Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gaza Report 6

This report is the sixth in a series on the current confrontation between Gaza and Israel. 

Note: More than 600 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since these latest hostilities commenced. The UN states that 70% of the dead are civilians. The number of Palestinian wounded rose to 3,700 today. On the Israeli side, 30 are reported dead (actual numbers and details are unclear but that is not unusual as the Israel Army rarely gives comprehensive lists of all casualties – this must therefore be regarded as a minimum figure). The IDF announced this morning that the soldier Hamas named yesterday as having been captured, is indeed missing. The UN is belatedly pushing in serious fashion for a cease-fire in the Strip (UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has arrived in Israel today).

ISRAEL: The following is the perspective of our most senior Israeli NCF membership:

What would happen if England were bombed every single day? It’s awful.

The problem is not the past. The problem is the future. We can’t talk about the future until the dust settles. And the dust should settle in about ten days.

GAZA: The following comment comes from the NCF office in Gaza. Again the words are quoted verbatim. Note that the NCF office in Gaza is located in the Gaza Press Centre.

They attacked the Al Jazeera office in our building. All of them left. They have moved to (location withheld). This was a shooting against Al Jazeera as a warning. They are afraid. Because a lot of houses were destroyed in this fashion. It was a warning. We immediately phoned the Israel Army to ask if we could stay but they said that they “could not guarantee our safety if we returned to the office.”

Some of the AP office (located on the same floor as Al Jazeera) have returned. The Gaza Centre for Media Freedom (on the fourth floor of the building where the NCF office is located) is in the same building. We have all left.

620 Palestinians have been killed so far and 3,700 injured, mostly civilians. More than 500 houses have been completely destroyed and 15,000 partly damaged. And the exchange of fire continues. 2 Israelis were killed today morning making a total of 27 Israeli soldiers dead according to the Israelis. According to Hamas it is twice that number.

Abu Mazin has returned to Ramallah because he is very angry at everyone including Egypt (though he doesn’t say he’s angry with Egypt). We expect a big speech from him this evening.

The news of the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier is true. Israel confirmed today that they had missed one soldier and gave the same name that Hamas gave two days ago. This complicates things. In the next 48 hours maybe there will be something. Inshallah there will be a cease fire.

GAZA 2: The following comment was forwarded to us from Adel Zanoon at the Gaza Centre for Media Freedom. Adel is the most senior member of the NCF in Gaza.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms(MADA) considers targeting of Al-Jazeera office by the occupation forces in Gaza city today is a part of occupation forces' trials to silence the  press in Gaza Strip, and an attempt to terrify  journalists.

Safwat kahlout,41, in Gaza city reported  The producer of Al-Jazerra office to MADA: "Today morning at 09:00 am, While we were doing our work at Al-Jazeera office which locate at Al-Jalla tower,11th floor, in Gaza city, we heard a sound of opening fire. All of us were shocked since we were not able to identify the source of this sound. A few seconds later, the second shelling happened which source was unknown for us. Then we understood that the first sounds were warning sounds and Al-Jazeera office will be targeted after the warning statement of Lieberman (Israeli foreign minister) to close all Al-Jazerra offices.
No casualties were reported and the material damages small”.
Israeli occupations forces also continued shelling journalist's houses. The journalist and producer Rima Mahmoud  Abu Sabha,26, reported that Israeli occupation forces shelled their house at about 12:00 am by two rockets without a previous warning. Therefore, her father was killed, and their one-floor house, where 11 people live, was destroyed. 8 people, who live in her uncle's house which is next to their house, were injured. Israeli occupation airplanes shelled the remaining of the
house again today morning at 07:00 am, straightening it with the ground. 

The Journalist Hamad Khamis Dahlan, 31, who works for Al-Ahed TV reported to MADA: "At 07:50 pm, our house was shelled by an Israeli drone airplane. At 08:10 pm, the three floor- house was shelled by a F16 rocket, no casualties reported since one of our family members was told ten minutes before shelling by a phone call. The house, which locates in Al-Nasser neighborhood in Gaza city, where 40 people live who belong to 6 families (we, my three uncles and some of my family members) whom were displaced as a result the last aggression,  was completely destroyed”. The journalist Dahlan is married, and he has three kids.


COMMENT: Today's comment is from NCF member Justin Alexander who has shared this link to the article he has published in the Economist Intelligence Digest today


Also – NCF member Tony Klug sent us this letter he wrote to the Guardian:

• Seumas Milne argues that the price of Israel's occupation needs to be raised. One way of doing this is to challenge Israel's claim that it is and is not an occupation.
This convenient ambiguity has enabled it to cherry-pick the Geneva convention and justify treating the occupied Palestinians differently from Israeli citizens while simultaneously annexing, expropriating and settling chunks of their territory. After 47 years, it is time to call the Israeli bluff. The Palestinian thinker Sam Bahour and I have proposed that a firm deadline be set for Israel to make up its mind definitively one way or the other. If it is an occupation, Israel's – supposedly provisional – custodianship should be brought to a swift end. If it is not an occupation, there is no justification for denying equal rights to everyone who is subject to Israeli rule, whether Israeli or Palestinian.
The key is to remove the status quo as the default option. So, should Israel choose not to choose, other states may interpret this to mean in effect that it intends to hold on to the occupied territories indefinitely and hold Israel accountable to the equality benchmark. The clutch of international laws pertaining to apartheid rather than occupation would then come into force. The hope is that the Israeli people would rebel against the pariah status this would entail and vote in a new government ready to do a genuine two-state deal before it really is too late.

Tony Klug


Finally, as a matter of record we copy the following article on the missing Israeli soldier:


22 July 2014

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military announced on Tuesday that the remains of one of its soldiers presumed to have been killed on Sunday in Gaza had still not been found or identified, two days after Hamas’s military wing said it had kidnapped a soldier.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, during a fierce battle between Israeli ground forces and Hamas militants in Shejaiya, an eastern neighborhood of Gaza City, an aged Israeli armored personnel carrier carrying seven soldiers was hit by an antitank missile, according to the military.

It was one of the deadliest encounters since Israel sent ground forces into Gaza late Thursday, after 10 days of aerial bombing, which Israel says is aimed at severely damaging Hamas’s rocket-firing capabilities and underground tunnel network.

“The identification process of six of the soldiers killed has been completed and confirmed,” the military said in a statement on Tuesday. “The efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined.”

Until now, the military had said it was “looking into” Hamas’s assertion that it had abducted a soldier, saying it was unable to confirm or deny the claim. Tuesday’s announcement was the military’s first attempt to explain the confusion.

The Israeli military identified the seventh soldier in the personnel carrier as Sergeant Oron Shaul, 21, a combat soldier of the Golani brigade from Poria in northern Israel. That name corresponded with a name Hamas had provided in Arabic when it claimed the kidnapping of the soldier.

Hamas also provided an Israeli identity number for the soldier.

The statement said the families of the seven soldiers “who were involved in the incident were briefed on the circumstances of the attack.”

Motti Almoz, the military’s chief spokesman, told Israel Radio that the military was “clarifying the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

Fighting continued in Shejaiya overnight, where the Israeli military said it had struck weapons stores, command and control positions and other infrastructure. So far, the military said it had uncovered some 23 underground tunnels in Gaza and 66 access points to the tunnels, many of them in Shejaiya, which lies close to the border with Israel.

Some of the tunnels have been used by Hamas militants to carry out incursions into Israeli territory and there have been several deadly clashes between militants emerging from tunnels on the Israeli side of the border and Israeli soldiers. Israeli officials say the tunnels were also designed for attacks on Israeli civilian communities.

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