+972 Magazine » All Posts http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:03:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 PHOTOS: Deadly week in Gaza http://972mag.com/photos-another-deadly-week-in-gaza/94701/ http://972mag.com/photos-another-deadly-week-in-gaza/94701/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:14:33 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94701 Heavy fighting continued in Gaza over the past week, with Tuesday and Wednesday proving particularly deadly days in which 120 and 129 Palestinians were killed, respectively. Three Israeli soldiers were also killed Wednesday. Protests against Israel’s Gaza operation continued to be held in Israeli cities, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Photos by: Anne Paq, Basel Yazouri, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv, Faiz Abu Rmeleh, Keren Manor / Activestills.org

Palestinian man stands in his destroyed house overlooking the bombed  Shujaiyeh neigborhood, Gaza City, July 26, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian man stands in his destroyed house overlooking the bombed Shejaiyeh neighborhood, Gaza City, July 26, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Displaced Palestinians pass the first day of Eid Al Fitr in an UNRWA school that turned into shelter, Gaza, July 28, 2014. 83 UNRWA schools and many hospitals have become shelters for more than 200,000 displaced Palestinians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Displaced Palestinians pass the first day of Eid Al Fitr in an UNRWA school that became a shelter, Gaza, July 28, 2014. 83 UNRWA schools and many hospitals have become shelters for more than 200,000 displaced Palestinians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A relative of one of the children killed earlier in a playground in al-Shati refugee camp mourn at the cemetery, Gaza city, July 28, 2014. Reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack which took place on the first day Eid. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A relative of one of the children killed earlier in a playground in al-Shati refugee camp mourns at the cemetery, Gaza City, July 28, 2014. Reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack, which took place on the first day of Eid. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Damage is seen inside the Al Aqsa hospital following an Israeli attack, Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, July 26, 2014. The direct attack, which took place on 21 July, killed at least 5 Palestinians and injured 70. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Damage is seen inside the Al Aqsa hospital following an Israeli attack, Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, July 26, 2014. The direct attack, which took place on July 21, killed at least five Palestinians and injured 70. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Relatives of Palestinians killed during an Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun elementary schools mourn in Kamal Edwan Hospital, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people. The attack killed at least 17 and injured more than 200 of the displaced civilians.  (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Relatives of Palestinians killed during an Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school mourn in Kamal Edwan Hospital, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people. The attack killed at least 17 and injured more than 200 of the displaced civilians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Palestinians who flew from Israeli attacks take refuge in Falluja governmental school, Jabaliya refugee camp, July 29, 2014. Many Palestinians flew their homes last night after having recceived orders to evacuate. More than 170,000 Palestinians found shelter in UNRWA schools but the total number of displaced is much higher. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians who fled from Israeli attacks take refuge in Falluja government school, Jabaliya refugee camp, July 29, 2014. Many Palestinians fled their homes last night after having received orders to evacuate. More than 220,000 Palestinians found shelter in UNRWA schools but the total number of displaced is much higher. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A classroom lies damaged following the overnight Israeli shelling of an UNRWA school where some 3,300 Palestinians were seeking shelter, Jabalia, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. At least 20 people were killed in the attack which injured more than 100.  (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A classroom lies damaged following the overnight Israeli shelling of an UNRWA school, where some 3,300 Palestinians were seeking shelter, Jabalia, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. At least 20 people were killed in the attack ,which injured more than 100. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Palestinians gather around a child killed earlier in a playground in al-Shati refugee camp at the morgue of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza city, July 28, 2014. Reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack which took place on the first day Eid.  (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians gather around a child killed in a playground in al-Shati refugee camp at the morgue of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza city, July 28, 2014. Reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack, which took place on the first day of Eid. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

An injured Palestinian is seen in the emergency room of Kamal Edwan Hospital after an Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people. The attack killed at least 17 and injured more than 200 of the displaced civilians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

An injured Palestinian is seen in the emergency room of Kamal Edwan Hospital after an Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people. The attack killed at least 17 and injured more than 200 of the displaced civilians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

An injured Palestinian child awaits treatment at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City following Israeli attacks, July 30, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

An injured Palestinian child awaits treatment at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City following Israeli attacks, July 30, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Funeral in Bani Suhaila for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014.  The Al-Najjar family flew their homes in Khuza'a to take refuge fi-urther west.  Israeli attacks have killed 550 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. Khuza'a has been under heavy attacks and many fled their village as the Israeli army physically occupies the village. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A funeral in Bani Suhaila for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. The Al-Najjar family fled their homes in Khuza’a to take refuge further west. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. Khuza’a has been under heavy attack and many people fled the village as the Israeli army physically occupied it. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian shows pieces of Israeli weapon in Abasan al-Kabira village at the entrance of another village Khuza'a, East of Khan Yunis, July 26, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan al-Kabira to inspect the damages together with medics who attempted to rescue injured or collect bodies. Residents of adjacent Khuza'a could not enter, as Israeli soldiers fired warning shots. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian shows pieces of Israeli weaponry in Abasan al-Kabira village at the entrance to another village Khuza’a, East of Khan Yunis, July 26, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan al-Kabira to inspect the damage together with medics, who attempted to rescue the injured or collect bodies. Residents of adjacent Khuza’a could not enter, as Israeli soldiers fired warning shots. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Clashes erupted between hundreds of Palestinians and the Israeli army during a demonstration against the attack on Gaza, Huwwara military checkpoint, Nablus, West Bank, the early morning of July 25, 2014. A 22 years old Palestinian was shot to death by the Israeli army with live ammunition and at least 3 were injured, the same day at Huwwara checkpoint. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Clashes erupted between hundreds of Palestinians and the Israeli army during a demonstration against the attack on Gaza, Huwwara military checkpoint, Nablus, West Bank, early morning July 25, 2014. A 22-year-old Palestinian was shot to death by the Israeli army with live ammunition and at least 3 were injured the same day at Huwwara checkpoint. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli women activists staging a protest against the attack on Gaza at Hatzor Air Force base, Israel, July 29, 2014. The activists wore white overalls stained with red paint calling on the Israeli government to stop the strikes and bring an end to the siege on Gaza, also expressing concern regarding the suffering of civilians in southern Israel. Signs in Hebrew read (from R to L): "Blood of children on your hands", "Bombing civilians will not bring security", "Stop the massacre in Gaza" and "Remove the siege". A few activists were detained by security forces. 9Activestills.org)

Israeli women activists stage a protest against the attack on Gaza at Hatzor Air Force base, Israel, July 29, 2014. The activists wore white overalls stained with red paint and called on the Israeli government to stop the air strikes and bring an end to the siege on Gaza. They also expressed concern regarding the suffering of civilians in southern Israel. Signs in Hebrew read (from R to L): “Blood of children on your hands,” “Bombing civilians will not bring security,” “Stop the massacre in Gaza” and “Remove the siege.” A few activists were detained by security forces. (Activestills.org)

Right wing demonstrators protest in front of a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza, in Rabin square, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. Right wing activists protested near by and attacked left wing activists during and after the protest. One left wing activists was hospitalized with a head injury. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Right-wing demonstrators protest in front of a gathering against the Israeli attack on Gaza, in Rabin square, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. Right-wing activists protested nearby and some attacked left-wing activists during and after the protest. One left-wing activist was hospitalized with a head injury. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli artillery fires a shell towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli artillery fires a shell towards the Gaza Strip from a position near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on July 24, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah,  July 24, 2014. One protesters was shot dead by Israeli forces with live ammunition, and over two-hundred protesters injured. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah, July 24, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mourners carry the body of Mohammed al-Araj, 17, at his funeral ceremony at the Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014.  Al-Araj was shot and killed the night before during clashes with Israeli army. Israeli security forces shot him dead and wounded over 200 other protesters during the massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mourners carry the body of Mohammed al-Araj, 17, in his funeral ceremony at the Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014. Al-Araj was shot and killed the previous night during clashes with the Israeli army. Israeli security forces shot him dead and wounded over 200 other protesters during the massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A destroyed quarter in Shujaiyeh neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, during a ceasefire, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Shujaiyeh to inspect the damages together with medics who attempted to rescue injured or collect bodies. Dozens of bodies were collected but many remain as Palestinians do not have all the necessary equipment to dig. Israeli attacks turned the neighborhood into a scene of utter devastation, with entire buildings flattened and thousands forced to flee. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A destroyed quarter in Shejaiya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, during a ceasefire, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Shejaiya to inspect the damage together with medics, who attempted to rescue the injured or collect bodies. Dozens of bodies were collected but many remain as Palestinians do not have all the necessary equipment to dig them out of the rubble. Israeli attacks turned the neighborhood into a scene of utter devastation, with entire buildings flattened and thousands forced to flee. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip arrives to the Saint Joseph hospital in East Jerusalem, on July 29, 2014 after she was injured in an Israeli military attack on Gaza. Israel exceptionally authorised around 50 Palestinians to cross into Israel to receive a specialized brain surgery following negotiations between the Red Cross and The Palestinian Authority. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip arrives to the Saint Joseph hospital in East Jerusalem, on July 29, 2014 after she was injured in an Israeli military attack on Gaza. Israel exceptionally authorized around 50 Palestinians to cross into Israel to receive a specialized brain surgery following negotiations between the Red Cross and the Palestinian Authority. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists light candles with the word "sorry" in Arabic and Hebrew, during a protest against the attack on Gaza, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists light candles with the word “sorry” in Arabic and Hebrew, during a protest against the attack on Gaza, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

Related:
Will there be peace if Palestinians lay down their arms?
Gaza catch-22: When a humanitarian ceasefire becomes a death trap
Photos: Gazans use ‘ceasefire’ to pick up the pieces

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Blaming Palestinians for their own deaths http://972mag.com/blaming-palestinians-for-their-own-deaths/94729/ http://972mag.com/blaming-palestinians-for-their-own-deaths/94729/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:52:12 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94729 ‘All the targets hit by the IDF in Gaza were attacked morally; those killed are responsible for their own deaths. And Netanyahu – he just wants the Gazans to be safe.’

By Hagai El-Ad

It is moral because we told them to leave, and those who stayed did so at their own peril. It’s moral because Hamas encouraged them to stay, that’s why this is a self-inflicted genocide carried out by Hamas. The Palestinians who died in Shejaiya, in Khan Younis, actually everywhere and always, are to blame for their own deaths. Maybe it’s only the children who aren’t guilty of their own deaths – maybe it’s the parents who are to blame. As for the elderly people who died, that’s definitely Hamas’ fault. Whichever way you twist it, that blood was not spilled by our hands.

How deeply can you suppress the denial by Israelis? How can the prime minister – the prime minister of the army whose air force killed four nameless children on the beach in Gaza for the world’s cameras to see – look straight into the camera and tell the Palestinians of Gaza, “We want you to be safe”?

Paramedics and people run at the scene where four Palestinian children were killed by Israeli military shelling on the harbor and nearby beach of Gaza city, July 16, 2014. Four children; Ahed Bakr, 10, Zakaria Bakr, 10, Mohd Bakr, 11, and Ismail Bakr, 9.; were killed during the attack.  As of 16 July 2014, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the 2014 Israeli assault against the Gaza Strip, and more than 1,400 have been injured. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Paramedics and people run at the scene where four Palestinian children were killed by Israeli military shelling at the harbor and nearby beach of Gaza City, July 16, 2014. Four children; Ahed Bakr, 10, Zakaria Bakr, 10, Mohd Bakr, 11, and Ismail Bakr, 9.; were killed during the attack. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Anyone who has been listening to Palestinian voices in Gaza in recent weeks has heard one message repeated over and over through the thunder of Israeli bombardment: No place is safe in Gaza, a bomb can fall anywhere, anytime, on anyone. And there’s nowhere to run, because you can’t leave Gaza; while in it – inside this narrow, impoverished and overpopulated strip of land – nowhere is safe.

They were named Zakariya Ahed Subahi Bakir, age 10; Ahed Atef Ahed Bakir, age 9; Ismail Muhammad Subahi Bakir, age 9; and Mohammad Ramiz Izat Bakir, age 11.

Out of the thousands of targets “attacked” morally, none of these “surgical” bombardments featured in the IDF spokesperson’s clips or the few bombardments cancelled at the last minute, nor did any of the prime minister’s pleas manage to convince Gazans that Israel wishes for their safety. Perhaps they were actually convinced by the overflowing morgues, or maybe they were thinking of the more than 177 dead children. Maybe they were thinking about the Al Batsh family and its 17 dead, or maybe about the Al Haj family and its eight dead.

After the “surgical” phase they moved onto the heavier instruments. The moral side called on the residents to leave and the immoral side told them to stay. Many chose to stay: Some presumed that it was safer at home; others were afraid to leave, perhaps caring for an elderly mother, a relative in a wheelchair or small children. Maybe they stayed because Gaza is closed from all directions – where could they run for safety?

Maybe they stayed because they heard that UNRWA’s schools were already overflowing with incoming refugees, and in any case those schools are also being shelled. Maybe they stayed because they were afraid that if they left, the democratic side’s graces would guarantee that they would have nowhere to return to. Maybe they were afraid of Hamas, maybe of the IDF. Either way, maybe they thought of the morgues. Maybe they were afraid. Of course they were. Frightened Arabs dying by the dozens don’t make for telegenic photos. The kids on the beach weren’t captured telegenically either. Morally, but not telegenically.

A relative cries over the body of one of the children killed earlier by an Israeli attack in a playground in al-Shati refugee camp, Gaza city, July 28, 2014. Reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack which took place on the first day Eid. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured more than 6,200 in the current offensive, most of them civilians (photo: Activestills)

A relative cries over the body of one of the children killed earlier by an Israeli attack in a playground in al-Shati refugee camp, Gaza City, July 28, 2014. Reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack, which took place on the first day Eid. (photo: Activestills)

Hamas most certainly intended for all this to happen; we, most certainly, did not intend for any of it. But if intent is the outcome expected of a reasonable person, then what was the intent of the person who dropped bomb after bomb on one house and then another, and buried entire families? Those families apparently weren’t persuaded to flee for their lives after the bombarding army’s courteous announcement.

Israel and Hamas both know – it is impossible not to know – that the inevitable result of the war in Gaza is devastating civilian losses there. The bloody experiences already accumulated are sufficiently horrifying to establish with confidence that this is the inevitable outcome, that any claim about the absence of intent is simply detached from reality and renders the word “intent” totally devoid of meaning.

But the main point is that it is moral, and we can move onto the next house, the next family, the next neighborhood. In Beit Hanoun, in Beit Lahia, in Jabaliya, there are another few dozen, hundred, thousand cowardly Palestinians, afraid of the democratic army for no reason at all, and who have every reason to fear the terrorists, whose morality lacks values and is undemocratic. Arabs are cowards; they shake with fear. It will of course be done morally and, in any case, whatever happens Hamas is to blame. Always. What the IDF does is moral. Always. And legal too. The main thing, once again, is that the blood that we spilled was not spilled by our hands.

Hagai El-ad is the CEO of B’Tselem.

Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call

Related:
What Israel’s ‘precision bombing’ of Gaza looks like
Catch-22: When a humanitarian ceasefire becomes a death trap
WATCH: Whole Gaza neighborhood destroyed in an hour

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Amid Gaza war, IDF buys ammunition from U.S. stock in Israel http://972mag.com/amid-gaza-war-idf-buys-ammunition-from-u-s-stock-in-israel/94723/ http://972mag.com/amid-gaza-war-idf-buys-ammunition-from-u-s-stock-in-israel/94723/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:14:53 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94723 The last time the U.S. allowed Israel to restock the IDF’s munitions from its local supply was in 2006, during the Second Lebanon War.

The U.S. approved the sale of $300 million worth of ammunition to Israel, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday. Among the ammunition Israel bought from the U.S. was “an undisclosed amount of 120 mm mortar rounds and 40 mm ammunition for grenade launchers,” ABC news reported

The interesting fact is that the sale was made from the U.S. stockpile (WRSA-I) – an emergency storage of ammunition and other military gear (including missiles and military vehicles) that the U.S. European Command has kept in a secret location in Israel since the early 90s. The storage belongs to the U.S. military, but the president can authorize a sale to Israel under special circumstances, as it did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Israel’s ability to maintain a prolonged war is a sensitive military issue, and the details of the IDF’s stockpile are kept secret. However, it is a well known fact that in some cases Israel has relied on American supplies during its wars. The most well-known example is the arial convoy sent by President Nixon in 1973.

An Israeli artillery fires a shell towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli artillery fires a shell towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel’s border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

No details of the current sale were made public in Israel after the Pentagon announcement, so it is unclear how a refusal to transfer the ammunition to the IDF would have affected Israel’s decision to continue with its Gaza operation. Israel usually uses the $3 billion in annual aid it receives from the U.S. on the purchase of weapons, since it must spend the money on U.S. products. Occasionally, the U.S. Congress also allows special aid packages during war times.

Israel announced this morning that 16,000 more reservists will be drafted, and that the IDF will receive new offensive missions in Gaza. Over 1,400 Palestinians and 55 Israelis have been killed in the war so far.

Related:
+972 Magazine’s full coverage of the war in Gaza
WATCH: Whole Gaza neighborhood destroyed in an hour
Why did Israel reject Kerry’s ceasefire proposal?

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129 Palestinians, 3 Israeli soldiers killed; U.S. approves Israeli request for ammunition http://972mag.com/129-palestinians-3-israeli-soldiers-killed-u-s-approves-israeli-request-for-ammunition/94690/ http://972mag.com/129-palestinians-3-israeli-soldiers-killed-u-s-approves-israeli-request-for-ammunition/94690/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:26:14 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94690 Wednesday saw a particularly deadly day of violence in the Gaza Strip, while diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire continued with urgency. 

According to officials at the Palestinian Health Ministry, 129 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in Gaza throughout Wednesday. Israel’s Operation Protective Edge has killed a total of 1,400 Palestinians and wounded more than 7,500. The high death toll comes after a bloody day on Tuesday, which saw more than 120 people killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Strip.

The Israeli army announced that three of its soldiers were killed on Wednesday afternoon, pushing the military death toll to 56.

Dead horses lie in the street following the overnight Israeli shelling of an UNRWA school where some 3,300 Palestinians were seeking shelter, Jabalia, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. At least 20 people were killed in the attack, which injured more than 100. So far, at least 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive. In addition, 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed, as well as three civilians in Israel (photo: Activestills)

Dead horses lie in the street following the overnight Israeli shelling of an UNRWA school where some 3,300 Palestinians were seeking shelter, Jabalia, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. At least 20 people were killed in the attack, which injured more than 100. So far, at least 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive. In addition, 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed, as well as three civilians in Israel (photo: Activestills)

In one of two major attacks in Gaza Wednesday, a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was struck overnight by what is believed to have been Israeli artillery. The attack killed at least 19 people. The school was attacked three times, UNWRA said, despite the fact that the agency had informed the army of its exact location a number of times. The White House condemned Israel’s shelling of the school.

“We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analyzed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge,” said UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness.

Just hours later, after the Israeli military unilaterally declared a partial humanitarian ceasefire, the second major attack of the day occurred. Ma’an News Agency reported that as thousands of Gazans took advantage of the temporary ceasefire to shop on the third day of the Eid holiday in a market in Shejaiya, they were targeted in an Israeli attack that left 17 people dead and 200 wounded, many seriously.

The bodies of Palestinians lie in the Al Shifa Hospital morgue in Gaza City following an attack on an UNRWA school in Jabaliya, July 30, 2014 (photo: Activestills)

The bodies of Palestinians lie in the Al Shifa Hospital morgue in Gaza City following an attack on an UNRWA school in Jabaliya, July 30, 2014 (photo: Activestills)

In a diplomatic show of force, Bolivia canceled its visa agreement with Israel and declared it a “terrorist state” in protest of the military operation in Gaza. Bolivia broke off its diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009, in protest of Operation Cast Lead. In another diplomatic move, El Salvador joined Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru in recalling its Israeli envoy over the violence in Gaza.

While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to recognize Gaza as a disaster area, UNRWA notified Israel that it would not be able to accommodate further waves of refugees if the attacks on the Strip continued. UNRWA’s Gaza-based director, Robert Turner, stated that of the 400,000 Gazans who had fled their homes, 220,000 were being housed in the agency’s schools.

According to CNN, the U.S. agreed to an Israeli request for ammunition, including 120 mm mortar rounds and 40 mm ammunition for grenade launchers.

An Israeli delegation traveled to Cairo earlier in the day to discuss with Egyptian officials the possibility of a ceasefire, while chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was set to travel to Qatar and expected to meet with Hamas political chief Khaled Mashal to discuss a possible agreement.

Related:
Will there be peace if Palestinians lay down their arms?
Gaza catch-22: When a humanitarian ceasefire becomes a death trap
Protective Edge: The disengagement undone

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Will there be peace if Palestinians lay down their arms? http://972mag.com/will-there-be-peace-if-palestinians-lay-down-their-arms/94603/ http://972mag.com/will-there-be-peace-if-palestinians-lay-down-their-arms/94603/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:36:19 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94603

The world expects millions of people in Gaza and the West Bank to happily and quietly live under occupation. While laying down arms is a positive step towards peace, it is not enough to end this conflict.

Written with Dr. Marc Gopin

In the past few weeks the pro-Israel pundits have been recycling an argument that runs as follows:

If Palestinians were to lay down their guns tomorrow, there would be no war. If Israel were to lay down its arms, there would be no Israel.

This argument is based on two false assumptions about Palestinians. The first statement is based on the false assumption that the only impediment to peace is Palestinian violence, and the second is based on the assumption that the Palestinians’ main goal is to eradicate the Jews. The argument also rests on the false premise that Israelis are completely peaceful. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish answered this argument in one of his poems.

The accusation is that I hate Jews.
It’s not comfortable that they show me as a devil
and an enemy of Israel.
I am not a lover of Israel, of course.
I have no reason to be. But I don’t hate Jews

I will continue to humanize even the enemy
The first teacher who taught me Hebrew was a Jew.
The first love affair in my life was with a Jewish girl.
The first judge who sent me to prison was a Jewish woman.
So from the beginning, I didn’t see Jews as devils or angels,
but as human beings.

Many Palestinians share Mahmoud Darwish’s opinion. They don’t hate Jews. They live, work and maintain friendships with Jews and Israelis, and have had good and bad experiences. But the argument is a cheap scare tactic. It demonizes Palestinians and equates them with Nazis. This kind of fear is counterproductive, and fuels the conflict rather than offers constructive solutions.

We – Marc and Aziz – have been working together for six years. Marc is Jewish, Aziz is Palestinian. Neither of us believes for a moment that one of us is waiting to kill the other.

Screenshot of Al Qassam Brigade video

Screenshot of Al Qassam Brigade video

On a political level, this statement is false because Palestinians in the West Bank did, in fact, lay down their weapons. Moreover, they use their weapons to protect Israel.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has recognized Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent interview with Al-Mayadeen News (Arabic) declared that the armed struggle is over and he is opposed to rockets, armed resistance and any kind of fighting against Israel. The Palestinian police are instructed to arrest anyone who plots an attack on Israel. They have been doing so for the last nine years, since Abbas took office. According to Israeli security officials, Abbas succeeded in stopping suicide bombings after taking office.

Abbas has focused on building infrastructure for a Palestinian state. He has worked for a negotiated settlement with Israel. Both former President Shimon Peres and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Abbas a true partner for peace.

Abbas was elected by Palestinians on the agenda of creating a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders next to an Israeli state. But so far he has failed in his mission. So, the assumption that when Palestinians lay down their weapons, peace will prevail is far from the truth and ignores the underlying issues of the conflict and the occupation: territorial conflict, struggle over resources, and lack of political will.

The vast majority of Palestinians supported the peace process and supported President Abbas’ UN bid for statehood on the 1967 borders, giving Israel 78 percent of the land Palestinians view as their homeland.

The U.S has also lost hope in the peace process, with its envoy Martin Indyk calling it dead. Abbas finds himself in a tough place. How can he continue to justify the existence of the Palestinian Authority? Can the political structure in the West Bank survive people’s anger and frustration? Even as Gaza is being attacked, the PLO finds itself unable to offer any solutions, and is, in many ways, irrelevant. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has no vision to offer the Palestinian people.

A protester holding a poster with Nelson Mandela's portrait, during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, December 7, 2013. The demonstration marked four years to the Popular Struggle in Nabi Saleh, while commemorating the killing of Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi by Israeli army forces, and twenty six years since the first Intifada.

A protester holding a poster with Nelson Mandela’s portrait, during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, December 7, 2013. The demonstration marked four years of the popular struggle in Nabi Saleh, while commemorating the killing of Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi by Israeli army forces, and 26 years since the First Intifada (photo: Activestills)

The irony of Israel’s argument is that Hamas is using a similar concept. Hamas’ argument goes like this: The PLO’s recognition of Israel and renouncement of armed struggle has achieved nothing. The PLO has laid down its arms, and still there is no peace. Hamas argues that its violent 2012 confrontation with Israel was able to achieve more than PLO diplomacy and negotiations have achieved. The reason Hamas is able to gain support nowadays is Abbas’ failure to achieve peace with Israel through negotiations. 

Palestinians find themselves today between a rock and hard place. They know they have no chance of winning with armed struggle. They also know that negotiations are unlikely to lead to an agreement (at least not with the current Israeli government). Even non-violent initiatives like the BDS movement and weekly village protests against the West Bank wall are quickly accused of being anti-Semitic. It is absurd that Palestinians are expected to ask Israel, “What form of protest should we stage that you find acceptable and not anti-Semitic?” Many Palestinians feel that the world is blind to their grievances and aspirations for freedom.

So, let’s set the record straight. Palestinians are not Nazis. Palestinians, like everyone else in the world, seek freedom, recognition of their national identity, and an end to the occupation. They long for peace and reconciliation, and are exhausted by this never-ending conflict and pain.

It is ridiculous for the world to expect millions of people in Gaza and the West Bank to happily and quietly live under occupation. While laying down arms is a positive step towards peace, it is not enough to end this conflict. There must be a clear vision that ends the occupation and guarantees security and freedom for all.

Marc Gopin is the James Laue Professor of World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University in Washington D.C. He is also the co-founder of MEJDI Tours.

Related:
Reward activism and diplomacy, not violence
Mandela: I was inspired by Begin’s struggle against the British
As Palestinian frustration grows, young man considers armed struggle

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COMIC: Meanwhile… http://972mag.com/comic-meanwhile/94621/ http://972mag.com/comic-meanwhile/94621/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:26:25 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94621 By Eli Valley

Eli.Valley.Dershowitz.Goldstone

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.

Previous work by Eli Valley on +972 Magazine:
Google Glass for the Gaza gaze
What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?
The hater in the sky

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Hope during wartime: A Palestinian return http://972mag.com/hope-during-wartime-a-palestinian-return/94658/ http://972mag.com/hope-during-wartime-a-palestinian-return/94658/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:25:01 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94658 The displaced former residents of Kafr Bir’im decided in the summer of 2013 to return to their village, and since then, they haven’t left. The author and his partner visited them one year later.

By Eitan Bronstein Aparicio (translated by Ami Asher)

We had to travel as far as Kafr Bir’em to find faith in these sad and desperate times, during the terrible war on Gaza. We spent an entire day with the Bir’em returnees. The last time we visited this community of internally displaced villagers was exactly one year ago, in their traditional summer camp, organized in order to educate the younger generation never to give up on their right to return to Bir’em (the village’s original residents were expelled during the 1948 War; they were promised the right to return, but were never granted permission by the military). There were scores of children, youth and adults there, singing and dancing in the open church’s court.

Far from a sultry and depressed Tel Aviv, we found determined people hanging on to hope and home against all odds. Ever since they decided to return, there wasn’t a single night they did not spend in the village – sometimes dozens of them, sometimes less – running various social activities and simply living there.

Kafr Bir'im summer camp. (photo: Eleonore Merza)

Kafr Bir’em summer camp. (photo: Eleonore Merza)

Northern Israel is relatively quiet these days, and the weather is pleasant, but the distance from the violent attack on Gaza is repeatedly erased when troubling news reaches us. “Thirty people were arrested in the antiwar demonstration in Haifa, including Saher Jeries from our village,” says my friend Nahida Zahra, one of the leading returnee activists, in a proud voice. Asil Abu-Warda shows me a picture of his arrest by an undercover policeman disguised as a Palestinian. “Is Asil also a girl’s name?” I ask and recall Asil ‘Asle, who was murdered during the October 2000 incidents while sitting and watching a Palestinian demonstration near Arabe, inside sovereign Israel. Abu-Warda seems to read my mind and tells me that ‘Asle was her classmate. “My mother would always argue with his mother on who chose the name first. I was born two months before him, so clearly my mother was first.”

We are having lunch in the shade of a tree, the tasty menu including mujaddara and vegetable salad. The dessert was a lesson for me – after a short trip among the destroyed village homes, the kids return with a bag full of tiny purple-green fruits that look like plums. Indeed, this is a type of plum called Arasia. Nahida says the trees keep growing in the village, bearing fruit every summer since 1948.

“What next?” I ask her. “Where do you want to take this activity of return?” She tells me they held a workshop with a professional facilitator and 30 village refugees, discussing that question exactly. It is now clear to them that the most urgent challenge is to recruit as many community members as activists.

Children in Bir'im eat 'Arsia,' a type of fruit native to the village. (photo: by Eitan Bronstein Aparicio)

Children in Bir’em eat ‘Arsia,’ a type of fruit native to the village. (photo: by Eitan Bronstein Aparicio)

The Israel Land Authority is working to expel them from the village once again. The cemetery, church and adjacent kitchen are beyond dispute, but any other sign that the returnees are laying claim to village property is immediately removed by the ILA. It also uses punitive measures and tactics of harassment: its inspectors have blocked the road leading from the cemetery to the church, which had been previously used to transport equipment and drive the village elders to the center of Bir’em. In addition, the regional council, which until now had approved the summer camp every year, informed the returnees this year that the Israel Land Administration [ILA] won’t allow it.

The returnees keep close contact with the internally displaced villagers from Iqrit, whose story is very similar to that of Bir’em’s. Both had obtained the High Court of Justice’s approval of their right to return, but this was subsequently denied by the IDF and later the Israeli government. The displaced persons of these two villages acted legally together for years to change this policy but finally reached the conclusion that this strategy would achieve no concrete results and decided to return without the state’s permission.

I comment that their actions are reminiscent of actions taken by Israel and individual Israelis, in that it is not completely legal. Nagham agrees. “Indeed, it is similar in a way, but we have moral law and justice on our side!” We enjoy tea seasoned with mint and za’atar grown in the garden near the church. In a recent court hearing, the ILA demanded that it be destroyed as well, but the judge refused.

The church at Kafr Bir'im. (photo: Eitan Bronstein Aparicio)

The church at Kafr Bir’em. (photo: Eitan Bronstein Aparicio)

It’s cool and windy outside, but very cozy inside the tent we’re sleeping in. The only disturbance is Hezi the rooster, named after the chief ILA inspector acting against the Bir’em returnees. He crows insistently, but slowly this becomes a background noise for a sleep deeper and longer than in recent troubling nights.

In the morning, George is already waiting for us in the kitchen with coffee. He surprises us with a poignant statement so early in the day: for him, Bir’em is both a blessing and a curse. It’s the place of his hopes, of political action and sweet grandfatherly memories. On the other hand, it is an ongoing curse that has been tormenting the internally displaced ever since 1948.

Some of the activists pitched tents where Kafr Bir'im's school used to be. (photo: Eitan Bronstein Aparicio)

Some of the activists pitched tents where Kafr Bir’em’s school used to be. (photo: Eitan Bronstein Aparicio)

While his mind wonders, somebody walks into the central courtyard and starts obsessively taking pictures. George asks who is she. She mutters, “Dvora from the ILA”. Every few days they come here to document the villagers’ activities and demonstrate their resolve to kick out the returnees. The villagers’ uncompromising struggle against Israeli authorities highlights what my partner Eleonore kept telling them, over and over again, throughout our short stay: what you are doing is so important, and so impressive!

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio is the founder of Zochrot.

Related:
On Easter, Palestinians resurrect their destroyed village
Who’s afraid of the right of return?

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Beyond protest: War and the Israeli Left http://972mag.com/beyond-protest-war-and-the-israeli-left/94656/ http://972mag.com/beyond-protest-war-and-the-israeli-left/94656/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94656 This article first appeared in Dissent Magazine.

Many Israelis who define themselves as “on the left” (about 20 percent of the population on a good day) support Operation Protective Edge. It’s a small and lonely subset that is both left wing and opposes the war. Over the last month, this little constituency has faithfully staged demonstrations of a few hundred—with last Saturday’s rally reaching somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000, by organizers’ estimates—and has written articles of protest. But the demonstrators tend to use such general slogans as “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” or “No, no, we won’t let fascism come to pass” (the latter chanted at right-wing counter-demonstrators). The anti-war left in Israel is clearly upset, but it has neither generated a coherent line of critique about the war nor formulated demands or proposals for alternate approaches other than calling for a ceasefire. Its influence, as a result, is severely limited.

There are three main reasons why it is so hard to create an effective opposition line, let alone gather supporters and momentum: the circumstances of this particular war (and the two previous rounds); the general climate of opinion in Israel; and the left’s own weaknesses, including baggage of the distant past.

Israelis protesting the Gaza war in Tel Aviv light candles to commemorate the victims. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israelis protesting the Gaza war in Tel Aviv light candles to commemorate the victims. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

First, the current circumstances make opposition very difficult, on the surface. Hamas is a miserable political regime that imposes religious fundamentalism on Gazans, stifles women, and kills collaborators. It has fired rockets at Israeli towns for over a decade and dragged Gaza into wars that were bound to kill its civilians. Not content with rockets, it has dug tunnels for terrorists targeting Israeli civilians. It is not hard to understand, in these conditions, the case for a forceful response on Israel’s part.

Unless, that is, one considers history before June 30, when the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teens were found. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already outraged by a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal made in late April that created an interim technocratic government without Hamas and called for Palestinian elections. That would have meant a more unified Palestine, something Netanyahu has worked hard to destroy. Using the abducted teens as a pretext, without providing evidence of Hamas’ involvement—an Israeli police spokesperson allegedly admitted this weekend that it wasn’t directly responsible—the prime minister ordered a sweeping West Bank operation against the organization, just as much a provocation as Hamas’s later actions. Rockets fell on southern Israel like clockwork. Before that, Gaza was under various forms of blockade for seven years. Even moderate Palestinians in Gaza would rather die now, I have had some tell me, than suffer slow suffocation. This alternate reality is rarely discussed.

Second, the Israeli climate of opinion is hostile. There has been right-wing rage and violence before: in 1983, a Peace Now demonstrator was killed; in 1995, a prime minister was assassinated. For now, extremists on the right are content to express hatred of the left, call them traitors, and call for their death, along with Arabs. There have been violent scuffles. As unpleasant as this environment is, though, the recent larger demonstration shows that it probably don’t intimidate anyone still committed enough to oppose the war.

The deeper scourge is apathy;  Israelis on the whole show little interest in either peace or Palestinians. They didn’t pay attention to the peace negotiations and they aren’t paying attention to a few thousand demonstrators against a war they believe was forced upon them. “What is, is what will be,” goes a Hebrew saying. The counter-demonstrators may even be doing the antiwar camp a favor by getting them into the paper. Meanwhile, a Channel 10 poll shows that 87 percent of Israelis prefer to continue fighting rather than accept a ceasefire—a 14-point rise from a survey conducted before the ground operation began.

 Click here for +972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

But the left itself also bears some responsibility for its weak impact. First, opposition to the war can easily appear as a knee-jerk reaction rooted in habit rather than reality. The lack of a coherent critical message feeds that image.

There are deeper problems, too. For most of its history, the left has argued that peace would bring security. In practice, that didn’t work. Israelis largely believe this conflict is symmetrical, but they reject equal Israeli and Palestinian responsibility for the failures of peace efforts. They instead blamed the aborted peace processes – Oslo and the Camp David negotiations of 2000 – for the security they never received. In recent years, they’ve ignored Palestinian Authority security cooperation and nonviolent Palestinian political tactics, and credit only the separation barrier for (relative) calm inside Israel.

The left needs to update its arguments. “Peace brings security” is inaccurate and unrealistic. Instead, the case needs to be made that a diplomatic solution is the only way to stop inevitable escalation by extremists and full-blown wars every few years. No country has eradicated violence. The question is how to contain it.

Justifiably losing patience, the left has searched for sticks, toying with boycott and international pressure—but those just reinforce the bitter accusation of betrayal among Israelis. Carrots—incentives—are a necessary alternative, but they are hard to find, since Israel has all the allies, alliances, and trade relations it wants.

Still, there are tactics that haven’t been tested: pressure from within—for example, in the form of civil disobedience—has not been widespread beyond a handful of draft refusers. Outside pressure from “our own”—imagine liberal American Jews appealing directly to their Israeli kin—is more likely to resonate with most Israelis than UN condemnations that make Israelis dig in and change nothing on the ground.

Different approaches must be found. Israel needs them—and Palestine, too.

Related:
‘No more deaths’: Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war
How can you possibly oppose this war?
Israel has alternatives to this war

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Israeli air strikes kill 120 Palestinians in single day; Hamas refuses truce without end to blockade http://972mag.com/air-strikes-kill-120-palestinians-hamas-refuses-truce-without-end-to-blockade/94628/ http://972mag.com/air-strikes-kill-120-palestinians-hamas-refuses-truce-without-end-to-blockade/94628/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:32:47 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94628 Over 120 Palestinians were killed by Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday. as both Israel and Hamas evaluated a proposed humanitarian ceasefire. A top PLO official said that Palestinian factions in Gaza had agreed to a day-long humanitarian truce, a claim that was quickly refuted by Hamas.

Israeli airstrikes also destroyed Gaza’s only power station Tuesday morning. Amnesty International condemned the strike, saying it amounted to “collective punishment of Palestinians.” The strike on the plant is liable worsen severe problems with Gaza’s water supply, sewage treatment and power supplies to medical facilities.

Meanwhile, the head of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, stated that “there won’t be a cease fire without the end of [Israeli] hostility and the lifting of the blockade.”

Deif turned to the residents of the Gaza and praised them for their “resilience.” According to Deif, Hamas “will not accept interim solutions, and Israel must know that it send its troops to hell.”

Operation Protective Edge has claimed the lives of more than 1,210 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are civilians according to the UN, and has wounded over 7,000 others. On the Israeli side, 56 people have died since the operation began, including three civilians.

Peru and Chile recalled their Israel ambassadors late Tuesday due to what they deemed the “collective punishment” of Gaza. The two follow similar decisions by Ecuador and Brazil last week.

Funeral in Bani Suhaila for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014.  The Al-Najjar family flew their homes in Khuza'a to take refuge fi-urther west.  Israeli attacks have killed 550 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. Khuza'a has been under heavy attacks and many fled their village as the Israeli army physically occupies the village. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

Funeral in Bani Suhaila for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Just hours later, the armed wing released a video showing the previous day’s infiltration into a military base in Nahal Oz, which killed five Israeli soldiers. The release of the video came just hours after an IDF unit opened fire and killed five militants who were spotted coming out of a tunnel near southern Gaza.

Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office denied claims that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that Netanyahu had requested the the U.S. move forward the humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, according to Haaretz’s Barak Ravid. According to the officials, “Kerry was the one who brought up the option of a cease-fire to Netanyahu, not the opposite.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi (Balad) was banned from Knesset plenum sessions for six months due to her controversial statements on the kidnapping of three Israeli teens last month.

Related:
Why did Israel reject Kerry’s ceasefire proposal?
Not about tunnels: Israeli tanks take aim at central Gaza
Protective Edge: The disengagement undone

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VIDEO: Hamas militants film infiltration of IDF base http://972mag.com/video-hamas-militants-film-infiltration-of-idf-base/94629/ http://972mag.com/video-hamas-militants-film-infiltration-of-idf-base/94629/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:28:01 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94629 Al Jazeera (Arabic) broadcast a video clip Tuesday night that it says was filmed by the Al Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, as it carries out a military operation yesterday (Monday) at the Nahal Oz army base on Israel’s border with Gaza.

The film shows a group of armed men, their faces hidden by black dots, emerging from a tunnel dug under the wall separating Israel from Gaza. They run over to the army base and open fire as they enter it. At one point one they surround and shoot an Israeli soldier, whose cries are audible. The militants then turn around and escape back into the tunnel. At the end, they display weapons that are clearly marked Israeli, with IDF serial numbers.

According to reports, five Israeli soldiers were killed in the Nahal Oz attack.

Warning: Graphic content

This scene of Hamas militants successfully infiltrating Israel is a huge collective fear, as Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren describes in an article for the New York Times.

Related:
WATCH: Whole Gaza neighborhood destroyed in an hour
Why do Palestinians continue to support Hamas?
Not about tunnels: Israeli tanks take aim at central Gaza

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