West Bank / Jerusalem / Historic Palestine
Merciless Israeli mobs are hunting Palestinians
Electronic Intifada 27 July by Rania Khalek — All eyes are on Gaza, where the death toll from Israel’s merciless bombing campaign has topped 1,000. But back in Jerusalem, where sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair was burned alive by Jewish vigilantes in a “revenge killing” incited by Israeli politicians early this month, right-wing lynch mobs continue to roam the streets in search of Arabs to attack. Their most recent victims are twenty-year-old Palestinians Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz from the Beit Hannina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. The pair were severely beaten into unconsciousness on Friday night by Israeli youths armed with iron bars and baseball bats.Mahfouz told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he and Shwiki were on their way to the light rail when they were stopped by “a man [coming] from the direction of Neve Yaakov,” an illegal Jewish-only Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. “He said give me a cigarette. I told him I don’t have any, and he heard [from my accent] I’m Arab and went away, coming back with his friends, maybe twelve people. They had sticks and iron bars and they hit us over the head,” Mahfouz recounted. Haaretz added, “According to the victims, police officers that arrived at the scene did not call an ambulance, and they were instead evacuated by passersby to receive medical treatment at a Beit Khanina [sic] clinic. They were later rushed to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in serious condition.” Though investigators believe the beating to be racially motivated, no one has been arrested…
When police aren’t busy ignoring Jewish vigilante violence against Palestinians, they are actively participating in it. On Thursday night last week, police teamed up with a Jewish mob assaulting two Palestinian men while they were delivering bread to grocery markets on Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem from their van. The men — identified by Ma’an News Agency as twenty-year-old Amir Mazin Abu Eisha and Laith Ubeidat (age not specified) — were encircled and beaten with empty bottles by a mob of some twenty to thirty Israelis, according to their attorney, Khaldun Nijim. Rather than assist the men as they were being attacked, Nijim told Ma’an, “The Israeli police stopped them in their van and pointed guns at them.” Nijim added: “After they drove away a few meters, the police shot at them. They then stopped and were assaulted again.” After barring an ambulance from transferring Abu Eisha, who sustained head and ear injuries, to the hospital for medical treatment, police detained the two Palestinian men at the Russian Compound police station close to the scene and charged them with “having a knife and obstructing the work of police,” according to Nijim. Abu Eisha and Ubeidat were eventually released on bail but are currently under ten days of house arrest. Meanwhile, several of the mob participants filed complaints against their victims, accusing the men of trying to assault them with a knife…
Last week in Haifa, the Arab deputy mayor and his son were brutally beaten by a mob of Jewish supremacists chanting “death to Arabs” and “death to leftists” in response to a rally against the Gaza onslaught. Police did nothing to stop the assault. Similar fascist demonstrators have surfaced in supposedly liberal Tel Aviv as well, verbally and physically attacking Palestinians and leftists protesting the war on Gaza. Israeli blogger Elizabeth Tsurkov, who has been regularly attending and live-tweeting the racist attacks against anti-war demonstrators in recent weeks, heard a new racist chant mocking the more than two hundred children slaughtered by Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in Gaza: “Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.”
Israeli army arrests 18 in West Bank, 5 in Jerusalem
HEBRON (WAFA) 27 July — Israeli forces on Sunday arrested 18 Palestinians across the West Bank areas, in addition to five Palestinians from the Jerusalem area, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). PPC said 11 Palestinians were arrested in Hebron City, five in nearby Beit Awwa area, in addition to one in Fara‘a refugee camp, near Tubas, and another one in the city of Al-Bireh. The recent arrests come in the midst of a surge of escalation in the West Bank following public and youth protests against the ongoing aggression on Gaza.
Israel army arrests 5 in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 27 July — Israeli forces on Sunday arrested five Palestinians in the Hebron Governorate, in the southern West Bank, according to local and security sources. The sources said whereas three Palestinians were arrested in the town of Bani Na‘im, one Palestinian was arrested in Hebron City and another in the village of Beit Ummar. They were arrested during predawn raids where soldiers stormed their homes and sabotaged their furniture.
Suffocation cases, injuries in confrontations in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 27 July – At least 1 Palestinian was injured with live ammunition, while several others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets and others suffocated by tear gas during confrontations with Israeli forces which erupted at predawn Sunday across Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to media sources. WAFA correspondent said confrontations broke out across Hebron, where Israeli soldiers fired live and rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and poison gas towards local residents, shooting and injuring at least one man with live ammunition. He was transferred to hospital for medical treatment. During the offensive, several Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated bullets, while others suffocated by poison gas inhalation. They all received medical treatment at the scene except two Palestinians who were transferred to hospital for treatment after being shot with rubber-coated bullets.
In the meantime, army stormed the nearby Al-‘Arroub refugee camp north of Hebron, amid firing rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters towards local residents and homes. At least one Palestinian was injured with a steel bullet in the incident. He was transferred to hospital for medical treatment. Thirteen others were also reported injured with rubber-coated bullets, while dozens others suffocated after inhaling poison gas, which is internationally prohibited.
Group: Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians overnight
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces detained 13 Palestinians overnight [Sat-Sun] in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, a prisoners’ rights group said. In the Hebron district, Israeli force arrested six Palestinians, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said in a statement. They were identified as Fadi al-Joulani, Ali al-Joulani, Fadi Abu Zweid, Eyhab Rmeilat, Saed al-Amlah, and Muhammad Saad. Israeli forces also detained Yousef Issa al-Ghuzlawi from the Nablus district and Munthir al-Uri from Ramallah. Five Palestinians were detained in East Jerusalem overnight, PPS said.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian in al-Bireh before iftar
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 27 July — Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian man from his home in al-Bireh near Ramallah on Saturday evening, threatening his family members throughout the raid. Muhammad Munthir al-Auri, 22 was detained after a raid on his home near Ali Ibn Abu Talib Mosque minutes before the evening breaking of fast, or iftar. Family members told Ma‘an that Israeli forces hand-cuffed Sheikh Munthir al-Auri and all his sons Muhammad, Ibrahim, Mousa, and Sufyan during the raid, assaulting them with clubs before they took Muhammad into custody. The detainee’s mother and aunt, meanwhile, were locked inside a room at gunpoint. The soldiers fired six live gunshots inside the house, family members said.
Palestinians clash with Israeli troops in Jerusalem, Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — Clashes erupted across East Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Saturday night as Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protests in solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip for the second night in a row. One child was hospitalized and dozens were injured during the clashes, which came one night after Israeli forces shot dead nine Palestinians across the West Bank late Friday and in the early morning hours on Saturday. East Jerusalem A toddler from the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem was hospitalized Saturday evening after she inhaled tear gas during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the neighborhood. Majdi al-Abbasi of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that in Silwan clashes broke in Ein al-Luzah and Beer Ayyub. Palestinians, he said, threw molotov cocktails and fireworks at an Israeli police patrol and at a security vehicle belonging to a settler. Al-Abbasi also said that a tear gas canister was fired at home of Jawad Siyam and as a result his two-year-old daughter Jana was seriously hurt and was evacuated to hospital. Cameramen Majd Gheith and Ahmad Siyam were also hurt. Fierce clashes broke out late on Saturday evening in several neighborhoods across East Jerusalem including Silwan, Isawiya, Beit Hanina and Shufat as thousands marched in solidarity with Gaza. Clashes continued until after midnight as Israeli troops firing tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at the protestors. The soldiers also hosed protesters down with a cannon shooting foul-smelling liquid.
One Palestinian shot and injured in Salfit town clashes
SALFIT (WAFA) 26 July – A Palestinian was shot and injured early Saturday during clashes with Israeli forces in Qarawat Bani Hassan to the west of Salfit, according to local sources. The town residents held a rally in protest of the Israeli military aggression against besieged Gaza population who has been under heavy bombardment for the past nineteen days. They chanted slogans condemning Israeli massacres against Gaza defenseless civilian population. Clashes erupted with Israeli forces deployed at the entrance of the village; forces fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades, injuring a Palestinian in his leg with live ammunition. He was transferred to hospital for treatment
Israeli forces vandalize public institutions in al-Bireh
AL-BIREH (WAFA)26 July– Israeli forces vandalized early Saturday the premises of public institutions, including the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, in Al-Bireh, said an official. President of the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission Rafiq Al-Natsha said that Israeli forces stormed the building housing the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission, Higher Shariah Court Council, and the PLO Refugees Affairs Department near City-Inn roundabout in the city. They fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at the commission premises, causing damage to the building windows, exterior walls. They vandalized several vehicles parked there, including Al-Natsha’s, throwing stones and firing bullets at their windshields.
Israeli forces fire live ammunition injuring 15 protesters in Beit Furik
BEIT FURIK, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 27 July — At 22:00 in the evening of Friday, July 25th, Israeli forces injured 15 Palestinians during a protest in the village of Beit Furik, which is located fifteen km southeast of Nablus in the northern half of the West Bank. Approximately 2000 protesters were marching towards the checkpoint near the village. Roughly 40 Israeli soldiers were waiting for them there, and when they came into view, the soldiers began to shoot tear gas canisters in their direction. Shortly after the protest began, the soldiers changed from firing tear gas, to live ammunition. 23-year-old Yousef Mfeed Mletat was struck by a bullet in his left hip. He recounted the scene tearfully in his bed in Rafidia hospital in Nablus. “They were less than four meters away when they shot me. And then they started to beat me. A soldier was standing on my stomach while some of the others were kicking me. This went on for 15 minutes.” He revealed several welts on his arms and shoulders. Yahya Hanay, who is 25 years old, was trying to escape from the scene, when a stun grenade struck his hand, which was covering his face at the time. As he lay on the ground, another stun grenade hit his knee. Yahya has nerve damage in his left thumb, which is said to be serious. 19-year-old Yezen Tala Khatatba was attempting to help an injured protester when he was shot in the left knee. The bullet exited his left knee and then entered and exited his right one. He was wearing bandages on both knees as he told his story. “The ambulance was taking me to the hospital when soldiers twice stopped me for half an hour at a checkpoint. When I told them I had a leg injury, they said it would have been better if I’d been hit in the head.” Yezen also mentioned that another injured protestor had been taken from the ambulance at the checkpoint and beaten by soldiers.
5 injured with live bullets in clashes with Israel forces at Beit El
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 July — Five Palestinians were injured with live bullets in clashes with Israeli forces near the illegal settlement of Beit El [near al-Bireh] on Friday.
Two Palestinian teenagers were murdered by an Israeli settler and an Israeli soldier in separate incidents in Huwwara
HUWWARA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 27 July — On Friday, July 25, an Israeli settler murdered a Palestinian teenager in the village of Huwwara, which lies approximately 10 km south of Nablus in the northern half of the West Bank. Two hours later, an Israeli sniper killed another Palestinian teenager in the same village. After Friday prayers at the mosque in Huwwara, villagers began marching in solidarity with the victims of the Gaza massacre. The protest included many children, some of whom were carrying signs in support of their Gazan brothers and sisters. Two Israeli military jeeps were along the route, and some of the soldiers were taking pictures of the peaceful protest. As the procession wound its way back to the mosque, a settler suddenly raced alongside and slammed on the brakes. “He was about a meter away from the kids and just started firing out the window of his car,” stated a witness. “It was clear he was trying to kill people.” The settler managed to shoot four people before fleeing the scene. 19-year-old Khalid Owda [or Khalid Azmi Odeh] died from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, while Tarik Dmadi was shot in the chest and remains in critical condition. Hassan Dmadi was shot in the hip, while Jihad Owda was shot in the hand and has been released from the hospital. “Had he had more ammunition, he would have kept on shooting and killed more people,” said a witness. “Killing Palestinians is no big deal for the settlers, because there is no punishment. And what about the soldiers? They were just standing there, doing nothing.”
Tragedy struck the town of Huwwara a second time two hours later, when an Israeli sniper gunned down 18-year-old Tayeb Shohaada [or Tayeb Abu Shehada], who, like Khalid Owda, was a student at an-Najah University in Nablus. Israeli forces were shooting tear gas at Tayeb and roughly ten other young men, who were throwing stones in their direction from a distance of approximately 100 meters. According to Red Crescent medic, Ahmed Owda, a female Israeli sniper shot Tayeb in the face. Her sergeant then congratulated her and clapped her on the shoulder. Ahmed subsequently attempted to reach Tayeb but was unable to do so because of Israeli fire. Tayeb was eventually taken to Rafidia hospital in Nablus, where he was declared clinically dead. The attending surgeon revealed that the damage to Tayeb’s brain was consistent with that caused by expanding bullets. Expanding bullets are banned according to the 1899 Hague Convention, but Israel has frequently been accused of employing them against Palestinians.
Extremist settlers clash with rabbis over Palestinian olive groves in West Bank
Reuters 25 July – Human Rights Activists Act as Harvest ‘Human Shields’ — Jewish settlers clashed with activists of the Rabbis for Human Rights movement near the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday as they protected Palestinians beginning the annual olive harvest. Israeli police and soldiers grappled with settlers who tried to drive off local Palestinians and international supporters of Palestinian rights in the West Bank. “This is just the beginning of the olive harvest which will be going on for the next two months,” said the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, Arik Ascherman. He said activists were going to 40 Palestinian villages to protect olive growers and uphold their right to work the land, and harvest. They would act “as human shields” if necessary. A settler woman screamed “Murderer, murderer” at the rabbi, and settlers angrily shouted down any activists trying to explain their aims to TV reporters. The West Bank olive harvest has developed over the past decade into a regular confrontation between Palestinian farmers and Israelis who have settled on nearby land. Palestinians say settler harassment often turns to encroachment and eventually seizure of more land in the name of settler “security”. “There are those who say all the land of Israel belongs only to the Jewish people,” Ascherman said. “Everybody knows these are Palestinian-owned trees.” “It’s unfortunate that some people so filled with mistaken religious fervor are choosing to insult, be violent, trying to steal the olives.” The settlers say they want a secure route from the settlement through the olive grove, to a cave regarded as a Jewish holy site. “The settlers would like to make a path … as part of their effort to create facts on the ground,” Ascherman said. “They’ve been trying to create this outpost here to take more and more Palestinian land.” Rabbis For Human Rights said in a statement that delegations also joined Palestinians for the olive harvest near Nablus, “where there is a long history of the army preventing agricultural work”. “In several locations olives have already been stolen in recent weeks, and this year’s harvest will be all the more difficult because of the recent wave of settler violence,” the group said. Its members would “work to insure that Israeli security forces meet their obligations under international law and the ruling of the Israeli High Court”, the statement added.
Palestinian minister injured during Qalandiya rally
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 26 July — President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics Ola Awad was shot and injured in the foot on Thursday night during a rally in solidarity with Gaza at Qalandia checkpoint. Local sources told Ma‘an that Awad and her son took part in the rally, which marched from al-Amari refugee camp to Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Israeli troops fired at the protestors and Awad was hit in the foot. She was taken to the Makassed Hospital on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem.
Settlers break into Palestinian home, Palestinians arrested
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 25 July — Israeli settlers in the H2 (under full Israeli military civil and security control) area of Hebron, forced entry into a basement and passage connected to the home of a Palestinian, Abed Sider, which is bordered by a sealed-off building now occupied by settlers at around 15:00 on July 24th (Thursday). Four International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists arrived following a phone call from Abed telling them that the neighboring settlers broke through a door into an unused part of Abed’s home. Shortly after the ISM volunteers arrived, several Israeli soldiers, two police officers, and two plain clothes men, who appeared to be settlers, arrived. The police began to question Abed’s brother, Shaady, who also came to the house after receiving a phone call from Abed about the break in. After 30 minutes of questioning at the house, the police and army then took Shaady and Abed to Kiryat Arba police station. Abed’s wife had believed they were being taken to file a report as victims of the break-in. A few hours after being taken by Israeli forces, family members of Abed and Shaady were informed that he had been arrested and interrogated. They were being falsely accused of attempting to break into the neighboring settlement by the settlers who had forced entry into Abed’s basement. They were released yesterday morning.
PHOTOS: Ten killed across West Bank in Gaza solidarity protests
Activestills 27 July Photos by: Mustafa Bader, Oren Ziv, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen Text by: Keren Manor – In the last four days [July 22-25], Israeli forces have killed ten Palestinians across the West Bank during protests in solidarity with Gaza. More than 600 have been wounded, and several remain in critical condition.[details of 12 killings from Wed-Fri were in Friday's newslist]
Israeli forces invade ‘Azzun and use Palestinian civilians as human shields
‘AZZUN, Occupied Palestine (ISM Nablus Team) 24 July — On Monday, July 21st, Israeli forces used Palestinian civilians as human shields in the village of Azzun, a village west of the city of Nablus. On most evenings several Israeli jeeps are stationed just outside ‘Azzun’s north gate. At 10 o’clock in the evening on the night in question, approximately 15 soldiers entered the main square of the village. Witnesses report that a few young men responded to this invasion by throwing stones at the jeeps from a distance of approximately 200 meters. The soldiers spent the next few minutes stopping cars on the road and began forcing the drivers to arrange their cars in a circle. The soldiers then forced these residents of ‘Azzun to surrender their keys. The occupants of the cars included women and children. They were very frightened and the soldiers did not allow them to leave. The Israeli forces positioned themselves inside the circle formed by the cars, began to fire tear gas at the youths, and knelt behind the civilian occupants of the cars as to protect themselves. The use of civilian human shields is prohibited by Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel ratified this convention in 1951.Israeli forces have a long history of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. From the years 2000 to 2005, they admitted to using human shields more than 1,200 times.
US ups pressure on Israel as UN demands Gaza truce
Jerusalem (AFP) 28 July by Jonah Mandel — The UN Security Council Monday joined US President Barack Obama in calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, after Israel and Hamas ignored calls for a truce despite mounting civilian casualties. The Security Council resolution came during a lull in fighting in Gaza early Monday, the beginning of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival, after a day of strikes and counter-strikes. A military spokeswoman told AFP that since midnight no Gaza rockets had hit Israel, and the Jewish state had carried out no strikes in the Palestinian enclave. The 15-member Council released a statement urging a truce during Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. It expressed “strong support” for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire”. It also voiced “grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties”. At least 1,032 Palestinians have died in the fighting as well as 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians. Obama, too, voiced concern at the civilian toll, in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in which he urged an immediate ceasefire. According to a White House statement, the US president “made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement” brokered by Egypt. He also stressed the need to “ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarisation of Gaza,” while reiterating “serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.” The two sides had observed a 12-hour humanitarian pause on Saturday, giving Gaza medics a chance to pull bodies from rubble they had not been able to reach under fire. But Hamas rocket fire prompted Israel to abandon an extension of that truce Sunday, and subsequent Hamas calls for another ceasefire were ignored by both sides. During Sunday, fighting renewed apace, as Israel pounded Gaza with aerial, naval and artillery bombardments and Hamas rained more rockets down on Israeli territory. Israel insists that it will continue its mission to destroy Hamas tunnels used to launch attacks on the Jewish state, and Hamas wants a lifting of the crippling Gaza blockade that has been in place for eight years.
Israel refuses humanitarian truce after Hamas accepts
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 27 July — Israel rejected a proposed 24-hour humanitarian truce on Sunday, hours after Hamas said that all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip had agreed to observe it. “They are violating their own ceasefire,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the news network CNN, rejecting the proposal. “Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people.” Additionally, Netanyahu told American media the only long-term ceasefire Israel was willing to consider was the one proposed by Egypt last week, which Hamas rejected because it has insisted that any long-standing ceasefire should involve the end of the eight-year old Israeli blockade. The Hamas truce proposal came only hours after Israel announced a resumption of hostilities in Gaza following a day-long pause in the nineteen-day long assault. “In response to the UN’s intervention request to monitor the situation … it has been agreed between the resistance factions that a 24-hour humanitarian truce will start from 2:00 pm,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement. Zuhri said the ceasefire would take place ahead of the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is expected to fall on Monday. Israel did not immediately respond to the proposal, and both sides continued attacks well past 2:00. Earlier, Hamas had rejected an Israeli proposal to extend the 12-hour ceasefire that ended at 8:00 p.m Saturday, on the basis that the ceasefire allowed Israel to continue its tunnel operation. Israel first extended the ceasefire until midnight, and then another 24 hours until midnight on Sunday. Militant groups in Gaza held fire during the agreed-upon humanitarian window, but began firing rockets minutes after it officially expired at 8:00 p.m on Saturday. Israeli forces responded by shelling areas in the southern and central Gaza Strip, in addition to killing a man in Deir al-Balah, a Ma‘an reporter in Gaza said. Early Sunday, Israel announced that it had decided to resume attacks on Gaza given factions’ rejection of the ceasefire extension. In renewed attacks on the Strip, Israeli forces killed at least nine Palestinians, bringing the death toll up to 1,032, a Palestinian health ministry spokesman said.
LIVE UPDATES: UN joins Obama in call for immediate cease-fire
Haaretz 28 July 11:38 am — Obama to Netanyahu: Immediate humanitarian cease-fire ‘strategically imperative’; senior IDF officer says current halt of fire is ‘unlimited’; Gaza death toll reaches 1,065; IDF tells troops in Gaza: Fire only when fired upon – Latest updates (Monday): 11:28 A.M. Today is Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the month Ramadan, though in Gaza and in the West Bank one would be hard pressed to find a holiday atmosphere due to the events of the last few weeks. Traffic on Gaza’s roads and foot traffic in its markets was sparse. “Those that weren’t hit and still left their homes only looked for basic needs, perhaps for their children, all we did tonight was pray for a lull in the fighting and pray for better days,” a Gaza resident told Haaretz. (Jack Khoury) 11:28 A.M. An IDF solider sustains a light injury in the northern Gaza strip (Gili Cohen) 9:30 A.M. IDF fires artillery barrage at Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, where earlier this morning a rocket was fired at Ashkelon. (Gili Cohen) 9:26 A.M. Early morning, Palestinians reported hearing shooting and explosions in the eastern Gaza Strip. A 65-year-old man from Khan Yunis was reportedly killed in an explosion overnight. Earlier a Gaza resident injured over the weekend died in a hospital from his wounds. (Jack Khoury)….
Hamas chief: We cannot coexist with occupiers
WASHINGTON (AFP) 27 July — Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal demanded Israel lift its blockade of Gaza and warned that Palestinians cannot coexist with their neighbors while their land is occupied, in an interview broadcast Sunday. On Saturday, Meshaal was interviewed by US broadcaster PBS in the Qatari capital Doha while in Gaza his Islamist militia was under assault from Israeli forces in renewed fighting that has left hundreds dead. A full version of the interview will be broadcast late on Monday, but excerpts were revealed on Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” Asked by veteran interviewer Charlie Rose whether he could foresee living beside Israelis in peace, Meshaal said only a future Palestinian state could decide whether to recognize the Jewish state. “We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers,” he said. “I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs,” he said. “However, I do not coexist with the occupiers.” Pressed on whether Palestinians could recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state, Meshaal reiterated Hamas’ position — the group does not recognize Israel. “When we have a Palestinian state then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you,” he said. “But Palestinian people can have their say when they have their own state without occupation.”
‘Only stones remain’: Gaza lies in ruins
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (Aljazeera America) 27 July by Mohammed Omer — Umm Ahmed Abu Sahwish holds stones in her hands. They are now all that’s left of her demolished home. “My home is gone and only stones remain,” the 65-year-old says. Hundreds of homes here have been destroyed, and unexploded Israeli missiles litter the ground at the entrance to the town, at Gaza’s northern tip near the border with Israel. The local hospital, emergency rescue equipment, and infrastructure have also incurred heavy damage from Israeli shelling. Another woman, from a family of 20 people, cries as she tries to dig through the rubble of her house. “Lifetimes of personal and household belongings are gone, with one Israeli missile. Where can we go? We have no food, water, bedding or ex– scenes of devastation are everywhere. The trip from the north to the south of Gaza was only possible during a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire, agreed to by Israel and Hamas on Saturday … In Gaza City, there is little to salvage from beneath the destruction. The eastern neighborhood of Shujayea is a ghost town. Electricity cables are sliced and sticking out of the debris of homes. Cars lay burned out, and human remains are scattered along the streets; the air is thick with the smell of decay. “I am 45 years old, and I have never seen destruction like this,” says a resident, who didn’t give Al Jazeera his name … The residents of nearby Khuza‘a, which was under heavy Israeli bombardment, are sleeping on the streets. Access to water is extremely difficult; a man who generally sells water tanks for $4 is now asking for $29.
Gaza’s Christians bury their first casualty of the war
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 28 July by John Davison — Jalila Ayyad‘s widower George still had a black eye and bloodstains on his shirt as he processed ahead of her coffin, hours after the air strike that destroyed their home. Jalila, 60, was the first Christian casualty of a bloody Gaza war. She is also survived by two sons, but one could not be at her funeral because he is in hospital with serious wounds suffered in Sunday afternoon’s Israeli strike. The simple coffin — white with a black cross — was carried reverently down the marble stairs of the cemetery, and into the chapel of the Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City. “She died under the rubble,” said Jalila’s nephew, Fuad Ayyad. “Both her legs were crushed after the house collapsed with her, her husband and son inside.” An Orthodox priest in a black gown read passages from the Bible and swung an incense receptacle, as the coffin was set down beneath an ornate ceiling of gold leaf images of saints, their names written in Arabic and Greek.
Israel used fabricated images to justify bombing of al-Wafa hospital
Electronic Intifada 24 July by Nora Barrows-Friedman — The Israeli military on Wednesday completely destroyed the al-Wafa rehabilitation and geriatric hospital in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja‘iya after weeks of missile strikes on the hospital and the forced evacuation of the patients, caregivers and hospital staff last week. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the Israeli military claimed the hospital buildings were “being used as a Hamas command center and rocket-launching site.” However, the hospital director, Dr. Basman Alashi, says that Israel has targeted the hospital based on false and misleading claims. Activists with the International Solidarity Movement, who have been working closely with al-Wafa hospital staff and who attempted to prevent Israel from shelling the hospital two weeks ago, stated in a press release on Wednesday (including the photo below) that: On the 21 July at 2:17 PM, the IDF spokesperson released an image on twitter showing an aerial picture of a building marked as “Al-Wafa” hospital. In the image there is a red circle, which they designated as the location from which an M75 rocket was launched. The building in the picture marked “Al-Wafa” hospital is in fact not the el-Wafa hospital but the Right to Life Society.
Video: Palestinian woman risks life to rescue injured youth in Gaza
Electronic Intifada 24 July by Ali Abunimah — Dramatic photographs and footage capture the moment a Palestinian woman ran into a firing zone to rescue a youth injured during relentless Israeli gunfire and shelling. Meanwhile, another video has emerged showing Israeli soldiers and religious mystics dancing as they adorn artillery shells with blessings … Rescue The above video of the rescue incident was posted on YouTube on 20 July, the day dozens of people were killed in heavy Israeli bombardment of the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja‘iya. Writer Refaat Alareer, who comes from Shujaiya, was able to identify the exact location of the incident in the video above and the photographs below. “The video took place in the main street of Shuja‘iya, near the eastern edge of the border” with Israel, Alareer told The Electronic Intifada. “The area is highly populated and a little bit far from the borders.” “I am amazed how the Israelis managed to hit them while this far into Shuja‘iya,” he said of the images and video showing shelling of the area. Four photos that have been circulating online were posted on Sami Kishawi’s blog Sixteen Minutes to Palestine. They were apparently taken moments before the video was shot and show the woman running into a firing zone to rescue the youth … Another video, which Sami Kishawi also blogged, shows approximately four minutes of intense shelling in Shuja‘iya during which 22 shells land – a rate of about one every ten seconds.
2 killed, 1 others injured in a strike on a motorbike in Khan Younis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 July — Issam Abu Shab was killed and two others injured in a strike on a motorbike in Khan Younis on Sunday. Also, Ahmad Abu Sa‘da died of injuries sustained in a strike on Khan Younis.
Israeli army confirms it fired into UN Gaza refuge
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 July — The Israeli army on Sunday confirmed firing a mortar round into a Gaza UN shelter where 15 people died on Thursday, but denied killing anyone at the site. Briefing journalists on the findings of an internal military enquiry into the incident at a UN school in Beit Hanun, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said militants “in the vicinity” of the school fired mortar rounds and anti-tank rockets at Israeli forces. The army responded with mortar fire, sending a stray round into the compound. “A single errant mortar (round) landed in the courtyard of the school,” he said. “The courtyard was completely empty” at the time of the incident, he added. “We reject the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of (Israeli army) operational activity,” he added. An AFP photographer who went to the scene saw blood spattered on the ground and Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said 15 people died in the blast and at least another 200 people were injured. “Many have been killed — including women and children,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement, adding that he was “appalled”. Lerner suggested the victims may have been hit in fighting raging elsewhere and “brought to the compound after injury” for first aid or shelter. [Palestinians have said that people were seated against the walls in the courtyard to stay out of the sun]
Trapped in Beit Hanoun
[photos] GAZA, Occupied Palestine 27 July by Charlie Andreasson — We raced towards the hospital in Beit Hanoun, our mission was to assist in the evacuation of the hospital with the same name. The Israeli forces had already destroyed 13 ambulances in a row. We had to work fast. But we were soon trapped, Fred and I; there would be no more ambulances; it was too risky with Israeli tanks and soldiers in the area. There were only three patients left, the rest had been evacuated in time. But there was a large and weary staff left, there were relatives of the three patients, there were civilians who had taken refuge in the hospital in belief that it was a safe place, and there were children. All in all, nearly one hundred people.However a hospital is no safe haven in Gaza; six of thirteen hospitals have been seriously damaged after shelling and air strikes, one has been completely destroyed. That it is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, article 18, does not bother the occupying power, nor do world leaders seem to worry significantly. The upper floor of the two-story Beit Hanoun Hospital was evacuated; the patients were carried down. The roof of the building had already been hit several times, and everyone was worried. At the same time, our friends, other international activists in Gaza, began the work to raise awareness of what was happening in Beit Hanoun by quickly arranging a press conference at the main Gazan hospital, al-Shifa, where the media is always present. A doctor at Beit Hanoun told us that our friends were on TV. We went into the room where several doctors were looking at the screen and Fred moved closer to hear more clearly. At that moment, an Israeli tank shot at the wall right over us on the floor above. Shattered glass whirled through the room, along with everything on the shelves. The light went out. Fred, who was injured by the glass, started to bleed from his head; luckily there were no serious injuries … We took refuge in a hallway in the center of the ground floor. Every now and then more windows were shattered; between the firing from the tanks we heard the rattle of machine guns; a smoke that was not from any fire began to seep in. And desperate people asked, demanded, that we take them away, that we would get ambulances, or minibuses, to come. If I only had been able to conjure them … An elderly woman quickly became my favorite, a strong woman, a calm woman. I smiled with her and gave her my sandwich. She was the only one who accepted my offer. I did what I could to make everybody less tense. But I honestly did not think I would see the sunrise again.
On the 19th day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza: Before declaration of humanitarian truce, Israeli force escalated attacks against Palestinian civilians; 20 members of one family, including 11 children and 5 women, killed….
PCHR 26 July — …Since the [Saturday] morning, medical crews have been able to recover bodies of 45 Palestinians, including 2 children and 2 women, who were killed by Israeli forces in the past days. Israeli forces also attacked medical crews, killing 2 paramedics and wounding 4 others. Thus, the number of medical personnel killed Israeli forces during this offensive has amounted to 7, and 16 ones have been wounded. PCHR field worker have been unable to collect information from border areas in the Gaza Strip, because the situation is extremely dangerous in these areas. The following details are based on the information which the field workers have been able to collect.
On the 20th day of the Israeli offensive: During declared humanitarian truce, medical and defense crews have access to areas invaded by Israeli forces; Israeli forces cause extensive damage to these areas; dozens of corpses of Palestinians recovered….
PCHR 27 July — At approximately 08:00 on Saturday, 26 July 2014, a 12-hour humanitarian truce was declared, and was then extended for an additional 4 hours. During the truce, Palestinian civilians rushed to buy foodstuffs and basic needs. Medical and civil defense crews were able to reach areas that had been invaded by Israeli forces. However, the medical crews were presented from reaching certain areas in the east of Kahn Yunis. According to eyewitnesses, al-Shuja’iya neighborhood looked as if it was hit by an earthquake or Tsunami as it was extensively destroyed. Similar destruction was also seen in Beit Hanoun town. During the truce, medical crews were able to recover bodies of dozens of Palestinians, and evacuate some civilians who had been trapped in their houses in the areas that had been invaded. Following the end of the truce, Israeli tanks resumed shelling border areas in the east of Gaza Strip violently. PCHR field workers have been unable to collect information from border areas in the Gaza Strip, because the situation is extremely dangerous in these areas. The following details are based on the information which the field workers have been able to collect. From 10:00 on Saturday, 26 July 2014 to 10:00 on Sunday, 27 July 2014, according to what PCHR has been able to document, medical crews were able to recover the bodies of Palestinians, of whom 62 ones are civilians, including 5 children and 2 women. Seven Palestinians, of whom 5 civilians are civilians, including a child and a woman, died of previous wounds. Additionally, 43 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were wounded – this number includes 5 children and 7 women. A Palestinian civilian was also killed by Israeli forces during the humanitarian truce, and 2 members of a Palestinian armed group were killed a few hours following the end of the truce. The latest developments since the press release issued by PCHR yesterday noon have been as follows:
Video in memory of Salem Shammaly
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 27 July — In honour of the memory of Salem Khalil Salem Shammaly, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) has published all the raw footage, taken by Mohammed Abedullah, of Salem’s murder. Yesterday during the ceasefire, Salem’s body was finally able to be recovered and buried after five long days. Salem’s cousin, MohammedAl-Qattawi, explained that Salem’s body was so badly decomposed that his mothers, sisters, and friends couldn’t bear to see him to say goodbye. So many families are now trying to bury their children, their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. The first cemetery the family went to was full to capacity. The second cemetery was able to help them, but they were forced to open an already used grave, to place Salem in. In the last 20 days, over 1,058 Palestinians have been killed … The ISM contacted Salem’s sister, Shireen, and asked her if she could tell us more about her brother, and what happened to him and their family. “With the rest of the people, we headed towards the city center assuming that it would be a safe place. After the announcement of the truce, we heard a call through a local radio station from other family members who were stranded in the region; among them was our cousin.Salem then disappeared for two days …On the 22nd of July in the morning, the power supply came back, which only lasts for three hours a day at my house … My sister opened her Facebook account to read about the happenings of last night and to keep updated with news and pictures and about the invasion of Shaja‘iya.She found a video that drew her attention titled ‘Israeli sniper killing wounded civilian’. Once she opened the video, my other sister, who was sitting next to her, screamed and said, “this is Salem’s voice. I swear, its Salem’s voice.” We waited until the video completed buffering and saw Salem walking, helping the paramedics to rescue the injured. Then, one of us screamed and called for our father, “Dad, Salem is alive, come!” We got a chair for our father, sat down, and all concentrated on the laptop screen waiting for the end. Suddenly the camera was distorted and then it settled on Salem lying on the ground. We all became quiet and speechless. We sat calmly and our father said, “thank God, Salem was wounded. Maybe the foreigners took him to a hospital…” But before my father could finish his sentence, Salem was shot the third and fatal shot. Salem was a young man in the prime of his youth. He had dreamt to live his life like any other at his age. He was handsome and affectionate and could never hide what was in his heart. He has been waiting to grow up and to marry and have a family. We were waiting for him to grow up in order to assist our sick father and to support our family. He did not like politics at all. He was only in interested in his family and football. Why did they kill him in this brutal way? He was shot in broad daylight and, during the time of truce, the only thing in his hand was a cheap mobile phone…”
ICRC vehemently condemns Israel’s killing of PCRS medical worker in Gaza
GENEVA (WAFA) 26 July – The International Committee of the Red Cross vehemently condemned Friday the killing of an emergency medical worker and wounding three others, one critically, when two ambulances from the Palestine Red Crescent Society came under Israeli attack today in Beit Hanoun. In a news release, Head of ICRC delegation for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories Jacques de Maio said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the attacks against medical personnel and ambulances which have occurred in Gaza over the past two weeks.” The ambulances were clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem. He added: “Targeting ambulances, hospitals and medical workers is a serious violation of the law of war. Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers are out there saving lives. This violence must stop.”
IDF: Bloodiest battle in Gaza could have been much worse
Haaretz 28 July by Gili Cohen — Extraordinary measures taken to save soldiers from fierce Hamas counterattack a week ago in Shuja‘iyeh, where 13 Golani troops and some 70 Gazans, half or more of them civilians, were killed — During the fighting in Shujaiyeh a week ago, the bloodiest battle of Operation Protective Edge on both sides, Hamas’ counterattack at Israeli soldiers was so fierce that the army ordered its troops to take cover in armored personnel carriers, then laid down extraordinary firepower only 100 meters away from them to save their lives. Before that, 13 Golani Brigade soldiers were killed in four different battles in the Gazan neighborhood on the night between Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20. Some 70 Gazans were killed, half or more of them civilians. The brigade had been under fire for several hours and the decision was not easy, said an IDF officer involved in the fighting. “Working with the knowledge of the enemy’s location, we put all the Golani soldiers in the Namers [the army’s best APCs] and we fired at our forces. We gave them half an hour to get into the vehicles and we laid down fire, after which there was no more shooting from there, not even light weapons,” he said. He said if not for this extremely risky, unusual step, “we would be returning dozens of [soldiers’] bodies from the field.”
WATCH – ‘Shuja‘iyah: Land of the brave’ reveals a crisis of humanity
Electronic Intifada 26 July by Benjamin Doherty — This short video by Palestinian filmmaker Hadeel Assali displaces the horrifying images of the 19-20 July Shujaiya massacre with sweeter ones she collected during a 2013 visit with her family in Gaza. Most of the video footage comes from Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. About her video, Assali told me that after she was sent this recorded plea for help from the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, she created this short film “to show what ‘humanity’ means when we say ‘crimes against humanity.’” Over Assali’s sentimental and pleasant images we hear the audio from a frantic recording from journalist Samer Zaneed who tells us that residents of Shujaiya reported being abandoned by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the massacre. As Al Akhbar reported on 21 July, “survivors confirmed that the Red Cross ignored their repeated calls before the communication network stopped completely.” Israeli attacks continued through the morning of the massacre. Meanwhile, journalists also contacted the ICRC but their calls were ignored. Al-Akhbar quotes an unnamed journalist who says that the Red Cross finally responded: “This isn’t our responsibility and the Israeli army prevented us from entering the area because it declared it a military zone.”
WATCH: Jon Snow on Gaza
26 July posted by Adil Patel — Channel 4 [UK] reporter returning from his trip to Gaza – I’m back, and in the comfort of this studio it’s hard to imagine I was ever away. I don’t need to imagine though, because what I saw is still etched in my mind. What I never knew is what I know now, which is that those people who live in Gaza are mainly the unbelievably young. the average age is 17 – that means that about a quarter of a million are under 10 … There was one specific moment that stood out above all others, and that was penetrating the third floor of al-Shifa hospital, one of two floors dedicated to children. That’s where I met ?Maha, terribly crippled by shrapnel that penetrated her spine….
Second Turkish Gaza flotilla will have military escort, group says
28 July by Haaretz & Rina Rozenberg — The Turkish pro-Palestinian organization IHH announced that its second Gaza flotilla will be launched soon – and will be afforded protection by the Turkish Navy, Israel’s NRG reported on Sunday. The group’s chairman told local Turkish media that the mission, titled ‘Freedom Flotilla II,’ was in the process of finalizing the legal paperwork needed to commence on the trip, and would embark as soon as it got the necessary permissions. This fleet, as opposed to the group’s previous one that was intercepted by the Israeli navy in 2010, would be protected by the Turkish Navy, he said. Ankara, has so far not officially confirmed the report, according to Israel Radio.
Israel in Gaza: A statement by the JVP Rabbinical Council
25 July by Rabbi Brant Rosen — We are currently amidst “the three weeks” – the annual Jewish period of quasi-mourning that leads to the fast day of Tisha B’Av. This is the season that bids us to look deeply into the soul of our community and examine the ways that our sinat chinam – baseless hatred – has led to our communal downfall. Driven by the spirit of this season, we cannot help but speak out in response to the horrific loss of life currently taking place in Gaza, at the hands of the Israeli military. We deplore the Israeli government’s military crackdown in the West Bank that led to its lethal, military onslaught on the people of Gaza. We mourn the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, including children. We condemn Hamas’ rockets attacks on Israel and are deeply grieved by the anxiety, injury and death they have caused. But we cannot view this as a war between two equal sides. Israel has unlimited hi-tech weaponry; it dominates Gazan airspace, its borders, its utilities and economy. Moreover, it was Israel who willfully launched this mission of death on the Palestinian people. Israel hides behind the pretext of avenging the still unsolved kidnapping and killing of three Jewish boys. Rather than seeking recourse through civil, legal means, Israel’s leaders have called for vengeance, with terrible consequences. We can not stand idly by as the Jewish State acts with such wanton disregard, with such sinat chinam, for the humanity of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, children and elders of Gaza. As Jews, we abhor the abuse of human rights that are standard practice of our fellow Jews in the Israeli government and Israeli military. This is not the path of justice….
In Photos: Worldwide protest against Israeli attack on Gaza (UPDATED)
Mondoweiss 27 July by Annie Robbins
Thousands protest Gaza operation in Tel Aviv
Ynet 26 July by Eli Senyor – Over 5,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest Operation Protective Edge, which is now in its 19th day and has seen 40 IDF soldiers and over 1,000 Palestinians killed. “Enough killing” protesters shouted in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, while others held signs reading “Revenge is not policy”. The leftists were met head on by a counter-protest led by rightwing Israelis, and hundreds of police officers were present at the scene and prevented clashes between the two sides.
An Israeli soldier’s story – Eran Efrati
Filmed in Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014 as part of The Soldier and the Refusenik U.S. tour with Maya Wind. — Published on Mar 8, 2014 — [If you don't watch any other video this week, watch this one. Efrati comes from a Zionist family in Jerusalem - his grandmother survived Auschwitz, but not without a lifelong case of PTSD. He joined the Israel army like any young Israel Jew and was sent to Hebron, where his eyes were opened. Most of his story is about the 'most moral army in the world' and its actions in Palestine, but he goes further to show how Israel makes money arming dictatorships, using the Palestinians as the 'testing lab' for its weapons, and how Israel is now training OUR (US) police forces -- beware]
Iran, Hezbollah break with Assad to support Hamas
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 25 July by Adnan Abu Amer — Hezbollah and Iran have publicly declared support for Hamas in the Gaza war against Israel, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains critical of Hamas and is reluctant to reconcile — The current war in Gaza has witnessed renewed contact between Hamas on the one hand, and Iran and Hezbollah on the other, following two years of a chill in relations. A political official in Hamas confirmed to Al-Monitor that Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’ politburo, has recently received phone calls from Tehran initiated by Ali Larijani, chairman of the Shura Council, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a senior Revolutionary Guard officer whose name he did not mention. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called Meshaal on July 20. This was the first official contact between Hezbollah and Hamas since April, a Hamas official informed Al-Monitor.
VIDEO: Hug a Terrorist – Touching initiative from Canada to stand with Palestinian kids
23 July — Two young Canadian girls of Palestinian heritage inject a little reality into the lives of passersby.
‘Settlers as Terrorist Organizations’ campaign launched in London
LONDON (WAFA) 27 July – The “International Campaign for the inclusion of Israeli Settler Groups in List of Terrorist Organizations” campaign was Sunday launched in London, said the campaign’s spokesperson, Fadi Abu Siso. He said the campaign is getting prepared for a special meeting with UK’s lawmakers and policymakers, in the British House of Commons, to discuss ways to incorporate the campaign in the policies of the British political parties, adding that they will also to examine issuing a draft law in this regard.
Analysis / Opinion
Israel’s latest fib: ‘Gaza tunnels were surprise’ / J.J. Goldberg
The Forward 26 July — Nahum Barnea, commonly described as Israel’s most respected political journalist, has spent much of the past two weeks with the troops in Gaza and talking to general command in Tel Aviv. His weekly column in today’s Yediot Ahronot weekend supplement, which I have translated below, happens to say some of the things I’ve been writing over the past few weeks, so a bit of what you’ll read might sound familiar. But his sources are better than mine, better than anyone’s in fact, and he brings you up to date. But the third section of his column is something new: He says Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has known for a long time about the network of tunnels under Gaza and the threat they pose, but he punted because he had other things on his agenda. Now he’s shocked — shocked! — to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza! … Anyway, Barnea is already moving on to the latest — um, questionable assertion, namely that Israel was surprised (find the claim here and here) by the tunnels, or the extent of the tunnels, and therefore had to ratchet up its Protective Edge campaign unexpectedly at the last minute. Barnea argues, in the third section of this article, that the government had a very clear picture of the tunnels and their extent a long time ago but decided not to act on them because it had other things on its plate. He’s pretty scathing about the current “gap between rhetoric and reality,” as he puts it. Worth a read … Barnea concludes, as I did this week, with the argument that Protective Edge strengthens rather than weakens the argument for a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Unlike me, he sees signs that Netanyahu is thinking the same thing. Here’s Barnea, starting with the exit-strategy question:
Israel-Gaza conflict: What would we do if it had been 35 Palestinians dead and 800 Israelis? / Robert Fisk
Belfast Telegraph 26 July — Impunity is the word that comes to mind. Eight hundred dead Palestinians. Eight hundred. That’s infinitely more than twice the total dead of flight MH17 over Ukraine. And if you refer only to the “innocent” dead – ie no Hamas fighters, young sympathisers or corrupt Hamas officials, with whom the Israelis will, in due course, have to talk – then the women and children and elderly who have been slaughtered in Gaza are still well over the total number of MH17 victims. And there’s something very odd, isn’t there, about our reactions to these two outrageous death tolls. In Gaza, we plead for a ceasefire but let them bury their dead in the sweltering slums of Gaza and cannot even open a humanitarian route for the wounded. For the passengers on MH17, we demand — immediately — proper burial and care for the relatives of the dead. We curse those who left bodies lying in the fields of eastern Ukraine — as many bodies have been lying, for a shorter time, perhaps, but under an equally oven-like sky, in Gaza. Because – and this has been creeping up on me for years – we don’t care so much about the Palestinians, do we? We care neither about Israeli culpability, which is far greater because of the larger number of civilians the Israeli army have killed. Nor, for that matter, Hamas’s capability. Of course, God forbid that the figures should have been the other way round. If 800 Israelis had died and only 35 Palestinians, I think I know our reaction. We would call it – rightly – a slaughter, an atrocity, a crime for which the killers must be made accountable. Yes, Hamas should be made accountable, too. But why is it that the only criminals we are searching for today are the men who fired one – perhaps two – missiles at an airliner over Ukraine?
West Bank protests show that Abbas’ diplomacy has collapsed / Amira Hass
Haaretz 26 July – Since Thursday evening, tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians have taken part in demonstrations aimed at expressing rage, mourning and muqawama (resistance) — also the word used for the armed resistance to Israel in the Gaza Strip. Nine protesters have been killed and hundreds more wounded, hit by plastic-tipped or live bullets fired by Israeli troops. In the hospitals where casualties from the demonstrations have been treated, people say the scenes remind them of the first intifada. The mood is similar, too: grief and shock over the images from Gaza, next to a spiritual uplift and a sense that the barrier of indifference has been broken. Notably missing have been the field activists who could unite the Palestinian factions and direct the protests toward an action plan, the way activists from the PLO’s member groups did in the first intifada, leveraging demonstrations into a popular uprising. At a time when everyone is marveling about Hamas’ military planning in Gaza, the lack of political-civil planning among the various leadership groups is striking … The anger with the police and the worry that protesters would demonstrate near the home of Mahmoud Abbas or other symbols of the Palestinian Authority made it clear to the president’s advisers that the balance of forces had shifted against him. Now it’s the PLO leaders who are calling for demonstrations against “the terror of the occupation.” The leaders did not take the lead, they were led. The West Bank protests say clearly that Abbas’ diplomatic concept has collapsed. His Fatah movement is headed for bankruptcy if it continues to be associated with the Palestinian security forces, which are seen as agents of Israel.
Israel’s war of deception / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 27 July — How can a preventable war be justified? And how can one wrap oneself in its rightness in the presence of the horror-show images from Gaza? — It began as a war of choice: A different Israeli policy in the last few months might have prevented it. It evolved into a pointless war. It’s already pretty obvious that it will not result in any long-term achievements. It could still deteriorate into a disaster, and in the end will turn out to have been a war of deception – Israel lied itself to ruination. The first deceit was that there was no alternative. True, when the rocket barrages landed on Israel, that was the case. But what about the steps that led up to them? They were steps to which there were other options. It isn’t difficult to imagine what would have happened had Israel not halted the peace talks; had not launched an all-out war on Hamas in the West Bank, in the wake of the murder of the three Israeli teenagers; had not held up the transfer of funds earmarked for the payment of government salaries in the Gaza Strip; had not opposed the Palestinian unity government; and had eased up on its blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Qassam rockets were a response to Israel’s choices. Afterward the goals snowballed, as they always do in wars – from stopping the rockets, to finding and destroying the tunnels, and on to the demilitarization of Gaza. They might well continue to snowball, to who knows where … The second deceit is that the occupation of the Gaza Strip has ended. Imagine a besieged enclave, whose inhabitants are imprisoned, much of whose affairs are controlled by another state — from maintaining a population registry to running the economy, including prohibiting exports and restricting fishing, and which flies in its skies and occasionally invades its territory. Is that not occupation? The third deceit is the claim that the Israel Defense Forces “does everything in its power” to avoid killing civilians. We’ve already passed the first thousand deaths, a frightening number of them children and the majority of them civilians; with neighborhoods that have been flattened and 150,000 displaced persons with nowhere safe to run. All that makes the claim nothing more than a bitter joke. The claim that the world supports the war and recognizes its justness is also an Israeli deception … The next deception is that this war has shown “the People of Israel” to be “a wonderful nation.” It’s been a long time since there has been such a mendacious, intoxicating, saccharine and self-congratulatory campaign.
Shock-and-awe unlikely to work on Hamas, Gazans / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 27 July — Israel is banking on scope of destruction to cow the enemy, but is making the wrong assumptions — The purpose of the “humanitarian cease-fire,” as Saturday’s lull in the fighting was euphemistically called, was to show the inhabitants of Gaza, and especially the Hamas leadership, the scope of the devastation that the Israeli army’s attacks had caused. The assumption was that if the leadership could only see for themselves what had happened in Gaza, it would soften and agree right away to the original Egyptian proposal or a more moderate version that would be drawn up during the diplomatic talks. It is hard to understand exactly what the grounds for that assumption were. After all, if Israel and its friends perceive Hamas as a group that cares nothing about the death toll and the amount of devastation, then they have no reason to expect Hamas to be shocked by humanitarian concerns. The belief that the Gazan public would rebel against Hamas’ leadership and demand that it stop shooting immediately is also groundless. The public in Gaza did not rebel against Hamas throughout the eight years of its regime, even when the number of its dead during Operation Cast Lead surpassed the number of people killed in Operation Protective Edge, or even when the siege was at its height, before the smuggling tunnels eased the economic hardships there … Another Israeli assumption is that Hamas will not be able to dictate conditions to Egypt, and that any agreement it might achieve would have to be approved by Egypt. But Hamas has succeeded in extricating the talks from the Egyptian-Israeli grip, and now Egypt finds itself facing American and European pressure.
Israel murders soldier to prevent his capture / Richard Silverstein
Tikkun Olam 28 July — I’ve devoted a good deal of my life to Israel. I’ve studied, read, visited, lived, breathed it. Not in the way diehard pro-Israel fanatics do. But in a different way that matched my own intellectual and political proclivities. It’s a subject that is rich, varied, troubling, bedeviling, and exhilarating. But every once in a while I learn something I never thought possible; and I don’t mean this in a good way. Tonight, my Israeli source informed me that Sgt. Guy Levy, serving in the armored corps, was captured by Hamas fighters. He had been part of a joint engineering-armored-combat unit searching for tunnels. Troops entered a structure and discovered a tunnel. Suddenly, out of the shaft sprang two militants who dragged one of the soldiers into it. By return fire, one of the Palestinians was killed, while the other fled, presumably with the soldier. This Israeli report, which was censored by the IDF, says only that the attempt to capture the soldier failed. It says nothing about his fate. The expectation of anyone reading it would be that the soldier was freed. But he was not. In order to prevent the success of the operation, the IDF killed him. Nana reports that the IDF fired a tank shell into the building, which is the same way another captured soldier was killed by the IDF during Cast Lead … To the uninitiated this will seem a terribly strange, uncivilized, even immoral act. But that’s where I learned something I’d never known before about the IDF. There is an unwritten secret regulation written by the IDF High Command, but nowhere codified in writing … The Hannibal Directive is: …A secret directive of the Israel Defense Forces with the purpose of preventing Israeli soldiers being captured by enemy forces in the course of combat …The order, drawn up in 1986 by a group of top Israeli officers, states that at the time of a kidnapping the main mission becomes forcing the release of the abducted soldiers from their kidnappers, even if that means injury to Israeli soldiers. The order allows commanders to take whatever action is necessary, including endangering the life of an abducted soldier, to foil the abduction.