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Dagelijks archief 12 juli 2017

Israel’s dangerous game in Gaza

Hamas militants attend the funeral of Ibrahim Abu al-Naja in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, June 8, 2017. The senior Hamas military wing commander died June 7 at a Hamas post near Rafah in what was termed an accidental explosion

Three years ago, in July 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. Both Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza were drawn into an armed conflict against their will. The campaign turned into the largest round of warfare in the rancorous history of the Gaza Strip and the State of Israel, lasting 51 days, and ended in what Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Yadlin called an “asymmetric strategic tie.’’

Although Hamas took a severe beating, it succeeded in inflicting significant damage on Israel with rockets throughout the campaign. It even made Tel Aviv residents nervous, despite the Iron Dome missile defense system providing the city absolute protection. Hamas lost most of its tunnel system but was not defeated. It succeeded in surviving, at war’s end still standing on its feet, having gone up against the strongest, most well-equipped and well-trained army in the Middle East. It had even forced the closure of Tel Aviv Ben Gurion international airport for 48 hours.

Today, with the perspective of time, it seems that the declaration of a tie had been somewhat too generous in Hamas’ favor. According to the stats and condition of the contenders three years on, Israel came out way ahead. The three years that have passed have been the quietest since the Palestinians started launching Qassam rockets at Israel in 2001.

According to an Israeli intelligence source who spoke on condition of anonymity, Hamas is “at its lowest point in its entire evolution.” An Israeli diplomatic source who requested anonymity characterized Hamas’ position as a “real existential struggle.” The conditions in the Gaza Strip did not improve at all. To the contrary, the rebuilding of the Strip is moving along at a snail’s pace; electricity scarcely exists; Gaza’s water is getting more and more polluted; unemployment is at a record high; and the sewage flows into the ocean.

A highly placed Israeli military source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Once upon a time, [Gazans] could console themselves by going to the beach in the summer. Now even the seaside isn’t safe, because it’s polluted with sewage. [Gaza] is one of the most crowded places on the globe, during one of the hottest summers you can think of, almost without air conditioners, without hope and no way out.”

Meanwhile in Israel, the opposite has developed. Gaza envelope localities, which had been routinely bombarded during emergencies, are now thriving. They enjoy calm and serenity and are experiencing large positive in-migration of young families. The Israeli economy continues to boom. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just completed a historic July 5-7 visit to Israel. Prestigious and expensive Tel Aviv now seems a million light years from Gaza, although they are only 40 miles apart.

Despite such good news, however, many people in Israel are worried. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, sounded the alarm during the previous round of fighting that deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Gaza could push Hamas against the wall. From such a position, Hamas could then only extricate itself with a big explosion. The outlet for Hamas’ distress when the blockade around it tightened in the summer of 2014 was to fight its way out.

Today, Hamas can only dream about such a summer. Even Qatar, its last and only benefactor, is suffering a different type of siege. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, sitting in Ramallah, is responsible for Gaza’s “electricity crisis,” having slashed payments to the Israel Electric Corporation, which provides Gaza power. Given this situation, Hamas has been forced to grovel to the Egyptians, who are willing to talk about easing the blockade in exchange for the movement taking actions in return: accepting that former Fatah senior member Mohammed Dahlan’s people will be the ones managing the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing and for real cooperation in Cairo’s struggle against the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate, which continues to kill Egyptian soldiers on a daily basis.

Thus, Israel is in the throes of a dilemma, torn between Abbas, who is trying to bring down Hamas, and Egypt, which is now trying to outmaneuver the Hamas leadership. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government views Hamas as a precious strategic asset that allows Israel to continue to argue that there is no real diplomatic partner on the Palestinian side. Should Hamas fall and Abbas retake Gaza, it could prove to be a catastrophe for Netanyahu’s strategy. Netanyahu prefers a divided Palestinian antagonist over a clear partner. The Israeli government is thus interested in preserving the Hamas regime in Gaza, but keeping it on a low flame and keeping the intensity low as well. This is a dangerous game. Israel can lose control over its toys, as transpired in 2014.

On July 9, Mordechai embarked on a scathing attack against Hamas when he revealed on his Facebook page how the organization inflates the price on the diesel fuel it buys to provide Gaza residents with the little electricity they receive. Abbas was supposed to have also paid a visit to Cairo to try to subdue Cairo’s enthusiasm over its new love affair with Gaza under Dahlan’s patronage. To this mixture, one must add the Islamic State’s murderous attack on Egyptian soldiers in Rafah on July 7 and Mordechai’s statement that followed, asserting that Hamas is not really helping Egypt fight terror in Sinai because it allows free passage of extremists between Sinai and Gaza. This is the typical Middle Eastern salad containing all the raw ingredients from which another war could ultimately emerge, a war that none of the sides really wants or needs, but is liable to erupt exactly as it did in the past.

Above all this hovers the issue of Hamas’ holding the bodies of two IDF fighters killed in Protective Edge: Lt. Hadar Goldin (nephew of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon) and Sgt. Oron Shaul. In addition, Hamas evidently holds three Israeli civilians who crossed the border on their own initiative.

In the first two years after Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu enjoyed relative quiet from the bereaved Goldin and Shaul families and did not devote much energy to the issue. The more time passes, however, the more pressure the families and the public will put on the government for the return of the soldiers’ bodies to their final resting place in Israel. The Goldin family is not demanding that the government free terrorists in a prisoner exchange deal, but does insist on putting heavy pressure on Hamas to turn its possession of the soldiers’ bodies into a burden.

Netanyahu would like to do that, but he is in a Catch-22 given the current alignment of the constellations. Increasing pressure on Hamas will worsen the situation and perhaps lead to another war. The only thing left for Israel to do is to continue to maneuver along the narrow, dangerous turf on which all the players stand. The summer is just beginning.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Young Man Seriously Injured After Being Rammed By A Speeding Settler’s Car

12 JUL
5:48 AM

Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Tuesday evening, that a young man was seriously injured, near Qalqilia, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, after an excessively speeding Israeli setter’s car rammed him, and fled the scene.

Eyewitnesses said the Palestinian, As’ad Arfan, was walking in the center of Nabi Elias village, east of Qalqilia, when he was struck by the speeding Israeli car.

They added that Red Crescent medics rushed to the scene, and provided the Arfan with the urgently needed first aid, before moving him to a hospital in Qalqilia.

In related news, Israeli soldiers invaded the eastern part of Azzoun town, east of Qalqilia, and launched a surveillance balloon, before the soldiers took aerial and ground photos of the Palestinian homes in that area.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Install Watchtower, Electronic Gate, In Tal Romeida

12 JUL
9:13 AM

Israeli soldiers installed, on Tuesday evening, an electronic military gate and a watchtower at the entrance of Tal Romeida neighborhood, in the center of Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

The new watchtower and electronic gate overlook the southern area of Tal Romeida, linking it with Jabal ar-Rahma, in the heart of Hebron city.

Hajj Abdul-Majeed Khatib Tamimi, the head of Ibrahim Al-Khaleil Charitable Society, said the new watchtower will grant the military a clear view of most of the neighborhoods in the city, especially since Jabal ar-Rahma mountain and Tal Romeida are in elevated areas that overlook Hebron and its markets.

He called on local, national and international groups to intervene and end the escalating Israeli violations in Hebron, including the ongoing attacks by colonist settlers who aim at removing the Palestinians from their city and lands.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Jerusalem; Israeli Soldiers Demolish Storage Rooms, Car-wash Facility, And Abduct A Young Man After Shooting Him

12 JUL
12:28 PM

Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, the al-Jisir area, between Jabal al-Mokabber and Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished storage rooms and a car-wash facility, owned by Mousa Obeidat, and abducted one Palestinian after shooting him.

The soldiers invaded the facilities and demolished them, under the pretext of being constructed without a permit from the Jerusalem City Council.

Many Palestinians protested the invasion and the demolitions, before the soldiers shot a young man, identified as Ali Ziad Odah, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his leg, and abducted him, after repeatedly assaulting him.

In related news, the soldiers, accompanied by military bulldozers, invaded Wadi Abu Hindi Bedouin area, southeast of Jerusalem, raising fears among the residents of possible demolitions and displacement.

It is worth mentioning that the soldiers have abducted 21 Palestinians at dawn, in different parts of the West Bank, after invading and searching their homes, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Remembering Israel’s war on Gaza

War on Gaza - opinion

By Julie Webb-Pullman

Three years on since the Israeli bombardment of Gaza Julie Webb-Pullman recalls a makeshift morgue outside Al-Shifa Hospital, the lack of medical supplies to treat the wounded and the screams of children whose parents who have already been killed.

The scenes as I go to work each day are harrowing as I must walk past the morgue of Al-Shifa Hospital. For the first few days I didn’t even realise it was a morgue. There were a few cars parked outside, small groups of people clustered against the walls and family members grieving in the hospital grounds during a war. Not an uncommon sight.

Each day the numbers of cars and people grew and one morning the stark reality of what it was hit me. One day a car drove past me, stopped and a man approached it cradling a bright white, tightly swaddled body of a small child in his arms. Men ran out with a stretcher with a covered body on it – or so I thought.

As they ran past a bloodied limb fell onto the ground in front of me. It was not a body on the stretcher, but a collection of body parts, the horrific evidence of the type of weapons being used by Israel on Gaza’s civilians, some prohibited others so new they are still in the testing stages.

I carry on, past the young men sitting sobbing against the wall, heads on knees. I can barely restrain my own tears.

The numbers outside the morgue swell and subside but the numbers inside only continue to grow. Some days I can’t even get through, other days ambulances or cars arrive and bodies are removed in front of my eyes, while relatives scream, faint, or numbly watch as yet another family member is taken from them.

The misery, the grief, the sheer human suffering is overwhelming. I walk on past and go upstairs to report on the dead and injured in facts and figures, my heart bursting, my soul shaken, and desperately trying to cling to that thing called humanity when there is so little evidence of it in what I have just seen.

I go upstairs and see the exhausted doctors and surgeons, who two weeks ago were healthy, vibrant human beings now reduced to haggard, pale ghosts of themselves, struggling to keep going, to provide care and save lives when there is so little care to provide. There is no medicine, no supplies, no equipment, and lives that might be saved are lost to the sheer numbers demanding their attention.

Doctors must decide on the spot which patients live and which die, not because clinically they can’t all be saved, but because there are only resources enough to save one.

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff all now know that even in the hospitals they are not safe because Israel is deliberately attacking them. Three hospitals have been evacuated since Thursday; seven hospital staff have already been killed or injured.

Ambulance drivers and paramedics know that when they go to retrieve the injured that they may not return. Twelve ambulances have been destroyed, one driver killed and five paramedics injured. All in a day’s work. These people have not been paid for months; they are doing this out of their own sense of compassion and duty.

I go to the wards to interview survivors and their families. One might think that this would be less traumatic, at least they are alive, and there is hope. It is not. Babies’ bodies have been blasted with shrapnel so they look more like a pepper steak than a human baby; unconscious children have tubes going in and out; children cry for mothers and fathers who will never comfort them because they are dead; mothers share a room with several of their children, all sliced, diced, minced or shredded by Israeli arms made in or funded by the US.

No one knows if or which of them will get out of there, and if and when they do, will they be able to walk, talk, feed themselves, study, work or have any semblance of the normal future their mothers hoped for them. Fathers who have collapsed are wracked with guilt that they did not, could not, protect their family.

I walk outside and the sky is blue, the sun is shining. Birds are even singing. I want to scream at them, “don’t you know what is happening?” I walk home beneath the ever-present drones, the sound of explosions almost keeping pace with my footsteps. I go back past the morgue, now shut up, and deserted – on the outside at least.

A group of children run past carrying bottles of water, giggling and falling over, helping each other up. I pass the maternity ward, see a man in the street calling to his wife who appears in a window and holds up their newborn baby for him to see.

I wonder, was this deliberate, putting a maternity unit next to the morgue so that as one leaves the affirmation of life is what remains?

After all, this is Gaza, where mere existence is resistance.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Raids, arrests reported in O. J’lem

Raids Occupied Jerusalem

A large-scale raid and search campaign was carried out at dawn Wednesday throughout occupied Jerusalem. Arrests were reported during the raids.

According to local sources, Israeli military vehicles stormed early today Shufat refugee camp amid heavy firing of rubber bullets.

Several houses were stormed and searched in the refugee camp which led to the outbreak of violent clashes.

A state of tension prevailed in the camp as a young man was detained after Israeli police forces stormed and searched his family house.

Similar raids were also carried out in Jabal Mukabar town where at least two youths were rounded up.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Wife of longest-serving Palestinian inmate banned from prison visit

Wife Nael al-Barghouti banned for visiting

The Israeli occupation authorities on Tuesday banned the wife of the longest-serving Palestinian detainee Nael al-Barghouti from visiting her husband in an Israeli jail.

Barghouti’s wife, Iman Nafe’, said the International Red Cross informed her of a visit ban issued by the Israeli authorities at Eshel prison, where her husband is being locked up.

The wife said sometime earlier she received a permit from the Israeli intelligence to visit her jailed husband.

Barghouti’s wife, who had been locked up for 10 years in Israeli jails, said she will do whatever it takes to visit her husband and keep tabs on his condition.

She added that the ban makes part of Israeli crackdowns against the detainees and their families in an attempt to dampen their spirits.

Prisoner al-Barghouti was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner swap deal. He was re-arrested in 2014. He has spent a total of 36 years and two months in Israel penitentiaries.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

IOF raids al-Khalil, breaks into local houses

IOF stormed Duerban area al-Khalil

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stormed Tuesday evening Duerban area in the southern West Bank province of al-Khalil and carried out a raid and search campaign.

According to the PIC reporter, three Israeli military jeeps stormed the neighborhood and searched a number of local houses and agricultural fields, in addition to a mosque.

By-passers were also stopped and searched during the raid, while no arrests were reported.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Israeli forces kidnap 5 Palestinians, ban another from al-Aqsa

2 Palestinians kidnapped at Nablus

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday evening kidnapped five Palestinians and banned another from al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to the Hebrew-speaking 0404 news site, the Israeli forces chased down a Palestinian vehicle as it passed through Makabim military checkpoint, west of Ramallah, and arrested those who were onboard on claims of holding fake identity documents.

The four detainees were dragged to an Israeli investigation center pending intensive questioning.

At the same time, the Israeli forces kidnapped the Palestinian citizen Zuehir al-Rajabi from his home in Batn al-Hawa, in Silwan, and seized his private electronic devices.

Meanwhile, the Israeli police banned the Palestinian youth Rawhi Kalghasi from the Old City of Jerusalem for six months. Kalghasi had previously been subjected to similar bans under the security pretext.

(Source / 12.07.2017)

Israeli authorities to confiscate Palestinian lands in Jerusalem

Confiscated land in Jerusalem

The Israeli authorities on Tuesday handed Hizma municipality in Occupied Jerusalem orders and maps showing lands to be confiscated next week.

Former head of Hizma village council, Mowaffaq al-Khatib, told Quds Press that the Israeli authorities had earlier erected barbered wires in the vicinity of the village in preparation for the confiscation of these lands in favor of building new section of the apartheid wall.

Refuting the Israeli lies, Khatib affirmed that the real area of the lands to be seized far exceeds the one announced by the Israeli authorities which is 20 dunums.

He pointed out that this decision will negatively affect the 8,000 residents of Hizma village and obstruct the West Bank citizens’ access to the northern areas of the West Bank.

The Israeli authorities claimed that the confiscation decision, which is scheduled to be implemented on 17th July, was for urgent military and security purposes.

In a related context, Khatib reported that a plant nursery was razed and two others received demolition notices by the Israeli authorities on Tuesday in the southern area of the village.

(Source / 12.07.2017)