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129 Palestinians, 3 Israeli soldiers killed; U.S. approves Israeli request for ammunition

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.

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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    1. Reza Lustig

      I suggest somebody take up a collection to buy MANPADS for the Gazans, for the sake of saving civilian lives (and to even the odds). We’ll see how eager Israelis are to “finish the job” if they know the next pilot on his way to bomb somebody’s kids’ soccer game will get a stinger missile up the arse for his trouble.

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        In reality, though, I’d prefer that responsibility be given to an international peacekeeping force. That way, downed pilots are given humane treatment, and the MANPADS are in the hands of forces that won’t abuse their capabilities.

        Reply to Comment
        • Whiplash

          Lustig wants to give Manpads to an international force to protect Hamas and their capabilities to carry out terrorist attacks and kill Israelis.

          We have seen how the international force in Lebanon has allowed Hezbollah to operate freely over Southern Lebanon and acquire over 100,000 missiles to use against Israel in the last and next Lebanese conflict.

          Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        Such a nice sentiment. Give the terrorists better weapons to protect the terrorists and their capabilities to better kill Israelis.

        The Russians actually did this in 1967 and 1973. The Russians armed Syria and Egypt with modern arms and missile systems. The United States armed Jordan with American tanks. In both wars Israel over came the Russian equipment and crushed the Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians. In 1973 Israel lost many pilots and planes in the initial stages of the war. But the Israelis kept coming because they were defending their homes and country as they are doing now.

        Reply to Comment
    2. While I was driving to work today I suddenly had a flash of understanding about the war in Gaza.
      There are two central concepts that Israelis have about the war in Gaza:
      (a) That the IDF is the most moral army in the world is proved by such actions as notifying civilians to leave their homes and neighborhoods before they will be destroyed.
      (b) Hamas is fundamentally despicable and deadly to its own people since it hides its weapons inside civilian buildings such homes, schools, hospitals and mosques.
      Let’s analyze these two concepts by taking a quick look at one of the most potent symbols of Israel as a home for the Jews. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising is a potent symbol of the heroic struggle of the Jews to fight back against the Nazi war machine bent upon destroying European Jewry to the last living soul. Even if it the uprising was doomed from the start, its heroic meaning is fundamental in the way Israel sees itself in the world.
      Now, if we look at that operation we can plainly see that the partisans had to hide its weapons and its people inside homes, schools, etc. because there was no other way to act. There was no way or even reason to separate partisan from civilian. We must remember that the active armed partisans were always a small number compared to the civilian non-fighters, even though they were supported by them.
      By the second day after infantry moved into Gaza, it was clear that Hamas was well prepared for urban warfare and was beginning to cause the IDF surprisingly heavy casualties. I remember an Israeli officer saying on the evening news that the army was taken aback by this, but that it was quickly learning how to deal with the new situation.
      I immediately and instinctively knew what he meant. In order to grasp what the change was, let’s go back to the Warsaw Ghetto, because something very similar happened to the Germans. They were completely surprised by the partisan’s guerilla tactics of popping up and fighting from the rubble of destroyed buildings, underground sewers etc.
      But, it also took the Germans a day or so to understand how to combat these tactics. Since the Germans had overwhelming military superiority, their counterattack was based on, not killing the individual partisan fighter, but by massively destroying every building and every neighborhood till everything as leveled to the ground. Even the partisans had nowhere to hide and nowhere to fight from. They could only flee down the sewers.
      So there you have it. How sad it is that the IDF has become a mirror image of our worst enemies, while Hamas echoes our greatest national heroes.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Goldmarx

      Thanks Alan for the comparison. It is indeed sad and ironic.

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        Utter nonsense.

        Hamas could just agree to recognize Israel and sign a peace deal.

        Voila! There would be peace, the siege would be lifted and both sides could live a good life.

        What about the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto? What choice did they have but to fight to the death? The Germans marked them for death no matter what. Even Jews who converted to Christianity were marked to die.

        Not only is the analogy inappropriate. It is obscene.

        Reply to Comment
        • andrew r

          Then here’s a different analogy for you. The Zionist leadership during the British Mandate could have aborted the conflict by ending its pursuit of a Jewish state and mass-scale immigration. Instead its major paramilitary arm plus two smaller groups used the same tactic of stashing weapons in civilian areas which Hamas are supposed to be infamous for.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Yes. And …. ?

            As soon as the Yishuv did that, it was appropriate for the Brits to treat those civilian areas as a war zone. And they did. Except there was no need for the Brits to shell and bomb those areas because when British forces swooped down on a community, they met with only passive resistance. They were not fired on. And the British were allowed to search the premises without resistance. Which they did often and they confiscated weapons which they found without resistance.

            Is that what Hamas does? No. So your analogy is false too Andrew.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            No, because my analogy rests solely on the fact that the Yishuv was stockpiling weapons which could have been used later on as part of its long-term mission. They weren’t handing over anything voluntarily, that much is certain.

            Nevertheless, there were violent confrontations during searches at Ramat HaKovesh where the kibbutzniks threw stones (imagine that) and several were killed at Givat Haim. Even if the resisters were more concerned about the illegal immigrants than the weapons, they weren’t so passive as you try to portray here.



            Reply to Comment
    4. Gustav

      “Nevertheless, there were violent confrontations during searches at Ramat HaKovesh where the kibbutzniks threw stones (imagine that) and several were killed”

      OK so what is your point?

      Wanna know my point? Well, I’ll tell you anyways.

      In both cases, the Yishuv’s case and in Hamas’s case each stored weapons in civilian areas. So as I said, in both cases, those civilian areas became legitimate military targets.

      In the Yishuv’s case, when they were raided, there was either no resistance or only minor resistance (compared to Hamas’s). In some of those cases, the resistance resulted in some civilian fatalities (happy with my amendment, Andrew?).

      In the case of Hamas, the resistance is much more ferocious. You know … suicide bombers, rockets, mortars etc. Consequently the number of civilian deaths is much higher.

      The bottom line is that in both cases, the rules of war permit whatever military force is necessary to disarm or to neutralise the threat from areas which belligerents turn into military targets by storing weapons in those civilian areas.

      Can you pick a flaw in what I said above, Andrew? If yes, can you please back up your claim by a link to a reputable source which says otherwise?

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        I understand all that; it’s just not lost on me that Israelis have a Jewish state today because their predecessors used the same tactics which CNN and NYT are now citing as justification for the Guernica-level bombing of Gaza.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Gustav

      Same tactics, yes. But not quite to the same degree, Andrew.

      For the third time, I repeat: when the Brits showed up to conduct a search, to disarm or to arrest somene in the Yishuv, there was only minimal resistance. And because of that it was only necessary to resort to minimal force and there were not too many deaths.

      Gaza however is different. Hamas offers maximum resistance to the IDF. The IDF faces true urban warfare in Gaza so the force that it has to use is much greater than the force that the Brits used against the Yishuv.

      Those are just facts. Each party on each side, the Brits, the Yishuv, the IDF and Hamas has/had their reasons to do what they do/did (right or wrong). But once the Yishuv and Hamas make/made their choices, they can/could expect a legitimate response from the IDF/Brits. And that’s what is happening/happened.

      Yet some of you here are trying to blame Israel’s IDF for everything. You are trying to delegitimise the IDF and you are wrong.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        You want a better analogy than the Brits and the Yishuv, Andrew?

        Try comparing the IDF to NATO. There were thousands of civilian casualties in wars that NATO was involved in Afghanistan, Iraq and Serbia. Why? Because NATO too faced the same kind of resistance that the IDF faces in Gaza. Not only that, but in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, NATO also faced similar tactics involving the stashing of weapons in civilian areas and attacks from civilian areas.

        Reply to Comment