In this Op Ed in The New York Times, IJV Steering Group member Antony Lerman describes the insurmountable challenges facing liberal Zionism and calls for a joint Israeli-Palestinian movement that recognises the indivisibility of human, civil and political rights and the primacy of full equality for both peoples.
Uri Avnery’s Column 23/08/14
THE WAR was over. Families returned to their kibbutzim near Gaza. Kindergartens opened up again. A ceasefire was in force and extended again and again. Obviously, both sides were exhausted.
And then, suddenly, the war came back.
What happened? Well, Hamas launched rockets against Beersheba in the middle of the ceasefire.
Why? No why. You know how the terrorists are. Bloodthirsty. They can’t help it. Just like scorpions.
But it is not so simple.
THE CAIRO talks were near success, or so it seemed. But Binyamin Netanyahu was in trouble. He hid the Egyptian draft agreement for a long ceasefire even from his cabinet colleagues. They learned about it only from the media, which disclosed it from Palestinian sources.
Apparently, the draft said that the blockade would be greatly relaxed, if not officially ended. Talks about the building of a port and airport were to start within a month.
What? What did Israel get out of this? After all the shooting and killing, with 64 Israeli soldiers dead, after all the grandiose speeches about our resounding victory, was that all? No wonder Netanyahu tried to hide the document.
The Israeli delegation was called home without signing. The exasperated Egyptian mediators got another 24 hour extension of the ceasefire. It was to expire at midnight on Tuesday, but everybody on both sides expected it to be extended again and again. And then it happened.
At about 16.00 hours, three rockets were fired at Beersheba and fell into open spaces. No warning sirens. Curiously enough, Hamas denied having launched them, and no other Palestinian organization took responsibility. This was strange. After every previous launching from Gaza, some Palestinian organization has always proudly claimed credit.
As usual, Israeli airplanes promptly started to retaliate and bombed buildings in the Gaza Strip. As usual, rockets rained down on Israel. (I heard the interceptions in Tel Aviv).
BUSINESS AS usual? Not quite.
First it became known that an hour before the rockets came in, the Israeli population near Gaza was warned by the army to prepare their shelters and “safe spaces”.
Then it appeared that the first Gaza building hit belonged to the family of a Hamas military commander. Three people were killed, among them a baby and his mother.
And then the news spread: It was the family of Mohammed Deif, the commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. (Qassam was a Palestinian hero, the first rebel against British rule in Palestine in the 1930s. He was hunted down and killed by the British.) Among those killed this Tuesday were Deif’s wife and baby son. But it seems that Deif himself was not there.
That in itself is no wonder. Deif has survived at least four attempts to assassinate him. He has lost an eye and several limbs, but always came out alive.
All around him, his successive commanders, political and military peers and subordinates, dozens of them, have been assassinated throughout the years. But he has led a charmed life.
Now he heads the Israeli hit list, the most wanted and hunted Palestinian activist. He is the No. 1 “Son of Death”, a rather biblical appellation used in Israel for those marked for assassination.
Like most inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, Deif is a child of refugees from Israel. His family comes from the village Kawkaba, now in Israel, not far from Gaza. I passed through it in the 1948 war, before it was razed to the ground.
For the Israeli Security Service, he is a prize for which it is well worth breaking the ceasefire and reigniting the war.
FOR MANY security agencies around the world, including the American and the Russian, assassination is a sport and an art.
Israel claims to hold the gold medal.
An assassination is a complicated operation. It requires a lot of time, expertise, patience and luck. The operators have to recruit informers near the victim, install electronic devices, obtain precise information about his every movement, execute their design within minutes once the opportunity presents itself.
Because of this, there is no time for confirmation from above. Perhaps the Security Service (usually called Shin Bet) got permission from Netanyahu, its sole political chief, perhaps not.
They obviously were informed that Deif was visiting his family. That was a golden opportunity. For months, indeed for years, Deif has been living underground, in the literal sense – somewhere in the maze of tunnels his men had dug beneath the Strip. He was never sighted.
Since the beginning of this war, all the other prominent Hamas leaders have also been living under the ground. From Ismail Haniyeh down, not one of them has been seen. The unlimited command of the air by Israeli planes and drones makes this advisable. Hamas has no anti-air weapons.
It seems to me highly unlikely that Deif would risk his life by visiting his family. But Shin Bet obviously got a lead and believed it. The three strange rockets fired on Beersheba provided the pretext for breaking the ceasefire, and so the war started again.
Real aficionados of the art of assassination are not very interested in the political or military consequences of their actions. “Art for art’s sake”.
A propos, the last Gaza war, two years ago, started the same way. The Israeli army assassinated the de-facto al-Qassam leader, Ahmed Jaabari. The ensuing war with its many hundreds of dead was just collateral damage.
Jaabari was at the time filling in for Deif, who was convalescing in Cairo.
ALL THIS is, of course, much too complicated for American and European diplomats. They like simple stories.
The White House immediately reacted to the resumption of hostilities by condemning the Hamas launching of rockets and reaffirming that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. The Western media parroted this line.
For Netanyahu, whether he knew in advance of the assassination attempt or not, it was a way out of a dilemma. He was in the unfortunate position of many leaders in history who start a war and do not know how to get out of it.
In a war, a leader makes grandiloquent speeches, promises victory and bountiful achievements. These promises seldom come true. (If they do, like in Versailles 1919, that may be even worse.)
Netanyahu is a gifted marketing man, if nothing else. He promised a lot, and the people believed him and gave him a 77% rating. The Egyptian draft proposal for a permanent ceasefire, though markedly pro-Israel, fell far short of a victory for Israel. It only confirmed that the war ended in a draw. Netanyahu’s own cabinet was rebellious, public opinion was souring perceptibly. The resumption of the war got him out of this hole.
But what now?
BOMBING THE Gaza population draws more and more criticism from world public opinion. It also has lost its appeal in Israel. The maxim “Let’s bomb them until they stop hating us” obviously does not work.
The alternative is to enter the Gaza Strip and occupy it completely, so that even Deif and his men have to come up to the surface to be assassinated. But that is a dangerous proposition.
When I was a soldier in the 1948 war, we were taught never to get into a situation which leaves the enemy no way out. In such a case, he will fight to the end, causing many casualties.
There is no way out of the Gaza Strip. If the Israeli army is sent to conquer the entire Strip, the fighting will be ferocious, causing hundreds of Israeli and thousands of Palestinian dead and injured, and untold destruction. The Prime Minister will be one of the political victims.
Netanyahu is fully aware of that. He doesn’t want it. But what else can he do? One can almost pity the man.
He can of course, order the army to occupy only parts of the Strip, a village here, a town there. But that will also spread death and destruction, to no manifest gain. In the end, public discontent will be the same.
Hamas threatened this week to open “the gates of hell” for us. This hardly affects the inhabitants of Tel Aviv, but for the villages and towns near Gaza this is really hell. Casualties are few, but fear is devastating. Families with children leave en masse. When calm returns, they try to go home, but then the next rockets drive them away again.
Their plight evokes a very strong emotional response throughout the country. No politician can ignore it. Least of all the Prime Minister. He needs to end the war. He also needs a clear image of victory. But how to achieve this?
The Egyptian dictator tries to help. So does Barack Obama, though he is furious with Netanyahu and hates his guts. So does Mahmoud Abbas, who is afraid of a Hamas victory.
But as of now, the man who has the final decision is the Son of Death, Mohammed Deif, if he is alive and kicking. If not, his successor.
If he is alive, the assassination of his wife and baby son may not have made him gentler and more peaceable.
Originally published on Gush Shalom. Posted with the author’s permission.
By Uri Avnery, published with his permission.
THE TROUBLE with war is that it has two sides.
Everything would be so much easier if war had only one side. Ours, of course.
There you are, drawing up a wonderful plan for the next war, preparing it, training for it, until everything is perfect.
And then the war starts, and to your utmost surprise it appears that there is another side, too, which also has a wonderful plan, and has prepared it and trained for it.
When the two plans meet, everything goes wrong. Both plans break down. You don’t know what’s going to happen. How to go on. You do things you have not planned for. And when you have had enough of it and want to get out, you don’t know how. It’s so much more difficult to end a war than to start a war, especially when both sides need to declare victory.
That’s where we are now.
HOW DID it all start? Depends where you want to begin.
Like everywhere else, every event in Gaza is a reaction to another event. You do something because the other side did something. Which they did because you did something. One can unravel this until the beginning of history. Or at least until Samson the Hero.
Samson, it will be remembered, was captured by the Philistines, blinded and brought to Gaza. There he committed suicide by bringing the temple down on himself and all the leaders and people, crying out: “Let my soul die with the Philistines!” (Judges 16:30)
If that’s too remote, let’s start with the beginning of the present occupation, 1967.
(There was a forgotten occupation before that. When Israel conquered the Gaza Strip and all of Sinai in the course of the 1956 Suez war, David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the “Third Israeli Kingdom”, only to announce in a broken voice, a few dates later, that he had promised President Dwight Eisenhower to withdraw from the entire Sinai Peninsula. Some Israeli parties urged him to keep at least the Gaza Strip, but he refused. He did not want to have hundreds of thousands more Arabs in Israel.)
A friend of mine reminded me of an article I had written less than two years after the Six Day War, during which we occupied Gaza again. I had just found out that two Arab road-construction workers, one from the West Bank and one from the Gaza Strip, doing exactly the same job, were paid different wages. The Gaza man was paid much less.
Being a member of the Knesset, I made inquiries. A high-level official explained to me that this was a matter of policy. The purpose was to cause the Arabs to leave Gaza and settle in the West Bank (or elsewhere), in order to disperse the 400 thousand Arabs then living in the Strip, mostly refugees from Israel. Obviously this did not go so very well – now there are about 1.80 million there.
Then, in February 1969, I warned: “(If we go on) we shall be faced with a terrible choice – to suffer from a wave of terrorism that will cover the entire country, or to engage in acts of revenge and oppression so brutal that they will corrupt our souls and cause the whole world to condemn us.”
I mention this not (only) to blow my own horn, but to show that any reasonable person could have foreseen what was going to happen.
IT TOOK a long time for Gaza to reach this point.
I remember an evening in Gaza in the mid-90s. I had been invited to a Palestinian conference (about prisoners), which lasted several days, and my hosts invited me to stay with Rachel in a hotel on the sea-shore. Gaza was then a nice place. In the late evening we took a stroll along the central boulevard. We had pleasant chats with people who recognized us as Israelis. We were happy.
I also remember the day when the Israeli army withdrew from most of the Strip. Near Gaza city there stood a huge Israeli watchtower, many floors high, “so that the Israeli soldiers could look into every window in Gaza”. When the soldiers left, I climbed to the top, passing hundreds of happy boys who were going up and down like the angels on the ladder in Jacob’s dream in the Bible. Again we were happy. They are probably Hamas members now.
That was the time when Yasser Arafat, son of a Gaza Strip family, returned to Palestine and set up his HQ in Gaza. A beautiful new airport was built. Plans for a large new sea-port were circulating.
(A big Dutch harbor-building corporation approached me discreetly and asked me to use my friendly relations with Arafat to obtain the job for them. They hinted at a very large gratuity. I politely refused. During all the years I knew Arafat, I never asked him for a favor. I think that this was the basis of our rather strange friendship.)
If the port had been built, Gaza would have become a flourishing commercial hub. The standard of living would have risen steeply, the inclination of the people to vote for a radical Islamic party would have declined.
WHY DID this not happen? Israel refused to allow the port to be built. Contrary to a specific undertaking in the 1993 Oslo agreement, Israel cut off all passages between the Strip and the West Bank. The aim was to prevent any possibility of a viable Palestinian state being set up.
True, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon evacuated the more than a dozen settlements along the Gaza shore. Today, one of our rightist slogans is “We evacuated the entire Gaza Strip and what did we get in return? Qassam rockets!” Ergo: we can’t give up the West Bank.
But Sharon did not turn the Strip over to the Palestinian Authority. Israelis are obsessed with the idea of doing things “unilaterally”. The army withdrew, the Strip was left in chaos, without a government, without any agreement between the two sides.
Gaza sank into misery. In the 2006 Palestinian elections, under the supervision of ex-President Jimmy Carter, the people of Gaza – like the people of the West Bank – gave a relative majority to the Hamas party. When Hamas was denied power, it took the Gaza Strip by force, with the population applauding.
The Israeli government reacted by imposing a blockade. Only limited quantities of goods approved by the occupation authorities were let in. An American senator raised hell when he found out that pasta was considered a security risk and not allowed in. Practically nothing was let out, which is incomprehensible from the “security” point of view of weapons “smuggling” but clear from the point of view of “strangling”. Unemployment reached almost 60%.
The Strip is roughly 40 km long and 10 km wide. In the north and the east it borders Israel, in the west it borders the sea, which is controlled by the Israeli navy. In the south it borders Egypt, which is now ruled by a brutal anti-Islamic dictatorship, allied with Israel. As the slogan goes, it is “the word’s largest open-air prison”.
BOTH SIDES now proclaim that their aim is to put an end to this situation. But they mean two very different things.
The Israeli side wants the blockade to remain in force, though in a more liberal form. Pasta and much more will be let into the Strip, but under strict supervision. No airport. No sea-port. Hamas must be prevented from re-arming.
The Palestinian side wants the blockade to be removed once and for all, even officially. They want their port and airport. They don’t mind supervision, either international or by the Palestinian Unity Government under Mahmoud Abbas.
How to square this circle, especially when the “mediator” is the Egyptian dictator, who acts practically as an agent of Israel? It is a mark of the situation that the US has disappeared as a mediator. After the futile John Kerry peace mediation efforts it is now generally despised throughout the Middle East.
Israel cannot “destroy” Hamas, as our semi-fascist politicians (in the government, too) loudly demand. Nor do they really want to. If Hamas is “destroyed”, Gaza would have to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority (viz. Fatah). That would mean the re-unification of the West Bank and Gaza, after all the long-lasting and successful Israeli efforts to divide them. No good.
If Hamas remains, Israel cannot allow the “terror-organization” to prosper. Relaxation of the blockade will only be limited, if that. The population will embrace Hamas even more, dreaming of revenge for the terrible devastation caused by Israel during this war. The next war will be just around the corner – as almost all Israelis believe anyhow.
In the end, we shall be where we were before.
THERE CAN be no real solution for Gaza without a real solution for Palestine.
The blockade must end, with serious security concerns of both sides properly addressed.
The Gaza Strip and the West Bank (with East Jerusalem) must be reunited.
The four “safe passages” between the two territories, promised in the Oslo agreement, must at last be opened.
There must be Palestinian elections, long overdue, for the presidency and the parliament, with a new government accepted by all Palestinian factions and recognized by the world community, Including Israel and the USA.
Serious peace negotiations, based on the two-state solution, must start and be concluded within a reasonable time.
Hamas must formally undertake to accept the peace agreement reached by these negotiations. Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed.
The Gaza port must be opened and enable the Strip and the entire State of Palestine to import and export goods.
There is no sense in trying to “solve” one of these problems separately. They must be solved together. They can be solved together.
Unless we want to go around and around, from one “round” to the next, without hope and redemption.
“We” – Israelis and Palestinians, locked for ever in an embrace of war.
Or do what Samson did: commit suicide.
Originally published at Uri Avnery English
Urgent Call for Intervention Regarding Evacuation of Protected Persons & Medical Cases in the Gaza Strip
Friday July 25 2014
We are writing to request your urgent intervention regarding evacuation of protected persons and medical cases in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli side – with whom PHR-IL has corresponded and held numerous phone calls – promises to ensure the evacuation of civilians and the wounded from fighting areas. However, we are faced with calls for help from civilians, some of whom are wounded, disabled or elderly, that are unanswered for days. Coordination is very difficult and in some areas non-existent or completely ineffective. This is confirmed to us by the aid workers on the ground.
Reasons vary – and it is currently impossible to understand why there are no mechanism of short ceasefires in specific areas so it will be made possible.
We urge you to assist us, and all other efforts and call Israel to:
mark a safe and secured passage with a specified area to go to from the area under fire.
create safe zones where the needs of civilians can be addressed
create time frames in which ambulances can enter without specific calls from individuals – as there are so many who may be there without phones, batteries exhausted etc.
At the moment and in light of the hostile atmosphere to voices of Human Rights organizations and other NGO’s, we have no effective address among the Israeli authoritiesand lives are being lost. An utmost effort should be made to allow at least these measures, let alone to bring an end to the war which has already taken the lives of hundreds, wounded thousands and traumatized hundreds of thousands.
See a joint letter by human rights organizations:
For further details, and for convening an urgent meeting please contact me at 054-6623232 or email@example.com
Sincerely and in hope for your prompt response
An extract from the recent message by Chani Smith of the Bereaved Families Forum:
The events in Israel and Gaza are hard to witness, and we are all affected by the terror and devastation that the fighting is causing. Our hearts go out to all the victims in Gaza and Israel. It is natural at this time to look at one’s ‘side’ and blame the other side. But, in the long run, it does not lead down a constructive path: the conflict continues and more blood is spilt. The Bereaved Families Forum is responding to this dreadful situation by inviting everybody, Palestinians, Israelis, and their supporters, to look for another way, which involves both sides being part of the solution through dialogue, and through acknowledging the human face of the other side, and the suffering on both sides.
Although the circumstances of our daily lives have become more challenging and distressing, it is the days that follow that we dread the most. Once the canons and rockets fall silent, Palestinian and Israeli societies will be left with dead to bury, shattered economies and, most notably in our field of work, damage to our moral fibre, human resilience and social competencies for compassion for the other and for reconciliation.
We Don’t Want You Here
The Israeli and Palestinian members of the Parents Circle came together last Tuesday to film a video, ‘We Don’t Want You Here’, created by Saatchi and Saatchi. The clip is powerful and it’s best if you just watch it. Please forward it to your contacts and share it through social media. The clip is receiving a lot of attention in Israeli and international media:
Within a week of the escalation of violence, the PCFF set up what’s being called the ‘Peace Square’ – a haven, in the centre of Tel Aviv where PCFF members share their stories, their support for reconciliation, facilitate dialogues, screen films that represent our messages and when necessary, go to bomb shelters together.
In the Peace Square, PCFF holds a vigil from 7-10pm every night to provide an alternative to the propaganda and hatred running rampant in Israel. The shared Israeli and Palestinian vision of ending the cycle of violence seems illegitimate to many. I believe it is also a place of healing from the psychological and emotional damage this type of violence has on society.
Alternative voices in the media
Our members, their stories and our messages are being heard in the U.S. media through a variety of outlets:
· Read Robi Damelin’s ‘Cry for Sanity’ in Huffington Post WorldPost
· Listen to Robi and Bassam Aramin’s interview on NPR’s Tell Me More
· Watch Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan on Huffington Post Live World Brief
· Read Robi’s Blog Post on BlogHer
All this and more updates can be found on the PCFF Facebook page.
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.
“It is painfully evident that state-to-state diplomacy and the UN have failed to produce a just peace despite decades of fruitless talks.
It is time to acknowledge that these talks were carried on in bad faith: while the diplomats sat around the table, Israeli settlements relentlessly expanded, apartheid structures deepened their hold on the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Gaza was cordoned off as a hostage enclave to be attacked by Israel at will and a bloody sacrifice exacted.
At least, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Araby, condemned the “dangerous Israeli escalation”, urged the Security Council to “adopt measures to stop Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip”, and warned of the humanitarian consequences. Turkey and Iran issued official statements along similar lines.
There is so much regional turbulence at present that it is unlikely to hope for anything more than scattered verbal denunciations from authorities in the region preoccupied with other concerns, but given the gravity of the situation, attention needs to be refocused on the Palestinian ordeal.
Pressure on Israel is urgently needed to protect the Palestinian people from further tragedy. Israel’s Arab neighbours and the European states that long held sway in the region, are challenged as never before to do the right thing, but it is doubtful that any constructive action will be taken unless regional and global public opinion becomes sufficiently enraged to exert real pressure on these governments. To pursue this goal now should be made a top priority of the Palestinian global solidarity movement.”
Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies. HE is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.
Serious shortages in medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, fuel shortages and reports of damage to medical installations, medical teams and emergency rescue vehicles.
The continued offensive causes a deterioration of the already inadequate health system and may lead to its collapse.
In light of the state of severe crisis in the Palestinian Health System – defined by the Palestinian Ministry of Health as the gravest situation since the closure of the Gaza Strip in 2007 – hospitals are facing great difficulties in treating the rising numbers of injured – over 500 so far. In view of this situation the Ministry of Health of the Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency on 8.7.14 within which all non-urgent scheduled operations have been put on hold; the state of alert in all medical institutions has been raised and holidays of all hospital workers have been cancelled.
According to officials in the Gaza Strip there is a worsening shortage of medical equipment required for the functioning of the hospitals. From the information which has reached Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-IL) from the drug administration officials in Gaza, there is a shortage of 471 kinds of expendable medical supplies, including bandages. In addition, the supplies have run out of about 30% of basic drugs – 122 different pharmaceuticals – including anesthetics and intravenous infusion products.
Medical personnel in Gaza report their severe distress directly to PHR-IL. So, for example, the “Shifa” Hospital – the largest hospital in the Strip, which has treated over half of the injured from the start of the offensive – has started to use their emergency supplies which are expected only to last a further three days. From Information provided to PHE-IL by medical staff working at the “Alodda” Hospital in Jabaliya we have learnt that due to equipment shortages hospital teams have been forced to improvise to find alternatives for basic materials. Teams in operating rooms have had to use ordinary thread from seamstresses, which are not sterile in place of purpose made sterile medical sutures. The workers further reported that the threads were manually sterilized to avoid infection.
In addition, over recent days PHR-IL has received reports of damage to medical buildings, including hospitals and clinics as well as to medical personnel. The European Hospital in Khan Younis was hit twice during the last few days from the aerial bombings nearby. The hospital spokesperson informed PHR-IL that the explosion which took place yesterday (9.7.14) near the hospital caused the damage causing the injury of 17 people within the hospital itself, with women and children included in those injured. The hospital reported that the plaster ceilings in the intensive care department, pediatrics department, the hospital entrance and waiting room, have all collapsed. Other departments, including internal medicine, cardiology and pediatric surgery were filled with broken glass after the windows and glass doors were shattered. In the light of the damage the hospital was forced to evacuate the Pediatrics Department of Children and close all outpatient clinics.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society reports that last night at 21:30 the emergency rescue center and ambulance services department in Jabaliya which serves a population of around 350,000 was also hit by an aerial bombing nearby. It was also reported that 12 medics and volunteers were injured. Nine of these were treated and returned to their activities while three needed to be hospitalized. Three out of eight ambulances were damaged and had to be removed from operation. Due to the damage the center has had to close its services. Partial services for the residents are being supplied from Gaza city.
In addition, yesterday (9.7.14) the PMRS organization, a voluntary health organization operating in Gaza, reported that the organization’s Medical Center, located in Beit Hanoun was damaged by heavy bombardments carried out nearby. During the last night, there were reports received at PHR-IL different reports that the civil emergency line (101) that allows summoned rescue teams had been cut off.
In addition to the crisis in the health system and the damage to medical centers there is also an ongoing severe shortage of diesel needed to operate generators in Gaza’s hospitals. More than two weeks ago, Palestinian Ministry of Health warned that fuel reserves are dwindling and are approximately at 20% of the fuel levels required. The shortage of diesel fuel also affects the movement of ambulances which need diesel. In light of these shortages, the Gaza Health Ministry ordered to reduce by 50% the movement of ambulances. Since that time there has been an increasing lack of diesel and there is fear of even more serious damage to the functioning of the health system in Gaza.
Damage to hospitals and medical centers or adjacent aerial bombing threatens the lives of medical staff and the patients themselves, violating the medical neutrality and ignoring the special protection afforded to these teams due to their status and vital role. Also, this damage leads to a state of lack of basic security while staying in medical institutions. There is concern that this violation, if it continues or worsens, would hamper the ability of medical teams to offer aid and save lives.
PHR-IL calls for the State of Israel to stop the military offensive and to avoid at all costs any direct attack on or near the facilities and medical infrastructure and to avoid any attacks on medical and rescue teams and patients: “Out of concern for the lives and welfare of all residents of the area we make a heartfelt and resounding call – stop the fire and stop the incitement. Do not bring before us more victims that require treatment. Put the lives, health and rights of all human beings at the head of your concerns. Do not continue on our behalf with this operation causing further destruction and revenge. It is time to devote the resources and energies that are being directed to war and killing to finally end the occupation and to establish a different vision”.
Lital Grosman, PHR-IL spokesperson.
Once the boys’ disappearance was known, troops began a massive, 18-day search-and-rescue operation, entering thousands of homes, arresting and interrogating hundreds of individuals, racing against the clock. Only on July 1, after the boys’ bodies were found, did the truth come out: The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations.
The initial evidence was the recording of victim Gilad Shaer’s desperate cellphone call to Moked 100, Israel’s 911. When the tape reached the security services the next morning — neglected for hours by Moked 100 staff — the teen was heard whispering “They’ve kidnapped me” (“hatfu oti”) followed by shouts of “Heads down,” then gunfire, two groans, more shots, then singing in Arabic. That evening searchers found the kidnappers’ abandoned, torched Hyundai, with eight bullet holes and the boys’ DNA. There was no doubt.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately placed a gag order on the deaths. Journalists who heard rumors were told the Shin Bet wanted the gag order to aid the search. For public consumption, the official word was that Israel was “acting on the assumption that they’re alive.” It was, simply put, a lie.
from How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza – Kidnap, Crackdown, Mutual Missteps and a Hail of Rockets by JJ Goldberg
Even the staunchly pro-Israel Jewish Chronicle cannot deny the awful truth that the Israeli government fanned the flames leading to the current wave of violence:
Anyone with access both to the recording and the physical evidence would have reasonably concluded that, while there was no definitive proof they were dead, the chances were very, very high.
That is not what the public was told, though. While teams quietly ploughed Hebron fields for bodies, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon publicly declared that “our working assumption is that they are alive”.
The phone call was kept under wraps through a gag order, and successive officials explained that the call was very hard to understand (not true).
Meanwhile, concerned citizens launched a campaign to “Bring Back Our Boys” – the implication being, “alive”. Rallies were organised; schoolchildren prayed; everywhere you looked, on Facebook, on t-shirts, the faces of these three poor boys – by now long dead – stared back.
It was an emotional frenzy. As a result, when the bodies were found, the collective shock and grief was almost unprecedented. Is it really a surprise that mobs bayed for revenge?
Operation Defensive Edge began on 7 July 2014.
The context is the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
And a history of occupation and discrimination in a climate of hatred and fear.
Following the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israelis in the West Bank and the brutal slaying of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem, militants in Gaza have responded in the only way they seem to know how.
Yes, we have been here before (2009, 2012).
The IDF has retaliated with the disproportionate bombardment the world has come to expect.
Nevertheless, it is concerned about its public image.
Despite the high-precision munitions of the IDF, Gazans suffer heavy casualties.
The imbalance and injustice is clear to all the world.
Yet rockets continue to be fired. Even as they mourn the loss of life, Hamas celebrate the extended range of their missiles while Israel defends its right to defend itself…
…and condemns Palestinian tactics
… and violence.
The death toll in Gaza mounts while the battle for media attention wages on.
But there are no winners, there is no justice, only bloodshed.
The UN’s calls for restraint fall on deaf ears once again as the Israeli army prepares for a ground invasion and the habitual disregard for Palestinian life continues, unabated.
Images from http://www.twitter.com #GazaUnderFire #IsraelUnderFire
Text by Merav Pinchassoff.