A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into possible war crimes carried out by Israel in advance of the Palestinian government’s official ascension to the court. Meanwhile, the Palestinians plan to re-file a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel’s occupation.
Category Archives: Gaza
A controversial military investigation is illuminating the deadliest incident of Operation Protective Edge, as well as one of the Israeli army’s most shadowy directives: an order intended to thwart the abduction of IDF soldiers, even at the risk of killing them. Code named Hannibal, the protocol was carried out in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on August 1, 2014, a date now known as Black Friday; the resulting artillery barrage and torrent of airstrikes killed 190 Palestinians in two days, according to Gaza human rights groups, after the suspected capture by Hamas fighters of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. Recordings of the IDF assault, publicized last week, suggest a chaotic and undisciplined outburst of violence: “I repeat, stop the shooting!” the brigade commander yells over the field radio. “You’re shooting like retards. You’ll kill one another. Enough!”
Alaa Radwan is 22 years old and has already lived through three wars in the Gaza Strip. She says there are lessons to be learned from everything, even war: “My grandmother one day told me that everything has a good side and a bad side, even a war. Everybody knows the dreadful face of wars. Those who have experienced wars, like Gazans, know best! “What good side, for God’s sake, could be in a war or a siege?” I stood still and asked myself. After three bloody Israeli wars, I found out the answer!”
Under the supervision of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Youth Rights (PICYR), 30 families whose houses had been totally destroyed during the last Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, have been offered flats to live in as a temporary solution. The campaign, held by PICYR, carries the tagline, “I will not let my brother suffer from the cold winter.”
Three weeks after Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip concluded, Israeli military and political leaders attended a conference next to Ben Gurion Airport to sell the successes of what Israel dubbed Operation Protective Edge, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 521 children. The “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference showcased the latest drone technology and previewed the industry’s prospects to a few hundred international buyers, vendors, and military figures. Inside a private conference room, political and industry leaders gave presentations — speaking in military euphemisms that avoided any uncomfortable references to the humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the 51-day bombing campaign. Among the offerings were suicide drones, “loitering munitions” that need to explode; a 16-year-old showing off high-tech robots designed by fellow high schoolers and future drone makers; and “premature” weapons, armaments that have not been fully tested before they are used on a live Palestinian population. Such is Israel the military power.
Dan Cohen reports from Gaza where eight years of siege and three wars in six years have left the besieged Strip in a state of perpetual disaster with no end in sight. After this summer’s assault, tens of thousands of Palestinians are sentenced to living in rubble wastelands that are scarcely recognizable from the thriving neighborhoods they once were. “The survivors are the real victims of war,” Hamza Saftawi, 23, said. “They have to live in the aftermath.”
It’s been two-and-a-half months since Operation Protective Edge ended. During the operation, thousands of Gaza residents took shelter in United Nations (UNRWA) schools. Many have since returned to their homes, and others, whose homes were destroyed, were put up by family and friends. However, 18 UNRWA schools still house more than 30,000 people who have no home or temporary solution. They are waiting for Gaza’s promised reconstruction while living in classrooms that were modified into small one-room apartments.
Israel has banned Norwegian doctor and human rights activist Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza for life. Gilbert, a professor at the University Hospital of North Norway, where he has worked since 1976, earned international renown for his philanthropic work in late 2008, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, an attack that, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, killed roughly 1,400 Gazans, including almost 800 civilians, 350 of whom were children.
A haunting piece by young Gaza writer Enas Fares on the aftermath of this summer’s Israeli attack.
Amnesty International’s new report, “Families Under the Rubble- Israeli attacks on inhabited homes” accuses Israel of committing war crimes by targeting and killing scores of Palestinians civilian with no warning during Operation Protective Edge, last summer’s slaughter in Gaza. The report says, “Given the failure of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to independently and impartially investigate allegations of war crimes, it is imperative that the international community support the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
Struggles in Gaza continue although it seems to many Gazans that much of the international community, including activists, have moved on to other issues.
Olivia Snaije interviews Mohammed Matter, one of the founders of Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO) and known until a month ago as Abu Yazan. Matter discusses GYBO, life in Gaza and living under the Israeli attack this past summer.
It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting. According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza. Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans? The reason for the hold-up is, as ever, Israel’s “security needs”. Gaza can be rebuilt but only to the precise specifications laid down by Israeli officials.
The finale of Israel’s mass destruction of the Gaza Strip during “Operation Protective Edge” was the flattening of several landmark towers that provided essential social and economic functions and which stood as symbols of the besieged coastal strip’s beleaguered professional class. While the war began with the flattening of the areas the Israeli military considers Gaza’s “hard shell” — border areas like Shujaiya and Khuza’a — it ended with a brazen assault on its soft core. The targeting of the professional class, a key pillar of Palestinian society generally considered unsympathetic to the political goals of Hamas, was a new front of economic and social warfare on Gaza.
When Sam Bahour asked his colleague in Gaza about her biggest dream, her answer made an impression on him: “I dream of what life would be like with 24-hour electricity.” This was the answer of a single, mid-career, western educated, professional woman who lives in the more affluent part of Gaza City. Her response suggests the depth of despair among Palestinians throughout Gaza.
Tamara Ben-Halim writes about her experience with Cycling4Gaza, a group of 40 people who cycled from from Philadelphia to Washington DC to raise awareness and funds for Gaza. One of those 40 was a 16 year old boy from Gaza, Ahmed Abunammous. Ahmed was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper last year, at the age of 15. His leg had to be amputated, and Ahmed was lucky enough to be treated by the tireless PCRF (Palestine Children’s Relief) who flew him out to the US soon after to be operated on and fitted with a prosthetic leg. Ben-Halim, writes, “A year later, this time last week, Ahmed was cycling with us across the east coast, working his one leg nearly twice as hard as the rest of us.”
Pam Bailey interviews twin brothers Mohammed and Ahmed Abu Nasser, who are better known as Arab and Tarzan. Their film “Condom Lead” was the first film from Gazan Palestinians to be accepted into the Cannes Film Festival, and it will soon be screened at the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival in Washington, DC.
What is Israel’s endgame in Gaza? It is a question that has been puzzling analysts and observers for some time. But indications of the future Israel and Washington may have in mind for Gaza are emerging. Reports in the Arab and Israeli media – in part corroborated by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas – suggest that Egypt may be at the heart of plans to solve the problem on Israel’s behalf. This month the Israeli media reported claims, apparently leaked by Israeli officials, that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had offered the Palestinian leadership the chance to annex to Gaza an area of 1,600 sq km in Sinai. The donated territory would expand Gaza fivefold. The scheme is said to have received the blessing of the United States.
Overnight Tuesday Israeli special forces killed two Palestinian men who were suspected of kidnapping and slaying three Israeli youths abducted in June while hitchhiking in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc of the West Bank. Amer Abu Aisha, 32, and Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, had evaded Israeli forces for over 100 days hiding out in their home city of Hebron no more than five miles from the site of where the remains of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were discovered over the summer.
The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center field teams have documented full or partial damages to 75 kindergartens and day-care centers caused during the 51 day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip this summer.
At the height of the Gaza onslaught in July, Netanyahu’s right-hand man met with a group of journalists in Jerusalem to equate Hamas with ISIS. The latest Israeli rhetoric is overheated: Both organizations seek to establish an Islamic caliphate, both “educate (read: brainwash) children to sanctify death and to die as a martyr (shahid) in jihad.” Oh and Hamas is global, but Boko Haram isn’t.
Dan Cohen talks with Usama Abu Safer from Gaza’s Deir al Balah Rehabilitation Center. They met during the final days of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 51-day assault that killed 2,168 Palestinians and injured nearly 11,000. Frequent Israeli violence has raised the rate of disability among more than 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza to an astonishing 7.5%. According to the Deir al Balah Rehabilitation Center, 3,000 of the injured in Operation Protective Edge now have permanent physical disabilities, most of which are paraplegia and amputations. Many more suffered permanent hearing loss resulting from explosions.
Since Operation Protective Edge began in Gaza in early July, Israel has strengthened economic relationships with its closest allies. Within days of the air campaign starting, the U.S. and Israel penned a mutual recognition customs agreement which will lift screening barriers and tariffs. Then on Monday Israel cinched a similar Declaration of Intent from Canada, while focusing on the threat of ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah.