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Comments in 2012 and 2011



IDF breaks ceasefire, kills young Gazan

For the wording on free movement, see paragraph 1c in the agreement, Cease-fire agreement, Israel and Hamas

In this posting: 1) Richard Silverstein, the first violation; 2) JPost interpretation; 3) Ma’an on Hamas’ response to killing; 4) AP, ceasefire will survive killing.

Cartoon: Bibi: the Gaza-Iran connection, by Mana Neyestani

IDF Murders Gazan in First Major Ceasefire Violation

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
November24, 2012

Heavily armed, threatening Gazans gather at border fence before IDF killed one and wounded 10
The ink was barely dry on the ceasefire document Israel signed, before it had already violated the terms by killing a 20 year old Gazan farmer and wounding ten others who’d dared to take seriously the terms of the agreement. It allowed them free movement in formerly no-go border zones which Israel had established unilaterally.

Hundreds of Gazans were strolling through buffer zones which had formerly been their own farmland before Israel had peremptorily declared it an off-limits border zone. They did this based on this clause in the ceasefire:

Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.

The NY Times dutifully reports claims by Israel that the Gazans were entering Israeli territory, which Jodi Rudoren confirmed with an anonymous Hamas police officer. However, she also tellingly notes that the fence in the area where the Palestinians allegedly trespassed had been knocked down, indicating that the border was not clearly marked. Whatever the facts, these individuals were unarmed civilians who posed no threat to the Israeli soldiers who murdered them. I call this murder because there was a ceasefire in effect, the document governing the ceasefire permitted them to be there, the victims were unarmed, and killing civilians under such circumstances is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Hence, murder.

We can dispense with the lies of the IDF spokesflack that soldiers shot at the feet of the “intruders.” The victim was shot in the head according to Israeli Channel 2 news. These are professional sharpshooters who can kill a man a mile away with pinpoint accuracy. They don’t aim for someone’s feet and kill him in error.

Rudoren confirms Israel’s utter disdain for the very document it signed:

Ehud Barak, said dismissively that Hamas’s main achievement so far was getting a document that was typed rather than handwritten.

Though the document calls for a meeting that should’ve happened yesterday (within 24 hours of the start of the ceasefire) to negotiate opening the borders and ending the siege, here is Israel’s understanding of what it agreed to:

Israeli officials say nothing has been agreed upon beyond the immediate cessation of hostilities. …They agreed to discuss the border and other issues, but that those talks had not yet begun — and there did not appear even to be a mechanism in place for starting.

Rudoren of course doesn’t note that the wording of the ceasefire is clear and that Israel is in violation of it. That would be too uncomfortably partisan (or truthful) for her. The truth of the matter is that Israel is in a sour mood. Residents of the south are livid at the government’s backing down at the vital moment when it should’ve gone in and wiped our Hamas (in their view). Soldiers feel the same way and posted an image that went viral of them posing their bodies in the shape of Hebrew letters spelling “Bibi Loser.” The celebrations of Gazans at the end of the ceasefire have made Israelis feel they lost face in the deal. And “face,” despite what you may believe about Israel being a western democratic nation, is terribly important for them.

So Israel returns to a Gaza policy characterized by sullen brutalism in which the bodies of civilians are stacked like cord wood (“[Israeli] security forces killed 213 Palestinians near the fence between September 2005 and September 2012, including 154 who were not taking part in hostilities, 17 of them children”) on the altar of rejectionism. All await the next war.

The question now is whether Bibi will pivot toward Iran after collecting his scalps in Gaza. The NY Times published a piece comparing the Gaza fighting to the Spanish Civil War in terms of how the Nazis used it to test new weapons they would later use during World War II. The parallel is that Israel tested its anti-missile defense against Iran’s rocket technology in preparation for a looming battle between the two.

The major deficiency in the comparison is that the Fajr 5 Iranian missiles Hamas launched at Israel are extremely short-range (40 miles). Iran has two other longer range missiles that would pose far greater dangers to Israel and be far more complex to defend against. In fact, Israel has no current anti-missile defense against medium-range Iranian missiles (though it’s developing David’s Sling for that purpose). The Arrow system is designed to defend against Iran’s long-range missiles, but it is largely untested in battle condition. I’m not saying that this means it won’t be successful, just that it’s an unknown quantity.

I can’t think of any more moving and profound visual image to convey all this than Iranian dissident artist, Maya Neyestani’s brilliant cartoon [at top].

Palestinians: IDF fire kills man near Gaza fence

IDF says group of Palestinians tried to breach border fence prompting warning shots in air, and then at legs

By Yaakov Lappin, Reuters/JPost
November 23, 2012

IDF gunfire across the Gaza border killed one Palestinian on Friday and wounded several others, Palestinians medics said, two days after a ceasefire between the territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel took hold.

The IDF stated that a group of about 300 Palestinians approached the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip and held a violent disturbance along the border.

A number of the Palestinians attempted to break through the border fence into Israel. IDF soldiers initially fired shots into the air, but when warnings were not heeded, shots were directed at the suspects’ legs, according to the IDF.

One armed Palestinian was apprehended in Israeli territory after having crossed the fence and was returned to Gaza by soldiers, the IDF stated.

A Hamas spokesman accused Israel of violating the Egyptian-mediated truce and said the group would complain to Cairo.

Medics said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs along the Gaza frontier — an area that Israel has long declared a no-go zone for Gazans.

A relative of the dead man, who was at the scene, told Reuters that Qdeih had been trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence. He added that an Israeli soldier had fired into the air three times before Qdeih was hit in the head by a bullet.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “We will contact the Egyptian mediator to discuss the incident.”

Wednesday’s ceasefire deal ended eight days of fierce fighting that left 163 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.

According to the terms of the accord, both Israelis and Palestinians agreed to stop their hostilities. However, the brief document left details on access to the tense border zone to be worked out in the days ahead.

Seven other Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli gunfire from the border since the start of the ceasefire, medics said. Six of them were hurt on Friday and one on Thursday, when the Israeli military said 200 Palestinian “rioters” approached the fence.

The IDF constantly patrols the border area and says its forces have come under increasing attack this year, with terrorists planting explosive devices and firing an anti-tank missile on at least one occasion.

Hamas deploys at Gaza border after Israel kills Palestinian

By Ma’an news
November 25, 2012

GAZA CITY — The Hamas government in Gaza has deployed security forces near the border with Israel after two shooting incidents in the aftermath of Wednesday’s ceasefire.

A Reuters photographer and other witnesses said Hamas officials, coming closer to the Israeli border fence than ever before, escorted Palestinians away from the site.

A security source confirmed the move: “Yes, there are instructions to implement the agreement and at the same time protect the people. The instruction is not to allow people to approach the border fence.”

Earlier Friday Israeli forces killed Anwar Abdul Hadi Qudaih, 20, near the Israeli border in the southern Gaza Strip, medical officials said. He was hit in the head with a live bullet east of Khan Younis, medics said.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said 19 others were wounded by Israeli fire in the border area.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of violating the Egypt-mediated truce and said the group would complain to Cairo. “We will contact the Egyptian mediator to discuss the incident,” he said.

Witnesses told Ma’an a group was gathering to perform prayers on their land near the border.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that soldiers fired warning shots into the air to push back some 300 Palestinians who had gathered at different locations along the fence and who were attempting to breach the border.

“After the rioters did not comply, the soldiers responded by firing toward the legs of the rioters,” she said.

Footage uploaded to YouTube showed people running as gunfire was heard.

A relative of the dead man, who was at the scene, told Reuters that Qudaih had been trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence.

He added that an Israeli soldier had fired into the air three times before Qdeih was hit in the head by a bullet.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki, speaking in Rome, called Friday’s shooting “a clear violation of the agreement and should not be repeated”.

On Thursday medics said four Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire near the fence. An army spokesman said 200 Palestinians approached the fence and “began rioting” before causing damage to the fence.

Wednesday’s ceasefire deal ended eight days of fierce fighting that left over 170 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.

According to the terms of the accord, both Israelis and Palestinians agreed to stop their hostilities. However, the brief document left details on access to the tense border zone to be worked out in the days ahead.

Israeli gunfire kills man in 1st violence since ceasefire

Incident unlikely to impact Israel-Hamas ceasefire

By The Associated Press/CBC
November 23, 2012

Israeli troops fired on Gazans surging toward Israel’s border fence Friday, killing one person but leaving intact the fragile two-day-old cease-fire between Hamas and the Jewish state.

The truce, which calls for an end to Gaza rocket fire on Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, came after eight days of cross-border fighting, the bloodiest between Israel and Hamas in four years.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, the Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour called the situation in Gaza “extremely fragile” and said Israel’s cease-fire violations and other illegal actions risk undermining the calm that was just restored.

Israeli-enforced zone
Hundreds of Palestinians approached the border fence Friday in several locations in southern Gaza, testing expectations Israel would no longer enforce a 300-metre-wide no-go zone on the Palestinian side of the fence that was meant to prevent infiltrations into Israel.

In the past, Israeli soldiers routinely opened fire on those who crossed into the zone.

In one incident captured by Associated Press video, several dozen Palestinians, most of them young men, approached the fence, coming close to a group of Israeli soldiers standing on the other side.

Some Palestinians briefly talked to the soldiers, while others appeared to be taunting them with chants of “God is Great” and “Morsi, Morsi,” in praise of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whose mediation led to the truce.

At one point, a soldier shouted in Hebrew, “Go there, before I shoot you,” and pointed away from the fence, toward Gaza. The soldier then dropped to one knee, assuming a firing position. Eventually, a burst of automatic fire was heard, but it was not clear whether any of the casualties were from this incident.

1 killed, 19 injured
Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said a 20-year-old man was killed and 19 people were wounded by Israeli fire near the border.

Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, said Israeli forces fatally shot Anwar Abdulhadi Qudaih, 21, in the head and injured at least 19 other Palestinian civilians in a border area east of Khan Younis.

During the incidents, Hamas security tried to defuse the situation and keep the crowds away from the fence.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official at the ongoing negotiations in Cairo, told The Associated Press that the violence would have no effect on the ceasefire.

The crowds were mainly made up of young men but also included farmers hoping to once again farm lands in the buffer zone. Speaking by phone from the buffer zone, 19-year-old Ali Abu Taimah said he and his father were checking three acres of family land that have been fallow for several years.

“When we go to our land, we are telling the occupation (Israel) that we are not afraid at all,” he said.

Israel’s military said roughly 300 Palestinians approached the security fence at different points, tried to damage it and cross into Israel.

Soldiers fired warning shots in the air, but after the Palestinians refused to move back, troops fired at their legs, the military said. A Palestinian infiltrated into Israel during the unrest, but was returned to Gaza, it said.

The truce allowed both Hamas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step back from the brink of a full-fledged war. Over eight days, Israel’s aircraft carried out some 1,500 strikes on Hamas-linked targets, while Gaza fighters fired roughly the same number of rockets at Israel.

The fighting killed 166 Palestinians, including scores of civilians, and six Israelis. Mansour, the Palestinian UN envoy, said more than 1,230 Palestinians were injured, predominantly women and children.

In Cairo, Egypt is hosting separate talks with Israeli and Hamas envoys on the next phase of the cease-fire—a new border deal for blockaded Gaza. Hamas demands an end to border restrictions, while Israel insists Hamas halt weapons smuggling to Gaza.

Mansour also accused Israel of intensifying its use of “excessive and lethal force” against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in recent days and of arresting at least 230 Palestinian civilians since the Gaza fighting began, including several members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who were detained at dawn Friday.

The Palestinian UN observer called on the Security Council and the international community “to remain vigilant in their demands for a complete cessation of hostilities and for compliance by Israel.”

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