Analysis News

On dual standards and the hypocrisy of peace

Israel has no problem asserting an inviolable right to self-defense, while repeatedly denying the same right to Palestinians. The same state that decries Palestinian violence has no qualms meeting non-violent protests with fully armed aggression.

By Nadia Naser-Najjab

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has led international actors to reassert Israel’s right to self-defense. Any objection that these same actors have repeatedly failed to recognize, much less support, a Palestinian right to self-defense is routinely rejected upon the basis that it is not the international community’s role to take sides. Needless to say, in a context of open oppression and subjugation, this self-sanctifying neutrality is a form of ‘taking sides.’

In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, concepts such as balance have long assumed almost Orwellian overtones: in this context, balance has been equated with the imposition of a range of inequitable requirements on the Palestinians, without any similar requirements being placed upon their Israeli counterparts.

A man sits in a destroyed building which was attacked last night by Israeli airstrike, in Al Tuffah neighborhood, July 16, 2014. As of July 16th, 196 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, and more than 1,400 have been injured.

A man sits in a destroyed building which was attacked last night by Israeli airstrike, in Al Tuffah neighborhood, July 16, 2014 (photo: Activestills)

Palestinians are occupied and they resist like any other nation in the same circumstances. As Israel intensified its measures over the years, Palestinians intensified their resistance. Israel sliced up the land and separated Palestinians into different categories: good Palestinians and bad Palestinians. But for the Israelis the good are not good enough. We are all suffocated and strangled by the occupation, yet Gaza suffers the most. The situation affects all Palestinians and Israelis, but the Palestinians are affected on a much larger scale and physically, not only psychologically. Furthermore, we never include all the Palestinians who have suffered extensive trauma from constant Israeli aggression and attacks.

At the same time that international actors insist upon an impossible balance, official Israeli rhetoric is predicated upon a set of binary distinctions: it is as if Israel can only define itself in Manichean terms: civilized versus barbaric, sanctity of life versus culture of death. At all times there is a sustained refusal to conceive of Palestinians as...

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Propaganda wars: Searching for a narrative in Operation Protective Edge

No amount of Tweeting, tagging, posting or liking will save Gazans from an Israeli ground invasion. So why bother?

By Corey Sherman

Recent political upheavals in the Middle East tend to have a social media subplot, whether it’s how savvy youth use it to subvert harsh authority, or how states manipulate access to it so as to stop such subversion.

There’s the story about how State-Department-Official-cum-Google-Ideas-Chief, Jared Cohen, requested that Twitter delay a scheduled maintenance of their network to enable Iranians to continue to use the platform to organize during the harsh crackdown on post-election protests in 2009. Or how Josh Koster, an American advertising executive, crashed the servers of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Agency to stymie the flow of the Iranian government’s official pronouncements during that same time. And let’s not forget the so-called Twitter Revolutionaries of the so-called Arab Spring.

It may be flippant to attempt to search for the subplot in what the Israeli government calls Operation Protective Edge. The fact is that no amount of Tweeting, tagging, posting or liking will save Gazans from an Israeli ground invasion. So why bother?

Israeli tanks on the border with Gaza. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli tanks on the border with Gaza. (photo: Activestills)

At the same time, the number of people running from bombs in Gaza or into shelters across southern and central Israel pales in comparison to the number of people experiencing this conflict on their mobile phones, their tablets or their computer screens. For most humans, this conflict exists only in the images, sounds and texts that are coming out of Israel/Palestine. The mass mediation of this conflict, both in print and online, is part of its story. How states, media organizations and citizens choose to tell the story of this conflict helps explain how interested parties perceive this current flare-up – and what they believe is at stake.

A Reminder of Resistance

The war in the south is only part of the story here right now. Over the weekend, Gregg Carlstrom (Politico Magazine) and JJ Goldberg (The Forward) contextualized, correctly, the current hostilities into the larger social upheaval occurring here since the kidnappings and killings of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel, and Muhammed Abu Khdeir. Let’s not forget the 63-day-long hunger strike of Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli jails, which ended...

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COMIC: What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?

By Eli Valley

Eli.Valley.Gaza.Leaflets.Vertical

Eli Valley is a writer and artist whose work has been published in New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Saveur, Haaretz and elsewhere. He is currently finishing his first novel. Eli’s website is www.EVComics.com and he tweets at @elivalley.

More from Eli Valley:
Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution
The hater in the sky / By Eli Valley



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How an army of defense became an army of vengeance

I will never forget the evening my friends and I were sent to kill Palestinian police officers in a revenge attack. We went from soldiers sent to defend our families to murderers of innocent people.

By O.K.

A month has passed since we were informed of the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel. Ever since, there has been unrest in the region. Along with their families, we all hoped for good news, and mourned with them when the teens’ bodies were found. However, over the past few weeks our computer screens and our streets have been filled not only with sorrow, but also with cries for revenge. Israeli citizens and leaders alike have openly called for avenging the deaths of the three boys.

“No more playing by the rules,” said MK Ayelet Shaked. The Secretary General of World Bnei Akiva youth movement called for bloody vengeance. These calls of action, among many others, led Israeli citizens to take to the streets and attack Palestinians indiscriminately. This air of revenge claimed the life of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian youth from Shuafat who was murdered by Jewish Israelis.

Right-wing Israeli settlers burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at [Gush] Etzion junction, a bloc of settlements next to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near the Etzion junction late last week. (Oren Ziv/Activestlls.org)

Right-wing Israeli settlers burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at [Gush] Etzion junction, a bloc of settlements next to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near the Etzion junction late last week. (Oren Ziv/Activestlls.org)

The cycle of violence didn’t end with the youth. The Israeli leadership responded to the demands for revenge by mobilizing the Israeli military as an army of vengeance, and Hamas responded in kind. The military operation that commenced in the West Bank as a result of the kidnapping included collective punishment of thousands of Palestinian civilians. Hamas returned to shooting rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians in Israel, and the Israeli army launched a military operation against the Gaza Strip. Over 200 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, and one Israeli citizen have been...

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I am the woman who translates the names of the dead

In these frenzied days, I look for routine and find it in the task of translating names. Not that anyone reads all of them, but here’s another child, and another, and a last name that gets repeated again and again. And then I realize that a whole family has been wiped out.

By Michal Rotem (Translated by Sol Salbe)

For several days now I’ve been translating the names of those killed in Gaza to Hebrew. It was not my idea, and I’m not an expert in literary Arabic, but I volunteered my meager translation skills to help John Brown, because it seemed the right thing for me to do, for some odd reason. Every day my capabilities seem to grow, and I freely scan though Palestinian news sites and the website of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, plucking out more and more names of the dead.

But I’m oblivious to it. Like a robot, I sit and translate more and more names of the deceased and I do not comprehend at all what this list really is. Every so often it hits me, when suddenly in the middle of the list, I encounter a series of names that are too similar, with too big an age range and from the same locality, and it dawns on me that these are the names of members of a family that was wiped out in a single moment. I press on with the list, which expands by the minute, unmindful of its various meanings. But then comes a familiar last name, and I realize I may know people in the Negev/Naqab from this family, and I come back to reality. The names that share first names with close friends of mine also make me sad, because I remember that ultimately these are human beings.

Bodies are carried from the morgue of Al Shifa Hosptial, Gaza City, July 13, 2014.

Bodies are carried from the morgue of Al Shifa Hosptial, Gaza City, July 13, 2014.

There’s something very anodyne about this list: name, place of residence, age. Some people have their details missing, some are updated in the days following. I’m not sufficiently versed in these matters to know who was a senior Hamas commander, who fired rockets and who is just trying to live their...

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The unfolding lie of Operation Protective Edge

An Israeli leadership truly interested in a peace agreement would not have driven its partner to the point of lacking any leadership authority among his people. But that is exactly the point. Israel is not really interested in peace or in a partner who can bring about peace.

By Idan Landau (Translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

A child inspects the ruins of a house destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the Al Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, July 11, 2014.

A child inspects the ruins of a house destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the Al Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, July 11, 2014.

In January 2011 the winds of the Arab Spring blew through Gaza and the West Bank, and the four-year rift between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas came to an end. Reconciliation talks took three months, and were boosted by mass demonstrations of Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah in favor of a unity government. Abu Mazen declared his willingness to travel to Gaza and sign an agreement.

In other words, Bibi’s nightmare came true.

The day after Abu Mazen’s declaration, the IDF killed two Hamas activists in Gaza, in an action authorized by the highest levels – the minister of defense and the IDF chief of staff. The killing was portrayed as a response to the launching of a single Qassam rocket, which hit no one, but some, like Yedioth’s Alex Fishman, understood that this had been a “premeditated escalation” by Israel. The following day, March 17, Netanyahu came “full circle”, clarifying to those who had not yet understood: Palestinian unity is a red line, as far as Israel is concerned.

Israel’s array of diplomatic threats was retrieved from storage: economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, an end to security cooperation. Nothing was said about the escalation in the South being the immediate aftermath of that policy. The security pretext – “restore calm to the South” ­– was brittle and unconvincing. Astute observers noted that at the beginning of that month Israel had substantially decreased the flow of goods into Gaza – a move that precedes an Israeli strike more often than it is a response to a Palestinian strike.

The killing of Hamas activists was the first shot in yet another...

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Dispatch from Gaza: Why Palestinians should speak to Israeli media

When Hamas banned Palestinians in Gaza from working with Israeli media, I understood why, but could not stay silent. If we Gazans stay silent, a large part of the truth will be lost, and I don’t want the truth to be lost.

By Abeer Ayyoub

Since Operation Protective Edge started earlier last week, I haven’t stopped receiving calls from Israeli television and radios channels asking me to go on air to talk about the current situation in Gaza. I never thought twice about accepting all of these offers because I believe it’s my responsibility to speak up and reach the Israeli audience’s ears.

Yet in each of the interviews, the first question was : isn’t it dangerous for you to be speaking to Israeli media using your real name? Well, no one said it’s not. Contacting Israelis is always sensitive and even unacceptable in Gaza, even when it comes to the governmental side. Hamas has banned local journalists in Gaza from dealing with Israeli media for reasons that have to do with security, along with some other reasons.

I always understood this point of view, yet never adopted it. Why should I fear talking to the second side of the conflict about the first side of the conflict to which I belong ? Why would I be anonymous while I’m spreading word of the suffering 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are facing? How can being silent and just boycotting the Israeli media be good for Palestinians anyway?

Read +972′s full coverage of the operation in Gaza

I understand it’s a bit risky, and very challenging. People in Gaza take issue with dealing with anyone who lives behind the Erez border terminal. Maybe before 2000, when the Second Intifada erupted and the two territories became totally isolated, were people able to understand the second part a bit more. But ever since, the two people in the two territories began thinking of each other as aliens.

I always take issue when people pointing fingers at me for engaging with the Israeli media, yet I never tire of defending what I believe in. Speaking with the Israeli media has nothing to do with my political views. On the contrary, I believe that the Palestinian voice cannot be excluded from the Israeli narrative; otherwise, a large part of the truth will be lost, and I don’t want the truth to be lost.

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There's still room for optimism: A letter to Sayed Kashua

‘You were supposed to be optimistic, you were supposed to give us hope. Instead you are only proposing despair.’ A letter to Israel’s best known Hebrew-language Palestinian author, columnist and entertainer, who after the racism and violence of recent weeks wrote that he’s lost hope in coexistence.

By Maisalon Dallashi

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. (Activestills.org)

Dear Sayed,

You broke my heart when you cried out in your weekly Haaretz column. You’ve made the tears trickle down of their own accord. You made me want to escape out of my body and run. This is not how I imagined our first meeting. In my mind I saw a more optimistic encounter in which I described your great and scorching columns to you, those that left a spark of hope in me.

After I read your column I was not afraid to step out of my house. I relied upon my Ashkenazi appearance to finally be of good use. I escaped to where I always do when the world is too suffocating, to a viewpoint that looks over the sea from the old city of Jaffa.

On my way I passed through the alleys of the flea market, a place that has become into a major hit among the trendy middle-class people of Tel Aviv and the area. I saw a sign there greeting the Muslims for the month of the Ramadan. It was hung above one of the Arab coffee shops, perhaps the only Arab coffee shop there. Nice.

I searched for spelling or grammar typos in the greeting’s text and could not find any. Even more surprising and wonderful! I must have gotten used to embarrassing and neglectful mistakes in Arabic signs, like those where the dot is placed over the wrong alphabetical letter and the sign turns into a joke, and not to mention translations of street signs, which...

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Be'er Sheva, a city with no refuge from rockets

In Be’er Sheva, there are two kinds of people: those who sit protected in their shelters, calling for the occupation of Gaza, and the thousands of people who, living in buildings that crumble around them and with nowhere to run, just wait for the end. I live in such a building. Conversations with residents who have no refuge from the rockets.

By Daniel Beller (translated from Hebrew by Noam Shemtov)

An Israeli looks at damage to his home in a kibbutz near border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli looks at damage to his home in a kibbutz near border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The city of Be’er Sheva on Friday night got a reminder of why it needs a little less pride and lot more protection, especially for the weak: a rocket hit a house in a neighborhood of olim —Jewish immigrants to Israel — and almost completely destroyed it. Miraculously, the 80-year-old woman who was sitting in the living room at the time emerged from the building with only moderate injuries.

Many houses in Be’er Sheva are unprotected and it is no coincidence that these are precisely the buildings that Be’er Sheva’s sizable socioeconomically weaker population calls home. They are older housing units, neglected blocks of concrete built 50 or 60 years ago that are not part of the so-called, “new, high-end Be’er Sheva.”

When the alarm sounds, this community of underserved residents has nowhere to run. Its members take refuge standing against plaster walls, lying behind the couch or in the middle of the living room, standing and praying. These are people who make their livings from odd jobs, and a week of fighting – no work – could bring financial ruin upon them. If people don’t leave the house and give them a bit of business at a marketplace stall or kiosk, or if they hold only a part-time job because the city’s economy is forever stopping and starting up again — then they have no savings to speak of.

One of the most outrageous things about Be’er Sheva is to hear local politicians talking in front of microphones about the city’s fortitude, about its “strength,” its “solid front” and its people, “who unequivocally support the IDF’s strikes against...

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In Jerusalem, Jews and Palestinians pay the price for latest wave of violence

An inside look at the financial and psychological costs of the recent unrest in one of the country’s most segregated cities.

By Corey Sherman

As the rocket alert sirens rang out in Jerusalem Tuesday night, a group of friends passed around a pungent hashish cigarette on Yohanan Horkanus Street, an alleyway nestled between the commercial center of Jaffa Street and the Haredi neighborhood of Mea She’arim.

“Jews and Arabs needn’t be enemies!” joked Uri, repeating one of the Hebrew slogans a group of graying left-wing Israelis chanted last week in a tame, feel-good march against racism in the city center.  “All of us, together, without hatred or fear!” responded Noor in kind. (Both slogans rhyme in Hebrew.) After a shared laugh, the group returned to their hash and to discuss their plans for the night: where they would watch the World Cup, how late one of them would be working at a nearby bar.

No one ran for cover.  No one was afraid. Life went on. “Welcome to the Middle East,” Muhammad told me.

Palestinian youths brake the light-train station of Beit Hanina, during clashes that broke out in East Jerusalem following the suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, East Jerusalem, July 2, 2014. Total of four journalists and a dozen protesters injured in the clashes. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youths brake the light-train station of Beit Hanina, during clashes that broke out in East Jerusalem following the suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, East Jerusalem, July 2, 2014. Total of four journalists and a dozen protesters injured in the clashes. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

During periods of calm and unrest alike, some journalists appear keen to portray Israelis as steadfast consumers of the good life. Doing their part to enjoy themselves — la’asot chayyim — as others, typically out of sight, bear the brunt of rocket attacks, Molotov cocktails, rubber bullets, or stone throwing. Just ask these Tel Avivim.

Indeed, Uri and Noor’s cynicism is a luxury of Jerusalem being on the safe side of this exchange of rockets, which, according to UN reports, has claimed over 114 civilians in Gaza, 77% of whom are children. What differentiates their attitudes from those in Tel Aviv is that contentious politics in Jerusalem is du jour. The occupation is in full view...

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Not just escalation: A frightening new era of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel

Attacks by Jewish hooligans on Arabs, unprecedented incitement by right-wing politicians and clashes between Israeli Police and Arab youth. We’ve been here before, but never like this.

By Ron Gerlitz

This article is written at the height of an extensive, violent escalation in the Jewish-Arab conflict, both within Israel and between Israel and the Palestinians in the territories and the Gaza Strip.

Regarding the events inside Israel, it is important to note the dramatic difference between the events of October 2000 and those of the past week. In October 2000, it was Arab citizens of Israel confronting the police. In contrast, during the past week, Jewish and Arab civilians have faced off and attacked each other. The majority of these incidents involved assault and manifestations of racism by Jewish Israelis against Arab Israelis.

Palestinian youth throw rocks at Israeli security forces during clashes in Shuafat. The clashes erupted during the funeral for Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was suspected of being murdered by Jewish nationalists in Jerusalem. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth throw rocks at Israeli security forces during clashes in Shuafat. The clashes erupted during the funeral for Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was suspected of being murdered by Jewish nationalists in Jerusalem. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Unfortunately, such attacks are not a new phenomenon, but their scope over the last week is unprecedented. This is not just an escalation – it is an entirely new reality. We have never been in a situation in which attacks against Arab civilians occurred daily and all over Israel. The following is a collection of statements I heard from a firsthand source in the last few days: “Death to Arabs” marches in the streets of Nazareth Illit night after night, gangs of Jewish hooligans roaming the Jerusalem streets and beating Arabs, violent attacks against Arabs on buses, and, in Pardes Hanna, dozens of young people entered a mall screaming “Death to Arabs.” Furthermore, there have been innumerable incidents of profanity against Arabs.

No one comes out unscathed

I didn’t comprehend the scope of this phenomenon from the media, but rather from the fact that every single Arab citizen I have met recently (and I meet many) has told me about an incident that happened to him or to his family. One...

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Dispatch from Gaza: You can never be emotionally ready

I have witnessed two wars and even more escalations, and yet I have never been ready for the trauma. 

By Abeer Ayoub

GAZA – It’s 2 a.m. and the electricity is off for the night. I can’t sleep because of the extremely hot weather and my two sisters are lying next to me checking the news on their cellphones. My sisters and I were discussing whether there will be another Israeli offensive again after the recent attacks between the two sides. We tried to dismiss the idea but everything taking place around us indicates it’s possible. We decided to sleep for an hour until the Sohoor meal (the meal Muslims have before dawn during Ramadan to prepare for a long day of fasting). We didn’t even make it through the hour; the many explosions were enough to wake us up.

“Switch on the radio,” I yelled at my sister as she tuned it to a local station.

It’s official now. Israel has launched a new military operation against Gaza called “Protective Edge.”

The atmosphere of these nights is not new to me. I have witnessed two wars and even more escalations, and yet I have never been ready for the trauma. That this escalation coincides with the holy month of Ramadan and a very complicated electricity crisis is very bad. Fasting for more than 14 hours a day, hearing bombings every single hour is the last thing the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza want.

I woke up and began the regular routine for every escalation: set the radio to channels that report on every single bombing, then go on Twitter and Facebook to see what your friends are up to and call them when you know there was a bombardment close to their house. That was when I was supposed to have my Sohoor meal. I missed it this time.

Among the very difficult challenges we face every time these offensives happen is having to deal with the children we have at home. This is the first offensive that my two nieces who live in the same building have witnessed; they both are less than three years old, and there is nothing more we can do for them when they cry out of fear aside from hugging them and telling them it’s only fireworks.

Living with a very violent offensive is an experience that my family has learned to adjust...

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Live blog: Escalation in Gaza - July 2014

Following almost a month of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket launches in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army declared that it had launched ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ The Israeli cabinet on Tuesday authorized the call-up of 40,000 reservist soldiers after a night in which the Israeli Air Force launched dozens of air strikes inside the Gaza Strip. The operation comes as tensions are already high in Israel and the West Bank following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem.

Live updates below.Newsletter Banner 2 - 540

11:45 a.m., July 13
The death toll from an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip’s police chief last night went up to 21. The number of killed since the start of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ was more than 160.

An Israeli naval commando unit, Shayetet, infiltrated the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday morning to attack a long-range rocket launching facility. According to reports, two Hamas gunmen were killed and four Israeli commandos wounded in the exchange of fire that erupted. The following “Vine” video shot by CNN’s Jon Jenson shows explosions and the sound of heavy gunfire.

Hundreds of Gazans with foreign passports were allowed to leave the Strip through the Erez crossing Sunday morning. Journalist A. Daniel Roth tweeted the following photo:

 

Hundreds of Gazan families were reportedly fleeing the northern cities of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun after the IDF warned them to leave by noon today ahead of a “significant operation.

12:25 a.m., July 13
Protests break out in a number of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and Palestinians clash with Israeli police.

10:47 p.m., July 12
Sirens sound in northern Israel. At least two rockets were fired from Lebanon. One of the rockets landed in an area town, Ynet reported, although no injuries were reported. The IDF shot artillery into Lebanon in response.

In Gaza, an Israeli air strike killed 15 people in recent minutes, bringing the death toll to 150. The commander of Hamas police in all of Gaza was killed. The air strike targeted his family home.

10:00 p.m., July 12
A senior IDF official told Ynet...



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