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Gaza heats up: Israel bombards coastal enclave under siege with multiple airstrikes

Israel/Palestine
on 55 Comments
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A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke billowing following an Israeli air strike inside the Palestinian territory on November 21, 2012.

The immediate cause of the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, which featured rockets and mortars fired into Israel and air attacks on the coastal enclave, occurred over the last two days.  But the roots of the latest fighting are Israeli violations of the November 2012 truce between Hamas and Israel, and the years-long blockade and occupation crippling the Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad attacked Israeli soldiers said to be advancing towards the Gaza Strip.  In response, an Israeli airstrike killed three fighters.  That, in turn, caused Islamic Jihad to unleash a barrage of some 70 projectiles into southern Israeli communities.  No injures in Israel have been reported.

The Palestinian group said that its attacks were a way to avenge the deaths of six Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza in recent days, as Allison Deger reported here.

The rockets and mortars fired into Israeli territory were the most significant Palestinian counter-attack since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in late 2012.  The Islamic Jihad attacks caused some Israeli officials to act tough, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying Israel needed to “reoccupy” Gaza–most likely bluster, since the Israeli military has no interest in actually doing so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “if there won’t be quiet in the south, there will be noise in Gaza – a lot of noise, and this is an understatement.”

Sure enough, Israel reportedly launched 29 airstrikes and attacked Islamic Jihad positions with artillery.  According to Ma’an News Agency, no Palestinians have been killed or injured, perhaps reflecting an Israeli intention to escalate just enough so that peace talks with the West Bank leadership continue.  Islamic Jihad and Hamas also have little interest in provoking an all-out assault.

Still, even if this latest escalation doesn’t immediately break out into full-scale war, it’s one more step on the way towards that path. That’s because the Egyptian and U.S.-brokered ceasefire from 2012 between Palestinian militant groups–including Islamic Jihad and Hamas–has been threatened by repeated Israeli violations.  And it’s those Israeli violations that have provoked rocket fire into Israel.

The Palestine Center’s Yousef Munayyer wrote about these dynamics last month with a chart and explanation:

Gaza Dynamics

 Israeli cease-fire violations have been persistent throughout and have routinely resulted in Palestinian injuries and deaths. Palestinian launches have been rare and sporadic and occurred almost always after successive instances of Israeli cease-fire violations.

Munayyer also touched on the internal Palestinian political struggles over the truce:

The biggest challenge to the cease-fire agreement is persistent Israeli violation and the lack of any accountability for them. The politics of the Gaza Strip are complex. Israel says it wants Hamas to control projectile fire from other factions and yet it persistently violates the truce putting Hamas in a position of having to defend Israel’s violations. By targeting groups other than Hamas and by expecting Hamas to crack down on their responses, Israel is playing a dangerous and deadly game of divide and conquer in Gaza that will likely lead to the unraveling of the cease-fire. Once again, Israel has proven security is not its aim, subjugation is.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza are sure to weaken Hamas a little more than they have been, though it doesn’t look like this round of fighting will depose the group. Hamas is in a precarious position, reeling from the blockade as well as Egyptian efforts to crush them. Now, with Islamic Jihad and Israel trading fire, their hold on power has slipped a bit–which plays right into Israel’s hands, who want to destroy the group as a viable resistance group that can also govern.

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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55 Responses

  1. Blownaway
    Blownaway
    March 12, 2014, 9:58 pm

    It doesn’t matter how many Palestinians are killed…the media stenographers are going to write it up as self defense to provocation….look there a broken sidewalk, let’s bomb Gaza.

    • Justpassingby
      Justpassingby
      March 13, 2014, 9:09 am

      Indeed, when israel start wars or bomb whatever state there is never any condemnation, people doesnt even seems to care anymore.

  2. bilal a
    bilal a
    March 13, 2014, 12:51 am

    And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch..For the LORD’S indignation is against all the nations..he hath delivered them to the slaughter..For My sword is satiated in heaven, Behold it shall descend for judgment upon Edom And upon the people whom I have devoted to destruction,
    Isaiah 34

  3. Mayhem
    Mayhem
    March 13, 2014, 1:05 am

    roots of the latest fighting are Israeli violations of the November 2012 truce between Hamas and Israel

    Islamic Jihad or whoever have been waiting 16 months to respond!
    Making it up as you go Mr. Kane?
    Any cease fire for Hamas is just a Hudna – buying them time to regroup for the next attack. Only the elimination of Israel will satisfy them. They are an enemy that can ever be placated.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      March 13, 2014, 5:07 pm

      The IDF needs hamas to justify the budgets. Khamas the implacable enemy with no planes. Brave jewish boys turkey shooting, blowing up whatever is left of tikkun olam.

    • eljay
      eljay
      March 13, 2014, 6:35 pm

      >> They are an enemy that can ever be placated.

      An excellent description of an aggressive, oppressive, colonialist, expansionist, nuclear-armed and supremacist “Jewish State”:
      – born of terrorism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands;
      – engaged in a 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder;
      – unwilling to honour its obligations under international law; and
      – unwilling to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

      But, sure, it’s Hamas that’s the implacable enemy.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      March 14, 2014, 4:39 pm

      It’s you that are making it up as you go Mayhem.

      Any cease fire for Hamas is just a Hudna – buying them time to regroup for the next attack.

      Tell me Mayhem, how does Hamas get Israel to break the ceasefire for them every time to give them a pretext?

      Only the elimination of Israel will satisfy them.

      Tell me Mayhem, of the elimination of Israel why does Hamas only use Katusha rockets that either ladn harmlessly in the desert of hit nothing anyway?

      Making it up as you go Mayhem?

      Or just another case of Zionists projecting their own bloodlust onto others?

  4. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough
    March 13, 2014, 1:18 am

    Some things to remember:

    1. All attacks by Palestinians are unprovoked.
    2. All attacks by Israeli forces are retaliation for unprovoked attacks by Palestinians.
    3. Attacks by Palestinians are random.
    4. Retaliatory attacks by Israeli forces are pin-point.*

    *Despite the pin-point and well-planned nature of Israeli retaliation, women and children inevitably end up dead or maimed. In this case Israeli soldiers cry and blame it on the Palestinians, because it is ALWAYS their fault.

  5. giladg
    giladg
    March 13, 2014, 4:20 am

    Alex, why don’t you suggest to Allison to go down to Sderot (Israeli town being bombarded with rockets) for a few days? There is a special on with reality sandwich’s.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      March 13, 2014, 5:05 pm

      Poor sderot. Consequences are a bitch. I hope they get bds too.

      • jon s
        jon s
        March 13, 2014, 5:47 pm

        Seafoid, you’re beneath contempt.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        March 14, 2014, 11:19 am

        S’Derot is built on the Palestinian village of Najd, you settler thief.

        The only thing ‘beneath’ here is Palestine – destroyed and replaced with Jewish Israel.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        March 14, 2014, 3:07 pm

        Jon

        What do you think Gazans are supposed to do? Sing Hatikva? Join the peace process ? You’re naïve.

        The IDF and Hamas play the IDF choreographed danse macabre and Gaza pays. Standard of living below sub Saharan Africa. All natural, is it ?

        Sderot is a back arse of beyond Sephardi dump. Why do you think they didn’t build the Technion in Sderot ?

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        March 14, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Yes Jon,

        Why should hasbrats have to face consequence?

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        March 14, 2014, 4:53 pm

        Jon

        You soi disant liberal Zionists are the worst.

        The wars of law don’t apply to Gaza. Israel trashed every bit of charity that was sent with 3 flotillas to Gaza. The place will be unliveable by 2020.
        All planned by your people.

        For every Israeli who dies 50 Gazans are killed. And you expect the Gazans to suck it up because they aren’t Jewish and you are superior to them.

        All run by Jews so you can pretend that the land- all of it- is yours because of something G-d promised Abraham.

        You live in a place which was Palestinian 70 years ago. The owners ended up in Gaza.

        Grow up

    • eljay
      eljay
      March 13, 2014, 9:35 pm

      >> Alex, why don’t you suggest to Allison to go down to Sderot … for a few days? There is a special on with reality sandwich’s.

      Those reality sandwiches are finger-food morsels of violence that fell of the massive platters of oppression, devastation and death you and your hateful and immoral co-collectivists have been serving to the civilians in Gaza for over 60 years.

      You should visit Gaza and choke. some of it down.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      March 14, 2014, 4:41 pm

      Alex, why don’t you suggest to Allison to go down to Sderot (Israeli town being bombarded with rockets) for a few days?

      How boring would that be? She’d be lucky to even see a rocket and even then, it would land nowhere near anyone.

  6. just
    just
    March 13, 2014, 5:45 am

    “Once again, Israel has proven security is not its aim, subjugation is.”

    Truer words were never written…though I would add that they lust for the land, water, and the expulsion of all the indigenous Palestinians– no matter how it happens………

    My thoughts are with the people of Gaza who remain under terrible siege and Occupation.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      March 13, 2014, 8:38 am

      Israeli cruelty in Gaza is pathological. Israel deserves BDS.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    March 13, 2014, 8:18 am

    Pretty obvious by now that the American government has not and does not care about Gaza. On CSPAN WJ now people are calling in about US Defense priorities; Marcy Kaptur (D, Ohio) is responding. Some callers so far have been allowed to mention Israel’s role in the Ukraine context, that is variants of the “special relationship,” etc.

  8. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    March 13, 2014, 9:10 am

    This is planned by Israel. Provocations by Israel in the middle of Russia/Ukraine/West issue.

  9. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    March 13, 2014, 9:48 am

    Call your Reps let them know we are out here. That we do not support the apartheid state of Israel and we want all aid to Israel to stop. Let them know we are out here.

  10. Balfour
    Balfour
    March 13, 2014, 12:36 pm

    Nothing says peace like multiple air strikes.

  11. Balfour
    Balfour
    March 13, 2014, 12:39 pm

    Nothing says peace like multiple air strikes. I’d love to see this story run alongside the reports of IDF soldiers ordering Palestinians to pull down their flag in occupied Hebron.

  12. jon s
    jon s
    March 13, 2014, 1:35 pm

    My thoughts are with the brave people of Sderot.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      March 14, 2014, 11:17 am

      How brave do you have to be when only 8 people have died from those rockets in 14 years?

      Whereas hundreds and hundreds (not counting your Jewish terrorist State’s army massacre of 1400+ people in 08′) of Palestinians have died due to your ‘bravery’.

  13. Rational Zionist
    Rational Zionist
    March 13, 2014, 4:50 pm

    1. 3 Gazans were killed as they were preparing to fire a mortar into Israel. Should Israel allow the shelling to happen and then take action?
    2. Why is it that even Egypt has closed their border crossing with Gaza and closed so many smuggling tunnels? Are you going to tell me that Egypt is controlled by Israel?
    3. Do you think Israel wants anything to do with Gaza? If Hamas could be trusted to be non-belligerent, the controls would be gone.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 14, 2014, 10:41 am

      @ Rational Zionist
      I won’t mention I think your name handle is an oxymoron, but instead I will merely point out to all MW readers here that the truth is the Israeli military reported those three Gazans were killed as they were preparing to fire a mortar into Israel. I will let MW readers judge for themselves whether or not they can trust a report from the Israeli military about anything. For sure, we all know you do. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/world/middleeast/israeli-strike-gaza.html?_r=0

      Rational Zionist is a new commenter here, and self-describes as a person who is a devoted Zionist and can see both sides of an issue.

      • annie
        annie
        March 14, 2014, 10:47 am

        “the truth is the Israeli military [merely]reported those three Gazans were killed as they were preparing to fire a mortar into Israel.”

        of course, because israel only responds/reacts, they don’t ever initiate violent action. cough.

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        March 14, 2014, 4:48 pm

        Rational Zionist is a new commenter here, and self-describes as a person who is a devoted Zionist and can see both sides of an issue.

        Like botch sides of the green line. He sees both sides of the Israeli narrative.

    • puppies
      puppies
      March 14, 2014, 11:21 am

      1. Prove it. You only have the word of certified liars.
      2. Egypt is certainly controlled by the Zionist entity –to the tune of over 2 billion a year.
      3. The right andthe duty of Palestinians as enshrined in the UN charter is to be belligerent against their invader and occupier.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      March 14, 2014, 4:46 pm

      1. 3 Gazans were killed as they were preparing to fire a mortar into Israel. Should Israel allow the shelling to happen and then take action?

      Should Israel have killed the 3 Gazans? Oh that’s right, rational Zionists only think timelines begin when Israelis are on the receiving end.

      Are you going to tell me that Egypt is controlled by Israel?

      Yes, indirectly. Why do you think the US pays Egypt 1.3 billion a year?

      3. Do you think Israel wants anything to do with Gaza? If Hamas could be trusted to be non-belligerent, the controls would be gone.

      Bzzt wrong. Wikileaks revealed that Israel has a policy of mowing the grass every few years to ensure Hamas do not gain political legitimately, so that they will never be allowed a seat at the negotiating table..

  14. anthonybellchambers
    anthonybellchambers
    March 13, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Of course the entire scenario of the IDF killing Palestinians every day last week was intended to provoke Arab retaliation, which it did, and has had the desired effect of giving Netanyahu an excuse to abort the peace talks.

    It’s so bloody obvious that even a pre bar-mitzvah boy would recognise the simplistic tactic. Likud policy is unchanged from its charter for a Greater Israel with all Muslims and Christians ‘transferred’ to adjoining states. Ask Netanyahu, Likud’s leader – he will confirm the fact!

  15. bobmizzou
    bobmizzou
    March 13, 2014, 5:48 pm

    As I read the comments on this site and I read the comments on Israeli sites, I am convinced that peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is many years away.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 14, 2014, 10:50 am

      Is that because, as you’ve declared, “I Love Israel!!!!”?

      If you have that motto emblazoned on your t-shirt, as well as on your mind, can you be critical of Israel at all? Wouldn’t all those exclamation points suggest the contrary to any observer?

  16. American
    American
    March 13, 2014, 6:23 pm

    I believe this is like the third bombing of Gaza recently.
    Israel is still bombing “inside” Syria as of this week…lost count now of the times they have bombed inside Syria.
    Israel is still bombing what they call Hez locations on the border of Lebanon-Syria.
    Israel is still using drones to ‘target their enemies and hitting bystanders instead.

    I am sure everyone noticed that Israel violated the cease fire arranged by the US in partnership with Egypt immediately after it agreed to it—-kept right on with the targeted assassinations of Hamas, kept right on with firing on Gaza fisherman boats. I am sure everyone has noticed that since Saudi bought Egypt, overthrew Morsi and put Gen Sisi in charge its been a complete clamp down on Gaza—not the lightening up on Gaza that the US (thought it) had arranged. Big question is what did Israel trade the Saudis in exchanged for having Egypt do this—was that part of the package of Isr assassinating Iran scientist for Saudi also?

    What will Israel and Saudi do next since they havent been able to get the US to attack Iran? —what will Israel do if the US backs off the Ukraine and another cold war between the US and Russia doesn’t lessen Russia-Iran power?…and give Israel a excuse to claim themselves as a US asset against Russia in the ME?

    The US needs to do the right thing and send the US Marines to clear Isr out of Palestine and then bow out of world meddling. I guess first though we have to send the marines to clear out congress and the Zionist….that’s the only thing I feel like donating to any more.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 14, 2014, 10:53 am

      It’s really interesting that there’s so little coverage of all the Israeli sky attacks on Syria, as if it’s not even happening! The main US media seems to be asleep on these events, even after the American people rose up against AIPAC/Obama/Congress, ringing phones off the hook in a spontaneous protest when it looked like our government might be sending us into another war in the ME.

  17. eGuard
    eGuard
    March 14, 2014, 8:15 am

    Alex Kane: The Israeli air force … response to … … was started with an attack on Israeli soldiers … … avenge the deaths of Palestinians killed in recent days.

    Why o why putting the initiative with the Palestinians? Why is a response introduced as a initiation? Why must I read the paragraph backwards to understand what happened?

    The immediate cause .. last two days ..But the roots of the latest fighting Why chosen the limit of two days?

    You could simply state: Tuesday March 11, Israel killed three Palestinians in the Gaza strip by an airstrike. Journalism 101.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 14, 2014, 10:55 am

      Not sure why Kane worded his message like that–I too was amazed he did it that way. We all know, as does he, that the hasbara always tries to make it look like the Palestinians “started it.”

      • Alex Kane
        Alex Kane
        March 14, 2014, 12:11 pm

        Perhaps my wording wasn’t as clear as it could be, but the facts are the facts. Of course the root causes are occupation and blockade. But this round of fighting began this way: Israel killed three Palestinians it said attacked their soldiers, who were approaching or in Gaza (unclear). So the first attack was by Islamic Jihad on soldiers in or near Gaza.

        Then Israel launched strikes, then the rockets came, etc.

      • jon s
        jon s
        March 14, 2014, 12:29 pm

        Firing rockets at the civilian population is terrorism and can never be justified.
        On the other hand
        the report is that the Palestinians that were killed were active Islamic Jihad activists. If the report is accurate – I dont see what’s the problem with killing them.

      • annie
        annie
        March 14, 2014, 2:12 pm

        were active Islamic Jihad activists. If the report is accurate – I dont see what’s the problem with killing them.

        your down w/assassinating activists? don’t they have to do something first? do you hold the same standards for extremist jews? just kill em. what about these guys? round em up and execute them? http://mondoweiss.net/2012/05/video-settlers-fire-on-palestinian-villagers-as-the-israeli-military-watches.html

        and israel says everyone they kill is a terrorist, does it ever occur to you they lie w/regularity?

        more here: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SajiDarwish&src=hash

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        March 14, 2014, 2:34 pm

        “Firing rockets at the civilian population is terrorism and can never be justified.”

        Can’t it?? The US and UK did worse against their enemies in WWII and those bombings are regularly justified. And that’s when those enemy cities were in a dictatorship and an authoritarian state, respectively, where those targeted had no role in the government. Here, if these so-called civilians don’t want rockets fired at themselves, they would stop voting for governments whose programs consist of little other than torturing, murdering and oppressing Palestinians.

        Well, at any rate, the israelis inflict worse than this on the Palestinians, both in Gaza and in the West Bank on the daily basis, so you’re a hypocrite if you don’t condemn them more.

        “On the other hand the report is that the Palestinians that were killed were active Islamic Jihad activists. If the report is accurate – I dont see what’s the problem with killing them.”

        So then you have no problem with Palestinians capturing and killing idf’ers, reservists, governement officers and officials?? When the two active idfers were captured and killed in Ramallah in 2000, you had no problem with that?? Or is it only when non-Jews are killed that there’s no problem?

      • Walid
        Walid
        March 14, 2014, 2:42 pm

        Another border heating up by jihadists 2 hours ago was the Israel-Lebanon border. A roadside bomb was set off inside the Israeli side in which a patrol of 3 soldiers was injured. Israel retaliated by firing canon into Lebanon at a supposedly Hizbullah position. ISIS claimed credit for the bomb attack; the same ISIS jihadists armed by the West and that has been promising to take on Israel. Looks like the time has come.

      • Shingo
        Shingo
        March 14, 2014, 4:50 pm

        Oh I see Jon,

        Firing rockets at the civilian population is terrorism and can never be justified, well maybe sometimes when Israel does it.

        Is killing civilians justified Jon? Israel does that as a matter of policy.

      • eGuard
        eGuard
        March 14, 2014, 9:13 pm

        Alex: But this round of fighting began this way: … (lede) But the roots … (reply here). But? But? That means a contradiction: this week the Palestinians begun, but in the long term Israel …

        “And” is better.

        The first undisputed fact that occured is the killing by Israel of three Palestinians.

  18. quercus
    quercus
    March 14, 2014, 2:50 pm

    Has anyone considered that this is deliberate provocation by the Zionists, particularly the murder of the Palestinian born, Jordan resident a few days ago, the result of which is demonstrations in Jordan calling for an end to the peace treaty.

    I think perhaps the mad dog, Zionist revisionists who support the philosophy of now dead, Vladimir Jabotinsky, wish to expand the frontiers of Israel. From the beginning they wanted what was then called Trans Jordan; I’ve no doubt they lust for it yet. What better way to expand, then to begin a made up conflict with Jordan. In the interest of state security, they ‘push’ into Jordanian territory and remain there. They’ve been biting off one piece at a time of what they call Eretz Israel. Where, or, will it end?

    My Jewish neighbor in a discussion we had about the Palestinian situation ten years ago, having no other moral argument, resorted to a strategy of placing tacit blame upon all non Jews for the Holocaust by saying “I’m afraid people will say we’re tired of these Jews”. Well, this individual accepts no blame and the next time anyone should employ such a contemptible ruse, I shall not be polite.

    • jon s
      jon s
      March 15, 2014, 5:30 am

      Just to be clear: if the story is true -that those gentlemen were active jihadi operatives , in the process of launching mortar rounds or rockets – then, no, I don’t see the problem with killing them.
      I’ve never justified deliberately targeting civilians. I’ve said that repeatedly on this forum.

      • annie
        annie
        March 15, 2014, 4:28 pm

        Just to be clear: if the story is true – – then, no, I don’t see the problem with killing them.

        but jon, that doesn’t really address the issue of ‘how do you know the story is true?’

        just to be clear, you approve of their killing without the benefit trial by a jury of their peers and only the word, hypothesis or allegation from the israeli military, an entity who has been know to fabricate evidence in the past as well as kill innocent civilians in the past and claim they are jihadists and claim they were about to attack israel only to retract those stories when in fact it was revealed the innocent victims were old 80 yr old men? because that’s happened and i have written about such an attack and retraction.

        i mean jon, what does it mean to say “if the story is true” after the dead are dead and no one is even asking if they were in fact about to attack israel. you may recall this is exactly how israel started the ‘operation summer rains’ where they broke the ceasefire by bombing a family on a beach claiming they just happened to misfire and were aiming for some alleged militants about to fire on them! which set the pretext for israel implementing a summer of terror they’d likely planned from the onset, just like they planned the gaza massacre months in advance.

        i mean, you can’t just keep killing people left and right claiming you’re preempting an attack and expect to be taken seriously.

        not when decades have gone by and every singe offense against your enemy you claim is retaliatory.

        you really think anyone in their right mind is going to believe israel has never been the aggressor in this conflict? so how, or who is it that gets to determine “if the story is true”?

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 15, 2014, 4:58 pm

        @Jons – The problem is, they are occupied, the Zionist entity has started and never ended a war of aggression against the Palestinian people in the absence of a constituted government, any and all armistices have been violated by the Zionist entity; all Palestinians are civilians and the Zionist entity cannot in these circumstances talk of “defense”. All propagandists spreading your lies are accessories to murder, by the way. See you.

  19. just
    just
    March 15, 2014, 4:57 pm

    Well said, Annie.

    Here’s one more thing– since the IOF /police incarcerates so many Palestinians, WHY didn’t they arrest these men?

    My take is that they want to kill, provoke and blame the Palestinians.

    “Israel Police jailing thousands during trial
    At least 2,000 people, 60 children now in custody until end of legal proceedings; police commissioner says practice serves as deterrent.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.579893

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