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9545Israeli War Crimes: Israeli bombardment hits UN school in Gaza + other news

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  • Zafar Khan
    Aug 3, 2014
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      Israeli bombardment hits UN school in Gaza
      At least 10 deaths reported in attack on UNRWA shelter in Rafah among other places amid redeployment of ground forces.
      Last updated: 03 Aug 2014 09:55


      Israel's military has launched air strikes on Gaza even as it begins redeploying ground troops along its border with the Gaza Strip.

      Sunday's attacks came despite signals from the Israeli government that it would reassess its operations amid reports of tanks and other vehicles leaving the war-scarred Palestinian territory.

      Gaza's Health Ministry officials said nine Palestinians were killed in one of the air raids while another 10 died, witnesses said, in an attack on a UN school in Rafah. It was the second strike on a UN shelter in less than a week.

      Israeli military officials said they were aware of the reports of the attack on the school and were looking into them.

      In a televised address late on Saturday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, suggested troops would reassess the 27-day operation after completing the demolition of Hamas military tunnels under the border, but said Hamas would pay an "intolerable price" should there be more attacks.

      Israeli security officials have also said the tunnel-demolition mission was winding down.

      However, Israel was still carrying out air strikes in southern Gaza on Sunday.

      Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Beit Lahiya, said the ground presence "seems to be easing off to a large degree but what we are seeing a lot of is air strikes".

      "I have heard consistent sound of artillery shelling in Beit Lahiya, not far from Gaza City," he said.

      "So it would appear that although Israel publicly said it will start scaling back the ground operation, it is clearly continuing.

      "There's a lot of devastation in several areas there have been attacks, in Rafah and Jabaliya, but there seems to be some kind of shift in Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip."

      Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from West Jerusalem, said it appeared that Israel was "winding up some of its operations and pulling troops out of Gaza".

      But he said Israel's stance in ignoring ceasefire negotiations with Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and John Kerry, the US secretary of state, indicated that it was only willing to proceed "on its own terms" and at "a time of its own choosing".

      "They've decided to do it on their own," he said.

      "The problem with that is that those that have been mediating on both sides have made it clear they also want to deal with the substantial problems behind this, including [lifting the blockade] on Gaza.

      "It's not acceptable that this situation occurs every 18 months or so but it's clear that Israel wants to deal with this on its own terms."

      Soldier 'killed'

      Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli army said that it had determined that Hadar Goldin, the 23-year-old soldier it said was captured by Hamas on Friday, was killed in action.

      The army had previously said that Goldin went missing when its soldiers, two of whom were killed, were attacked while trying to destroy a Hamas tunnel in southern Gaza.

      In a statement, the army said Goldin "was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday".

      There were reports that the military had come to the conclusion after examining DNA evidence.

      Al Jazeera's Bays said there was "some speculation that he was not killed by Hamas but by Israeli bombardment in that area".

      "Some of the Israeli media are reporting he [Goldin} may have died as a result of the Israeli bombardment of Rafah."

      Gaza's Health Ministry officials said the death toll since Israel began its offensive against Gaza on July 8 has now risen to 1,762 Palestinians, and another 9,212 people have been injured.

      Among those killed were 398 children, 209 women and 74 elderly men. There were also 64 soldiers and three civilians killed on the Israeli side.

      This is what Jewish Israelis think about the Gaza war
      The headline message? Just 3.5 per cent think excessive force has been used in Gaza, where almost 1,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed.


      Israel strikes university in Gaza City
      Islamic University and one of the city's largest mosques among the latest targets hit by bombardment.
      Last updated: 02 Aug 2014 12:02


      Israeli aircraft have struck a major university and other targets in the Gaza Strip as troops continued their military campaign on the Palestinian enclave for a 26th day.

      A large part of the Islamic University in Gaza City was damaged by Saturday morning’s air strike.

      Glass from broken windows and notebooks belonging to some of the thousands of students who attended the university were scattered around the premises. No casualties were reported in the strike.

      "The university is now in complete ruins," Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the scene just two hours after the bombardment, said.

      The Israeli army said it targeted a "weapon development" centre in the university.

      In a twitter post, the military said it struck 200 "terror targets" in 24 hours.

      One of Gaza City's largest mosques, Shifa mosque, was also badly damaged by an Israeli strike.

      "I spoke to the people who were running this mosque. It took them years to raise money to build it, and within seconds it was just reduced to just rubble," our correspondent said.

      "Over the past few days we saw that there were no red lines [for Israel]. At least six hospitals have been targeted, UN schools where people were sheltering, have been targeted."

      The strikes came as Israel pounded the southern Gaza town of Rafah on Saturday and killed 35 people, according to Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Qudra.

      Heavy shelling and fierce battles were also reported along the border areas in Rafah, the site of the purported capture of an Israeli soldier a day earlier.

      Israeli forces on Saturday sealed off the eastern Rafah area, and warned that cars on the streets would be considered potential targets, Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from southern Gaza, said.

      Trading blame

      The Israeli army said it believed that Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, was captured by Hamas in an ambush about an hour after an internationally brokered ceasefire took effect on Friday morning.

      Israel blamed Hamas for shattering the agreed upon 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

      Hamas, meanwhile, said Israeli troops used the truce deal to storm into Rafah and kill scores of people on Friday.

      Its military wing on Saturday denied any knowledge about the fate of the missing soldier.

      At least 107 Palestinians have been killed since the ceasefire collapsed, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

      This brings the death toll in Israeli offensive on Gaza, which began on July 8, to at least 1,655 Palestinians, mostly civilians. More than 8,900 others have been reported injured.

      On the Israeli side, three civilians have been killed by rockets launched from Gaza and at least 63 troops have died in the fighting.

      Despite the failure of several ceasefire attempts, diplomatic efforts were still ongoing to put an end to the bloodshed.

      A Palestinian delegation was expected in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the terms of a durable truce. Israel, meanwhile, said it would not be sending envoys as originally planned and accused Hamas of misleading international mediators.

      Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said the truce plan Egypt proposed last month provided a "real chance" to end the Gaza conflict, stressing the need for its speedy implementation.

      "Time is decisive, we have to take advantage of it quickly to douse the fire in the [Gaza] Strip... and to stop the bloodshed of Palestinians," he said.

      The Cairo-proposed plan was backed by Israel, Arab governments, the US and the UN, but brushed off by Hamas.

      The Palestinian group said any peace proposal must include a demand for Israel to end the blockade on Gaza, imposed since eight years.

      US-Palestinian teen describes Israeli beating
      Tarik Abu Khdeir, who was beaten by police during trip to East Jerusalem, is to travel to Washington to speak officials.
      Last updated: 31 Jul 2014 23:45


      A Palestinian-American teenager who was badly beaten by Israeli police is visiting Washington to speak to officials there.

      Tarik Abu Khdeir was arrested while he was on holiday in occupied East Jerusalem the day after his cousin was burnt to death in the city.

      An alleged video showing his brutal beating sparked international condemnation.

      Al Jazeera's Andy Gallacher met the teenager at his home in Tampa, Florida, before his trip to the US capital.

      Gaza hospitals running out of supplies
      Israel's bombardment has left hundreds of thousands in strip without power, water or access to basic medical supplies.
      Last updated: 01 Aug 2014 03:13


      Hamas and Israel have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire beginning on Friday at 05:00 GMT, but that truce cannot come quickly enough for those coping with the consequences of Israel's bombardment of Gaza.

      Hospitals are facing a shortage of medical supplies, while hundreds of thousands of people have been left without power or water.

      Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab reports from the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

      Gaza conflict: ‘They treat us like the enemy’ – the ambulance drivers on the front line
      KIM SENGUPTA Author Biography GAZA Thursday 31 July 2014


      Omar al-Khadar was using the few surprising hours of calm to try and scrape off the tar from his boots. It had formed a perfect contour when he rushed into a burning mechanics yard in Shujaiya after a missile strike. The task had been made especially awkward with one hand, scalded when pulling aside a piece of red hot metal to get to an injured man, heavily bandaged.

      It had been hours of frantic work after a missile strike on the main market which resulted in more than 150 injured and 15 dead. “It could have been many more killed if both the fuel tanks they had in that garage had exploded, luckily only the smaller one did,” said 34-year-old Mr Khadar. “There were people lying in the streets. Two of us had to jump over them to get to the men in the garage; otherwise the people there would have burned alive. It was a terrible thing that happened,”

      The scenes at the market place in Shujaiya were truly awful. People had been caught unawares, out shopping in the days of Eid al-Fitr. There was a degree of reassurance as the Israeli military had declared a four hour humanitarian ceasefire; it was a rare opportunity to stock up.

      There was also the unspoken hope that lightning, albeit man made, would not strike twice on the same day. In the early hours of the morning an attack had taken place on a UN school, Jabaliya Elementary Girls, being used as a refugee shelter.

      Israel-Hamas 72-hour ceasefire crumbles as dozens killed in Gaza shelling
      HEATHER SAUL Author Biography Friday 01 August 2014


      The Israeli military has said it is resuming operations in Gaza as a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas unravelled just hours in.

      Officials in Gaza say 27 Palestinians were killed by Israeli shelling just hours after the ceasefire began.

      Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra and Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji said 15 other Palestinians were wounded in the shelling east of the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

      Eight rockets and mortar bombs were fired from Gaza at Israel, the Israeli military said, adding that one was intercepted by the Iron Dome system and seven hit open areas.

      The army said it has warned residents to stay in doors, the BBC reports.

      The office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement accusing Hamas of breaking the truce, saying: "Once again, Hamas and the terror organisations in Gaza have blatantly broken the cease-fire to which they committed, this time before the American Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General."

      The ceasefire was announced amid a rapidly climbing death toll since hostilities began on 8 July. Palestinian officials say more than 1,499 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 7,000 wounded. Israel says 61 of its soldiers, two civilians and a Thai national have died and more than 400 have been injured.

      Israel has said it will continue its operation to destroy the network of tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks in Israel.

      The brief lull in fighting came following the shelling of a UN school in Jabaliya on Wednesday which was sheltering civilians who had been told to leave their homes by the Israeli army. On Thursday, the White House described the attack, which killed at least 15 people, as “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”.

      Israel and Hamas both agreed to respect the ceasefire, which came into effect at 8am local time (6am BST) this morning, but respond to attacks.

      At least four short humanitarian ceasefires have been announced since the conflict began, but each has been broken within a few hours by renewed fighting.

      'The world stands disgraced' - Israeli shelling of school kills at least 15
      • UN condemns IDF attack on sleeping children as violation of international law
      • Strike on crowded market in Shujai'iya during ceasefire kills 17
      • Death toll now more than 1,300 after three weeks of fighting
      Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem and Hazem Balousha in Jabaliya
      The Guardian, Thursday 31 July 2014


      United Nations officials described the killing of sleeping children as a disgrace to the world and accused Israel of a serious violation of international law after a school in Gaza being used to shelter Palestinian families was shelled on Wednesday.

      At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across Gaza. More than 100 people were injured.

      Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said the attack was "outrageous and unjustifiable" and demanded "accountability and justice". The UN said its officials had repeatedly given details of the school and its refugee population to Israel.

      Fighting in Gaza continued through the day despite a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire called by Israel from 3pm. A crowded market in Shujai'iya was hit in the late afternoon, causing at least 17 deaths, including a journalist, and injuring about 200 people, according to Gaza health officials. They said people had ventured out to shop in the belief a ceasefire was in place. Witnesses said several shells struck as people were running away. Israel said rockets and mortar shells continued to be fired from Gaza.

      Israel on Thursday was showing no sign of scaling back Operation Protective Edge, with the military reportedly calling up an additional 16,000 reserves as the offensive entered its 24th day.

      At the UN school the first shell came just after the early morning call to prayer, when most of those taking shelter were asleep, crammed into classrooms with what few possessions they had managed to snatch as they fled their homes.

      About 3,300 people had squashed into Jabaliya Elementary A&B Girls' School since the Israeli military warned people to leave their homes and neighbourhoods or risk death under intense bombardment. Classroom number one, near the school's entrance, had become home to about 40 people, mostly women and children.

      Israel-Gaza conflict: UN accuses Israel of possible war crime after shelling of Gaza schools kills 19
      KIM SENGUPTA Author Biography JABALIYA Wednesday 30 July 2014


      Faiza Al-Tanboura had not spoken for 21 days since a missile strike destroyed her home. In the early hours of this morning she found her voice: “The children. Don't let them kill the children,” she shouted as she ran out into the playground of a UN school under Israeli tank fire.

      Today's attack on the Jabaliya Elementary Girls School has been described as a possible war crime by the UN. The Israeli authorities, it said, had been told no less than 17 times that it was full of refugees, the last warning message delivered on 8.50 on Tuesday evening.

      But, seven and half hours later, a series of shells smashed into the building, destroying two of the classrooms, killing 19 and injuring more than a hundred others. Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner for UN agency for Palestinian refugees, described the killings as “a source of universal shame”. Investigations clearly showed, he maintained, that Israeli fire was to blame, condemning “in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.”

      The Israeli military stated that militants had been firing mortar rounds from the vicinity of the school and troops had returned fire; a spokeswoman added that an investigation was under way to ascertain what had happened. Hamas and Islamic Jihad had been accused repeatedly of storing and using weapons in civilian areas; and the Israelis have produced photographs showing, they said, rockets being stored in mosques.

      The White House condemned the shelling of the school, saying it was “extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza”.

      This evening, after Israel had declared a four hour humanitarian ceasefire, came another attack, on a busy market in Shijaiyah, between Gaza City and the Israeli border, leaving 15 dead and 150 injured.

      Earlier, Mr Krahenbuhl wanted to stress that those at the school had been placed in the line of fire after they “were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli military. The precise location of the school and that it was housing thousands of people was communicated to the Israeli army 17 times to ensure its protection.”

      Israeli fire kills nineteen in Gaza UN school
      Attack on school used as shelter condemned by UN agency as "source of universal shame" that breaks international law.
      Last updated: 31 Jul 2014 05:38


      Israeli shells have struck a UN school in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 19 people and wounding scores more, after Israeli ground troops made a significant push into the territory.

      Wednesday’s shelling of the Jabaliya refugee camp was the second time in a week that a UN school sheltering hundreds of homeless Palestinians had been hit.

      Christopher Gunness, the UNRWA's spokesman, said the attack was a "source of universal shame" and blamed Israeli forces.

      "We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed 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.

      "I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage."

      Gunness said that UN representatives have informed Israeli forces about the exact location of the school 17 times.

      Many of those in the school had fled their homes in northern Gaza after Israel dropped leaflets warning them of an "upcoming phase" of action.

      The Israeli military said fighters near the UN school had fired mortar bombs and Israeli forces had shot back.

      "Earlier this morning, militants fired mortar shells at [Israeli] soldiers from the vicinity of the UNRWA school in Jabaliya. In response, soldiers fired towards the origins of fire, and we're still reviewing the incident," a spokeswoman said.

      Israel announced a four-hour "humanitarian window" on Wednesday, starting at midday GMT, but said it did not include areas where its soldiers were operating - about half of Gaza.

      Hamas said it would not abide by the pause, unless its conditions were met - namely, the end of the blockade of Gaza.

      At least 1,363 Palestinians have died in Israel's invasion, according to Gaza health ministry figures.

      An official for UNRWA, the UN's Palestinian refugee agency, told the AFP news agency that the shelling hit a bathroom and two classrooms inside the girls' school.

      Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Gaza's Kamal Adwan hospital, where many of the injured were brought, put the number of wounded at more than 90.

      "Looking around me I can see some with what appears to be shrapnel wounds and some with far more serious wounds," he said.

      He said people there did not know why Israel had hit the shelter, adding that the attack caused panic among people living in different UN-run shelters.

      "As we were driving to the hospital, we saw families with many children leaving other UN schools. They feel insecure. There seem to be no safe shelter for them, not even in UN schools," our correspondent said.

      Nearly 220,000 displaced Palestinians have sought shelter in about 86 UNRWA schools, according to the agency.

      The Israeli army had begun heavy tank shelling in the area a couple of hours prior to the incident.

      Israeli bombs kill 100 Gazans in single day
      Hundreds of attacks send toll soaring, while Gaza's only power station shuts down after being hit.
      Fares Akram Last updated: 30 Jul 2014 00:57


      Gaza City - At least 100 Gazans have been killed in Israeli bombardment on Tuesday, Gaza officials have said, hours after shells hit the enclave's only power station.

      A thick column of black smoke was seen rising from the power station on Tuesday, mingling with other plumes sent into the air by Israeli shelling.

      Gaza officials said the death toll from the invasion had now reached 1,178, with at least 100 killed since midnight on Tuesday. More than 6,800 Gazans had been injured. The AFP news agency reported that one air raid alone in northern Gaza had killed 10 people on Tuesday.

      Bombs hit the power station's generator.

      Jamal Dardasawi, a spokesman for the electricity distribution company, warned that Gaza would be engulfed in "a humanitarian crisis within hours" if no immediate action was taken to secure power supplies.

      "This will affect hospitals and water. All aspects of life are endangered," Dardasawi said.

      Rafiq Maliha, the director of the power station, told Al Jazeera that two turbines were directly hit, adding that the plant would not be operational for up to a year.

      At full capacity, the station provided Gaza with 80mw of electricity but had been generating only 50-60mw before it was bombed. The lines to outside power sources provided an additional 120mw of electricity, Dardawasi said.

      "This amount of power can't be distributed technically into other parts of Gaza and it's not even enough for Rafah city," he said.

      "Today, all Gaza Strip is without power, we can't talk about percentages."

      Gaza also relies on power lines from Israel and Egypt to meet its energy needs. Dardasawi said eight of the 10 lines from Israel had been damaged since Israel invaded Gaza.

      With the facility now shut down and most power lines from Israel severed, Palestinians in Gaza will be forced to depend on electricity bought from neighbouring Egypt.

      Said al-Soudi, the head of Gaza's civil defence ministry, said technical crews had succeeded in putting out a fire at the station.

      He told Al Jazeera that he received an emergency call about the shelling at 5.30am, but only reached the facility three hours later, after securing safe passage to the site through the Red Cross.

      "Despite the coordination, shells were still landing," he said.

      Israel is finding it harder to deny targeting Gaza infrastructure
      With blackouts, food shortages and sewage in the streets, observers say the IDF either targets civilians or has terrible aim
      Ian Black, Middle East editor
      The Guardian, Tuesday 29 July 2014 18.47 BS


      Israel's attack on the Gaza power plant on Tuesday is likely to fuel speculation that the enclave's civilian infrastructure is being deliberately targeted in the continuing war against Hamas.

      The Israeli army has said previously that it does not target critical non-military facilities, insisting that it is seeking to destroy terrorist targets such as tunnels and rockets that are fired into Israel. It did not immediately comment on the power station shelling, reportedly by tanks. It was "simply not known" what had happened, one official told the Guardian.

      The scale of Gaza's humanitarian crisis has alarmed human rights organisations. Last week, Israeli NGOs warned that more than half of Gaza's 1.8 million people were now affected by a lack of adequate access to water and sanitation services, with raw sewage spilling on to the streets from damaged pipes. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are without power. Hundreds of thousands more face severe shortages.

      Between five and eight of the 10 power lines that bring electricity from Israel have been disabled, some by Hamas rocket fire. Maintenance crews have been unable to reach them to carry out repairs. Refrigeration and hospital services that are close to breaking point will also suffer. Civilian suffering looks set to boost international anger over the crisis. "No power, no water, no hope," tweeted the film star Mia Farrow. "Poor, poor Gaza and it's people."

      If the power station attack was deliberate it may signal the application of the so-called "Dahiya doctrine" – the idea that Israel will use its overwhelming technology and firepower to destroy far more than strictly military targets. If it was accidental it will likely raise new questions about Israel's claims to be accurate in its targeting.

      The concept is named after the southern suburbs of Beirut, (Dahiya in Arabic) where Hezbollah has its strongholds, hit by intensive Israel bombing in the 2006 war as the militant Lebanese Shia organisation fired rockets into Israel. The idea is to use disproportionate force to damage civilian property and infrastructure in the hope of undermining popular support for the armed group in control of the area. Haaretz's military correspondent Amos Harel was reminded of the Lebanese example as he surveyed the devastation in the Gaza suburb of Shujaiyeh, at the weekend.

      In the past, influential Israeli politicians have called for power to Gaza to be shut off. Zeev Elkin, chairman of the Knesset foreign affairs and defence committee, asked Binyamin Netanyahu, about cutting off water and electricity from Israel into the strip. Netanyahu responded that government legal advisers would not permit that. The issue has also come before Israel's high court. Israel did however target the Gaza power plant in 2006 and in 2009 and hit a Lebanese plant in the 2006 war.

      Gaza produces a lot of its own food and staples are allowed in despite the overall blockade. But shortages are growing as residents try to stock up during lulls in the fighting and farms on the eastern edge of the strip have become inaccessible. Stocks have come under pressure with the end of Ramadan and this week's Eid holiday. Banks are closed. Cash is in short supply.

      Three weeks of combat have also restricted the number of trucks entering Gaza from Israel. According to Gisha, an NGO that monitors access, an average of 81 truckloads have entered Gaza per day compared to 194 a day in June, – a 58% decrease. Israel has limited the inflow of types of permitted goods to food, medicine and fuel, along with humanitarian supplies.

      The World Food Programme says more than 115,000 people in Gaza are in urgent need of food assistance. It has reached more than 100,000 with emergency rations since the crisis started but is running low on stocks of ready-to-eat food.

      Looking beyond the immediate crisis, talk has begun about reconstruction. The UN has announced a $115m (£68m) plan to rebuild Gazan homes, schools and hospitals. The cost is certain to continue to rise as long as the fighting rages.

      Israel-Gaza conflict: At least 100 Palestinians killed and only power station shut down in heaviest day of bombardment yet
      KIM SENGUPTA Author Biography GAZA Tuesday 29 July 2014


      Israel-Gaza conflict: The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The missiles were tragically real
      KIM SENGUPTA Author Biography GAZA CITY Monday 28 July 2014


      Attack wipes out entire Gaza family
      Israeli air strike kills 20 family members in the area of Khan Younis, moments before temporary ceasefire.
      Last updated: 28 Jul 2014 12:13


      'Only stones remain': Gaza lies in ruins
      Palestinians in Gaza have been shocked by the scale of Israeli destruction, as long-term truce efforts continue.
      Mohammed Omer Last updated: 27 Jul 2014 11:54


      Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn
      A powerful film with exclusive footage from the day of the Israeli assault on the densely populated Shujayea district.
      Special programme Last updated: 27 Jul 2014 08:29


      The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
      The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by the pollster Frank Luntz
      Sunday 27 July 2014


      Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.
      There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those "who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel".

      Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked "not for distribution or publication" and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled "The Israel project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its "dos and don'ts" for Israeli spokesmen.

      These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

      The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences. For example, the study says that "Americans agree that Israel 'has a right to defensible borders'. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel's military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel's right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89 per cent to under 60 per cent when you talk about it in terms of 1967."

      How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes? Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that "the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the 'separate but equal' words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don't like, don't believe and don't accept the concept of 'separate but equal'."

      So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a "demand", on the grounds that Americans don't like people who make demands. "Then say 'Palestinians aren't content with their own state. Now they're demanding territory inside Israel'." Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement "at some point in the future".

      Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of "mass Palestinian immigration" into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would "derail the effort to achieve peace".

      The Luntz report was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

      There is a whole chapter on "isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an obstacle to peace". Unfortunately, come the current Operation Protective Edge, which began on 6 July, there was a problem for Israeli propagandists because Hamas had quarrelled with Iran over the war in Syria and had no contact with Tehran. Friendly relations have been resumed only in the past few days – thanks to the Israeli invasion.

      Letter from Gaza by Norwegian Doctor
      By Dr. Mads Gilbert
      Shifa Hospital — Gaza
      Monday, 21 July 2014 00:00


      Dearest friends,

      The last night was extreme. The "ground invasion" of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying — all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

      The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza's hospitals are working 12-24 hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. Humans!

      Now, once more treated like animals by "the most moral army in the world" (sic!).

      My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian sumud (Arabic for perseverance) gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace — but we cannot afford that, nor can they.

      Ashy grey faces — Oh No! Not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out — oh — the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shoveling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas — the leftovers from death — all taken away ... to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.

      More than 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hours, enough for a large well trained hospital with everything; but here — almost nothing: no electricity, water, disposables, drugs, operating room tables, instruments, monitors — all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday's hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormously resolute.

      And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flow, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!

      An then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again; just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones (Arabic Zennanis, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made in and paid by the US.

      Mr. Obama, do you have a heart?

      I invite you to spend one night, just one night, with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.

      I am convinced, 100 percent, it would change history.

      Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

      But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another dahyia onslaught on Gaza.

      The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.

      Please. Do what you can. This cannot continue.

      Eight hundred dead Palestinians. But Israel has impunity
      There’s something very odd about our reactions to these two outrageous death tolls
      Saturday 26 July 2014


      UN to investigate Israel's Gaza offensive
      At least 25 people killed in new bombardment, a day after Human Rights Council vote on inquiry into alleged violations.
      Last updated: 24 Jul 2014 08:45


      UN: Israel assault in Gaza may be war crime
      UN rights chief Navi Pillay says the killing of civilians in Gaza raises concerns over Israel’s precautions.
      Last updated: 23 Jul 2014 12:39


      Israel pounds Gaza amid renewed truce efforts
      Israeli forces target multiple sites across Gaza, as US secretary of state arrives in Tel Aviv to pursue ceasefire.
      Last updated: 23 Jul 2014 11:42


      Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli bombardment continues as Ban Ki-moon tells Benjamin Netanyahu 'stop fighting, start talking'
      ADAM WITHNALL Author Biography Tuesday 22 July 2014


      Israel continued to bombard Gaza with air strikes today even as the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appeared in a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu to call for an immediate ceasefire.

      Mr Ban said that he addressed Israel "with a heavy heart", because "too many Palestinian and Israeli mothers are burying their children".

      But in response to his demand for both sides to "stop fighting, start talking", the Israeli Prime Minister said his country would continue to defend itself "as is its right".

      Mr Netanyahu told Mr Ban that Hamas had "no grievance, except the fact that we exist", and compared the militant group to Isis in Syria and Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Boko Haram in western Africa.

      The rhetoric from each side appeared to bring the conflict no closer to a halt, and came after Israel's most pacifist cabinet minister, the justice secretary Tzipi Livni, admitted: "I see no light at the end of the tunnel."

      From Egypt, the US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Hamas to come to the negotiating table in Cairo and accept the offer of a truce proposal.

      "Hamas has a fundamental choice to make and it is a choice that will have a profound impact for the people of Gaza," Mr Kerry said at a news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri.

      As the conflict entered its third week today, the Israeli military bombed at least another 70 targets across the Gaza Strip, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 609, the health ministry reported.

      The UN office of humanitarian affairs estimates that at least three quarters of those killed were civilians, including up to 100 children.

      On the Israeli side, the death of a soldier in fighting in southern Gaza on Tuesday brought the number of military casualties to 27. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed.

      The violence also unusually spilled over into the nearby occupied West Bank, where doctors said a Palestinian man was shot dead by police during a protest involving stone-throwing. An Israeli was also shot and seriously wounded by a Palestinian.

      The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed today that a soldier had also gone "missing" during fighting in Gaza, after Hamas claimed they had "kidnapped" Sergeant Oron Shaul.

      Army officials said that while they suspect Sgt Shaul was killed by a direct hit on a vehicle he and six others were travelling in on 20 July, they are yet to recover his body.

      With the fatalities this week, the Israeli military has now lost more soldiers than in any campaign since the 2006 war with Lebanon.

      Among the facilities hit overnight were three homes, including one where three women from the same family perished, according to Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

      Another home destroyed in an air strike was reported to have housed a German-Palestinian family, all seven of home were killed.

      A German foreign ministry spokesperson said that "based on multiple concurring indications, we understand that the family lost their lives".

      The overnight bombardment also included the destruction of five mosques and a sports complex in Gaza, though these attacks were not believed to have caused any casualties.

      As the violence continues to escalate, prospects for a truce remain elusive. Mr Ban appeared to join the US and Egypt in calling for an unconditional ceasefire, to be followed by talks on a possible new border arrangement for Gaza.

      But Hamas, with some support from Qatar and Turkey, wants guarantees on lifting the blockade on its borders before halting fire. The Islamic militant group has no faith in mediation by Egypt's rulers, who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo a year ago and tightened restrictions on Gaza — to the point of driving Hamas into its worst financial crisis since its founding in 1987.

      The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Monday that Gaza's 1.7 million people share Hamas' goal of forcing Israel and Egypt to lift the blockade.

      "We cannot go back to the silent death [of the blockade]", he said. "Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and by its courage."

      Israel kills scores in Gaza City suburb in deadliest assault of offensive so far
      Special dispatch: Peter Beaumont reports from Shujai'iya, where fleeing and injured tell of streets strewn with bodies and rubble
      Peter Beaumont in Shujai'iya
      The Guardian, Sunday 20 July 2014 18.41 BST


      Al-Beltaji Street, off the main road in Shujai'iya, is a scene of utter devastation – the site of Israel's bloodiest assault in almost two weeks of fighting in the coastal strip.

      An ambulance sat on shot-out tyres, shrapnel punched through its sides. A charred car lay flattened as if by a giant hand. Smoke rose from one end of the street in a dark billowing curtain.

      Fallen trees, tangled electricity cables and drifts of rubble covered the road, smashed, chopped and torn apart by Israeli shells and bombs that slammed into this Gaza City district at a rate of one every five seconds on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday.

      A body was carried out of a ruined house, then a second and a third – seven in total from buildings within a hundred metres of each other during a brief agreed lull in the fighting to evacuate the dead and wounded. A little further along, bodies lay in the street where they had fallen, mostly scorched figures – one still in a yellow dressing gown – others missing limbs.

      "Come out it's safe," rescue officials shouted as they picked their way along the street.

      At least 67 people – some fighters but many civilians – were killed in a night of intense violence in Shujai'iya that has been described by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as a massacre. Hundreds more were injured.

      At the far end of the street, a family emerged running, led by a man cradling a child. Slowed at times by the rubble, their faces, stunned by fear, were deaf to questions, focused only on reaching the road leading to the relative safety of Gaza's City centre.

      Raed Zaqtout fled at 10am on Sunday morning, but returned with his brother in the midst of a two-hour humanitarian ceasefire organised by the Red Cross to retrieve the dead and the injured. The ceasefire only lasted an hour.

      "We stayed in the house while they were shelling. Two other families came to shelter with us. In the morning we decided to escape along that lane," he said, pointing to an opening opposite. "Even then some of us were injured, thankfully only lightly, by shrapnel."

      Both sides have accused the other of breaking the ceasefire. An Israeli military spokesman conceded that during the brief initial pause in fire, Israeli forces had continued firing in an adjacent neighbourhood – an area, he claimed, that was not covered by the truce. Nonetheless, it is that Israeli fire that appeared to have hastened the Hamas fighters' return to hostilities.

      As the regular thud of explosions resumed, three Palestinian fighters – carrying AK-47s, and with their faces wrapped in scarves – jogged along the street. Other militants were seen sheltering in the buildings. Shujai'iya residents said the heavy shelling began around midnight as tanks and soldiers reached the edge of their neighbourhood – a fierce gun battle followed.

      In the first hours of shelling, it was too dangerous for ambulances to approach – residents were faced with a choice: stay and risk being killed while sheltering at home, or make a run for it and risk being caught in the crossfire.

      Those who decided to flee started moving at dawn, when Shujai'iya was still under heavy Israeli tank and mortar fire. They hurried past the corpses in the street, some carried their frightened children, most with only the clothes they had escaped in – several barefoot.

      Among the 30,000 who fled were Sabreen Hattad, 34, and her three children.

      "The Israeli shells were hitting the house. We stayed the night because we were so scared but at about 6am, we decided to escape.

      "But where are we supposed to go? The ambulances could not enter and so we ran under shell fire."

      Three men rushed past, clutching bedding. Asked what they had seen they replied only: "Death and horror." The sound of small-arms fire rattled from the direction they had come.

      Many of those who fled Shujai'iya headed for Gaza City's Shifa hospital, which was engulfed in chaos. Ambulances that had finally and briefly been given access to the site of the carnage sped in steadily, ferrying the dead – among them a local TV cameraman, Khaled Hamad, who was killed during the overnight offensive alongside a paramedic.

      At the morgue, dozens crowded the entrance demanding to be let in to look for missing relatives – and too often found them.

      Inside the hospital, the staff put mattresses on floors to accommodate the injured, while other patients were evacuated. Nurses carefully placed Aish Ijla, 38, on a mattress in a corridor. His leg had been broken by shrapnel.

      "When the shells started we couldn't leave the house – 30 of us. The shells were hitting the upper floor so we all moved downstairs. Then the shrapnel started hitting our door.

      "It became quiet for a moment and we decided we should run. But as we were on the road a shell landed near me, breaking my leg. I told my family to go on with out me. I carried on – stopping, then limping. Two hours later, an ambulance reached me ."

      Arye Shalicar, a spokesman for the Israeli military, told the Guardian that Shujai'iya was a "frontline base" for Hamas fighters: "140 rockets have been launched from there in the last week and a half alone. And [there are] not only rockets but tunnels.

      "We asked the population to evacuate to other neighbourhoods. If we were not bothered about civilians we would have just bombed from the air rather than sending in tanks and soldiers, dozens of whom have been wounded."

      Hamas fighters may be based in Shujai'iya and rockets fired from its streets, but it is also the most densely populated residential neighbourhood in Gaza City. Many homes have been targeted.

      The injured were still being brought to Shifa hospital on Sunday evening. Two young girls arrived, one with a bleeding head wound, another with her teeth smashed out, covered in dust. Another man had lost most of his face.

      Naser Tattar, the hospital's director, said at least 17 children, 14 women and four elderly were among the 67 killed in the Israeli assault. About 400 more were wounded. The medical director, Dr Mohammad El Ron, stood in the casualty department, exhausted: "Most of the casualties brought in so far have been dead."

      Thousands flee Israeli shelling on east Gaza
      People flee their homes by foot after heavy overnight bombardment killed dozens of Palestinians.
      Last updated: 20 Jul 2014 13:36


      Thousands of people fled Gaza's eastern district of Shujayea as heavy bombardment from the Israeli army continued into the morning, with the Palestinian death toll over the last 13 days reaching 400.

      The Palestinian enclave was hit overnight with the heaviest barrage of tank shells since the beginning of Israel's offensive against Hamas on July 8. The eastern neighbourhoods of Shujayea, al-Shaaf and al-Tuffa were worst hit.

      In the early afternoon on Sunday, Israel agreed to observe a two-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Shujayea to allow the evacuation of the wounded, but it was broken less than an hour after it was announced.

      Israel's military said its forces were shot at shortly after the two-hour truce, facilitated by the Red Cross, had begun at
      1:30pm (10:30am GMT), and that it had resumed combat operations.

      The Palestinian Hamas movement said earlier that it would abide by a temporary truce.

      SATURDAY, JUL 19, 2014 04:30 PM +0100
      “I am living in a horror movie”: What it’s like to raise a family in Gaza
      My voice is only one of millions suffering through the nightmare in Gaza. Is anyone out there listening?


      Gaza under intense fire as death toll mounts
      At least 34 people killed in "relentless" shelling by tanks and artillery on second day of Israeli ground invasion.
      Last updated: 19 Jul 2014 14:32


      Thursday 17 July 2014
      Israel-Gaza conflict: Medical charity official likens job to ‘patching up torture victims in an open-air prison’
      Comments by senior Médecins Sans Frontières official expose ethical dilemma of humanitarian work in conflict zones


      Israel-Gaza conflict: Baby killed by tank as IDF begins ground offensive


      Gaza crisis: Israeli Government spokesperson insists it does not target civilians – the day after four boys are killed by shelling
      HEATHER SAUL Author Biography Thursday 17 July 2014


      Israel-Gaza conflict: 80 per cent of Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes are civilians, UN report says
      LIZZIE DEARDEN Tuesday 15 July 2014


      Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
      ADAM WITHNALL Author Biography Sunday 13 July 2014


      An image that appears to show a group of Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza has caused international outrage after it was shared by thousands on Twitter.

      Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.

      Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”

      Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.

      It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.

      “We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.

      Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?”

      Another said: “This is the most gruesome image I've seen the last few days.”

      Further images have since emerged showing larger crowds on subsequent days - suggesting that the so-called “Sderot cinema” was far from a one-off. They showed groups standing and pointing out to the horizon, and one had even brought a sofa up onto the hilltop.

      Meanwhile, Israel today launched its first ground offensive in a bid to destroy a rocket-launching site in northern Gaza.

      Troops were sent in early on Sunday, in a brief raid which left four soldiers slightly wounded after an exchange of gunfire, the military said.

      The Israeli army tweeted this morning: “We warned civilians in N. Gaza to move away from Hamas targets. Hamas told civilians to ignore our warnings & remain in the line of fire.”

      It comes after the United Nations Security Council called for a ceasefire to the bloody conflict which has left 160 Palestinians dead.