Israel's counter-offensive: targetted and haphazard attacks on Gaza

August 25, 2011
Sarah Benton

Personal accounts recorded by Al Jazeera and from Eva Bartlett of In Gaza are followed by reports from the PCHR and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Gaza pays the price … again

Palestinians in Gaza share their reactions to the recent Israeli attacks with Al Jazeera.
Mohammed Omer

The ongoing deadly Israeli air strikes on Gaza, and the exchange of home-made rockets fired from Gaza, has drawn mixed reactions from Palestinians in the besieged Gaza.

First, seven Israelis were killed in two attacks on buses in southern Israel, according to Israeli medics.

The attacks began when gunmen fired at an Israeli bus that was traveling near the Egyptian border.

Palestinians deny any involvement in the attack.

Then, Israel blamed Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees for the attack and retaliated with Israeli missiles killing 15 Palestinians, with 55 injured, including 12 women, 15 children, three elderly and one ambulance worker.

On Saturday, Israeli sources said one Israeli was killed and about a dozen injured in southern Israel in a barrage of Palestinian home-made rockets fired from Gaza.

The deadly attacks have gotten little international reaction, but regional reactions from the Arab League have condemned the attack on Gaza and called for an immediate stop to the attacks and military operations against Gaza. However, the Jordanian government, through Abduallah Abu Rumman, condemned Israel for its “military escalation and operations in Gaza that have killed civilians as well as Egyptian officers”, urging an immediate halt to the strikes in order to avoid regional instability.

Yaser Othman, the Egyptian representative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, said that Cairo was “in contact with all parties to restore the truce in Gaza”.

Al Jazeera asked a number of Palestinians in Gaza Strip for their reactions to the ongoing attacks on Gaza.

This is what they said:
Ahmed Al Najjar, 27-year-old documentary film producer:
I see these attacks as the first Israeli nail in the coffin of our bid for UN state recognition in September.

What is happening in Gaza right now is a message from Israel to the world that no political force can impose anything on Israel, including the US administration.
All in all, what we are going through, from violations of rights, is the accumulation of international silence since the birth of our plight until today’s Israeli bombing.

Moreover, on the timing of the Israel attacks, everyone notes that Israel is targeting us, a civil population, even in the holy month of fasting and worshipping … this brings Israel’s claim of religious sanctity and rituals into question.

Kholoud Al Massri, 23-year-old university graduate:
I think in such a situation of frequent Israeli attacks on Gaza, firing rockets towards Israel seems to be our only means of resistance, when the rest of the world has abandoned us to face the illegal occupation alone.

Amina Oudeh, 61-year-old housewife:
I think Egypt will succeed in restoring the truce and end the blood-shed, and this will be at the cost of the Egyptian soldiers murdered by the Israelis.

However, Israel has always been looking for trouble, and today’s attack adds to the ominous image of the occupation.

Sahar Salem, 24-year-old labourer:
If an Israeli is killed on the moon, Israel would attack Gaza for revenge. By continuous terror attacks on neighbours, Israel thinks it can bring peace to its people, but in fact it only brings more hatred toward them.

As for the home-made rockets fired on Israel, that is meaningless, because they hit the poor, marginalised areas of Israel that the government of Israel doesn’t care about. I hate that the poor and marginalised everywhere are always the less fortunate and the most likely to suffer.

Hisham Jaber Abdelhadi, 37-year-old unemployed labourer:
I see how the lack of international reaction could be taken as encouragement for Israel to go on. However, one gets tired of sending appeals to the world. The world is busy with Syria and Libya and in Gaza we only have God to watch over us.

Moayyad Abu Imran, 34-year-old engineer:
I think this time, Israel is not aiming to kill for the sake of killing, but for more. Two main reasons: first, to thwart the Palestinians’ application for statehood on September. And secondly, for Netanyahu to export his internal economic crises and failure in dealing with the Tel Aviv protests.

Now, protesters are home, and Netanyahu’s goal has been achieved: to split the protesters by making them do their military call-up.

Wafa Yussef, 29-year-old public health employee:
I think what is happening now is the expected result since Israel was looking for a way out of its internal crisis, and an effort to prevent Palestine from declaring itself as a country at the UN in September. So the Gaza Strip, as usual, has to pay the price.

As regards the Arab League: as Palestinians we are not used to expecting too much from the Arab League, but I think this time we should expect more from the Arab peoples to support us, and not just our leaders.


Killing Gaza Again
Eva Bartlett, In Gaza

I’m looking at a split photo: one side is a smiling boy, a chubby-cheeked toddler, and the other his dismembered, burnt corpse, pelvis torn apart. Islam Kraike is one of at least 15 Palestinians killed in Gaza by the Israeli military in the last 4 days.

I was going to reach out to my local Canadian media, good ole Torstar Corporation-owned Guelph Mercury –which last posted news about Gaza in 2010 (since NOTHING has happened since then) but then just figured, fuck it, the corporate media’s agenda is to either not report on the current massacre of Gaza period, or to report bil ax, backwards.

So here I am self-publishing, in the interest of getting news, words directly from Palestinians in Gaza, my feelings as a has-been in Gaza with loved ones breathing under the bombs, and as a humanely-minded person, which I’d like to dream many still are, corporate media (including the Mercury) aside. And as one who has lived through the last Israeli war on Gaza.

I will in short time also send to the Dominion, a real newspaper focused on today’s real issues… but for now need to rant/self-publish…because loved ones, highly-educated and dignified human beings in Gaza are verging on death.

Can you imagine, as a comfortable Canadian/American/European/African/Asian what it is to know your family can in any moment be torn apart by the world’s fourth largest army? And even if they weren’t my family, the horror, the terror, of Israel’s military might against Palestinians 1.6 million civilians locked into a miniscule Strip.

But now I can’t actually find the words to describe the horror of watching this unfold, knowing that Israel is Zionistically ruthless, terroristic, biddun gelb, enough to perpetrate another war on Gaza.

So instead of reiterating what others have noted about these latest attacks (including that the Israeli army itself denies having any proof the initial attacks on Israelis were actually done by Palestinians, let alone Gazan Palestinians), I will simply post some links, photos and brief words.

“Why Israel will open Erez for international tomorrow? and why Egypt will allow foreign passports holders to leave Gaza through Rafah tomorrow? What is the deal, when there is no explicit request for internationals to leave?” Mohammed, an acclaimed Palestinian journalist from Rafah FBed.

“The Israeli army has deployed hundreds of tanks on Gaza borders, Internationals to be evacuated tomorrow. Gaza now under Israeli navy attack…Internationals in Gaza are due to be evacuated tomorrow. Israeli tanks are on the border. One Israeli killed by a grad missile from Gaza.” 15 Palestinians dead so far. The last time Israel had such a mobilization the IDF killed over 1000 Palestinian civilians, hundreds of children and injured 5300 more. ” Adie, my ISM colleague replied before Mohammed’s questions.

IOF Continue Their Offensive on the Gaza Strip;7 Palestinians Killed and 9 Others Wounded
Press Release, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Ref: 87/2011

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive day. They have escalated attacks against civilian targets and have targeted a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance. As a result of attacks by IOF in the past 24 hours, 7 Palestinians, including a physician and a child, have been killed, and 8 civilians, including two children and a woman, and a resistance activist have been wounded. Thus, the number of Palestinians who have been killed by IOF since Thursday evening, 18 August 2011, have mounted to 13, while 32 others, including 8 women, 9 children and 3 police officers, have been wounded. Some civilian property and facilities have been also heavily damaged.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR):

At approximately 12:35 on Friday, 19 August 2011, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired two missiles at a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), known as Bader site, in the northwest of Gaza City. No casualties were reported. It fired a third missile at the beach. It then fired a fourth missile at a car in al-Shamali area in al-Shati refugee camp in the west of Gaza City, but it went astray and the passenger were able to flee out of the car. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 15:50 on the same day, an Israeli drone attacked two activists of Nasser Saladin Brigades (the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee), who were traveling on a 3-wheel motorcycle near Malaka intersection in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. One of the activists, Mohammed Fayez Mahmoud ‘Enaya, 22, from Gaza City, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body, while the other one was seriously wounded.

At approximately 17:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance near al-Wafa Hospital in the east of Gaza City. As a result, two children living in the area were seriously wounded by shrapnel throughout their bodies: Ibrahim ‘Adnan al-Zaza, 14; and Mohammed ‘Aatef al- Zaza.

Also at approximately 17:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a space area near Hassanain brick factory in al-Sourani Mount area in al-Tuffah neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 18:00, an Israeli drone fired a missile at an activist of the Palestinian resistance who was riding a motorcycle in Quliabo Hill area to the east of Sheikh Zayed town in the northern Gaza Strip. The activists was instantly killed by shrapnel throughout the body. He was identified as Samed ‘Abdul Mo’ti ‘Aabed, 25, from the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.

At approximately 19:00, an Israeli drone attacked a number of Palestinians near Dr. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantissi Hospital in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 19:10, IOF positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east of Gaza City fired an artillery shell at a number of Palestinians in al-Mansoura Street in al-Shoja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 20:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance in the east of ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 20:45, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at two activists of the Palestinian resistance who were traveling on a motorcycle on the road linking between al-Boreij and al-Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip. The two activists were instantly killed. They were identified as: Anwar Hassan Saleem, 23; and ‘Emad Fareed Abu ‘Aabda, 23, both from al-Boreij refugee camp.

At approximately 21:55, Israeli tanks positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Khan Yunis, fired 4 shells at ‘Abassan village. The shells landed on agricultural areas, but no casualties were reported.

At approximately 22:45, an Israeli warplane bombarded a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 22:50, an Israeli drone attacked 3 Palestinians, including a child, who were traveling on a motorcycle in Jamal Abdul Nasser Street in the west of Gaza City. The three Palestinians were killed: Munther Bassem Hamdan Quraiqe’, 32, a physician; Mo’taz Bassem Quraiqe’, 29, a leader of al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad); and Islam, 2, the latter’s child. The victims are all from al-Shoja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. They were on their way back home when they were attacked. Additionally, 5 bystanders, including a woman, were wounded, and a car was damaged.

At approximately 23:00, Israeli warplanes bombarded a 150-square-meter barrack belonging to Najia Mohammed Abu Zarifa at ‘Abassan road in the east of Khan Yunis. The barrack was destroyed and a nearby carwash shop belonging to ‘Ammar ‘Ali Abu Daqqa and a house were damaged,

At approximately 00:00 on Saturday, 20 August 2011, Hussein Mahmoud al-Najjar received a phone call from the Israeli intelligence, in which he was ordered to vacate his 130-square-meter, two-storey house in the east of Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis. Al-Najjar and his family immediately vacated the house. Five minutes later, Israeli warplanes fired a missile at the house. The missile hit the western part of the basement, but did not explode. Ten minutes later, Israeli warplanes fired another missile, which hit a nearby sheep farm belonging to Suleiman Mohammed Shnainu and damaged a nearby house. It is worth noting that al-Najjar’s house was attacked by an Israeli drone on 24 March 2011.

At approximately 00:20, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a space area in al-Shouka village, east of Rafah. As a result, Anwas Younis al-Sheikh ‘Eid, 26, was wounded by shrapnel throughout the body.

At approximately 03:35, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.

PCHR strongly condemns these crimes, and:
1- Stresses that targeting houses, densely-populated areas and civilian targets reflects IOF’s disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, and warns of more escalation of crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property in light of statements and threats launched by Israeli political and military leaders, which will bring about more victims in the Gaza Strip;

2- Points out that crimes committed by IOF constitutes acts or reprisal and collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War; and

3- Believes that the failure of the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to effectively act to stop crimes committed by IOF serves to encourage Israel and IOF to commit more crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property. The legal protection provided by the United States to Israel, and deliberate obstruction of the application of international humanitarian law, in addition to the conspiracy of silence practiced by European States towards crimes committed against Palestinian civilians do not only place Israel above the international humanitarian law, but also encourage it to unrestrictedly commit more crimes against Palestinian civilians.

4- Repeats its call for the Palestinian leadership to place the Goldstone Report on the top of its priorities and to make efforts, in cooperation with other Arab and international parties, to ensure placing the Report on the agenda of the meeting of the UN General Assembly next September; the failure to push the Report ahead in the United Nations, in order to be referred the UN Security Council and subsequently, to the International Criminal Court, contributes to enhancing the impunity granted to Israel and encouraging it to commit more crimes against Palestinian civilians.

IOF Extrajudicially Kills Palestinian in Airstrike in Breach of Ceasefire
Press Release, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights,  Country: occupied Palestinian territory
Reference: 71/2011

Al Mezan Condemns Attack and Calls on International Community to Intervene
In a violation of the recently announced ceasefire, Israeli aircraft extrajudicially killed a Palestinian man just after midnight last night. This act could lead to military escalation, a deterioration in the security situation, and harm to the civilians and civilian property in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)continue to carry out military operations that do not comply with international law, harm uninvolved civilians, and destroy public and civil facilities.

According to information collected in the field by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, about 30 minutes after midnight on Wednesday 24 August 2011, an Israeli drone fired at least one missile targeting Isma‘il Zuhdi Isma‘il Al Asmar, 36, as he was driving his car on Abu Bakr As-Sadeeq street, opposite the police station in Tal As-Sultan neighborhood in the west of the southern Gaza town of Rafah. As a result, his body was dismembered and he was killed on the spot. A child who was passing by in the street, Salama Radwan Awadallah, 14, sustained shrapnel wounds in different parts of his body. He was admitted to Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, where his injuries were described as moderate.

The Israeli authorities officially claimed responsibility for the attack, which came after a ceasefire which entered into force at 9:00pm on Monday 22 August 2011.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns this renewed Israeli military activity, which amounts to an extrajudicial killing. Al Mezan reasserts that extrajudicial attacks and killings constitute a flagrant and gross violation of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. International law bans extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution under all circumstances. Attacks of this sort have frequently been carried out in the occupied Palestinian territories, killing and injuring civilians and damaging civilian objects, in breach of compliance with the basic principles of international humanitarian law.

Al Mezan therefore reiterates its calls on the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, who are obligated under the Conventions to respect and ensure respect for them in all cases, to promptly intervene to end these grave Israeli breaches of international law and to secure effective international protection for civilians under Israel’s occupation in the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan views the intervention of the international community as a legal and moral obligation as well as an urgent necessity, particularly in the current situation. Without such intervention the IOF will only abuse the silence of the international community in order to expand its ongoing aggression.

For more information, please contact at Al Mezan Center for Human Rights office in Gaza City on: +970 8 2820442/7 between 08:00 and 15:00 (6:00-1:00 GMT) Sundays through Thursday.


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