAZA STRIP 14 July — Mahmoud Darwish, the great Palestinian poet, once called Gaza “an incomparable moral treasure for Arabs.” No matter what our enemies do, Gaza will “not repeat lies and say ‘yes’ to invaders,” he wrote … Everyone in Gaza is a potential target for Israel’s warplanes. We can all be killed — whether we stay at home, go to work, go to a marketplace or pray in a mosque. No ambition for martyrdom In Gaza, we call our victims “martyrs,” whether they intended to die or not. Some people in the West find this puzzling. We make no apology for doing so. We have always believed that those who are killed by the Israeli occupation will be rewarded by God in paradise. I have not been trying to become a martyr. I am a journalist trying to do my job. Last week, I was trying to ensure that the voices of Gaza are heard in the outside world, something I do all the time. While I was taking a taxi home after conducting some interviews, I narrowly missed an Israeli drone attack on a motorcycle. Two martyrs died instantly in that attack … Risking their lives Ambulance drivers are risking their lives to bring victims to hospitals. At least two ambulance crew members have been wounded in eastern Gaza City. There are few other vehicles on the road. It is Ramadan. Usually during this blessed month, we hear vendors calling out to us from their market stalls. They plead with us to buy treats for the iftar, the meal that ends a day of fasting. Over the past few days, the marketplaces have been silent. The silence is overwhelming. People on the street look as if they are attending a funeral, as if they are about to bury their dead. Many faces look pale. This is the third time in less than six years that Israel has subjected us to an all-out attack.We are traumatized. We are terrorized. But we are still here. All 1.8 million of us. Mahmoud Darwish was right. We will never say “yes” to our invaders. They will never defeat us.
Otherwise Occupied — Reaping what we have sown in Gaza / Amira Hass
Haaretz 21 July — Those who turned Gaza into an internment camp for 1.8 million people should not be surprised when they tunnel underneath the earth — I’ve already raised the white flag. I’ve stopped searching the dictionary for the word to describe half of a boy’s missing head while his father screams “Wake up, wake up, I bought you a toy!” How did Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Greater Germany, put it? Israel’s right to defend itself. I’m still struggling with the need to share details of the endless number of talks I’ve had with friends in Gaza, in order to document what it’s like to wait for your turn in the slaughterhouse. For example, the talk I had on Saturday morning with J. from al-Bureij refugee camp, while he was on his way to Dir al-Balah with his wife. They’re about 60-years-old. That morning, his aging mother got a phone call, and heard the recording instructing the residents of their refugee camp to leave for Dir al-Balah. A book on Israeli military psychology should have an entire chapter devoted to this sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy: A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away. What, I asked J., you’re leaving? “What, why?” He said, “We have a hut near the beach, with some land and cats. We’re going to feed the cats and come back. We’re going together. If the car gets blown up, we’ll die together.” … I’m fed up with the failed efforts at competing with the abundance of orchestrated commentaries on Hamas’ goals and actions, from people who write as if they’ve sat down with Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh, and not just some IDF or Shin Bet security service source. Those who rejected Fatah and Yasser Arafat’s peace proposal for two states have now been given Haniyeh, Hamas and BDS. Those who turned Gaza into an internment and punishment camp for 1.8 million human beings should not be surprised that they tunnel underneath the earth. Those who sow strangling, siege and isolation reap rocket fire. Those who have, for 47 years, indiscriminately crossed the Green Line, expropriating land and constantly harming civilians in raids, shootings and settlements – what right do they have to roll their eyes and speak of Palestinian terror against civilians? Hamas is cruelly and frighteningly destroying the traditional double standards mentality that Israel is a master at. All of those brilliant intelligence and Shin Bet brains really don’t understand that we ourselves have created the perfect recipe for our very own version of Somalia? You want to prevent escalation? Now is the time: Open up the Gaza Strip, let the people return to the world, the West Bank, and to their families and families in Israel. Let them breathe, and they will find out that life is more beautiful than death.
On ‘human shielding’ in Gaza / Nicola Perugini & Neve Gordon
AlJazeera 18 July — All fighting within cities and all bombardments of urban spaces, even the most “precise and surgical”, is a potential death trap for civilians. Consequently, the permeation of war into cities inevitably transforms their inhabitants into potential human shields. For Palestinians living in Gaza today, simply spending time in their own homes, frequenting a mosque, going to a hospital or to school has become a dangerous enterprise since any one of these architectural edifices can become at any moment a target. One can no longer safely assume that the existence of masses of human bodies – even the bodies of children – in civilian spaces can serve as defence of the weak against the lethal capacity of the hi-tech states. But since hi-tech states can and do kill hundreds or thousands of civilians, they have to provide moral justification for their action in order to preserve their standing in the international arena; they have to demonstrate that they are protecting the principles of liberal democracy. It is precisely within this context that we should understand the series of posters recently disseminated by the Israeli military through its Twitter account, Facebook and blogs. The poster “Where do Gaza Terrorists Hide Their Weapons” is a paradigmatic example, where the subtext does the speaking: Houses, mosques, schools, and hospitals are legitimate targets because they are presumed to be weapon depositories … Israel’s warfare is, however, not only about the re-signification of architectural structures, but also about the transformation of human beings into collateral damage, subjects who can be killed without violating international law. This is the subtext of the poster featuring Israel’s Chief of Staff saying: “Even as we carry out strikes, we remember that there are civilians in Gaza. Hamas has turned them into hostages.” Again, the logic is clear. All civilians in Gaza are being held hostage by Hamas, which is considered a war crime and a gross violation of international law governing armed conflict. This, then, provides legal and moral justification against the accusation that Israel is the one killing civilians. Presumed human rights violations carried out by Palestinians against Palestinians – taking hostages and human shielding – thus become the legitimisation of lethal and indiscriminate violence on the part of the occupying force … These powerful images, spread by the Israeli military through social media, attempt to transform the very presence of civilians as suspect in the areas it bombards, regardless of the fact that the areas it bombs are urban centres.
What does Hamas really want? / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 20 July — …Israel prefers to strike Hamas without mercy and with no purpose other than revenge. This time it is particularly clear: Israel says it does not want to topple Hamas – even Israel understands that instead it will have Somalia at its gates – but it is also unwilling to listen to Hamas’ demands. Are they all “animals”? Let’s say that’s true. But they are there to stay, even Israel believes that’s the case, so why not listen? Last week 10 conditions were published in the name of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for a 10-year cease-fire. We may doubt whether these were in fact the demands of those organizations, but they can serve as a fair basis for an agreement. There is not one unfounded condition among them. Hamas and Islamic Jihad demand freedom for Gaza. Is there a more understandable and just demand? There is no way to end the current cycle of killing, and not have another round in a few months, without accepting this. No military operation, by air, ground or sea, will bring a solution; only a basic change of attitude toward Gaza can ensure what everyone wants: quiet. Read the list of demands and judge honestly whether there is one unjust demand among them: withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops and allowing farmers to work their land up to the fence; release of all prisoners from the Gilad Shalit swap who have been rearrested; an end to the siege and opening of the crossings; opening of a port and airport underUN management; expansion of the fishing zone; international supervision of the Rafah crossing; an Israeli pledge to a 10-year cease-fire and closure of Gaza’s air space to Israeli aircraft; permits to Gaza residents to visit Jerusalem and pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque; and an Israeli pledge not to interfere in internal Palestinian politics such as the unity government; opening Gaza’s industrial zone. These conditions are civilian; the means of achieving them are military, violent and criminal. But the (bitter) truth is that when Gaza is not firing rockets at Israel, nobody cares about it.