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On the 17th day of Israel’s operation in Gaza efforts to achieve a ceasefire have intensified, as the international community continues to condemn Israel’s use of force. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, presently in Cairo, said ceasefire talks have made some progress.

Brazil recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest of what it called “disproportionate use of force by Israel.” Brazil’s decision follows Ecuador’s move to recall its envoy to Israel yesterday.

As diplomatic efforts intensified, the death toll in Gaza surpassed 700 to reach at least 734. Maan reported that 37 people were killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza Thursday morning, 10 of them members of one family.

A total of 150 Palestinian militants were arrested in the Gazan cities of Rafah and Khan Younis overnight Wednesday. Half the detainees were released, while the rest were transferred to Israel for interrogation.

An Israeli artillery unit fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position on Israel-Gaza border, on July 21, 2014.<span class="s1"> Israeli attacks have killed 550 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli artillery unit fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position on Israel-Gaza border, on July 21, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

After a night in which only one rocket was fire from Gaza into Israel, rocket sirens were heard throughout central Israel Thursday morning, including Tel Aviv.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on U.S. airlines flying in and out of Israel after the Israelis gave security assurances. El Al reported a 150% fare increase after many European airlines cancelled service to Tel Aviv.

As the 16th day of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came to a close Wednesday evening, there was still no sign of an impending ceasefire. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel Wednesday evening after a brief visit to push for a ceasefire in meetings with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

During Wednesday’s fighting three Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, bringing the total number of military fatalities to 32. A Thai agricultural worker was also killed Wednesday when a mortar shell hit a green house he was working in at the time, bringing the total number of Israeli civilians killed in the fighting to three.

Palestinian medical officials reported that 73 people were killed throughout Wednesday in Gaza, mainly in the south of the Strip, putting the total death toll at 695, among them 166 children and 67 women.

A child of Diab Bakr is seen amidst the rubble of his home which was destroyed last night by Israeli missiles, in As-Shati refugee camp, Gaza city, July 22, 2014. Another home from the extended Bakr family was also destroyed and another one damaged. Hassan Khader Bakr, was killed during the attack in the street. Their cousins, Bakr family who live in the same area, lost four children, Ahed (10), Zacharia (10), Mohamed (9) after they were targeted by two Israeli missiles while playing at the beach on 16 July, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A child of Diab Bakr is seen amidst the rubble of her home, which was destroyed last night by Israeli missiles, in As-Shati refugee camp, Gaza city, July 22, 2014. Another home from the extended Bakr family was also destroyed and one other damaged. Hassan Khader Bakr, was killed during the attack in the street. Their cousins, Bakr family who live in the same area, lost four children, Ahed (10), Zacharia (10) and Mohamed (9) after they were targeted by two Israeli missiles while playing at the beach on July, 16 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration decided to extend its flight ban to and from Israel for a further 24 hours. Ovda military airport in southern Israel was subsequently opened for traffic diverted from Ben Gurion Airport.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants was briefly suspended in a number of areas of Gaza to allow ambulances access to retrieve the wounded.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva took a decision to form an international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Twenty-nine nations voted in favor of creating the mission, one member-state – the U.S. – voted against it, and 17 abstained.

The Israeli army stated that it had reached the end of the current stage of its military operation to locate and destroy tunnels from Gaza into Israel, and the Israeli security cabinet was meeting Wednesday night to discuss the direction its military operation would take.

Related:
Quasi-BDS: The suffocation of Israel by flight ‘suspension’ may have big effect
‘Finish the job’
The ‘terror tunnels’: Another Israeli self-fulfilling prophecy

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Fighting continues in Gaza, as rocket sirens were heard in several Israeli cities Wednesday morning. According to reporters in Gaza, heavy clashes consumed the southern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian death toll now stands at about 630, with a total of 31 Israelis killed.

Haaretz reported that the Israeli army attacked 20 Gaza “terror targets” overnight, with 20 Palestinian fighters killed in 24 hours. The army also confirmed that two Israeli soldiers were killed in overnight fighting in Gaza, bringing the total number of soldiers killed since Operation Protective Edge to 29.

The names of 132 Palestinian children killed until July 21 in Operation Protective Edge has been published by the Telegraph. Two more children were reportedly killed Wednesday morning.

Residents of Hashem building are evacuating their apartments after the building was heavily damaged because of an Israeli airstrike over AL-Sabbra neighborhood. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Residents of Hashem building are evacuating their apartments after the building was heavily damaged because of an Israeli airstrike over AL-Sabbra neighborhood. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

According to the National’s Middle East correspondent currently in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Government Press Office sent out a notice this morning telling journalists that entry and exit from Gaza was suspended until further notice.

In a possible sign of regional diplomatic movement on a ceasefire, Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani flew to Saudi Arabia late Tuesday in a surprise visit. The emir met with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and reportedly discussed Gaza ceasefire efforts.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel Wednesday morning to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In a UN Human Rights Council meeting Wednesday morning, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that there is a strong possibility that Israel is violating the law and possibly committing war crimes.

Related:
‘Finish the job’
Contemplating Jehad
What does Israeli ‘acceptance’ of ceasefire really mean?

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A Hebron-based Palestinian media outlet called Marah FM posted the following clip on its Facebook page today.

According to the description, it shows a Palestinian family trying to escape from Shuja’iyah, a neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, during the intense bombardment that began Saturday night, and which has so far killed at least 66 people.

The clip is four minutes long and conveys with raw, immediate intensity the terror of running through streets under bombardment, clutching children and bundles of belonging as ordnance lands with deafening crashes and booms, creating huge dust clouds that make it almost impossible to see. One explosion follows another, while the adult men and women yell in a panic and pray while the children scream for their mother.

And this is what the residents of Shuja’iyah – most of Gaza, in fact – have been living with, day and night, for more than two weeks.

 

The Federal Aviation Administration suspended all U.S. flights to and from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport “for a period of up to 24 hours,” starting on Tuesday evening. The announcement came in the wake of a rocket attack on the town of Yehud, located just several miles from the airport. The rocket, which hit a home, is the first direct hit in central Israel. Delta Airlines issued a separate statement announcing they would suspend all their flights indefinitely.

Several European airlines have also suspended their flights to and from Israel on Tuesday evening. Air France suspended flights indefinitely, while KLM, Lufthansa, Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss Air suspended all flights for the next 36 hours.

According to sources in the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene to resume U.S. flights to Israel. The State Department responded to the prime minister’s request, stating:

 The FAA’s notice was issued to protect American citizens and American carriers. The only consideration in issuing the notice was the safety and security of our citizens.

In Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians were killed on Tuesday as Israel’s military assault entered its 15th day, according to Ma’an News Agency. The total death toll now stands at over 600 people since July 8. Since the offensive began, more than 100,000 Gazans have fled their homes, seeking shelter in 69 schools run by the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

Majed Qasem Al-Jammal, 22 years, was injured when an Israeli F16 targeted the cemetery of St.Porphyrius church. The church has opened it's doors for the people who were forced to evacuate their houses because of the Israeli attacks over their neighborhood. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Majed Qasem Al-Jammal, 22 years, was injured when an Israeli F16 targeted the cemetery of St.Porphyrius church. The church has opened it’s doors for the people who were forced to evacuate their houses because of the Israeli attacks over their neighborhood. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Early Tuesday, the Israeli army announced that two of its troops had been killed in clashes a day earlier, raising Monday’s toll to nine soldiers.

The army also claimed that the remains of one of 13 soldiers killed in Gaza on Sunday had yet to be identified, indicating that all or part of the body was missing. The announcement came two days after Hamas announced  it had captured a soldier.

Furthermore, according to Haaretz, 67 rockets and mortar shells landed in Israeli territory, while 18 rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome.

Related:
PHOTOS: A Gaza funeral for 26 members of one family
Mourning death wherever it strikes
Why Palestinians continue to support Hamas

 

At the time of writing, the following airlines have decided to halt flights to and from Israel’s Ben Gurion airport: Air France, Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, KLM, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, German Wings – and all American airlines were instructed by the FAA to discontinue service.

BDS activists around the world have been saying for years that nothing will change in Israel/Palestine until Israelis start feeling the pinch in their pockets. This is the first time that Ben Gurion has been closed since the Gulf War in 1991.

It just may happen that we are witnessing right now an unexpected and unintentional form of BDS. The fact that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Israelis will be forced to cancel their summer vacations abroad, that businesspersons will find it more difficult to come and leave Israel and so on – may have the exact affect that BDS activists have been wishing to instill upon Israel for decades.

Israeli media does not seem to make such a big deal of the issue, so far. Neither has international media.

But if more airlines “join” and if it goes on for much longer – this is definitely a game changer.

It will be interesting to see how Israelis react to this “closure.” And if their reaction will influence the decision making process of their leaders.

Particularly when troops are on the ground in Gaza.

Firas Khatib, the regional correspondent for BBC Arabic, was attacked today live on air as he was reporting from the Israeli side of the Gaza border. The attacker can be heared murmuring “ya ben sharmuta” (“son of a whore”) as he pushes Khatib off the screen before being restrained by a third man.

While the attack itself is not severe, it is quite indicative of the popular mood in Israel today – which is ugly, to say the least. A CNN correspondent was attacked in the same area just days before, when she came to film the infamous “Cinema Sderot” – a hill from which Sderot residents, themselves jaded from a decade of bombardment by makeshift rockets from Gaza, come to watch Gaza getting (much more lethally) bombed “in return.” To add insult to injury, she was redeployed to Moscow for supplementing her account of the incident with the word “scum” – a pretty understandable addition, you would think.

This growing intolerance to media is happening against a backdrop of constantly intensifying grassroots violence towards Arabic speakers – built up by decades of systemic, normalized racism, triggered by the killing of the three Israeli teens last month, and now sustained (rather than replaced, as some initially thought) by the war. Palestinian citizens of Israel had their vehicles torched, were beaten up, thrown off public transport and summarily fired; Dror Feuller of evening financial daily Globes has a bleak account here (Hebrew). All this was provoked by no worse a crime on part of the victims than walking around while Arab – in many cases it was the Arabic they spoke that first attracted the assailants.

Between speaking Arabic and being a journalist, al-Khatib didn’t stand much of a chance this week in “the only democracy.”

Should do wonders for Israeli public diplomacy efforts.

Related:
PHOTOS: A Gaza funeral for 26 members of one family
Mourning death wherever it strikes
Why Palestinians continue to support Hamas

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On Sunday evening the IDF dropped a bomb in what appears to have been an attempt to kill a Hamas operative, Ahmad Sahmoud.

If so, it succeeded.

But it also succeeded in killing everyone else who was in the building.

25 other people.

Just a few days ago, the IDF was bragging on how it called off a strike because two children were seen next to the target.

Apparently, the Abu Jame’ children didn’t have the same luck.

Some people out there have the audacity to say it was a mistake. That would be believable if the Hamas militant hadn’t been there.

He was there.

A decision was apparently made. That he should be taken out, no matter what the collateral damage is.

So, do me a favor: Read aloud the names of the Abu Jame’ family (below).

Each one.

And then – tell me this isn’t a war crime.

jame

Graphic provided by B’Tselem.

Related:
PHOTOS: A Gaza funeral for 26 members of one family
Mourning death wherever it strikes
Why Palestinians continue to support Hamas

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Dov Lior, a racist Israeli rabbi from the West Bank settlement Kiryat Arba, recently posted a Halakhic ruling allowing to kill innocent civilians, after being asked about the “war” (it’s a massacre) in Gaza.

Here are a few lines from the ruling (pictured below):

“The Torah of Israel guides us in all walks of life, private and public, on how to behave during war and also how to keep moral standards.

The Maharal from Prague (Rabbi Judah Loew – A.K.), in his book Gur Arye, clearly writes that… in all wars the attacked people are allowed to attack fiercely the people from whom the attackers came from and they do not have to check if he personally belongs to the fighters.

Therefore, during war the attacked people are allowed to punish the enemy population in any punishment it finds worthy, such as denying supplies or electricity and also to bomb the whole area according to the discretion of the army minister and not to just simply endanger soldier’s lives but to take crushing deterrence steps to exterminate the enemy.

In the case of Gaza, the Minister of Defense will be allowed to instruct even the destruction of Gaza so that the south will no longer suffer and to avoid harm to our people who have been suffering for so long from the surrounding enemies.”

Any kind of talk about humanism and consideration are moot when speaking of saving our brothers in the south and in the rest of the country and bringing back quiet to our country.”

dovlior

Related:
PHOTOS: A Gaza funeral for 26 members of one family
The ‘terror tunnels’: Another Israeli self-fulfilling prophecy
Mourning death wherever it strikes

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Israeli artillery shelling and airstrikes across the Gaza Strip killed 103 Palestinians, 34 of whom were children and according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Seven Israeli soldiers and officers were also killed in clashes in Gaza in last 24 hours, according to the IDF Spokesperson, raising the soldier death toll to 25 since the start of the operation.

Mass displacement continued across the Strip Monday, with over 100,000 Palestinians  seeking shelter in UNRWA schools, while tens of thousands have taken refuge elsewhere in Gaza.

Bodies of the members of the Abu Jamea family await burial.

Bodies of the members of the Abu Jamea family await burial.

A Palestinian protester was killed by IDF soldiers in the central West Bank. Haaretz reported that Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails and burning tires at troops stationed at a junction. IDF troops who were attempting to arrest one of the rioters opened fire. The protester was critically wounded died in hospital.

An Israeli was also severely wounded in shooting attack in the West Bank, according to Haaretz. The 25-year-old man was found near the Rachelim Junction by IDF soldiers. The assailants fled the scene, and IDF forces are sweeping the area.

Funeral of Israeli soldier Banaya Rubel, Holon, Israel.  Rubel was killed during clashes in Gaza. (photo: Activestills.org)

Funeral of Israeli soldier Banaya Rubel, Holon, Israel. Rubel was killed during clashes in Gaza. (photo: Activestills.org)

In an address at the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama stated the U.S. is seriously concerned over the rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties, as well as over the loss of life on the Israeli side, and instructed instructed secretary of state John Kerry to push for an immediate ceasefire. Meanwhile, the Department of State issued a new travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while Secretary of State John Kerry announced a $47 million aid package for Gaza amid growing conflict in the region.

Related:
The ‘terror tunnels’: Another Israeli self-fulfilling prophecy
‘Cast Lead was a joke compared to this’
Mourning death wherever it strikes

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A video making the rounds on social media shows a Palestinian man getting shot and killed by a sniper while he is searching for lost relatives in the rubble of his Shuja’iyah home. Shuja’iyah has been under intense Israeli bombardment for more than a day, with harrowing stories and images reported by the international media. Journalists have reported seeing bodies strewn on the street, often entire families —parents and children—shot down as they were running away.

In this particular video, a Palestinian man accompanies a group of rescue volunteers back to the neighborhood during a lull in the bombardment. He is looking for his family, which has not been heard from since the intense bombardment of the neighborhood, located in eastern Gaza City, began on Saturday. At first he stands against a wall on the street, calling out their names. But when there is no response he scrambles on to the pile of rubble that used to be his home. At that point there is a shot that makes them pause, followed by silence. Then, just as one of the female volunteers says, “I’m scared,” there is the sudden crack of another shot and the young man flops down, wounded but not dead.

The man is still alive, moving his arms and murmuring the Shihada, the Muslim affirmation of faith (“there is no God but God,” similar to the Jewish Shema or “Hear O Israel”), when the sniper shoots him once more. And then again. In the background, one can hear the foreign volunteers shouting into a mobile phone, “But what the fuck should we do? They’re going to shoot us all if we move.”

UPDATE: The New York Times reports that the dead man’s name is Salem Khaleel Shamaly. He was 23 years old. His family—which, unbeknownst to him, had evacuated the area and were staying with a relative—learned of his death when they saw the video on television. He was their only son.

It’s almost unbearable to watch. What’s going on in Gaza right now is just pure barbarism. Shelling hospitals, shooting at ambulances and killing the drivers, shooting journalists, shooting at children playing soccer on the beach or feeding birds on a roof — and deliberately murdering a young man as he scrambles in the rubble of his home to find surviving relatives.

Related:
Palestinian human rights leader: ‘Cast Lead was a joke compared to this’
PHOTOS: Scenes of devastation from deadliest day in Gaza
WATCH: Dozens of bodies strewn in the streets of Gaza
Gaza war diary: ‘A second of silence, then the bombs go off’

Israeli air strikes killed 38 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip Sunday night, 29 of them from the Abu-Jamia family in Khan Younis, as Operation Protective Edge entered its 14th day. The family together lived in an eight-story building in the city. Eleven members of the Siyam family were also killed by an air strike in Rafah; many of the dead in both strikes were children. Three others were killed in ongoing fighting in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City.

Palestinian medics worked throughout the morning to remove the bodies. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Palestinian death toll has reached 508, with over 3,100 wounded.

Two militant cells infiltrated near Kibbutz Nir Am in Israel’s south through a tunnel from Gaza early Monday. Israeli forces opened fire and killed about 10 of the militants. According to Haaretz, casualties were reported among IDF troops after they were hit by an anti-tank missile. Roads were closed and residents ordered to remain indoors until just after 10 a.m.

Hospital workers tend to dead bodies at Shifa Hospital, July 20, 2014 (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Hospital workers tend to dead bodies at Shifa Hospital, July 20, 2014 (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Haaretz also reported that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke to Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah over the telephone, and praised their resistance against Israel. Nasrallah said that his organization was prepared to assist them in their struggle.

At the request of Egypt, the UN Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session on the war in Gaza this Wednesday. The request was backed by  16 member states of the 47-member forum, including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, the UN said.

Palestinian citizens of Israel declared a day of mourning and a general strike Monday. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman took to Facebook to call on Israelis not to do business with shops that close down for the day.

Related:
Palestinian human rights leader: ‘Cast Lead was a joke compared to this’
PHOTOS: Scenes of devastation from deadliest day in Gaza
WATCH: Dozens of bodies strewn in the streets of Gaza
Gaza war diary: ‘A second of silence, then the bombs go off’

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Dr. Mordechai Keidar, a lecturer on Arabic literature at Bar Ilan University, is well known for his right wing views. Yet today in an interview [Heb] to the Israeli Broadcasting authority given after the finding of the three bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah (July 1, 2014), he showed what he believes to be the truth about “Middle Eastern culture.”

Keidar: “A terrorist, like those who kidnapped the boys and killed them, the only thing that will deter them, is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught. What can we do? This is the culture that we live in –“

Interviewer, Yossi Hadar: “—Yes, this sounds bad, but…”

Keidar: “It sounds very bad, but this is a lesson. This is the Middle East. Only the knowledge that –

Hadar: “Well, we can’t do things like this –“

Keidar: “I’m telling you, I’m talking about them, I’m not talking about what we can do or not do. I’m telling you what they live in. This is the only thing that deters a suicide bomber. If he knows that when he pulls the trigger, or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s it. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, to keep the honor of his sister. This is the culture of the Middle East. I didn’t create it, but this is the situation.”

It’s important to point out that Kedar is the chairman of Israel Academia Monitor, a watchdog group that tries to blacklist post and anti-Zionist academics in Israel who speak out against government policies or the state.

UPDATE: Bar Ilan University gave the following response to Haaretz:

Dr. Kedar did not call and does not call to fight terror with anything but legal and moral means. Dr. Kedar wished to stress that there are no means to deter suicide bombers, and used the example of rape as an exaggeration. To remove any doubt whatsoever, there is no recommendation, God forbid, in Dr. Kedar’s words to do these horrific things. The purpose was to define the culture of death of the terrorist organizations. Dr. Kedar illustrated in his words the bitter reality of the Middle East and the inability of a modern and law abiding country to fight terror of suicide bombers.

Related:
State council seeks to shut down ‘leftist’ department at BGU
The night it became dangerous to demonstrate in Tel Aviv

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