+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Tue, 29 Jul 2014 02:19:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Five Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza; Palestinian death toll hits 1,088 http://972mag.com/five-israeli-soldiers-killed-in-gaza-palestinian-death-toll-hits-1088/94571/ http://972mag.com/five-israeli-soldiers-killed-in-gaza-palestinian-death-toll-hits-1088/94571/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 00:20:22 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94571 As world leaders attempted to, once more, broker a humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Monday, the IDF announced that five Israeli soldiers were killed over the course of the day. Four of them were killed by mortar shell fire near the border with Gaza, while a fifth was killed in clashes with Hamas militants in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The Israeli Air Force pounded the Strip into the early hours of Tuesday morning, a day after its airstrikes killed a total of 44 Palestinians. Another 12 bodies were recovered from the rubble by medical teams earlier in the day, according to Ma’an News Agency.

A woman mourns for her young kid who was murdered during an Israeli airstrike over UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, July 24, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A woman mourns for her young child, killed by an Israeli airstrike over an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, July 24, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Ma’an also reported that 10 people were killed Monday afternoon by an Israeli air strike on a children’s playground in al-Shati refugee camp. Families had gathered to celebrate the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which ended in horror with eight children among the dead. Although Israel blamed the deaths on a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket, eyewitnesses, along with Gaza police who inspected the rubble and victims’ bodies, confirmed the strike was Israeli.

Gaza Ministry of Health Spokesman said over the last 21 days, a total of 1,088 Palestinians have been killed and 6,470 have been injured. Of the dead, 251 were children and 50 elderly, while 1,980 children and 259 elderly have been wounded.

Earlier on Monday, five Palestinian militants breached the Israeli border and opened fire at IDF soldiers near Nahal Oz on the border with Gaza. The soldiers returned fire, killing one Palestinian. According to the IDF, the other militants retreated to the tunnel shaft from which they came, and an Israeli aircraft in the area did not manage to target them.

In a press conference Monday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is prepared for a prolonged operation in Gaza, saying that “there is no war more just than the heroic one our sons are fighting in.”

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

“Bravery and determination are needed to fight a terror group which seeks our destruction,” Netanyahu stated, adding that the operation would not end before the tunnels from the Gaza Strip were neutralized.

Related:
Why did Israel reject Kerry’s ceasefire proposal?
PHOTOS: Gazans use ‘ceasefire’ to pick up the pieces

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‘Unprecedented’ violence stalks anti-war demos across Israel http://972mag.com/unprecedented-violence-stalks-anti-war-demos-across-israel/94530/ http://972mag.com/unprecedented-violence-stalks-anti-war-demos-across-israel/94530/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:24:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94530 The recent demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Haifa against the Gaza war have largely failed to reach the global media. And while the end of the bloodshed still seems far from sight, there is a different, violent confrontation being held inside Israel – one that targets Arab citizens and left-wing activists on the internet, and uses physical violence against anti-war demonstrators.

By Omer Raz

Tel Aviv, July 13

The second weekend of Operation Protective Edge saw the first bout of physical violence at Habima Square – the cultural heart of Tel Aviv. At around 8 p.m. a crowd of several hundred people gathered to protest against Operation Protective Edge, and called for a ceasefire. A second small group, comprised largely of teens and young adults draped in Israeli flags, began harassing the anti-war demonstrators, shouting slogans against their protest and accusing them of treason. The protest got tense as the right-wingers became physically violent.

A few minutes after 9 p.m., air raid sirens began blaring after Hamas shot multiple long-range rockets at Tel Aviv. The leftist protest scattered to find shelter, while the rightists chased them into dark alleys and cafes, where several leftists were beaten. Shortly after, +972’s Haggai Matar wrote the following: “When the sirens sounded into the night, only one thing was obvious to all of us: the fascists in front of us are more dangerous than the rockets on the way.”

Right-wing nationalists attacking left wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Right-wing nationalists attacking left-wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists were injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The scene was later described by the new, self-ordained nationalist leader – a long forgotten ex-rapper who goes by the name of “The Shadow” (HaTzel). He wrote the following on his Facebook profile shortly after the protest:

We started with three people against their 800, and finished with 350 of ours and zero of them. It was crazy to do it all with sirens in the background and explosions in the sky.

Haifa, July 16-17

A city with a mixed population of Jews and Arabs, Haifa is known as a bastion of Jewish-Arab coexistence. (In the past it was referred to as “Red Haifa” for its blue-collar port and industry working class politics.) Haifa has held regular Saturday night demonstrations since the beginning of the assault. The July 16 protest was organized by the Balad party and Abna’a Al-Balad – a secular Palestinian movement in Israel – and included prominent Arab political figures such as Knesset members Hanin Zoabi and Jamal Zehalka, both of whom are hated by the general non-Arabic public.

The demonstrators marched and chanted slogans through the streets of the Wadi Nisnas and the German colony neighborhoods, before violence erupted between the protesters and police forces, resulting in 40 arrests. The following day, Hadash, the Arab-Jewish socialist party, held a joint demonstration against the Gaza war as well as against the arrests. In response, leading figures of the far-right, including Kahanist activist Baruch Marzel, called on supporters to attend and “take a stand” against the anti-war demonstration.

Palestinian protesters demonstrate in front of Haifa's Baha'i Gardens against Operation Protective Edge. (photo: Activestills)

Palestinian protesters demonstrate in front of Haifa’s Baha’i Gardens against Operation Protective Edge. (photo: Activestills)

The police did not take any chances this time; helicopters hovered above Mount Carmel, police officers on horseback guarded the main entrances to the protest, and a large vehicle equipped with a water cannon was station across the road. The anti-war demonstrators numbered no more than 300, while at least 1,000 counter-protesters stood on the other side of Moriya Avenue. Police presence was heavy and kept the two sides at bay. The rightists yelled slogans such as “Go to Gaza,” “Death to Arabs,” and “Death to leftists.” Water bottles and stones were thrown at the Arabs and Jews who stood together and yelled “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Young men in their 20s roamed the main road leading to the protest. They were hooligans; we had never seen them in Haifa before. This wasn’t only hostile ground for Arabs, it was hostile to anyone who is not committed to the war effort. When the left-wing protest dispersed and buses began to load people back to their homes, the mob got out of control. They started again chasing and beating leftists, including women and elderly people. The police then used water cannons and stun grenades to disperse the rioters; at least 30 people were injured.

Tel Aviv, July 26

It took three weeks before the anti-war camp slowly materialized. After the events in Haifa, organizers put together an event to be held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square – where 400,000 people once demonstrated against the Lebanon war in the 1982. Thousands were expected. Three hours before the event, just as people from all across the country were making their way to Tel Aviv in the heavy Saturday evening traffic, the police announced that it was canceling the protest for security reasons, because was slated to coincide with the end of the humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. However, the police reversed its decision one hour later. Between 4,000 and 5,000 protesters came to Rabin Square, with hundreds on the nationalist side. The latter were supported by many passersby on the street, who shouted and harassed the leftists.

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)

The demonstration was once again heavily guarded by police, and the two sides were separated by steel fences. Speeches were made by politicians, as well as by members of Combatants for Peace (former soldiers and militant Palestinians who have since come together to renounce violence). Police dispersed the protest at 10 p.m., a full hour before it was scheduled to end. But the nationalists did not stop there. As demonstrators were leaving the square, several were accosted and attacked by right wingers, some of them wielding metal batons. At least eight people were beaten and needed medical attention, while eight nationalist protesters were detained by police.

WATCH: Anti-war demonstrators square off with right-wingers in Tel Aviv:

Omer Raz is an environmental engineering student and former editor of the student magazine editor at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa.

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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WATCH: Israeli teen refuses to serve in army, likely to face jail time http://972mag.com/watch-israeli-teen-refuses-to-serve-in-army-likely-to-face-jail-time/94538/ http://972mag.com/watch-israeli-teen-refuses-to-serve-in-army-likely-to-face-jail-time/94538/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:38:03 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94538 Dozens of supporters, including past refusers, hold demonstration outside Haifa draft board office in solidarity with 19-year-old Udi Segal.

By Moriel Rothman-Zecher and Yuval Orr

For the past month, the news in Israel/Palestine has been filled with reports of more and more people killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians. As much of Israeli society is swept up in the fever of the most recent war on Gaza, there are those voices that refuse to accept a present, or future, filled with violence, occupation, fear and hostility. One of those voices belongs to Udi Segal, a 19-year-old Israeli from Kibbutz Tuval, who was sent to jail on Monday for refusing to enlist in the Israeli military.

Watch this short video of Udi explaining his refusal to serve:

About 75 people – Jews and Palestinians – gathered in Haifa to stand with Udi. Among the crowd were Ruty and Yael Ferera, the mother and sister of Uriel Ferera, an Orthodox Jewish refusenik who has been in and out of military prison since April for refusing; Omar Saad, a young Druze refusenik who was recently released after over six months in prison; and a number of other past refusers and current signatories on the 2014 letter of conscientious objection.

Udi Segal walks in the direction of the Draft Center in Haifa, where he will refuse to enlist.

Udi Segal walks in the direction of the Draft Center in Haifa, where he will refuse to enlist.

Across the street was a small gathering of flag-draped counter-protestors. There had been calls to demonstrate against Udi’s refusal circulating on Facebook, but thanks to clever organizing (the Facebook event for Udi’s protest listed the start time at 11:00, at the Navy Museum, and then, surreptitiously, told actual supporters to meet at 12:00, near the Draft Office, five kilometers away, on the other side of Haifa), only a few showed up. Their chants touched on a number of now-familiar tropes (“Go to Gaza! You’re all traitors! Gaza is a cemetery! Go get f**ked in the a**!”) but also took on an uglier, more personal element, targeting Udi by name, branding the demonstration as his “gay coming out party,” calling him a “son of a whore” as he stood by his mother.

Omar Saad, a few months after his own release, lending support to Udi Segal.

Omar Saad, a few months after his own release, lending support to Udi Segal.

The demonstration in support of Udi was quiet and dignified, with signs declaring support for his refusal, critiquing the occupation and calling for an immediate end to the war on Gaza. One demonstrator held a sign that said “Over 800 people killed does not equal security.” When he saw me looking at the sign, he shrugged sadly and said: “I made this sign a few days ago. The death toll in Gaza is now estimated at over 1,058.

After a short gathering, Udi said his goodbyes and walked off to the draft station, where he approached the commanders with the words that have crossed the lips of thousands conscientious objectors before him: “I refuse.”

Reporting, photography, interview and editing by Yuval Orr and Moriel Rothman-Zecher. Moriel is an American-Israeli writer, activist and refusenik. He blogs independently at www.thelefternwall.com. Yuval is a American-Israeli filmmaker and activist whose first short film “Hebron is Beautiful” explores the banal absurdity of the Israeli occupation of Hebron through the eyes of a Palestinian teenager. They are both members of the All That’s Left Anti-Occupation Collective.  

 You can follow Yuval on Twitter at @YuvalOrr and Moriel at @TheLefternWall.

Related:
IDF denied draft refuser letters, access to his lawyer
‘God can’t hear you’: Orthodox draft refuser’s first night in prison
Druze conscientious objector hospitalized with liver infection

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Obama calls on Netanyahu to accept unconditional humanitarian ceasefire; 15 killed in Gaza http://972mag.com/obama-calls-on-netanyahu-to-accept-unconditional-humanitarian-ceasefire-15-killed-in-gaza/94509/ http://972mag.com/obama-calls-on-netanyahu-to-accept-unconditional-humanitarian-ceasefire-15-killed-in-gaza/94509/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:40:58 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94509 In a phone call held Sunday night, U.S. President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Netanyahu that there is a “strategic imperative” to reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire based on the one agreed to in November 2012 after the previous round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

According to Obama, the U.S. supports the Egyptian ceasefire initiative, as well as international efforts to bring about an end to hostilities, stressing that any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must include the disarmament of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians inspect damages in Abasan village, East of Khan Yunis, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan to inspect the damages together with medics who attempted to rescue injured or collect bodies.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.  (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians inspect the damage in Abasan, east of Khan Younis, July 27, 2014.  (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The call comes on the heels of a 40-hour humanitarian ceasefire that ended late Saturday night after rockets were shot from Gaza into Israel. The Israeli security cabinet voted to extend a humanitarian pause in fighting until midnight Sunday, as per the UN’s request, but insisted that the IDF continue to neutralize Gaza tunnels. A Hamas spokesman responded to the decision by stating that “Any ceasefire that doesn’t ensure that the IDF pulls out of Gaza and the evacuation of the injured is not acceptable to Hamas.” However, the organization later requested another humanitarian ceasefire, which the Israeli cabinet rejected.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to broker a ceasefire on Friday evening, although his proposal was immediately shot down by Israeli cabinet members who bashed Kerry for proposing a ceasefire which, in their eyes, served Hamas’ interests and betrayed Israel. According to Haaretz’s Barak Ravid, a top U.S. official called the reactions “extremely offensive. Mainly the charges that he betrayed our closest ally in the region – Israel.”

The official added that the draft proposal presented by Kerry to Israel was intended “for Israeli comments and input” as part of a coordinated effort by the U.S. and Israel to secure a ceasefire.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 15 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire on Saturday, and 53 others were wounded. According to Ma’an News Agency, Palestinian medics managed to recover 117 bodies on Saturday, since they had access to large areas that had previously been off-limits before the ceasefire. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 1,034 were killed and 6,233 were wounded. Forty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of the operation, and hundreds have been wounded.

Related:
PHOTOS: Gazans use ‘ceasefire’ to pick up the pieces
Why Israel won’t sign any ceasefire that’s fair
Israeli, Hamas war crimes becoming increasingly hard to distinguish

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PHOTOS: Gazans use ‘ceasefire’ to pick up the pieces http://972mag.com/photos-gazans-pick-up-the-pieces-during-ceasefire/94468/ http://972mag.com/photos-gazans-pick-up-the-pieces-during-ceasefire/94468/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:19:29 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94468 Photos and text: Anne Paq, Basel Yazouri / Activestills.org

Tens of thousands of Palestinians returned to their homes across the Gaza Strip on July 26, after a 40-hour humanitarian ceasefire was agreed to between Israel and Hamas. Over 200,000 Gazans have been displaced since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, due to Israeli airstrikes across the Strip. The ceasefire came to an end on Sunday morning after rockets exploded in Israeli territory overnight, and Israel’s refusal to agree to an extension offered by Hamas.

The airstrikes destroyed homes, UN schools and hospitals last week, leaving a trail of devastation and bodies buried underneath the rubble. In places such as Shujaiyeh, and Abasan, Gazans spent the day digging for bodies and belongings in the rubble of their former homes.

However some locations, such as Beit Hanoun and Khuza’a, were out of reach for Palestinians. The dozens of residents of Khuza’a who fled the village, were fired at when they tried to return. Some residents are still trapped under the remains of houses, cut off from the outside world.

Damage is seen inside the Al Aqsa hospital following an Israeli attack, Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza., July 27, 2014.  The direct attack, which took place on 21 July, killed at least 5 Palestinians and injured 70. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

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.
Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

 

Palestinians inspect damages of a destroyed ambulance in Shujaiyeh, a 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.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

Palestinians inspect damages to a destroyed ambulance in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood in east Gaza City during a ceasefire, July 26, 2014. During the July 26 ceasefire, many Palestinians went back to Shujaiyeh to inspect the damages, while medics attempted to rescue the wounded or collect bodies. Dozens of bodies were collected but many below the rubble, as Palestinians do not have all the necessary equipment for digging. Israeli attacks have turned the neighborhood into a scene of utter devastation, with entire buildings flattened and thousands forced to flee.

 

Damage is seen inside the Al Aqsa hospital following an Israeli attack, Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza., July 27, 2014.  The direct attack, which took place on 21 July, killed at least 5 Palestinians and injured 70. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

Damage is seen inside the Al Aqsa hospital following an Israeli attack, Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza., July 26, 2014.

 

Palestinians passed by destroyed buildings in Shujaiyeh, a 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.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

Palestinians pass by destroyed buildings in Shujaiyeh during a ceasefire, July 26, 2014.

 

Damages can been seen inside the burned home of Fares Abu Teir following Israeli attacks on Abasan village, East of Khan Yunis, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan to inspect the damages together with medics who attempted to rescue injured or collect bodies.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

The burned home of Fares Abu Teir, following an Israeli attack on Abasan village, east of Khan Yunis, July 26, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan to inspect the damage together with medics who attempted to rescue wounded or collect bodies.

 

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. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A funeral in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, July 21, 2014. The Al-Najjar family fled their homes in Khuza’a to take refuge further west. Khuza’a has been under heavy attack, with many fleeing after the Israeli army occupied the village. (Anne Paq/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. 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, July 21, 2014.

 

A woman mourns for her young kid who was murdered during an Israeli airstrike over UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, July 24, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A woman mourns for her young child who was killed by an Israeli airstrike over an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, July 24, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians inspect damages in Abasan village, East of Khan Yunis, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan to inspect the damages together with medics who attempted to rescue injured or collect bodies.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.  (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians inspect the damage in the village of Abasan, East of Khan Yunis, July 26, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

 

A huge crater is seen in place of a home which had been bombed during an Israeli attack, Bani Suheila, East of Khan Yunis, July 27, 2014. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A huge crater is seen in place of a home that was bombed during an Israeli attack, Bani Suheila, July 26, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian shows pieces of Israeli weapon in Abasan village at the entrance of another village Khuza'a, East of Khan Yunis, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan 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. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian shows pieces of an Israeli missile in Abasan, July 26, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians look for injured or dead bodies under the rubble of the home of Abu Teir family which was bombed duri,h an Israeli attack, in Abasan village, East of Khan Yunis, July 27, 2014. During the ceasefire on 26 July, many Palestinians went back to Abasan to inspect the damages together with medics who attempted to rescue injured or collect bodies.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians search for wounded or dead bodies under the rubble of the home of Abu Teir family, which was bombed during an Israeli attack on Absan, July 26, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian family had evacuated their house in Beit Hanoun after being warned by Israeli Occupation. Now the family lives in a store near to Kamal Edwan Hospital in Jabalya, July 24, 2014.  (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian family sits for a meal after evacuating their house in Beit Hanoun. The family now lives in a store near Kamal Edwan Hospital in Jabalya, July 24, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians walk through 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.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

Palestinians walk through a destroyed quarter in Shujaiyeh neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, during a ceasefire, July 26, 2014.

 

Palestinians walk out with belongings in Shujaiyeh, a 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.  Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.  (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians walk with their belongings in Shujaiyeh. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Related:
PHOTOS: Ten killed across West Bank in Gaza solidarity protests
Gaza war diary: ‘No one is safe, everyone is a target’
Israeli, Hamas war crimes becoming increasingly hard to distinguish

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PHOTOS: Ten killed across West Bank in Gaza solidarity protests http://972mag.com/photos-ten-killed-across-west-bank-in-gaza-solidarity-protests/94420/ http://972mag.com/photos-ten-killed-across-west-bank-in-gaza-solidarity-protests/94420/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 09:38:11 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94420 Photos by: Mustafa Bader, Oren Ziv, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org
Text by: Keren Manor

In the last four days, Israeli forces have killed ten Palestinians across the West Bank during protests in solidarity with Gaza. More than 600 have been wounded, and several remain in critical condition.

The biggest protest took place on Thursday night with at least 10,000 Palestinians marching from the Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah to the Qalandiya checkpoint. Israeli soldiers and border police responded with both live ammunition and rubber bullets, killing one.

Live ammunition was also used to suppress protests in Husan, Qalandiya, Beit Ummar, Al Arroub Refugee Camp, Beit Fajjar, Huwwara and Jalama checkpoint, resulting in the deaths of seven Palestinians. One Palestinian was killed Wednesday in Husan from a tear gas canister that hit his head, and another on Friday by a settler who shot live ammunition from a moving car.

Family members and friends mourn next to the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014. Al-Araj was shot with live ammunition in his head during a demonstration the night before in Qalandiya. At least other 500 Palestinians were injured from live ammunition, some of them are still under critical condition. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Family members and friends mourn next to the body of slain Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral, at the Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 25, 2014. Al-Araj was shot in the head with live ammunition during a demonstration the previous night in Qalandiya. . (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

Palestnians carry Mohammad Qasem Hamamreh, after he was injured in the head with a tear gas canister at the early morning of July 23, during clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Husan, 2014. Mohammad, 19 years old, died in the hospital the day after (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian man carries Mohammad Qasem Hamamreh after he was hit in the head with a tear gas canister during the early morning hours of July 23, in clashes with the Israeli army in the West Bank village of Husan. Mohammad, 19 years old, died in the hospital the following day. (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

 

Clashes erupted between Palestinians and the Israeli army during a demonstration in Solidarity with the Gaza Strip, at Huwwara military checkpoint, Nablus, West Bank, July 24, 2014. 3 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Clashes erupted between Palestinians and the Israeli army during a demonstration in solidarity with the Gaza Strip at the Huwwara military checkpoint, Nablus, West Bank, July 24, 2014. Three Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, Nablus, July 24, 2014. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, Nablus, July 24, 2014. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian youth burn an Israeli flag during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah,  July 24, 2014. Palestnians marched from Al Amar refugee camp to Qalandyia checkpoint to protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth burn an Israeli flag during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza at the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah, July 24, 2014. Palestnians marched from Am’ari refugee camp to the Qalandyia checkpoint. (Oren Ziv/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. (Oren Ziv/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. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

Palestinian medics treat an injured youth during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah,  July 24, 2014. Over 500 protesters were injured, many of them from live ammunition shot by the Israeli army. One Palestinian youth was killed and others are still in critical condition. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian medics treat an injured youth during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah, July 24, 2014.  (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

An injured Palestinian is being evacuated in an ambulance during clashes with the Israeli army following 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)

An injured Palestinian is evacuated in an ambulance during clashes with the Israeli army, following a demonstration against the attack on Gaza, Huwwara military checkpoint, Nablus, West Bank, July 25, 2014. A 22-year-old Palestinian was killed by the Israeli army with live ammunition and at least three others were wounded later that day. (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, 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 erupt 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. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org) 

 

Khalid Azmi Odeh, 20, was shot to death with live ammunition by an Israeli settler from a vehicle in Huwwara village. 2 others were injured from the shooting. Rafedia Hospital, Nablus, July 25, 2014. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Khalid Azmi Odeh, 20, was killed by an Israeli settler in a moving vehicle in Huwwara. Two others were also wounded in the incident the shooting, Rafedia Hospital, Nablus, July 25, 2014. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj, 17, during his funeral at the Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014. Al-Araj was shot with live ammunition in the head the night before during clashes with Israeli army following a mass demonstration against the attack on Gaza. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mourners carry the body of Mohammed al-Araj, 17, during his funeral at the Qalandiya refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014. Al-Araj was shot in the head by live ammunition the previous night during clashes with Israeli army. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

Family and friends of Mahmoud Hamamreh , 33, mourn during his funeral in the West Bank town of Husan, near Bethlehem, July 22, 2014. Mahmoud was shot in the chest with a live bullet during a protest against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip in the West Bank village of Husan earlier on Wednesday. (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Family and friends of Mahmoud Hamamreh, 33, mourn during his funeral in the West Bank town of Husan, near Bethlehem, July 22, 2014. Mahmoud was shot in the chest with a live bullet during a protest against the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip. (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

 

A protestor falls  after being injured from a live bullet while participating in a protest, supporters by Hamas, against the Israeli attack on Gaza, on July 25, 2014 in the DCO checkpoint near Ramallah, West Bank. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

A protester falls after being injured by a live bullet while participating in a protest of Hamas supporters against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 25, 2014, DCO checkpoint near Ramallah, West Bank. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

 

A member of the media holds his arm after being injured from a live bullet while covering Palestinian clashes with Israeli army, following a protest supporters by Hamas  against the Israeli attack on Gaza,on July 25, 2014, in the DCO checkpoint near Ramallah, West Bank.

A photographer holds his arm after being hit by a live bullet while covering Palestinian clashes with the Israeli army, following a protest of Hamas supporters against the Israeli attack on Gaza, DCO checkpoint, West Bank. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

 

Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers following the killing of Mahmoud Hamamreh, July 22, 2014. (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Clashes erupt between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers following the killing of Mahmoud Hamamreh, July 22, 2014. (Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Related:
‘No more deaths’: Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war
‘The largest West Bank protest in decades’

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‘No more deaths’: Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war http://972mag.com/no-more-deaths-israelis-protest-the-gaza-war/94380/ http://972mag.com/no-more-deaths-israelis-protest-the-gaza-war/94380/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 17:24:56 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94380 Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square; police let the protest go ahead after canceling it two hours before it was set to start; at least five anti-war protesters were attacked after the demonstration. 

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)

Some 5,000 Israelis on Saturday evening protested the war in Gaza under the banner, ”No more deaths – Israeli-Palestinian peace, now.” The protest took place at Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv.

+972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

Speakers included Hadash MK Dov Khenin, an Israeli and Palestinian veteran from the organization Combatants for Peace, and Yifat Solel, the head of the Meretz party’s anti-occupation forum. Meretz, however, did not back the demonstration as a party. Ben Kfir of the Parents’ Circle, whose daughter was killed in a Hamas suicide bombing in 2003, also spoke, refuting the government’s claim that there is no partner for peace among the Palestinians. The speakers criticized the government for its attitude toward peace negotiations, and for resorting to war as a default policy. Demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” called for an end to the occupation and the siege on Gaza, and lit candles to commemorate the victims.

Roughly 300 right-wing counter-protesters were on the scene trying to reach the main demonstration, audibly chanting “Death to Arabs” while Sulaiman Khatib, co-founder of Combatants for Peace, spoke. A large police presence circled the square in order to keep the sides separate. Four were arrested.

Police ended the protest at around 10 p.m., citing resumed rocket fire from Gaza, two hours before a “humanitarian” ceasefire was set to expire. Soon after the demonstration dispersed, counter-protesters began following the demonstrators home. Verbal attacks turned physically violent; one anti-war demonstrator was beaten with a metal rod and required stitches, and two were attacked with pepper spray.

Police stand between the anti-war demonstration and rightist counter-protesters, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Police stand between the anti-war demonstration and rightist counter-protesters, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Some two hours before the protest was set to begin, police canceled it over what they said was fear of a rocket attack. The permit for the demonstration was reinstated only an hour before it began – by which time busses of protesters en route for Tel Aviv had turned back.

Thousands protest the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Thousands protest the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Rightist counter-protester arrested at a demonstration against the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestill.org)

Rightist counter-protester arrested at a demonstration against the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestill.org)

Police keep rightist counter-protesters away from an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Police keep rightist counter-protesters away from an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

The invitation to the protest read:

On Saturday, the peace camp takes a stand at Rabin Square

The war is taking a heavy toll in lives and injuries on both sides, in destruction and horror, in bombings and rockets. We answer this by taking a stand and making a demand: end the war now!

We must end the war and start talking with the recognized Palestinian leadership of the West Bank and Gaza to end the occupation and the siege and to achieve independence and justice for both peoples – in Israel and Palestine.

Instead be being drawn, again and again, into more wars and more military actions, it is now time to lead the way to dialogue and political settlement. There is a political solution. What price must we pay – the people of the South and the other residents of Israel, and the people of Gaza and the West Bank – until we reach that solution?

Together, Jews and Arabs, we will overcome occupation and war, hatred, incitement and racism – and offer a path to life and hope

Related:
How can you possibly oppose this war?
Israel has alternatives to this war

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Still no ceasefire agreement as Israel rejects Kerry proposal http://972mag.com/still-no-ceasefire-agreement-as-israel-rejects-kerry-proposal/94338/ http://972mag.com/still-no-ceasefire-agreement-as-israel-rejects-kerry-proposal/94338/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:05:42 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94338 Amid intensive efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli cabinet rejected the latest U.S. proposal, yet agreed to a 12-hour suspension of fighting.

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014, after he was shot and killed the night before during clashes with the Israeli army amid a massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (photo: Activestills)

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014, after he was shot and killed the night before during clashes with the Israeli army amid a massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (photo: Activestills)

In a press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that further efforts were needed to get all parties to agree on the terms of a ceasefire agreement after Israel rejected the proposal. He added that he was confident an agreement would be reached, though more effort was needed to work through issues of terminology in the proposal.

Kerry did, however, get Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to a 12-hour pause in its military operation in Gaza. Haaretz reported that Kerry was ”working towards a brief, seven-day humanitarian ceasefire to try to create a more durable, sustainable ceasefire.”

According to Reuters, France will host an international meeting on Saturday in order to rapidly work toward a ceasefire agreement. Representatives from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, Turkey and Qatar are said to be attending the talks in Paris.

After 18 days of fighting, the bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces continued throughout Friday. The Palestinian death toll approached 850 Friday evening, with the majority of casualties being civilians.

An Israeli tank is seen before entering the Gaza Strip near Israel's border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

An Israeli tank is seen before entering the Gaza Strip near Israel’s border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Israel announced the death of another soldier, bringing the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in Operation Protective Edge to 35. 

The army determined that Sgt. Oron Shaul, who was previously considered missing, was in fact killed in the Shejaiyah assault on Sunday. Six other Golani troops were also killed in that attack. Hamas had said that Shaul was captured in action.

Despite ongoing ceasefire talks, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon reportedly told soldiers to be prepared for the possibility that the army will be ordered to expand its Gaza ground operation “very soon.”

According to Haaretz, Hamas militants attempted to kidnap an Israeli soldier by dragging him into a tunnel. The army responded by shelling the area of the tunnel, allowing the soldier to escape.

While in the West Bank tension engulfed the territory. Maan reported that seven Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in the last 24 hours amid solidarity protests with those in Gaza. An 18-year-old Palestinian reportedly killed when an Israeli settler drove by and opened fire at a protest march.

Air France announced it would lift its ban on flights to Israel late Friday after it halted flights earlier this week amid security concerns.

Related:
Israel has alternatives to this war
‘The largest West Bank protest in years’
What does Israeli ‘acceptance’ of ceasefire really mean?

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Israeli, Hamas war crimes becoming increasingly hard to distinguish http://972mag.com/israeli-hamas-war-crimes-becoming-increasingly-hard-to-distinguish/94299/ http://972mag.com/israeli-hamas-war-crimes-becoming-increasingly-hard-to-distinguish/94299/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:35:42 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94299 Both sides are guilty of violating international law but the source of an attack on a Gaza UN school could be a game changer.

By Lolita Brayman

An attack on a United Nations-run facility in northern Gaza sheltering displaced Palestinians left at least 15 civilians killed and many more wounded on Thursday morning, reports indicate. Israel and Hamas are pointing fingers and negating responsibility for the deadly incident, the circumstances of which remain unclear but are significant in light of the UN Human Rights Council’s recent launch of a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes.

The Israeli army is investigating the source of the hit, while UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and admitted in an official statement that the circumstances remain unclear. Israel denied intentionally targeting the school belonging to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is located in the densely populated northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, but did say that it fired mortars in the area after the army was shot at from a source nearby.

Both the Israeli army and UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness confirmed that Hamas rockets were being fired near the UNRWA school, and that sometimes Hamas rockets fall short of their intended Israeli targets. It is also confirmed that the exact location of the UNRWA shelter was known to the Israeli army and that several rockets fell in Beit Hanoun that same day. The army spokesperson also tweeted that the Red Cross was told to evacuate civilians from the UNRWA shelter between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as they were planning on targeting nearby Hamas rocket launchers. Gunness confirmed via his Twitter account that the precise coordinates of the school were formally given to the army.

Chris Gunness tweet_UNRWA

IDF tweet_UNRWA

The source of the attack seems to be one of the following possible scenarios: 1) A Hamas rocket was launched from Beit Hanoun aimed at Israel and fell short of its target, landing on the UNRWA school; 2) the Israeli army targeted the Hamas rocket launchers in Beit Hanoun and accidentally hit the shelter; or 3) Israeli forces responding to Hamas militant fire shelled the school accidentally by targeting the source of the fire.

In a rather ambiguous tweet, Gunness wrote: “UNRWA tried to coordinate with the Israeli army a window for civilians to leave and it was never granted.” This is vague because it is unclear whether the Israeli army or Hamas refused to grant the opportunity for civilians to evacuate – a very pivotal factor in determining which side would be liable for the violation of international law that resulted in a large number of civilian casualties.

If a Hamas rocket is found to be the cause of this latest tragedy, Hamas could be found liable for crimes against humanity under international humanitarian law and customary international law. By intentionally targeting Israeli civilians with rockets, Hamas is in violation of the strict law of war standard, whereby only military objectives are permitted as military targets. The mens rea (guilty mind) intent is not negated even though their target was not the victim – the Geneva Conventions distinguish civilians from combatants but not civilians from civilians.

If the Israeli army is found to be responsible for the deadly attack due to an accident while targeting a rocket launcher, it would not be in violation of targeting civilians because the mark was clearly a legitimate military objective. However, Israel’s precision would come into question and the issue of proportionality must then be addressed as a principle of international customary law. Attacks seen as excessive in relation to concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated are considered unlawful.

Palestinians prepare the body of a baby in Kamal Edwan Hospital's morgue after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school killed at least 17 people, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people at the time (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

Palestinians prepare the body of a baby in Kamal Edwan Hospital’s morgue after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school killed at least 17 people, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people at the time (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

The UN facility itself might be considered a legitimate military target since UNRWA schools have recently housed military objectives: On two separate occasions since the start of Operation Protective Edge, UN aid workers discovered a cache of weapons in UNRWA facilities and returned them to Gaza authorities. However, the Israeli army would not necessarily be absolved of responsibility for the civilians’ deaths even if it was found that proper evacuation procedures and warnings were effectively communicated. In international courts, Israel would still have to prove that the targeted buildings were making an effective contribution to Hamas’ military effort at the time it was attacked.

A similar legal analysis of proportionality would have to be assessed if the source was found to be Israeli artillery fire in response to Hamas militant fire.

It is indisputable that Hamas militants operate in urban and residential areas of the Strip, but whether they are guilty of using human shields is an extremely contested debate. It can be concluded from the Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol I, and the Statute of the International Criminal court that a co-location of civilians and military objectives can amount to the use of human shields. Moreover, historic examples of this war crime have been cases where persons were actually taken to military objectives in order to shield them from attacks. Since UNRWA schools previously had hidden military objectives on their premises and then sheltered civilians in these buildings, the attack resembles – from a legal perspective – the use of human shields; however, more evidence would be needed to make this argument.

The tragic UNRWA hit comes a day after the UNHRC condemned Israel for its military operation and issued a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes. The 49-member council backed the Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes, with the U.S. being the only state to vote against the resolution. Although the condemnation is a far cry from actual UN judicial action – the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly threatened to seek redress from the International Criminal Court (ICC) – it places a significantly harsh international spotlight on Israel and delegitimizes military action in Gaza.

A Palestinian girl cries after 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. Israeli attacks have killed 788 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive, most of them civilians. (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

A Palestinian girl cries after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school, as people 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. (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

It is a little-known fact that international law is an ever-evolving field dependent on state actors, who sometimes take advantage of the law’s ambiguity in interpretation. The authenticity of seeking justice via UN courts should be questioned, because the threat alone can be manipulated into a political tool to delegitimize instead of persecute. The ICC in particular has limited authority in imposing international law convictions because many countries, including the U.S., China and Russia, are hesitant to become signatories; however, the court does influence policy making and what conflicts are worthy of media attention. In the Palestinian case, acceding to the Rome Statute – a necessary step for ICC action – would also open the Palestinian Authority to persecution for Hamas’ war crimes. This is a potentially disastrous move for the newly established and unstable Palestinian unity agreement.

International law and the media have a hard time distinguishing between legality and legitimacy. In a recent INSS report, Pnina Sharvit Baruch, a former legal advisor for the Israeli army, explained: “Issues touching on the legality of Israel’s actions are not synonymous with issues concerning the legitimacy of these actions in the international arena, and legal actions may still be deemed illegitimate.” The UNHRC commission is an example of this difference: Israel’s legitimacy was questioned, no actual judicial action was proscribed, and the very next day both sides violated international law, resulting in more casualties.

At the end of the day, international law might just be adding more fuel to the fire and feeding the media frenzy by blurring the lines between legality and legitimization, and Hamas and Israeli war crimes. The debate over fault in the UNRWA attack will hopefully draw attention to the political consequences of UN condemnations and its shortcomings in creating a facilitative environment for a ceasefire to materialize.

Lolita Brayman is a lawyer and former editor at Haaretz.com with an M.A. in conflict resolution and mediation from Tel Aviv University. Follow her on Twitter at @lolzlita

Related:
AP: UN shelter shelled; more than 140,000 displaced
Palestinian human rights leader: ‘Cast Lead was a joke compared to this’
Gaza ground invasion: Shedding the pretense of ‘precision’

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‘The largest West Bank protest in decades’ http://972mag.com/the-largest-west-bank-protest-in-decades/94280/ http://972mag.com/the-largest-west-bank-protest-in-decades/94280/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:56:21 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=94280 Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem march in solidarity with Gaza, in the largest such protest in years. At least two were killed. 

Thousands of Palestinians marches from Ramallah to Qalandiya Checkpoint and in East Jerusalem where they clashed with Israeli forces in protest of Israel's attacks on Gaza. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint in East Jerusalem, where they clashed with Israeli forces. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

At least two protesters were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem late Thursday night, as thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protest, against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, was the largest the West Bank has seen in years – according to some Palestinian demonstrators, the largest in decades. As of Thursday night, 805 Palestinians  had been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its offensive on July 8. 

The West Bank march quickly spread to East Jerusalem, where police were said to be clashing with protesters in the Old City, Silwan, and other neighborhoods. Protests were also reported in Nablus and Bethlehem.

 

According to Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, Palestinian ambulances, blaring their horns, were streaming in the opposite direction of the march, evacuating protesters wounded by Israeli fire at the checkpoint.

The West Bank protest came during Laylat al-Qadr, the 27th night of Ramadan and  the holiest night of the year for Muslims. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel Police Micky Rosenfeld said that hundreds of officers would be stationed around the Old City during Friday prayers, and that no Arabs under 50 would be permitted to enter Damascus Gate.

 

 

Earlier Thursday, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshaal said Hamas was prepared to sign a ceasefire agreement with Israel, as long as Israel’s siege of Gaza is lifted. In comments made from Qatar, Meshaal underlined that he also wants Gaza’s border with Egypt to be opened.

“We want an international airport, we want a seaport, we want an opening to the outside world, and not the situation where we are controlled by a few border crossings that turn Gaza into a huge prison, where no one can leave even for medical treatment or to work […] When we get a clearly worded drafting that guarantees these things, and the international community gives its backing to this draft – than the fire can be stopped, even today,” said Meshaal.

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented a proposal for a ceasefire on Thursday, Israel indicated it could broaden its offensive. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Thursday that Israel had established a 3-kilometer-wide “no-go” zone along its border with the Gaza Strip, encompassing 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

Also Thursday, an Israel military spokesman said in a statement that the army was investigating the matter of the deadly strike on the UN-run school in Beit Hanoun, where many Gazans had sought refuge from Israeli shelling on residential areas. Israel maintained that Hamas militants fired at soldiers from the school, but Palestinians say the school was occupied by civilians fleeing the violence.

A Gaza spokesman for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, said they had received no warning before Israeli forces shelled the Beit Hanoun school that was serving as a shelter. The attack killed at least 17 and wounded more than 200 of the displaced civilians who had taken shelter there.

Related:
AP: UN shelter shelled; more than 140,000 displaced

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