Gaza strikes: half of dead were women and children

Jul 11, 2014

Russia, France and the US call for ceasefire as death toll in Gaza reaches 80


Israeli airstrikes hit hundreds more targets yesterday, as the Palestinian death toll, including many women and children, continued to rise.

US president Barack Obama phoned Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to offer US assistance in brokering a ceasefire. "The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," a White House statement said.

The offer comes against a backdrop of mounting civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip. According to the Daily Telegraph, an Israeli airstrike hit a beachside café in the south of Gaza on Wednesday, killing eight people inside who were watching the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Netherlands.

"The strike killed Mohammed Fawana along with three sets of brothers – Ahmed and Suleiman Astal, 18 and 16, their cousin Musa, also 16, Mohammed and Ibrahim Ganan, 24, and 25, and Hamdi and Ibrahim Sawaleh, 20 and 28," the Telegraph reported. "A third Sawaleh brother, Salim, 23, was still missing on Thursday."

Palestinian hospital officials said the death toll has now risen to 80 and claimed "half of those killed were women and children", The Guardian reports. The Palestinian health ministry said that some 600 people – mainly civilians – had also been injured. Israel insists that "dozens of terrorists" are among those who have died in the strikes.

Israeli authorities say militants have fired nearly 500 rockets from Gaza since the country launched Operation Protective Edge on Tuesday morning. No casualties have been reported from Hamas rockets being fired into Israel.

During his phonecall with the Israeli prime minister, Obama "strongly condemned" rocket fire by Hamas, but also "expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasised the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm".

The French and Russian Presidents, Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin, also appealed for calm and called for a ceasefire, the BBC reports.


Gaza 'on a knife edge' says Ban Ki-moon

10 July

The situation in Gaza is "on a knife edge", the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned as 14 more people were killed by Israeli air strikes overnight.

Strikes hit a coffee shop and two houses in the city of Khan Younis, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told Agence France-Presse, as well as the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

The Palestinian health ministry said that five of the victims were children. An Israeli military spokesman said the deaths were "a tragedy – not what we intended", and that occupants of the two houses had returned to their homes too soon after telephone warnings had been given ahead of the attack.

"Dozens" more strikes were heard falling on the Palestinian territory on Thursday morning, The Guardian reports, as Israel's Operation Protective Edge entered its third day.

Amid the escalation of violence and rhetoric from both sides, Ban warned that the region "cannot afford another full-blown war".

"The deteriorating situation is leading to a downward spiral which could quickly get out of control," the UN chief said. "The risk of violence expanding further still is real".

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has promised that militants will "pay a heavy price" for continued rocket attacks on Israel. The country's president, Shimon Peres, whose role is largely ceremonial and who is not involved in establishing policy, told CNN that a ground invasion "may happen quite soon".

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, cautioned that any ground operation "could bring a huge massacre in Gaza".

The UN Security Council is due to meet today for emergency talks on the crisis. In the meantime, Ban has called for restraint on both sides, urging Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets and the Israeli government to respect its international obligations to protect citizens.

Hamas and Israel exchange fire as war looms

9 July

Israel has launched its largest offensive against the Gaza strip in nearly two years, killing 25 people and injuring many more, after Palestinian militants fired more rockets at Israeli cities.

Four rockets hit southern Israel overnight and several were shot down by the country's Iron Dome missile defence system over Tel Aviv, Israeli army radio said.

As Gaza-based militants fired on cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel called up reservists and massed troops on the Gaza border in preparation for "possible ground manoeuvres".

According to the health ministry in Gaza, 25 Palestinians have been killed and 70 more injured since the offensive began, the BBC reports.

Recent hostilities have led to the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since an eight-day battle in late 2012.

Militants have fired 160 rockets into cities around Israel including an M-302 surface-to-surface rocket that reached the northern city of Hadera for the first time, The Independent reports. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said rocket attacks against Israeli communities would result in retaliation.

"I have ordered the military to significantly broaden its operation against Hamas terrorists and against the other terrorist groups inside Gaza," he announced in a broadcast on national television. "I call on you to display patience because this operation could take time."

Israel said that its overnight strikes targeted ten Hamas command centres, 118 concealed rocket launchers and a number of tunnels. "Operation Protective Edge" has now struck 440 targets in the Gaza strip.

Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, said that the government was "now acting to put an end to this" by "dismantling Hamas's military machine".

"We don't want to have some sort of band-aid solution whereby we have a quick fix, a ceasefire and then we only have rockets on Israeli citizens next week," he said.

Israel prepares for Gaza ground invasion

8 July

Israel has called up some reservists and sent troops to the Gaza border as part of its "open-ended and escalating" offensive against Hamas.

Air strikes and naval gunfire pounded positions in the Gaza strip last night, hitting about 50 targets including militant houses and military compounds, the Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner told CNN.

The military action is part of a new offensive dubbed "Operation Protective Edge", which was announced after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last week. A Palestinian teenager was also killed in what authorities believe was a reprisal attack for the three Israeli teens' deaths. Rocket attacks from within Gaza have also increased in recent weeks.

The Israeli operation "will probably not end within several days," defence minister Moshe Ya'alon said. "We will not tolerate rocket fire and we are prepared to expand the operation and to exact a heavy toll on Hamas".

Meanwhile Israeli troops have been massing on the Gaza border and an unspecified number of reservists have been called up for "a possible ground invasion," The Guardian reports.

Israel's prime minister, Binyanim Netanyahu, has been under pressure from hardliners within his cabinet to respond with greater force, but so far he has shown a "marked reluctance" to be drawn into a full military confrontation, the Guardian says. Instead he has offered Hamas "quiet for quiet".

Nevertheless, the military has been put on full alert and has reportedly been ordered to prepare to expand its operation significantly.

"We are entering into a long operation," a senior IDF source said. "We are only at the start. Patience is required. We are preparing further steps and a gradual expansion of our order of battle".

Hundreds of reservists have already been called up "with a view to possible ground manoeuvres," Lerner said on Tuesday.

During Israel's last assault on Gaza in November 2012, more than 30,000 reservists were called up.

Israeli air strikes kill nine Palestinian militants

7 July

Nine Palestinian militants have been killed in air strikes launched by the Israeli army this morning in response to rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. 

Hamas confirmed that six members of its armed wing died in an attack on the southern Palestinian city of Rafah, 19 miles south of Gaza, and another three fighters were killed elsewhere, making it the "deadliest day for Hamas since 2012", The Daily Telegraph reports.

Israeli military authorities said that they had "responded to rocket attacks against southern Israel" with attacks that had made "direct hits" on "terror" sites and concealed rocket launchers.

Lt Col Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said rocket attacks from Gaza were "unbearable and unacceptable".

"We will continue to act in order to debilitate and incapacitate the Hamas terror infrastructure," he said, "striking its warehouses, rocket manufacturing capabilities and those that endanger the wellbeing of the Israelis in the south of the country."

Tensions have been running high, the BBC says, since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair last week. The Palestinian teenager was kidnapped on Wednesday morning and found dead hours later. According to reports, he had been burnt to death.

Israeli police have arrested six Jewish suspects they believe may have been retaliating against the murder of three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were located earlier last week.

According to Kevin Connolly, the BBC's Jerusalem correspondent, more than 300 members of Hamas have been arrested by Israel following the teenagers' deaths.

Hamas's military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, promised that Israel would pay "a tremendous price" for the latest air strikes on Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to his cabinet on Sunday "to do whatever is necessary" to bring an end to the latest surge in rocket strikes at Israel from Gaza. But far-right politicians say that his response has not gone far enough.

Today's deaths amount to the largest loss of life since Israel's "Pillar of Defence" campaign at the end of 2012. Six Israelis and 180 Palestinians died during the eight-day conflict.

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...while not condoning the activities of Hamas' military wing, it is somewhat autistic of "Lt Col Peter Lerner" to denounce such activities as "unbearable and unacceptable" when the probable casus belli of the Palestinians is the "unbearable and unacceptable" continuation of illegal and cynical settlement building, the existence of the huge wall that straddles the occupied territories and the intransigence of the Israelis towards a genuine, negotiated, settlement - unless, that is, it should be on Israel's own selfish terms!

Meanwhile - business as usual in that benighted part of the world - a problem entirely of Israel's own making.

If Hamas would recognize Israel and sign a peace treaty, Israel would let up, and all of this would stop. Instead, hamas fires rockets and does exactly what would prompt Israel to continue it's iron-fisted approach. Hamas doesn't want to make peace with Israel. It wants to destroy it. Why would Israel or any other country simply accept that?

...Scott - there is fault on both sides - that unfortunate fact makes this such an intractable problem. However, and to quote just one Palestinian grievance, the continuation of the illegal and very provocative Israeli settlement developments, on land precious to the Palestinians, is a major contributory factor.

Perhaps Israel doesn't care to make peace with its neighbours? After all - it is a regional super-power and peace matters rather less to it than continuing expansion - hence the continuing settlement programme, despite that programme having been condemned by the US, Israel's major sponsor, and having been declared illegal under international law.

You have it wrong. It is Israel who does not want peace. Let see you live everyday of your pathetic life (according to an Israeli) under siege, under an occupying arrogant fist, crying out for justice, only to be hit with lie after lie to justify your misery. Hell has no borders nor wants peace. Hell has the capacity and strength to oppress with no mercy nor justice, no compassion nor repentance. Hitler was the same and now the world knows why Hitler was raised up. Israel was man-made, not God-given...and the fruit is what we witness and what the Palestinians live with day after miserable day. Let see you live with it...and let the world look the other way while your house is leveled, while your food and medicine and electricity is withheld and while your children are being murdered. Israel is using the death of three Israeli teens to justify their next "planned" bombardment. So what justified their negligence in the teens call for help in the first place? Could it be that they are the perpetrators in the first place? Just like 9/11 was the mastermind of the Bush, Blair and Sharon agenda to control the world? You live in a box of your end.

Your attempt at equivalence falls flat. It's quite clear that if Hamas would lay down its weapons, recognize Israel, and stop kidnapping people and firing rockets into civilian areas, the violence would cease. At that point, the small (vocal, but small) group of Israeli settlers would be marginalized, and the situation would stabilize. Currently, Israel has no incentive to rein in the settlers because if Hamas continues to act like savages, the settlers create Israeli's buffer zone against them. Without Hamas violence, you would never see another settlement approved. With Hamas violence, you will see many. Hamas is motivated by hate but also kleptocracy -- remember, the current situation makes its leadership rich (they control the smuggling) and the vast majority of the people they kill are other Palestinians who object to their graft or otherwise oppose their tyranny. Some liberators.

Let see you not come against an occupier! Let see you live with oppression! Let see you be withheld justice! The day will come when all advocates to tyranny be tyrannized by it. Let all advocates to consistent hell be thrown into it...without mercy. You who sits in your place of found out by a merciless nation who could care less about your children, your home, or your life. So sad when an arrogant remark is not backed by the witness of oppression. Once upon a time there was WWII because the cries of an occupier is killing us, is taking our homes, is burning us alive, is starving us...without mercy. Selective judgement is without truth on your part has no grounds, nor foundation, only self-righteous arrogance. Welcome to Israel.

What you have right is the misery of the Palestinians. Who could deny that? What you have wrong is your suggestion that Hamas only wants Israel to leave it alone and then they would be peaceful neighbors. If Israel left Hamas alone, opened all the borders, stopped all surveilence and intelligence, and allowed Hamas to do what it wished, the first thing Hamas would do is gather weapons to kill as many Israelis as they could and chase the survivors into the sea so that Israel would no longer exist. If you say otherwise, you are either a fool or a liar (Who knows... maybe you're both).

I happen to agree with you about the settlements. However, Hamas has no interest in living with Israel... only without Israel.

Blah blah blah

Are you Hamas? Or just the daily forecast of intelligent minds? So sad that an intelligent mind has to resort to slander to cover up oppression. There would not be a Hamas if it weren't for an occupier. Why is there a US military? Why is there a UK military? Why is there a military at all? And since you seem to know all...maybe you should remove the log from your own eye before seeing the favorable fault with another, and then maybe you will see the truth instead of deception like the Israeli occupation wants you to see. The land of Israel was man-made...not God-given. Would you sit idly by while your country/land becomes occupied by another, or would you rally up and do what you could to stop it? Maybe you are so used to your arrogant safety that you can't even comprehend that. You will be met with your arrogance...but no one will hear your cries for help. Then let you be called an extremist or terrorist because you don't agree with it!!! - all of the concessions must be made by Hamas? Get real - the world doesn't work like that! My attempts at "equivalence" simply seek to draw a balance of understanding of the reasons and activities of BOTH sides in this conflict.

"If Hamas continues to act like savages" - how about "if Israel continues to construct more settlements"?

Chicken and egg situation - therefore, some equivalence MUST be drawn whether or not you like that notion. your assumption that I am wrong because of a suggestion that Hamas only wants Israel to leave it alone....[did I make that suggestion?] You must be a true soothsayer!

I used to think like you and whilst I still don't approve of the settlers, I don't believe Hamas have any interest in making peace. Their whole raison d'etre is to destroy Israel. They are not interested in compromise and are truly implacable. Truces are just that, temporary measures until Hamas can rearm. Their only idea of peace is through the destruction of Israel.

...very interesting, Porph (if I may use the diminutive?). The running thread through many of these posts is that Hamas is hell-bent on Israel's destruction and I would be naive to dismiss that - so I won't!

However, do you not think that if Israel were to show some compromise (and, it seems, that a great many of the Israeli population seek compromise on a wide range of issues - not least, the settlements) then Hamas' arguments (if they have any genuine intentions of achieving any settlement, beyond the annihilation of the State of Israel) might be exposed as hollow - leading to their marginalisation within Palestine.

At the moment, with hard-liners calling the shots on both sides, prospects for compromise seem to be limited at best. John Kerry will testify to that gloomy prognosis!

Good to discuss with you - thanks.

But Israel has shown compromise before on withdrawing from the Gaza strip and Southern Lebanon. With Gaza, it was rewarded with Hamas taking control, and with Southern Lebanon Hezbollah pledging never to give up until Israel is destroyed. They see compromise as a sign of weakness and they see any goodwill shown by Israel as due solely to Allahs grace.

Barak gave Arafat nearly everything he wanted yet Arafat still refused to come to terms, probably because he knew he wouldn't last 5 minutes.

It there is one thing that could draw the sting from this conflict its the resettlement and granting of citizenship of Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries. Its the mere existence of these refugees in camps still, that expose the hollowness of Arab regimes commitment to peace. They know that they can never be resettled back to Israel and in any peace settlement they would be left with nothing as it stands, which in itself would almost certainly doom it to failure.

Meanwhile the so-called Western Democracies sit back as the mighty Israeli war machine rolls on armed and financed by the US taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars and prepares to crush the impoverished Palestinians (also known as animals). How is it possible to call it a war, when one side has all the weapons and the other consists of 5 million trapped civilians waiting to be slaughtered armed with Kalashnikov's and a few home made missiles. The West are the culprits and should take the blame for they cannot say, "they did not know what was going on" whilst these war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed. Only they can put and end to Israeli aggression and drag them screaming to the negotiating table. The whole matter can be settled before the year is out if the west would only act responsibly. Meanwhile it is up to the people of the world to boycott everything that is Israeli, only when they begin to feel pain will they respond.

How would the Brits react if a group of hooligans in Bristol were to start lobbing rockets into Metropolitan London? it would be scary and no one would doubt the justice of retaliation. Last night was like a very frightening 4th of July - our house shook and we were scared that the windows would shatter, and we are a good 60km away from didnt stop yet and we are in for another night of booms.

...I think that the "Brits" would seek to understand the reason for such a hypothetical attack, and seek to achieve some compromise, wherein neither side felt so aggrieved as to resort to such violence.

Compromise seems to be rather a difficult concept to grasp between Israel and Palestine - too many vested interests on both sides, who would prefer to maintain the status quo of mindless attack and counter-attack/retaliation.