Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza’s sole power plant early this morning. As flames spread to fuel tanks, plumes of smoke smothered the dawn, ending a horrific night of bombardment from land, sea and air killing at least 30 Gazans. Some may characterize it as a night of deadly revenge. For there is now an Israeli report that the civilian massacre in Shuja’iyyeh last week and subsequent sniper attacks on civilians were reprisal for the deaths of Israeli soldiers.
The last Israeli invasion, Cast Lead, lasted 22 days. We are now in Day 21 of Operation Protective Edge, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu vows a “protracted” battle. Yesterday, after ten Israeli forces were killed in combat, thousands of residents in the Gaza communities of Shuja’iyya, Zeitoun, Jabaliya, Beit Lahiya, and Beit Hanoun, were sent messages to evacuate their homes before Israel’s bombardment commenced. These strikes were described by teenage Gazan blogger Farah Baker as falling “like the heavy rain of January” as Gazans suffered one of deadliest days so far.
Palestinian officials say more than 110 people have been killed in the past 24 hours. Israel’s targets included refugee homes, a government complex and the El-Amin Mosque.
Baker lives opposite Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital compound. Minutes after the hospital’s outpatient clinic was hit yesterday an attack on the adjacent park at Beach (Shati) refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians, including 9 children. The head of Shifa Hospital’s emergency room staff, Ayman Sahabani, said at least 46 people were also wounded.
Israel denied its airstrikes were the cause of the massacre at the park. It blamed “Gaza terrorists whose rockets fell short“. B. at Moon of Alabama picked up a pre scrubbed version of an NBC News article stating that an unnamed NBC News journalist “witnessed the attack on the hospital and said it had been fired by an Israeli drone.”
The article now says:
“Early reports from the ground had said an Israeli drone appeared responsible for the attack..”
–thereby leaving out the information it was one of their own journalist who witnessed the attack.
In retaliation for the attack on the park, Hamas forces infiltrated Israel via a tunnel near the Nahal Oz kibbutz, which is about a mile from the Gaza border, and killed a number of Israeli soldiers.
The group said that they had managed to infiltrate “behind enemy lines” around 6:45 p.m. of Monday, and killed 10 Israeli soldiers in the operation.
The group added that they attempted to capture a soldier but they were not able to…
On Tuesday, the Israeli military said that five soldiers had been killed in the strike.
They also claimed the one al-Qassam fighter had died.
Al Jazeera reported the Nahal Oz operation raised to 10 the number of Israeli military fatalities yesterday, bringing the total of Israeli soldiers killed since the beginning of operation “Protective Edge” to 53.
The massacre at the Gaza park, where children were playing, follows the publication of a video (reported here yesterday) of Israelis in Tel Aviv engaged in chants cheering on a genocide of Palestinian children: “There’s no school tomorrow, there’s no children left there [in Gaza]! Oleh!”
Some of the Israeli attacks in Gaza have been retribution. This recent posting from Eran Efrati (once chief investigator for Breaking the Silence whose reports have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian) on his Facebook page is chilling testimony to support reports of Israeli snipers killing wounded civilians during the Shuja’iya neighborhood massacre, boldface mine:
In recent weeks I was on the border of Gaza and getting reports from soldiers in the Gaza Strip who leak information out to me. I am in the process of publication of two big stories in major U.S. newspapers, but there are some things I can share with you right now: Soldiers in two different units inside Gaza leaked information about the murdering of Palestinians by sniper fire in Shuja’iyya neighborhood as punishment for the death of soldiers in their units. After the shooting on the Israeli armored personnel carriers, which killed seven soldiers of the Golani Brigade, the Israeli army carried out a massacre in Shuja’iyya neighborhood. A day after the massacre, many Palestinians came to search for their relatives and their families in the rubble. In one of the videos uploaded to YouTube, a young Palestinian man Salem Shammaly calls the names of his family and looking for them between the ruins when he is suddenly shot at in his chest and falls down. A few seconds after that, there are two additional shootings from snipers into his body, killing him instantly. Since the video was released, there was no official response from the IDF spokesperson. Today I can report that the official command that was handed down to the soldiers in Shujaiyya was to capture Palestinian homes as outposts. From these posts, the soldiers drew an imaginary red line, and amongst themselves decided to shoot to death anyone who crosses it. Anyone crossing the line was defined as a threat to their outposts, and was thus deemed a legitimate target. This was the official reasoning inside the units. I was told that the unofficial reason was to enable the soldiers to take out their frustrations and pain at losing their fellow soldiers (something that for years the IDF has not faced during its operations in Gaza and the West Bank), out on the Palestinian refugees in the neighborhood. Under the pretext of the so-called “security threat” soldiers were directed to carry out a pre-planned attack of revenge on Palestinian civilians.