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Posts

Bombing Gaza will not destroy opposition to Israel

This posting has these items giving news and opinions from Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian points of view:
1) +972: Why Netanyahu will lose this Gaza war, too, Samer Badawi argues that military assaults on Gaza can never achieve what Netanyahu wants;
2) AFP/Ma’an: Arab League seeks urgent UN Security Council meet on Gaza, Arab engagement;
3) Haaretz: Growing frustration in Israel pushing government to further escalation, Amos Harel argues Hamas has dragged Israel into conflict because it needs an achievement;
4) Ma’an news: Hamas dedicates missile attacks to Egyptian troops, in a gesture towards Egyptians, Hamas promotes its Operation Ramadan the Tenth;
5) Electronic Intifada: Selection of photos from Eight children killed as Israeli warplanes relentlessly bomb Gaza,
6) AFP: Gaza death toll reaches 28 as Israeli assault enters day two, useful concise account, bombs dropped, rockets fired, persons killed so far;
7) Madu Masr: Egypt denounces raids on Gaza, but keeps Rafah closed;
8 – Ma’an news: ‘9 Palestinians killed’ in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, interesting for the militant groups identified;


Palestinians try to salvage what they can of their belongings from the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Photo by Khalil Hamra, AP.

Why Netanyahu will lose this Gaza war, too

Israel’s military assaults consistently fail to shift the balance of moral power in its war on the Palestinians.

By Samer Badawi, +972
July 08, 2014

On the heels of a military campaign that failed at its only stated objective — to rescue three kidnapped Jewish teens — and instead yielded near-unanimous international condemnation and government-fueled racial attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone all-in on a bet that more violence will somehow reclaim his losses. As others have pointed out, Netanyahu’s gamble has come at the expense of the truth, but it is also costing the lives of more innocents, all of them so far Palestinian.

Let’s set aside for a moment how we got here and instead consider the effectiveness of Israel’s tactics to date. In Gaza, last night’s bombing began just after 1 a.m local time, and by daybreak, Israel had “targeted” 50 sites in 65 airstrikes. By 11 a.m., with rockets still flying defiantly from the coastal strip, the Israeli prime minister had instructed his air force to “take the gloves off,” and within three hours, the number of airstrikes had reportedly risen to 90 — or nearly one every five minutes.

Unlike the “homemade or smuggled rockets” at Palestinian fighters’ disposal, Israel’s payload includes GPS-guided weaponry designed to single out “pixel-sized targets.” Among these, for example, was the 67-year-old founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, who was assassinated by air (in his wheelchair) on March 22, 2004. But if the latest Israeli campaign was aimed at Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza, you wouldn’t know it from eyewitness accounts on the ground there.

As with the Israeli military’s rampage throughout the West Bank these past weeks, which Human Rights Watch and others have labeled collective punishment, the attacks on Gaza have not focused on “military targets.” As of this writing, Gaza’s Tweeps have reported repeated airstrikes against mosqueshomes, and refugee camps, and the most recent reports give a tally of 14 Palestinians killed in fewer than 24 hours, including at least two children. Given Israel’s sophisticated weapons systems, one has to assume that these “targets” were specifically selected by military planners to make good on the Israeli premier’s call to escalate attacks.

And therein lies the brutal calculus of Israel’s strategists: to “take the gloves off,” they visit violence, not against a handful of alleged kidnappers in the West Bank or rocket launchers in Gaza, but against a civilian population that has neither an army to protect it nor an avenue of escape. That the majority of Gaza’s civilians are already refugees from villages violently “cleansed” or destroyed by Israel in 1948 should offer some insight into the bankruptcy of this approach. More than six decades on, Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants remain on the land, and despite Israel’s attempts to demonize them as “terrorists” or recalcitrants, they continue to resist longstanding policies to silence them.

In Gaza, those policies have included a suffocating siege by land and sea — one that patrols, at gunpoint, nearly half of the strip’s arable land and some 85 percent of its coastal waters. In the West Bank, Israel maintains daily control of more than 60 percent of the land there, in the territory labeled “Area C.” In all cases, though, Israel — as it has demonstrated in the last weeks — can attack Palestinians at will, anyplace and anytime.

As the usual chorus of Western critics justifies these attacks by condemning Hamas rockets and “rioting” in the West Bank, they might take heed of a question posed this morning by Palestine Center Executive Director Yousef Munayyer, who asks:

Do those against indiscriminate projectiles from Gaza support givin them precision weapons or just want them to shut up & accept oppression?

The question would be wasted on Israeli lawmakers, of course, who this morning approved the call up of 40,000 reservists, presumably for a pending ground invasion against Gaza. The last time that happened, in January of 2009, it capped an Israeli offensive that claimed up to 1,417 Palestinian lives — and those of 13 Israelis. That “kill ratio” — to borrow a nauseating military term — exceeded 100 to one. But if the current Israeli onslaught is any indication, it did nothing to shift the balance of moral power in Israel’s war on the Palestinians. Like those before him, Netanyahu, too, will lose this war.



Arab League seeks urgent UN Security Council meet on Gaza

By AFP / Ma’an news
July 09, 2014

CAIRO — The Arab League called Tuesday for the UN Security Council to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the deadly Israeli air campaign against Gaza, Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said.

At least fourteen people were killed Tuesday and dozens wounded in a number of attacks in the most serious flare-up in and around the Palestinian territory since November 2012.

An official from the pan-Arab bloc told AFP Arabi had “instructed the Arab League’s UN representative to initiate urgent consultations within the Arab group calling for an emergency security meeting of the Security Council.”

Earlier, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas asked the international community to “immediately intervene to halt this dangerous escalation which would lead the region to more destruction and instability.”

Arabi said he had been “in touch with president Abbas to follow the latest developments in the Gaza Strip” while also continuing “consultations with Arab foreign ministers on this subject.”

He denounced the “dangerous Israeli escalation” and warned against its humanitarian consequences in Gaza.

“The continued attacks on Palestinian civilians by Israel is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, the Geneva Convention and international resolutions on occupied Palestine,” said the Arab League chief.

Meanwhile, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), announced it would hold an “extraordinary” ministerial meeting Thursday in the Saudi city of Jeddah to discuss the “intensifying and fierce Israeli campaign against Palestine”.

Israeli strikes on Gaza killed at least 14 people on Tuesday and wounded 80 more, the emergency services said in the most serious flare-up in and around the Palestinian territory since November 2012.

The deaths came hours after Israel announced the start of Operation Protective Edge, a military campaign aimed at stamping out rocket fire on southern Israel and destroying Hamas’s military infrastructure.

Army figures show that since midnight, militants have fired 130 rockets at southern Israel, while the air force struck 150 “terror targets” in Gaza.



Growing frustration in Israel pushing government to further escalation

Israel did not seek confrontation. But with no exit strategy in place, and with Hamas calling the shots, hostilities are likely to intensify.

By Amos Harel
July 09, 2014

Hamas, despite its weak position and strategic distress, is calling the shots so far in the current round of hostilities. Israel is sliding toward a military confrontation it did not seek. The growing casualties in the Gaza Strip and the fact that three million Israelis have already experienced running to shelters to the sounds of blaring sirens are dictating an increasing escalation. Since there is as yet no blueprint for an escape route for the two sides, and Egypt’s commitment to putting in the effort required to reach an agreement is unclear, it’s impossible say how long the hostilities might last.

The Gaza conflict hitched a ride on the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month, but it is expanding independently of that incident. As far as is known, the Hamas leadership in Gaza was not part of the chain of command behind the abduction, carried out by a Hamas cell from Hebron on July 12. But the failure of the operation — the bodies were discovered by Israeli forces before the organization presented its demands — left Hamas without an achievement to boast of. This came on top of a growing sense of being under siege, with failed attempts by Hamas leaders to break the stranglehold.

Hamas thus looked for an alternative achievement, leading to its military wing embarking on heating up the Gaza border by firing increasing numbers of rockets. The extent of coordination between the Hamas military and political branches is 
unclear. Israel responded with restraint, launching pinpoint aerial strikes. Earlier this week Hamas launched a more ambitious move, attempting an attack through a tunnel under the border. This was foiled when the lead forces were hit, apparently in a “work accident.” The leadership then went into hiding, instructing their forces to intensify their attacks.

Israel’s problem is that it was dragged into the conflict from lack of choice, similar to developments before Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Hamas mistook the intentions of the Netanyahu government, believing it would hold back. However, Israel then held the element of surprise. Its opening moves killed the leader of Hamas’s military wing Ahmed Jabari and destroyed most of the organization’s mid-range missiles, facilitating a cease-fire.


Gunmen from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, line up outside the house of their late leader Ahmed Jaabari, after mourners finished visiting his family to pay their condolences in Gaza City on 22 November 2012. Photo by Marco Longari

This time Hamas leaders are deep inside their bunkers and it is estimated that they have several hundred rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, some of which are well hidden. Hamas has apparently learned to be more cautious. During earlier rounds, many rocket operators were killed in air attacks while preparing to fire. This time, at least some of the launchers are underground and their crews keep a safe distance from them when firing.

These circumstances and the growing frustration in Israel are pushing the government to respond more harshly. Senior cabinet ministers have said that all Hamas targets are now legitimate.

Hamas is searching for achievements. The first tunnel attack failed, but on Tuesday there were reports of another explosion in the same area with no Israeli casualties. Five Hamas frogmen landed on a beach near Kibbutz Zikim, after the air force killed four other naval fighters. The five were killed by a Givati Brigade force. It appears that Hamas has prepared a series of such surprises in order to upset Israeli operations and gain some morale boosters, but so far these have failed.

As expected, the Tel Aviv area joined the “deterrence equation” on Tuesday, in premeditated proximity to the evening news. The sole rocket that was launched was intercepted above Rishon Letzion. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a splinter group loosely affiliated with Hamas, took responsibility, claiming that the rocket was a Buraq-70 aimed at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Tel Aviv was fired on during Operation Pillar of Defense, so these organizations obviously view targeting the airport and threatening civilian air traffic as another achievement, although in fact this threat is grossly exaggerated.

The firing is expected to continue, and Hamas has hinted at rockets that can reach even farther than Tel Aviv. One rocket already landed near Jerusalem, with increased firing at the Tel Aviv area. The Iron Dome system has intercepted many of these, minimizing casualties. With half of the country under fire, emergency measures will take effect regarding work and children staying outdoors. This will translate into aggressive counter-attacks.

One possibility is a ground assault, which is now more likely than during Operation Pillar of Defense. It can start with forces already available which will be joined later by others. The fighting may continue for several days, possibly escalating. The Egyptians are playing a key role here. According to Palestinian sources, top Egyptian intelligence officials earlier this week visited Israel as part of the mediation efforts.

Cairo, despite the poor relationship with Hamas, still has influence in Gaza. But it seems as if Egyptian mediation for stopping this round may be delayed, with the generals happy to see Hamas dealt a blow, before they decide to force a cease-fire.



Hamas dedicates missile attacks to Egyptian troops

By Ma’an news
July 09, 2014

GAZA CITY – Hamas’ military wing the al-Qassam Brigades said Tuesday evening that they dedicated the missile attacks on Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the Egyptian soldiers who were killed in the October 1973 war.

In a statement, Hamas named the attack “Operation Ramadan the Tenth.”

“Launching an R160 missile at Haifa reflects a qualitative development to the capacities of resistance, and is a source of pride for our people,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

The Israeli occupation, he added, must get the message, “otherwise greater things are yet to come.”



Photos from Electronic Intifada, Eight children killed as Israeli warplanes relentlessly bomb Gaza – photos

Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, 8 July. Photo by Eyad Al Baba / APA images


Palestinians gather around a house which police said was destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, 8 July. Eight persons, including six children, were killed. Photo by Ramadan El-Agha / APA images


Paramedics at a hospital in Khan Younis treat Palestinians wounded in Israeli air strikes on a house which killed eight persons, 8 July. Photo by Ramadan El-Agha / APA images


A Palestinian woman inspects her house which police said was damaged in an Israeli air strike on a neighboring house in Gaza City, 8 July. Photo by Ashraf Amra / APA images



Gaza death toll reaches 35 in day two of Israeli assault

By AFP, Al-Akhbar
July 09, 2014

Updated 1:24 pm: Israeli war jets bombed 160 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, the military said Wednesday, including a hospital and homes, as the casualty toll in the ongoing assault climbed to 28 deaths, including at least five children, and over 230 injured.

“Overnight, the [occupation army] hit about 160 targets in the Gaza Strip. Over the past two days we attacked a total of about 430 targets,” Israeli general Moti Almoz told military radio as so-called “Operation Protective Edge” entered its second day.

Health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra wrote on Twitter early Wednesday that the death toll had reached 28, including six members of the Hamad family who were killed when Israel bombed their home in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

The latest victim was 13-year-old Amir Arif, killed in a bombing in the Sha’af neighborhood of Gaza City, Qudra wrote.

In Mughraqa in central Gaza, medics retrieved the body of 80-year-old Naifeh Farajallah from the rubble of her house damaged in an earlier air strike.

In the same area, an Israel missile killed two men in a field near Nusseirat refugee camp. Medics named them as Abdel Nasser Abu Kweik, 60, and his son Khaled, 31.

Meanwhile a 30-year-old man was critically wounded Wednesday when Israeli aircraft launched a missile at him as he rode a motorbike in northern Gaza.

The casualties are “mostly children, women and the elderly,” he wrote.

“The targeting of the European Gaza Hospital resulted in dozens of injuries … and serious material damage,” Qudra added. “Patients are living in a state of panic.”

Israel claims its assault — the most deadly against Gaza since the November 2012 aggression killed 177 Palestinians — is aimed at stopping rockets being fired from the besieged strip towards Israeli occupied territories.

“Last night, Hamas started to unveil its surprises,” Almoz said referring to an attempted attack by sea and the barrage of long-range rockets fired at cities as far away as occupied Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the northern coastal city of Hadera, which is more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza.

Israeli occupation forces say they killed four Hamas fighters who staged a beachfront assault on an army base just north of the besieged strip. Those casualties are separate from the 28 killed in Gaza.

The occupation forces, which released a video allegedly showing to attack, said Hamas members used Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades after storming the beach, injuring one soldier.

Soldiers on the base near kibbutz Zikim, just north of the Gaza Strip, shot dead two of the fighters, aircraft killed a third and the navy killed the fourth, a spokesperson for the occupation forces said.

Hamas’s military wing the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades said its men carried out an attack at Zikim but did not report losses, saying instead there were heavy casualties on the Israeli side.

video released by Israel’s army allegedly shows the Brigades ambushing the base.

The Brigades added that its fighters fired 10 Katyusha rockets at the Israeli base.

The rocket fire from Gaza continued early Wednesday, with the Brigades claim saying it had launched four M75 rockets at Tel Aviv.



Egypt denounces raids on Gaza, but keeps Rafah closed

By Mada Masr
July 08, 2014

Egyptian authorities kept the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip closed for the sixth consecutive day, whilst the Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Badr Abdel Aty said on Tuesday, “Egypt denounces the chain of raids launched on Gaza.”

Tuesday marked the bloodiest day of Israel’s most recent attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip. The death toll in Gaza reached at least 17 after the latest air strike killed six.

Meanwhile, sirens could be heard across Jerusalem after the Israeli Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip over Tel Aviv, the Anadolu Agency reported.

A statement released by the Jerusalem Municipality urged residents to “remain in protected areas for 10 minutes [after the sirens go off]. Sit on the floor under the window line against the most interior wall available, opposite any windows.”

Hamas had announced that rockets were launched targeting Israeli cities in response to the air strikes on Gaza. However, Israeli authorities reported that no casualties occurred as a result of the attacks on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the northern city of Haifa.

The only passageway in or out of Gaza remains closed, at Cairo’s behest, despite the ongoing aerial assaults ­— which are reported to have targeted more than 50 sites across this coastal enclave.

Nonetheless, the spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry decried Israel’s “collective punishment policy” and called on the Zionist state to exercise “self-restraint.”

The Rafah border crossing has predominantly been closed since July 3, 2013 — when Morsi was deposed by the Egyptian military — with rare exceptions made for Palestinian pilgrims, students, and medical/humanitarian cases.

Despite the ongoing violence, security forces have not allowed Palestinians to seek shelter or medical assistance in Egypt. Alternative routes are also limited, since Egypt’s authorities demolished nearly all the smuggling tunnels between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip in recent months.

On Tuesday, a host of Palestinian news websites and media outlets, along with some Egyptian solidarity groups, called on the authorities in Cairo to allow for the re-opening of the Rafah border crossing in light of the present crisis.

According to Abdel Aty’s statement, posted on the State Information Service website, “Egypt totally rejects and condemns all violence that results in the killing of civilians from both sides.”

For nearly three weeks, Palestinian armed groups — particularly the Islamic resistance group Hamas — have been engaged in rocket and mortar attacks targeting southern Israel. These primitive rocket attacks have not resulted in any Israeli fatalities, although property damage has been reported.

In response, Israeli armed forces launched “Operation Protective Edge” against Palestinian targets in Gaza. A host of civilian casualties are being reported.

A new wave of violence erupted between the Zionist state and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since three Jewish teenage settlers disappeared on June 12. Their dead bodies were discovered in the West Bank on June 30. Israeli authorities have blamed Hamas for the kidnapping and deaths of the three teens.

In their rescue attempts, Israeli forces searched and raided hundreds of Palestinian properties across the West Bank. Over 300 Palestinians are reported to have been arrested in the course of these operations.

In a revenge attack a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped from the West Bank and reportedly burnt alive. His remains were found on July 2.

Mada Masr is an independent Egyptian online newspaper, founded in June 2013 by former journalists of the English-language newspaper Egypt Independent following the shutting down of its editorial operations in April 2013.



‘9 Palestinians killed’ in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

By Ma’an news
June 08, 2014

GAZA CITY — The death toll in Gaza rose to 9 early Monday following overnight Israeli airstrikes on the besieged enclave, a Hamas spokesman said.

Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma’an that six Hamas fighters were killed by Israeli airstrikes on a tunnel in Rafah overnight. The victims were buried under the debris and only found early Monday.

Israeli media said the fighters were killed in a tunnel collapse, and not as a result of an Israeli airstrike.

The fighters were identified as Ibrahim Balawi, 24, Abdul-Rahman al-Zamili, 22, Mustafa Abu Mur, 22, his twin brother Khalid, Sharaf Ghannam, 22, and Juma Abu Shalouf, 24.

Another militant affiliated with the al-Qassam Brigades succumbed to wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike which targeted a military training base east of Rafah, Hamas said.

“The enemy’s assassination of a number of fighters affiliated to the al-Qassam Brigades is a dangerous escalation for which the enemy will pay a toll,” Abu Zuhri said.

A child, two teenage girls and two men were injured by an Israeli airstrike on Beit Hanoun, a Palestinian medical official said.

Strikes were also reported in Khan Younis and Gaza City, with no injuries reported.

Earlier, two Palestinian militants were killed by an Israeli airstrike on al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

A newly formed military group identified in a statement as Abdul-Qadir al-Husseini Brigades said the two men were members.

They were identified as Mazin al-Jidya and Marwan Salim.

The An-Nasser Saladin Bridages, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, said its fighters launched two rockets at southern Israel overnight.

An Israeli soldier was lightly injured by shrapnel from rocket fire in the Eshkol regional council, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli army said it had “targeted nine terror sites and concealed rocket launchers across the Gaza Strip”, noting in a statement its attacks came after militants had fired over 25 mortars and rockets at Israel on Sunday.

It said militants had fired an anti-tank missile at an army patrol by the border fence, causing no casualties.

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