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A baby girl dies in the haze of Gaza

A skinny boy named Ammar, who is 12 but looks much younger, spent Monday playing with his sisters 10-month-old daughter, Layla, at the cramped apartment where they both lived in the Gaza Strip.

When the blue-eyed infant seemed hungry, he shared a piece of flatbread with her.

His sister, he figured, was with other family members at the massive Palestinian protests demanding a right to return to their ancestral homeland.

He decided to go find them.

He carried Layla to a bus that was leaving from a nearby mosque for the encampment where the family had been stationing itself along the eastern border of Gaza during the weeks of demonstrations.

When Ammar Rezeq reached the camp, it was teeming with thousands of people, many of them threatening to storm security barriers and swarm into Israel. Israeli forces held them back with barrages of gunfire and tear gas. He made his way toward a security barrier, where his relatives usually gathered.

Suddenly he was surrounded by clouds of acrid white smoke. His niece began to cough.

I put a scarf on my mouth and was trying to find my family, Ammar recalled.

Finally, he found his mother and one of Laylas aunts. They were shocked to see him appear through the haze, with the infant in his arms. The babys mother had never gone to the protests that day and stayed home to take a nap, they said.

The aunt took the baby from Ammar, and the three of them started running toward the bus. The girls hands were turning blue.

They thought she had fallen asleep on the bus, but when she wouldnt wake up, they persuaded the driver to take them to a hospital.

Ammar watched as doctors desperately tried to revive the infant.

I thought she would wake up, he said, tears welling in his eyes.

By Tuesday, Layla Ghandour had made international news as a symbol of the Palestinian cause. The Gaza Health Ministry added her name to a list of protest martyrs the youngest of more than 60 people who died on the bloodiest day of weeks of protests.

An Israeli military spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, challenged the familys account, saying, We have evidence casting doubt on the truthfulness of reports about the death of a baby girl in the Gaza Strip. He did not elaborate.

A doctor at the hospital where Layla was treated said she had a preexisting heart condition that caused her death. He asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the childs medical history.

Laylas family and the Health Ministry acknowledged the medical issue, but said tear gas was a contributing factor in her death.

The clashes continued Tuesday as Palestinian officials reported at least two more fatalities near Gazas frontier with Israel, pushing the two-day death toll to 64.

Israels military also said scattered clashes broke out in the West Bank. It said 1,300 Palestinians participated in violent riots at 18 locations there Tuesday, with protesters burning tires and hurling rocks and firebombs at security forces.

The latest deaths came as Palestinians observed what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, of their mass displacement 70 years ago during hostilities surrounding the creation of Israel.

Israeli officials maintain that live fire was used in response to a deadly threat posed by Palestinians seeking to breach the border fence with Gaza. The military said that at least 24 of those killed Monday were militants and that in the wake of Mondays confrontation, its aircraft hit more than a dozen sites in Gaza that it described as terror targets.

In justifying its use of deadly force, Israel has cited firebombs thrown by protesters and flaming kites being flown across the frontier. The military said at least 400 protesters gathered Tuesday on the Gaza side and that several Palestinians were apprehended as they tried to breach a fence.

But international criticism of Israel has been growing.

In Geneva, U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville denounced what he called the appalling deadly violence by Israeli forces. Ireland summoned the Israeli ambassador to urge restraint.

Turkey declared three days of official mourning, lowering flags to half-staff in a salute to slain Palestinians. With Turkey having temporarily expelled the Israeli ambassador in protest, Israel on Tuesday asked the Turkish consul general in Jerusalem to temporarily leave.

But at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley staunchly defended Israel, telling the Security Council that no member would act with more restraint than Israel has in the ongoing Gaza border confrontation.

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, however, denounced the massacre in Gaza, vowing to expand the confrontation with Israel.

On Tuesday, thousands of Palestinians staged angry funeral processions after midday prayers. They said their dead included eight children, a Hamas police officer and a double amputee who was photographed during the protests using a slingshot from his wheelchair.

Hundreds of mourners marched for Layla.

Her father, Anwar Ghandour, once eked out a living in tunnels along Gazas border with Egypt to smuggle in food, medicine, weapons, fuel and other goods. The tunnels were built after the Islamist militant group Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 and Israel, in a bid to protect itself, imposed a stifling embargo.

But Egypt destroyed most of them after President Abdel Fattah Sisi seized power from his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

Laylas father hasnt been able to find work since then unemployment is nearly 50% in Gaza and he struggles to provide for his family. A year ago, he and his wife lost a baby boy to the same heart condition that afflicted Layla. Relatives said he couldnt afford to buy the recommended medicines.

At the time, the couple lived in a three-bedroom apartment with nine other members of his family. Furniture was sparse, because the family had to sell it to buy food and other necessities. Mold covered the hallways, and the smell of sewage could be overpowering.

Laylas mother, Mariam Ghandour, 18, said she often argued with her husband because he could not afford to rent a home for them or provide food and diapers for his children. Around the time her son died, she moved back with her mother and grandmother.

The grandmother supported them from a stipend provided by the Palestinian Authority to the families of those killed in the wars with Israelis. Two of her sons died in previous hostilities. Fourteen people lived off this money, she said.

The power was out in the fathers apartment when he brought Laylas body home from the hospital. Neighbors brought the family two buckets of water to wash her because the pipes had run dry. The women in the family placed the baby in a pink, plastic basin and gently scooped water over her head by the light of a cellphone.

The mother then wrapped Layla in a white shroud and a red, green, white and black Palestinian flag.

Oh my beautiful daughter, I lost you, she sobbed, holding the tiny bundle tightly to her chest. She is all I have.

Shortly before the call to prayers sounded, the father took Layla to mosque to pray over her body. He and other family members took turns carrying her on the march from the mosque to a nearby cemetery, past shops shuttered because Hamas had called for a general strike.

As mourners lowered the body into the sandy ground, a wail echoed across ancient tombstones.

I want to see her one last time, her mother pleaded.

Its Gods will, the men told her as they shooed her away.

alexandra.zavis@latimes.com

Twitter: @alexzavis

Salah is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Laura King in Amsterdam and special correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.

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A baby girl dies in the haze of Gaza

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May 16, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens …

Palestinian officials demanded international action against Israel and vowed no letup in the demonstrations.

We are asking the world and especially the Arab World to intervene immediately to end the massacre of our people, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said at a news conference in Ramallah.

The new United States Embassy, he said, is not an embassy but a new outpost in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim.

Mr. Abbas was unusually succinct, speaking for barely eight minutes, saying that protests would go on and that there would be a general strike on Tuesday.

Kuwait, a member of the United Nations Security Council, said it had requested a meeting of the council on Tuesday, in light of the developments on the ground and the killing of innocent civilians.

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad H. Mansour, said his government might refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

Israel, the occupying power, has abdicated its international responsibility, he told reporters. On the contrary, it is the source of killing.

Mr. Mansour drew a direct link between the protests and the embassy celebrations in Jerusalem.

It is very tragic theyre celebrating an illegal action while Israel is killing civilians, he said. Let them look at what is really happening, in the Gaza Strip.

Turkey declared a three-day national mourning period over the killings and recalled its ambassadors from Israel and the United States for consultations. Turkey has long criticized Israels policies toward the Palestinians and strongly opposed the American Embassy relocation to Jerusalem.

We all know that the blood of Palestinians is on the hands of Israel, Turkeys deputy prime minister, Bekir Bozdag, said in a televised speech. Now the blood of Palestinians is on the hands of the U.S. too.

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May 14, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza violence: Media ignoring Hamas role in Israel embassy …

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Monday, May 14, 2018. Thousands of Palestinians are protesting near Gaza’s border with Israel, as Israel prepared for the festive inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

The media narrative on Monday pointed to a poignant dichotomy unfolding in Israel and Gaza.

On one side were the Israelis, elated that at last, the US government lived up to its 23-year-old promise to move its embassy to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. On the other side were Palestinian protesters who ramped up their activities along the Gaza strip and, as a result, were targeted by the Israeli army with increasing intensity.

The headlines were explicit and one-sided in their portrayal of the latter:

Countless other news platforms had similar headlines, which were followed by stories that chastised Israel for its use of deadly force. Many took particular issue with the fact that Palestinian children have been hurt in the melee.

But absent from the commentary that children have unfortunately been among the injured and dead are questions about how they ended up at the border. On that question, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the extent to which Palestinians have glorified violence and martyrdom and the extent to which the terrorist organization Hamas has organized the “protests.”

There isn’t a country in the entire world that would tolerate this kind of activity at its border. There are Israeli towns one mile from Gaza, and flaming kites sent over the border at least one that was emblazoned with a swastika have already set fire to Israeli warehouses and fields.

It’s hardly a secret what these types of actors plan to do should they be allowed across the border. They have thrown not just rocks and flaming kites but Molotov cocktails and attempted to plant a bomb. These individuals are not simply seeking the right to march through the territory they believe is theirs. This is not about a peace-loving cabal looking to hop the fence.

“We are excited to storm and get inside … whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones,” The Washington Post quoted one of the “protesters,” 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura, as saying.

And the role Hamas as an organization is playing in the violence should not be underrated. The Washington Post reported that organizers of the protest went so far as to tell the people protesting “to burst through the fence,” because “Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions,” when in reality, they were reinforcing them. Critics of Israel say that they do not care about Palestinian lives, but it is Hamas that continuously endangers them.

It’s likely to get worse on Tuesday on Nakba day, or “the day of the catastrophe” when Palestinians mourn the establishment of the state of Israel and the ways in which their lives changed as a result.

Israel’s Channel 10 has reported that Palestinian sources have indicated that on Tuesday, armed Hamas members will shoot at soldiers and attempt to kidnap one. Should they succeed, much of the media will likely run with the headline: “Israeli soldier has audacity to show up to Nakba day ceremony uninvited.”

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May 14, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel bombs Gaza tunnel and closes key crossing damaged …

In addition to its immediate and practical effect, the surgical strike on the tunnel along Erez is a signal to Hamas that Israel will not shy away from exerting the full force of its military, if necessary, during a week that will include the inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem; Nakba Day, in which Palestinians mark their dispossession during Israel’s war of independence; and the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar each potent events fraught with national, cultural and religious meaning.

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May 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israeli military doubling troop positioned along Gaza …

There are heightened tensions in Israel this weekend, just days before the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Israeli forces on Saturday blew up what they said was a Hamas terror tunnel at the Gaza border.Palestinian protesters have been fighting with Israeli troops at the border since March.

The site of the new U.S. embassy is being readied, and signs are up across Jerusalem thanking President Trump for moving the embassy, thus recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians, who have been protesting the embassy move, marched through the streets of Gaza, carrying the body of a protester shot by Israeli troops Friday.

He was among an estimated 15,000 demonstrators, some burning tires and hurling rocks at Israeli forces. Palestinians have also started attaching fire-bombs to kites and flying them into Israel.

Along the Gaza border on Friday, CBS News found Israelis flying kites in a counter-demonstration.

“They kill their own. I mean they kill their own,” said Leah Goldin, whose son Hadar was killed four years in a war with Hamas. His body was never returned. She’s angry and thinks Hamas is using Palestinians’ suffering for publicity.

“This is awful to use children’s games kites and to turn them into bombs,” Goldin said. “To burn what? The fields?”

As a result of one of those fire-kites, a crop that has been destroyed, which was a field of wheat and while the damage is relatively limited, ultimately it is symbolic. After all, this is a fight over land and who it belongs to.

Racing across the fields, we found firefighters on specially-fitted motorcycles. Captain Liron Soll explained they go where fire engines cannot.

“All big fires start from small one if you are in the right place in the right time you can close it with a glass of water. So, we are the glass of water,” Soll said.

Israelis told CBS News the burned fields on this side of the conflict cannot compare with the level of suffering or images coming from Gaza. Anger is boiling, Hamas is calling on its supporters to storm the security fence — and Israel’s military is strengthening its defenses.

2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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May 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Palestinians try to rip through Gaza border fence, drawing …

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip –Hundreds of Palestinians converged on the Gaza Strip’s border fence with Israel on Friday, trying to rip through it before drawing heavy Israeli fire in one of the most violent incidents yet in five weeks of protests. Three Palestinians were killed and dozens were reported wounded.

The violence came shortly after a top U.N. official urged Israel to refrain from using excessive force against the protesters.

At least 38 protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire and more than 1,600 wounded in the weekly protests since they began March 30. Israel has rejected the international criticism, saying it is defending its sovereign border and accusing Gaza’s Hamas leaders, who are organizing the protests, of using the crowds as cover to carry out attacks.

In Friday’s unrest, a large crowd gathered a few hundred meters from the border, with some throwing stones and setting tires on fire in what has become a weekly occurrence.

Late in the afternoon, dozens of young men broke away from the larger protest, moving south about 200 meters and approaching the fence. The crowd then tried to break through the fence with hooks and wire cutters when Israeli forces opened fire. Witnesses said three protesters briefly crossed into Israel and turned around.

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces on the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip, during the fifth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes along the border with Israel on April 27, 2018.

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty

Hundreds of additional protesters ran to the scene, and the numbers quickly grew to several thousand. Israeli armored vehicles sped to the site and fired barrages of tear gas. As gunfire erupted, the crowd dispersed. A dozen Palestinian ambulances jammed a dirt road lining up to evacuate the wounded. Some in the crowd shouted “shahid,” or “martyr” as bodies were taken away on stretchers.

Palestinian health officials reported three people killed and 611 wounded, including 138 hit by live fire in incidents along the border throughout the day.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had “thwarted” an attempted infiltration by Palestinian protesters.

It said “hundreds of rioters” tried to burn the fence and enter the Israel. It said the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and that troops opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement” and halted the crowd. It released a video showing a young Palestinian man placing a burning tire along the fence in an apparent attempt to set it on fire. In another, a small group lobs stones at an Israeli military vehicle on the other side of the fence.

In other incidents, the military said Palestinian crowds rolled burning tires, hurled rocks and flew kites with flaming objects attached with the goal of damaging the fence and other Israeli targets. It also released a photo appearing to show a group of youths tugging at barbed wire along the fence.

The marches, aimed in part at trying to break a decade-old border blockade, have been organized by Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers but have also been driven by widespread despair in the coastal territory of 2 million people.

Gaza organizers say the marches are also pressing for the “right of return” of refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Two-thirds of Gaza residents are descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled from properties during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. The protests are to culminate on May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s creation. Hamas organizers have made conflicting statements about whether they plan a mass border breach at some point.

Hamas’ supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh, visited a protest camp in the southern town of Rafah, vowing larger protests in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and among Palestinian refugees in other countries on May 15. “Our people will not slow down the protests until they get their rights,” he said.

The Israeli military has repeatedly said it will not allow Gazans to burst across the border. Israeli communities are located just a few hundred meters away.

However, Israel has come under heavy international criticism for allegedly using excessive force.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said Israeli troops have not heeded warnings by the United Nations and others, repeatedly using lethal force against unarmed protesters in the past month.

Gaza health officials say that four minors, including a 14-year-old boy, have been among the dead.

“The loss of life is deplorable, and the staggering number of injuries caused by live ammunition only confirms the sense that excessive force has been used against demonstrators — not once, not twice, but repeatedly,” the commissioner said.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, said Israel is “diligently defending its sovereignty” and accused Zeid of encouraging Hamas’ “exploitation of civilians.” He said the commissioner is “not focused on human rights, but only with obsessively criticizing Israel.”

Thousands have taken part in the Friday demonstrations from five protest tent camps, each set up several hundred meters (yards) from the border fence. Small groups usually move toward the fence, setting tires ablaze to hamper the vision of the security forces while others throw stones or firebombs.

Israeli soldiers, including snipers taking cover behind sand berms, have responded by firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and live rounds.

Israel’s military has said troops are under orders to target “instigators,” but has also warned that anyone approaching or trying to damage the fence risks his life.

Palestinians demonstrate during clashes with Israeli security forces near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, east of the northern town of Jabalia, on April 27, 2018, on the fifth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Rights groups have said such open-fire rules are unlawful because they allow soldiers to use potentially lethal force in situations where their lives are not in danger.

Israeli officials have said that some of the protesters in recent weeks tried to damage the border fence or plant explosives along it. Others have tried to set Israeli fields on fire on the other side of the fence by hurling improvised explosives or firebombs, or flying the flaming kites.

A group of Palestinian activists calling themselves “the tires unit” arrived Friday on a truck laden with old tires. A van mounted with loudspeakers followed the truck with chants and applause. Tires were set ablaze, filling the air with thick smoke. With hooks and a long rope, the activists pulled at parts of the barbed wire adjacent to the fence.

Israel and Egypt imposed the Gaza blockade in 2007, in response to a violent takeover of the territory by Hamas, which had won Palestinian parliament elections a year earlier. The blockade has gutted Gaza’s economy, driving up unemployment and leaving two-thirds of young people without jobs.

Hamas’ Interior Ministry announced that Egypt had agreed to open the Rafah border crossing for three days, beginning Saturday. The temporary opening is the second this month.

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April 27, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Four Killed in Gaza, as Weekly Protests Shrink – The New …

JERUSALEM They came in smaller numbers. But the outcome was still deadly, and the victims this time included a 15-year-old boy.

Palestinians protested for a fourth Friday along the security fence dividing Gaza from Israel, some of them burning tires, hurling rocks or flying kites with flaming tails in the hope of setting ablaze the fields of Israeli rural communities on the other side. The Israeli military distributed a photograph of one kite with a scrawled swastika.

The military estimated the number of participants at about 3,000 in five locations along the Gaza border, down from at least 30,000 on March 30, when the protest campaign started.

But by evening the Gaza Health Ministry reported four killed by Israeli sniper fire. One was identified as Muhammad Ayoub, 15. Amateur video taken on the Gaza side of the fence purported to show him shot while running with other youths, apparently empty-handed. Graphic photographs showed the teenager lying on the rocky ground, bleeding from the head, and later on a hospital gurney.

His father, Ibrahim Ayoub, told a local Gaza-based news site: I thank Allah for taking him as a martyr. This is better than the humiliating life and tragedy we live.

The Friday toll brought the total number of fatalities from the start of the campaign to at least 37. Hundreds more protesters have been wounded by Israeli fire.

Israel has drawn international censure for using live fire against the mostly unarmed protesters who did not appear to present any immediately life-threatening danger to the soldiers.

On Friday, Nickolay E. Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, denounced the shooting of the 15-year-old as outrageous, writing on Twitter: How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesnt! It fuels anger and breeds more killing. He called for an investigation into the killing.

Even as the numbers of protesters waned, the international campaign supporting the Palestinians received a boost this week when Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress, backed out of a major award ceremony meant to honor her in Jerusalem. Representatives initially cited her distress over recent events in Israel. On Friday, Ms. Portman issued a statement explaining her absence, saying, I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israels military says it is acting to prevent any mass crossing of the fence and to prevent attacks against Israeli soldiers and nearby communities. The military said it was looking into the reports of the fatalities.

On Friday, the Israeli military said in a statement that people participating in what it described as riots were attempting to approach the security infrastructures, burning tires and trying to fly kites over the border with burning items attached to them. Several crossed into Israel, the statement said, and were extinguished when required.

The military added that it would not allow any harm to security infrastructure that protects Israeli civilians, and will act against the violent rioters and terrorists who threaten either. The troops responded with tear gas and live fire.

As in previous weeks, no injuries were reported on the Israeli side.

The protests began as a grass-roots campaign but were quickly adopted by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza. They are meant to draw international attention to the 11-year blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the isolated, impoverished coastal territory. The protests also are meant to punctuate Palestinian demands for the return to lands in what is now Israel.

The organizers of the protests, named the Great Return March, originally said the idea had been for a peaceful, family-style six-week sit-in at tent encampments erected about 700 yards from the fence, with weekly marches building up to a peak on May 15. That is when Palestinians mark the Nakba, or the catastrophe, of the foundation of Israel and the war surrounding its creation in 1948, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in what is now Israel. Many of the refugees ended up in Gaza.

Israel says the campaign has been taken over by Hamas, which Israel, like much of the Western world, classifies as a terrorist organization.

In leaflets dropped from the air on Friday the military warned protesters, in Arabic, to stay away from the fence, and told them to ignore instructions from Hamas, which Israel says is exploiting the protesters for its own political interests. While a few confronted the troops, most of the protesters stood by, watching.

One protester, Abdallah Daoud, 16, explained why he was participating. With his face black with soot from the burning tires and slingshot in hand, he said: There is no money, there is nothing. I want to be a martyr because of the siege, a reference to the blockade. I cannot get out of Gaza. There is no income.

In a new tactic, protesters including whole families in the Shejaiya area of eastern Gaza moved tents forward to about 300 yards from the fence, considered the edge of the danger zone.

Some Shejaiya protesters built a cage, like a mock prison cell, containing effigies of two Israeli soldiers whose bodies are being held by Hamas in Gaza, and two Israeli citizens also believed held by Hamas there. The entrance to the Shejaiya protest site included a large poster with pictures and names of those killed during the first three Fridays.

During a visit to the protest area, Ismail Haniya, the political leader of the Hamas organization, said: Be ready and prepared for the human flood on all the borders of Palestine inside and outside the occupied lands on the anniversary of the Nakba.

Islamic Jihad, an extremist group that often rivals Hamas in Gaza, went further, releasing a video on Thursday showing Israeli officers, including a senior general, in its sights as they toured the Israeli side of the fence.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israels hard-line defense minister, visited the Gaza border area on Friday. What we have seen in these four weeks is that every week there are less and less people on the one hand, he said, and on the other hand, there is much more terror activity.

He warned, Whoever makes threats will lose in the end.

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza.

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April 22, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian …

In what amounted to the highest number of casualties in a single day in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 hostilities, on 30 March, 18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces (or died of wounds sustained that day), and another 1,400 were injured, including over half of them by live ammunition,…

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April 20, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Hamas Sees Gaza Protests as Peaceful and as a Deadly …

Few analysts, and certainly few Israelis, have suggested that Hamas may actually be rethinking its strategy merely because it has joined what are meant to be nonviolent mass protests and has name-checked the heroes of peaceful civil disobedience.

Its quite understandable that when those that proscribe Hamas as a terror organization see Haniya surrounded by icons of peace, it does little to dispel memories of very violent and bloody attacks, including by suicide bombs, said Beverley Milton-Edwards, an expert on political Islam at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar who was a co-author of a history of Hamas.

But if Mr. Haniyas unexpected nod to nonviolence struck some as contradictory and self-serving as evidence of, one might say, a degree of chutzpah his organizations embrace of the Gaza protests had a clear logic that can be understood in much simpler terms.

Terms like no-brainer.

Its experiment with popular resistance may or may not be wholehearted, but it is indisputably pragmatic.

A month or two ago, Hamas was cornered. Isolated regionally, rived by internal disputes, it had been unable to ameliorate a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and was increasingly humiliated by the failure of reconciliation talks with Ramallah.

They had to make too many concessions in the hope of getting a little bit in exchange, and they wound up getting nothing whatsoever, said Azzam Tamimi, an analyst for a London-based Arabic television channel with close ties to top Hamas leadership.

After a decade running Gaza, and hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Hamas was growing deeply unpopular.

Though most Gazans would blame Israel fundamentally, and Egypt indirectly, a lot of Palestinians would just do away with all of Hamas to have a better life, said Tareq Baconi, author of Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, to be published next month by Stanford University Press.

The group was in such dire straits that analysts and Israeli security officials warned it might provoke a new war out of sheer desperation to shake things up.

Yet, even the prospect of war seemed unavailing. Neither Hamas nor Gazas two million residents, still recovering from the past two conflicts, in 2012 and 2014, had any appetite for another round of violence.

Theyre absolutely exhausted, Mr. Baconi said.

To its rockets Israel had responded with the Iron Dome antimissile system. To its tunnels Israel was answering with a $2 billion reinforced-concrete wall buried deep underground. And on Sunday, Israel said it had uncovered and destroyed the longest operational tunnel yet from Gaza.

It was no surprise, then, that after a grass-roots idea for a peaceful, long-lasting protest along the Gaza fence started gaining widespread support, Hamas brought a halt to what had been a fairly steady tempo of rocket launches into Israel and threw its considerable organizational might behind the demonstrations.

By embracing the protests, Hamas cannily aligned itself with a popular movement that became even more popular as it took shape and that generated an outpouring of international support when Israel responded with gunfire, killing dozens of Palestinians, almost all of them unarmed.

Instantly, the woebegone Palestinian cause and the crisis in Gaza were back in the news, and even the demand for a right of return to Israeli land one that many supporters of a two-state solution seemed ready to throw overboard was being taken seriously, cheering Palestinians in refugee camps and the diaspora.

The time was ripe for a popular movement in Gaza, where younger Palestinians, like those on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, have grown disillusioned with the moribund Oslo peace process for self-governance, Mr. Baconi said. Many want to turn the national movement into a campaign for civil rights, rather than simply for statehood.

Hamas is just jumping on the bandwagon and recognizing the effectiveness of popular resistance at this moment, he said.

In fact, though it is better known for armed struggle, Hamas has acknowledged the utility of popular resistance since it arose out of the First Intifada in 1987. And last year, it took another subtle step in that direction, adopting a new policy that acknowledged growing support for popular resistance.

Yet, not all Gazans see Hamass involvement in the new protests as laudable. Some accused the group of cynically hijacking the demonstrations to serve its own purposes, while still also using young men as cannon fodder.

Its beautiful that we find Hamas adopting this nonviolent struggle, Mohammad Al Taluli, a 26-year-old activist due in court this week on criminal charges for criticizing Hamas online, said sarcastically. One week before the peaceful protest there was a military maneuver for the Qassam brigades. Do they think they fool us?

The gun is no longer a choice, Mr. Al Taluli added. Its a burden on anybody who carries it.

Yohanan Tzoreff, a former adviser for Arab affairs in Israels civil administration in Gaza, viewed the protests through the lens of Hamass long-running political rivalry with Fatah, in which Hamas hopes eventually to seize control of the Palestine Liberation Organization, over which Mr. Abbas now maintains a tight grip.

Which is the way that the people will adopt? Mr. Tzoreff said. The way of Ramallah, which means negotiations, negotiations, negotiations, and our entire fight will be at the international level; or the way in Gaza: popular resistance, with a lot of readiness to sacrifice?

For the moment, the two groups are enjoying an uneasy public truce, with Mr. Abbas expressing solidarity with the Gaza protests.

Fatah publicly support the protests, but behind closed doors, they criticize them as nothing more than a Hamas stunt, Ms. Milton-Edwards said.

For Hamas, the fate of its new embrace of popular protest depends on the ability of its leaders, and the Gaza marchers, to walk a fine line along the fence with Israel.

Too much in the way of stone- or firebomb-throwing could stir another heavy-handed Israeli response and the kind of Palestinian blood bath that could compel Hamas to answer back with rockets.

The more Israel uses disproportionate force, the harder it is for Hamas to continue holding back from retaliating, Mr. Baconi said. At some point, Hamas will start to lose legitimacy if it doesnt.

Excerpt from:
Hamas Sees Gaza Protests as Peaceful and as a Deadly …

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April 16, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

A baby girl dies in the haze of Gaza

A skinny boy named Ammar, who is 12 but looks much younger, spent Monday playing with his sisters 10-month-old daughter, Layla, at the cramped apartment where they both lived in the Gaza Strip. When the blue-eyed infant seemed hungry, he shared a piece of flatbread with her. His sister, he figured, was with other family members at the massive Palestinian protests demanding a right to return to their ancestral homeland. He decided to go find them. He carried Layla to a bus that was leaving from a nearby mosque for the encampment where the family had been stationing itself along the eastern border of Gaza during the weeks of demonstrations. When Ammar Rezeq reached the camp, it was teeming with thousands of people, many of them threatening to storm security barriers and swarm into Israel. Israeli forces held them back with barrages of gunfire and tear gas. He made his way toward a security barrier, where his relatives usually gathered. Suddenly he was surrounded by clouds of acrid white smoke. His niece began to cough. I put a scarf on my mouth and was trying to find my family, Ammar recalled. Finally, he found his mother and one of Laylas aunts. They were shocked to see him appear through the haze, with the infant in his arms. The babys mother had never gone to the protests that day and stayed home to take a nap, they said. The aunt took the baby from Ammar, and the three of them started running toward the bus. The girls hands were turning blue. They thought she had fallen asleep on the bus, but when she wouldnt wake up, they persuaded the driver to take them to a hospital. Ammar watched as doctors desperately tried to revive the infant. I thought she would wake up, he said, tears welling in his eyes. By Tuesday, Layla Ghandour had made international news as a symbol of the Palestinian cause. The Gaza Health Ministry added her name to a list of protest martyrs the youngest of more than 60 people who died on the bloodiest day of weeks of protests. An Israeli military spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, challenged the familys account, saying, We have evidence casting doubt on the truthfulness of reports about the death of a baby girl in the Gaza Strip. He did not elaborate. A doctor at the hospital where Layla was treated said she had a preexisting heart condition that caused her death. He asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the childs medical history. Laylas family and the Health Ministry acknowledged the medical issue, but said tear gas was a contributing factor in her death. The clashes continued Tuesday as Palestinian officials reported at least two more fatalities near Gazas frontier with Israel, pushing the two-day death toll to 64. Israels military also said scattered clashes broke out in the West Bank. It said 1,300 Palestinians participated in violent riots at 18 locations there Tuesday, with protesters burning tires and hurling rocks and firebombs at security forces. The latest deaths came as Palestinians observed what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, of their mass displacement 70 years ago during hostilities surrounding the creation of Israel. Israeli officials maintain that live fire was used in response to a deadly threat posed by Palestinians seeking to breach the border fence with Gaza. The military said that at least 24 of those killed Monday were militants and that in the wake of Mondays confrontation, its aircraft hit more than a dozen sites in Gaza that it described as terror targets. In justifying its use of deadly force, Israel has cited firebombs thrown by protesters and flaming kites being flown across the frontier. The military said at least 400 protesters gathered Tuesday on the Gaza side and that several Palestinians were apprehended as they tried to breach a fence. But international criticism of Israel has been growing. In Geneva, U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville denounced what he called the appalling deadly violence by Israeli forces. Ireland summoned the Israeli ambassador to urge restraint. Turkey declared three days of official mourning, lowering flags to half-staff in a salute to slain Palestinians. With Turkey having temporarily expelled the Israeli ambassador in protest, Israel on Tuesday asked the Turkish consul general in Jerusalem to temporarily leave. But at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley staunchly defended Israel, telling the Security Council that no member would act with more restraint than Israel has in the ongoing Gaza border confrontation. Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, however, denounced the massacre in Gaza, vowing to expand the confrontation with Israel. On Tuesday, thousands of Palestinians staged angry funeral processions after midday prayers. They said their dead included eight children, a Hamas police officer and a double amputee who was photographed during the protests using a slingshot from his wheelchair. Hundreds of mourners marched for Layla. Her father, Anwar Ghandour, once eked out a living in tunnels along Gazas border with Egypt to smuggle in food, medicine, weapons, fuel and other goods. The tunnels were built after the Islamist militant group Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 and Israel, in a bid to protect itself, imposed a stifling embargo. But Egypt destroyed most of them after President Abdel Fattah Sisi seized power from his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Morsi. Laylas father hasnt been able to find work since then unemployment is nearly 50% in Gaza and he struggles to provide for his family. A year ago, he and his wife lost a baby boy to the same heart condition that afflicted Layla. Relatives said he couldnt afford to buy the recommended medicines. At the time, the couple lived in a three-bedroom apartment with nine other members of his family. Furniture was sparse, because the family had to sell it to buy food and other necessities. Mold covered the hallways, and the smell of sewage could be overpowering. Laylas mother, Mariam Ghandour, 18, said she often argued with her husband because he could not afford to rent a home for them or provide food and diapers for his children. Around the time her son died, she moved back with her mother and grandmother. The grandmother supported them from a stipend provided by the Palestinian Authority to the families of those killed in the wars with Israelis. Two of her sons died in previous hostilities. Fourteen people lived off this money, she said. The power was out in the fathers apartment when he brought Laylas body home from the hospital. Neighbors brought the family two buckets of water to wash her because the pipes had run dry. The women in the family placed the baby in a pink, plastic basin and gently scooped water over her head by the light of a cellphone. The mother then wrapped Layla in a white shroud and a red, green, white and black Palestinian flag. Oh my beautiful daughter, I lost you, she sobbed, holding the tiny bundle tightly to her chest. She is all I have. Shortly before the call to prayers sounded, the father took Layla to mosque to pray over her body. He and other family members took turns carrying her on the march from the mosque to a nearby cemetery, past shops shuttered because Hamas had called for a general strike. As mourners lowered the body into the sandy ground, a wail echoed across ancient tombstones. I want to see her one last time, her mother pleaded. Its Gods will, the men told her as they shooed her away. alexandra.zavis@latimes.com Twitter: @alexzavis Salah is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Laura King in Amsterdam and special correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.

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May 16, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens …

Palestinian officials demanded international action against Israel and vowed no letup in the demonstrations. We are asking the world and especially the Arab World to intervene immediately to end the massacre of our people, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said at a news conference in Ramallah. The new United States Embassy, he said, is not an embassy but a new outpost in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim. Mr. Abbas was unusually succinct, speaking for barely eight minutes, saying that protests would go on and that there would be a general strike on Tuesday. Kuwait, a member of the United Nations Security Council, said it had requested a meeting of the council on Tuesday, in light of the developments on the ground and the killing of innocent civilians. The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad H. Mansour, said his government might refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. Israel, the occupying power, has abdicated its international responsibility, he told reporters. On the contrary, it is the source of killing. Mr. Mansour drew a direct link between the protests and the embassy celebrations in Jerusalem. It is very tragic theyre celebrating an illegal action while Israel is killing civilians, he said. Let them look at what is really happening, in the Gaza Strip. Turkey declared a three-day national mourning period over the killings and recalled its ambassadors from Israel and the United States for consultations. Turkey has long criticized Israels policies toward the Palestinians and strongly opposed the American Embassy relocation to Jerusalem. We all know that the blood of Palestinians is on the hands of Israel, Turkeys deputy prime minister, Bekir Bozdag, said in a televised speech. Now the blood of Palestinians is on the hands of the U.S. too.

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May 14, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza violence: Media ignoring Hamas role in Israel embassy …

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Monday, May 14, 2018. Thousands of Palestinians are protesting near Gaza’s border with Israel, as Israel prepared for the festive inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.AP Photo/Khalil Hamra The media narrative on Monday pointed to a poignant dichotomy unfolding in Israel and Gaza. On one side were the Israelis, elated that at last, the US government lived up to its 23-year-old promise to move its embassy to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. On the other side were Palestinian protesters who ramped up their activities along the Gaza strip and, as a result, were targeted by the Israeli army with increasing intensity. The headlines were explicit and one-sided in their portrayal of the latter: Countless other news platforms had similar headlines, which were followed by stories that chastised Israel for its use of deadly force. Many took particular issue with the fact that Palestinian children have been hurt in the melee. But absent from the commentary that children have unfortunately been among the injured and dead are questions about how they ended up at the border. On that question, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the extent to which Palestinians have glorified violence and martyrdom and the extent to which the terrorist organization Hamas has organized the “protests.” There isn’t a country in the entire world that would tolerate this kind of activity at its border. There are Israeli towns one mile from Gaza, and flaming kites sent over the border at least one that was emblazoned with a swastika have already set fire to Israeli warehouses and fields. It’s hardly a secret what these types of actors plan to do should they be allowed across the border. They have thrown not just rocks and flaming kites but Molotov cocktails and attempted to plant a bomb. These individuals are not simply seeking the right to march through the territory they believe is theirs. This is not about a peace-loving cabal looking to hop the fence. “We are excited to storm and get inside … whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones,” The Washington Post quoted one of the “protesters,” 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura, as saying. And the role Hamas as an organization is playing in the violence should not be underrated. The Washington Post reported that organizers of the protest went so far as to tell the people protesting “to burst through the fence,” because “Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions,” when in reality, they were reinforcing them. Critics of Israel say that they do not care about Palestinian lives, but it is Hamas that continuously endangers them. It’s likely to get worse on Tuesday on Nakba day, or “the day of the catastrophe” when Palestinians mourn the establishment of the state of Israel and the ways in which their lives changed as a result. Israel’s Channel 10 has reported that Palestinian sources have indicated that on Tuesday, armed Hamas members will shoot at soldiers and attempt to kidnap one. Should they succeed, much of the media will likely run with the headline: “Israeli soldier has audacity to show up to Nakba day ceremony uninvited.”

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May 14, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel bombs Gaza tunnel and closes key crossing damaged …

In addition to its immediate and practical effect, the surgical strike on the tunnel along Erez is a signal to Hamas that Israel will not shy away from exerting the full force of its military, if necessary, during a week that will include the inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem; Nakba Day, in which Palestinians mark their dispossession during Israel’s war of independence; and the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar each potent events fraught with national, cultural and religious meaning.

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May 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israeli military doubling troop positioned along Gaza …

There are heightened tensions in Israel this weekend, just days before the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Israeli forces on Saturday blew up what they said was a Hamas terror tunnel at the Gaza border.Palestinian protesters have been fighting with Israeli troops at the border since March. The site of the new U.S. embassy is being readied, and signs are up across Jerusalem thanking President Trump for moving the embassy, thus recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians, who have been protesting the embassy move, marched through the streets of Gaza, carrying the body of a protester shot by Israeli troops Friday. He was among an estimated 15,000 demonstrators, some burning tires and hurling rocks at Israeli forces. Palestinians have also started attaching fire-bombs to kites and flying them into Israel. Along the Gaza border on Friday, CBS News found Israelis flying kites in a counter-demonstration. “They kill their own. I mean they kill their own,” said Leah Goldin, whose son Hadar was killed four years in a war with Hamas. His body was never returned. She’s angry and thinks Hamas is using Palestinians’ suffering for publicity. “This is awful to use children’s games kites and to turn them into bombs,” Goldin said. “To burn what? The fields?” As a result of one of those fire-kites, a crop that has been destroyed, which was a field of wheat and while the damage is relatively limited, ultimately it is symbolic. After all, this is a fight over land and who it belongs to. Racing across the fields, we found firefighters on specially-fitted motorcycles. Captain Liron Soll explained they go where fire engines cannot. “All big fires start from small one if you are in the right place in the right time you can close it with a glass of water. So, we are the glass of water,” Soll said. Israelis told CBS News the burned fields on this side of the conflict cannot compare with the level of suffering or images coming from Gaza. Anger is boiling, Hamas is calling on its supporters to storm the security fence — and Israel’s military is strengthening its defenses. 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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May 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Palestinians try to rip through Gaza border fence, drawing …

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip –Hundreds of Palestinians converged on the Gaza Strip’s border fence with Israel on Friday, trying to rip through it before drawing heavy Israeli fire in one of the most violent incidents yet in five weeks of protests. Three Palestinians were killed and dozens were reported wounded. The violence came shortly after a top U.N. official urged Israel to refrain from using excessive force against the protesters. At least 38 protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire and more than 1,600 wounded in the weekly protests since they began March 30. Israel has rejected the international criticism, saying it is defending its sovereign border and accusing Gaza’s Hamas leaders, who are organizing the protests, of using the crowds as cover to carry out attacks. In Friday’s unrest, a large crowd gathered a few hundred meters from the border, with some throwing stones and setting tires on fire in what has become a weekly occurrence. Late in the afternoon, dozens of young men broke away from the larger protest, moving south about 200 meters and approaching the fence. The crowd then tried to break through the fence with hooks and wire cutters when Israeli forces opened fire. Witnesses said three protesters briefly crossed into Israel and turned around. A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces on the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip, during the fifth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes along the border with Israel on April 27, 2018. MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Hundreds of additional protesters ran to the scene, and the numbers quickly grew to several thousand. Israeli armored vehicles sped to the site and fired barrages of tear gas. As gunfire erupted, the crowd dispersed. A dozen Palestinian ambulances jammed a dirt road lining up to evacuate the wounded. Some in the crowd shouted “shahid,” or “martyr” as bodies were taken away on stretchers. Palestinian health officials reported three people killed and 611 wounded, including 138 hit by live fire in incidents along the border throughout the day. In a statement, the Israeli military said it had “thwarted” an attempted infiltration by Palestinian protesters. It said “hundreds of rioters” tried to burn the fence and enter the Israel. It said the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and that troops opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement” and halted the crowd. It released a video showing a young Palestinian man placing a burning tire along the fence in an apparent attempt to set it on fire. In another, a small group lobs stones at an Israeli military vehicle on the other side of the fence. In other incidents, the military said Palestinian crowds rolled burning tires, hurled rocks and flew kites with flaming objects attached with the goal of damaging the fence and other Israeli targets. It also released a photo appearing to show a group of youths tugging at barbed wire along the fence. The marches, aimed in part at trying to break a decade-old border blockade, have been organized by Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers but have also been driven by widespread despair in the coastal territory of 2 million people. Gaza organizers say the marches are also pressing for the “right of return” of refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Two-thirds of Gaza residents are descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled from properties during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. The protests are to culminate on May 15, the anniversary of Israel’s creation. Hamas organizers have made conflicting statements about whether they plan a mass border breach at some point. Hamas’ supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh, visited a protest camp in the southern town of Rafah, vowing larger protests in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and among Palestinian refugees in other countries on May 15. “Our people will not slow down the protests until they get their rights,” he said. The Israeli military has repeatedly said it will not allow Gazans to burst across the border. Israeli communities are located just a few hundred meters away. However, Israel has come under heavy international criticism for allegedly using excessive force. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said Israeli troops have not heeded warnings by the United Nations and others, repeatedly using lethal force against unarmed protesters in the past month. Gaza health officials say that four minors, including a 14-year-old boy, have been among the dead. “The loss of life is deplorable, and the staggering number of injuries caused by live ammunition only confirms the sense that excessive force has been used against demonstrators — not once, not twice, but repeatedly,” the commissioner said. Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, said Israel is “diligently defending its sovereignty” and accused Zeid of encouraging Hamas’ “exploitation of civilians.” He said the commissioner is “not focused on human rights, but only with obsessively criticizing Israel.” Thousands have taken part in the Friday demonstrations from five protest tent camps, each set up several hundred meters (yards) from the border fence. Small groups usually move toward the fence, setting tires ablaze to hamper the vision of the security forces while others throw stones or firebombs. Israeli soldiers, including snipers taking cover behind sand berms, have responded by firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and live rounds. Israel’s military has said troops are under orders to target “instigators,” but has also warned that anyone approaching or trying to damage the fence risks his life. Palestinians demonstrate during clashes with Israeli security forces near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, east of the northern town of Jabalia, on April 27, 2018, on the fifth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border. MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images Rights groups have said such open-fire rules are unlawful because they allow soldiers to use potentially lethal force in situations where their lives are not in danger. Israeli officials have said that some of the protesters in recent weeks tried to damage the border fence or plant explosives along it. Others have tried to set Israeli fields on fire on the other side of the fence by hurling improvised explosives or firebombs, or flying the flaming kites. A group of Palestinian activists calling themselves “the tires unit” arrived Friday on a truck laden with old tires. A van mounted with loudspeakers followed the truck with chants and applause. Tires were set ablaze, filling the air with thick smoke. With hooks and a long rope, the activists pulled at parts of the barbed wire adjacent to the fence. Israel and Egypt imposed the Gaza blockade in 2007, in response to a violent takeover of the territory by Hamas, which had won Palestinian parliament elections a year earlier. The blockade has gutted Gaza’s economy, driving up unemployment and leaving two-thirds of young people without jobs. Hamas’ Interior Ministry announced that Egypt had agreed to open the Rafah border crossing for three days, beginning Saturday. The temporary opening is the second this month.

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April 27, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Four Killed in Gaza, as Weekly Protests Shrink – The New …

JERUSALEM They came in smaller numbers. But the outcome was still deadly, and the victims this time included a 15-year-old boy. Palestinians protested for a fourth Friday along the security fence dividing Gaza from Israel, some of them burning tires, hurling rocks or flying kites with flaming tails in the hope of setting ablaze the fields of Israeli rural communities on the other side. The Israeli military distributed a photograph of one kite with a scrawled swastika. The military estimated the number of participants at about 3,000 in five locations along the Gaza border, down from at least 30,000 on March 30, when the protest campaign started. But by evening the Gaza Health Ministry reported four killed by Israeli sniper fire. One was identified as Muhammad Ayoub, 15. Amateur video taken on the Gaza side of the fence purported to show him shot while running with other youths, apparently empty-handed. Graphic photographs showed the teenager lying on the rocky ground, bleeding from the head, and later on a hospital gurney. His father, Ibrahim Ayoub, told a local Gaza-based news site: I thank Allah for taking him as a martyr. This is better than the humiliating life and tragedy we live. The Friday toll brought the total number of fatalities from the start of the campaign to at least 37. Hundreds more protesters have been wounded by Israeli fire. Israel has drawn international censure for using live fire against the mostly unarmed protesters who did not appear to present any immediately life-threatening danger to the soldiers. On Friday, Nickolay E. Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, denounced the shooting of the 15-year-old as outrageous, writing on Twitter: How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesnt! It fuels anger and breeds more killing. He called for an investigation into the killing. Even as the numbers of protesters waned, the international campaign supporting the Palestinians received a boost this week when Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress, backed out of a major award ceremony meant to honor her in Jerusalem. Representatives initially cited her distress over recent events in Israel. On Friday, Ms. Portman issued a statement explaining her absence, saying, I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu. Israels military says it is acting to prevent any mass crossing of the fence and to prevent attacks against Israeli soldiers and nearby communities. The military said it was looking into the reports of the fatalities. On Friday, the Israeli military said in a statement that people participating in what it described as riots were attempting to approach the security infrastructures, burning tires and trying to fly kites over the border with burning items attached to them. Several crossed into Israel, the statement said, and were extinguished when required. The military added that it would not allow any harm to security infrastructure that protects Israeli civilians, and will act against the violent rioters and terrorists who threaten either. The troops responded with tear gas and live fire. As in previous weeks, no injuries were reported on the Israeli side. The protests began as a grass-roots campaign but were quickly adopted by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza. They are meant to draw international attention to the 11-year blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the isolated, impoverished coastal territory. The protests also are meant to punctuate Palestinian demands for the return to lands in what is now Israel. The organizers of the protests, named the Great Return March, originally said the idea had been for a peaceful, family-style six-week sit-in at tent encampments erected about 700 yards from the fence, with weekly marches building up to a peak on May 15. That is when Palestinians mark the Nakba, or the catastrophe, of the foundation of Israel and the war surrounding its creation in 1948, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in what is now Israel. Many of the refugees ended up in Gaza. Israel says the campaign has been taken over by Hamas, which Israel, like much of the Western world, classifies as a terrorist organization. In leaflets dropped from the air on Friday the military warned protesters, in Arabic, to stay away from the fence, and told them to ignore instructions from Hamas, which Israel says is exploiting the protesters for its own political interests. While a few confronted the troops, most of the protesters stood by, watching. One protester, Abdallah Daoud, 16, explained why he was participating. With his face black with soot from the burning tires and slingshot in hand, he said: There is no money, there is nothing. I want to be a martyr because of the siege, a reference to the blockade. I cannot get out of Gaza. There is no income. In a new tactic, protesters including whole families in the Shejaiya area of eastern Gaza moved tents forward to about 300 yards from the fence, considered the edge of the danger zone. Some Shejaiya protesters built a cage, like a mock prison cell, containing effigies of two Israeli soldiers whose bodies are being held by Hamas in Gaza, and two Israeli citizens also believed held by Hamas there. The entrance to the Shejaiya protest site included a large poster with pictures and names of those killed during the first three Fridays. During a visit to the protest area, Ismail Haniya, the political leader of the Hamas organization, said: Be ready and prepared for the human flood on all the borders of Palestine inside and outside the occupied lands on the anniversary of the Nakba. Islamic Jihad, an extremist group that often rivals Hamas in Gaza, went further, releasing a video on Thursday showing Israeli officers, including a senior general, in its sights as they toured the Israeli side of the fence. Avigdor Lieberman, Israels hard-line defense minister, visited the Gaza border area on Friday. What we have seen in these four weeks is that every week there are less and less people on the one hand, he said, and on the other hand, there is much more terror activity. He warned, Whoever makes threats will lose in the end. Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza.

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April 22, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian …

In what amounted to the highest number of casualties in a single day in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 hostilities, on 30 March, 18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces (or died of wounds sustained that day), and another 1,400 were injured, including over half of them by live ammunition,…

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April 20, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Hamas Sees Gaza Protests as Peaceful and as a Deadly …

Few analysts, and certainly few Israelis, have suggested that Hamas may actually be rethinking its strategy merely because it has joined what are meant to be nonviolent mass protests and has name-checked the heroes of peaceful civil disobedience. Its quite understandable that when those that proscribe Hamas as a terror organization see Haniya surrounded by icons of peace, it does little to dispel memories of very violent and bloody attacks, including by suicide bombs, said Beverley Milton-Edwards, an expert on political Islam at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar who was a co-author of a history of Hamas. But if Mr. Haniyas unexpected nod to nonviolence struck some as contradictory and self-serving as evidence of, one might say, a degree of chutzpah his organizations embrace of the Gaza protests had a clear logic that can be understood in much simpler terms. Terms like no-brainer. Its experiment with popular resistance may or may not be wholehearted, but it is indisputably pragmatic. A month or two ago, Hamas was cornered. Isolated regionally, rived by internal disputes, it had been unable to ameliorate a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and was increasingly humiliated by the failure of reconciliation talks with Ramallah. They had to make too many concessions in the hope of getting a little bit in exchange, and they wound up getting nothing whatsoever, said Azzam Tamimi, an analyst for a London-based Arabic television channel with close ties to top Hamas leadership. After a decade running Gaza, and hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Hamas was growing deeply unpopular. Though most Gazans would blame Israel fundamentally, and Egypt indirectly, a lot of Palestinians would just do away with all of Hamas to have a better life, said Tareq Baconi, author of Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, to be published next month by Stanford University Press. The group was in such dire straits that analysts and Israeli security officials warned it might provoke a new war out of sheer desperation to shake things up. Yet, even the prospect of war seemed unavailing. Neither Hamas nor Gazas two million residents, still recovering from the past two conflicts, in 2012 and 2014, had any appetite for another round of violence. Theyre absolutely exhausted, Mr. Baconi said. To its rockets Israel had responded with the Iron Dome antimissile system. To its tunnels Israel was answering with a $2 billion reinforced-concrete wall buried deep underground. And on Sunday, Israel said it had uncovered and destroyed the longest operational tunnel yet from Gaza. It was no surprise, then, that after a grass-roots idea for a peaceful, long-lasting protest along the Gaza fence started gaining widespread support, Hamas brought a halt to what had been a fairly steady tempo of rocket launches into Israel and threw its considerable organizational might behind the demonstrations. By embracing the protests, Hamas cannily aligned itself with a popular movement that became even more popular as it took shape and that generated an outpouring of international support when Israel responded with gunfire, killing dozens of Palestinians, almost all of them unarmed. Instantly, the woebegone Palestinian cause and the crisis in Gaza were back in the news, and even the demand for a right of return to Israeli land one that many supporters of a two-state solution seemed ready to throw overboard was being taken seriously, cheering Palestinians in refugee camps and the diaspora. The time was ripe for a popular movement in Gaza, where younger Palestinians, like those on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, have grown disillusioned with the moribund Oslo peace process for self-governance, Mr. Baconi said. Many want to turn the national movement into a campaign for civil rights, rather than simply for statehood. Hamas is just jumping on the bandwagon and recognizing the effectiveness of popular resistance at this moment, he said. In fact, though it is better known for armed struggle, Hamas has acknowledged the utility of popular resistance since it arose out of the First Intifada in 1987. And last year, it took another subtle step in that direction, adopting a new policy that acknowledged growing support for popular resistance. Yet, not all Gazans see Hamass involvement in the new protests as laudable. Some accused the group of cynically hijacking the demonstrations to serve its own purposes, while still also using young men as cannon fodder. Its beautiful that we find Hamas adopting this nonviolent struggle, Mohammad Al Taluli, a 26-year-old activist due in court this week on criminal charges for criticizing Hamas online, said sarcastically. One week before the peaceful protest there was a military maneuver for the Qassam brigades. Do they think they fool us? The gun is no longer a choice, Mr. Al Taluli added. Its a burden on anybody who carries it. Yohanan Tzoreff, a former adviser for Arab affairs in Israels civil administration in Gaza, viewed the protests through the lens of Hamass long-running political rivalry with Fatah, in which Hamas hopes eventually to seize control of the Palestine Liberation Organization, over which Mr. Abbas now maintains a tight grip. Which is the way that the people will adopt? Mr. Tzoreff said. The way of Ramallah, which means negotiations, negotiations, negotiations, and our entire fight will be at the international level; or the way in Gaza: popular resistance, with a lot of readiness to sacrifice? For the moment, the two groups are enjoying an uneasy public truce, with Mr. Abbas expressing solidarity with the Gaza protests. Fatah publicly support the protests, but behind closed doors, they criticize them as nothing more than a Hamas stunt, Ms. Milton-Edwards said. For Hamas, the fate of its new embrace of popular protest depends on the ability of its leaders, and the Gaza marchers, to walk a fine line along the fence with Israel. Too much in the way of stone- or firebomb-throwing could stir another heavy-handed Israeli response and the kind of Palestinian blood bath that could compel Hamas to answer back with rockets. The more Israel uses disproportionate force, the harder it is for Hamas to continue holding back from retaliating, Mr. Baconi said. At some point, Hamas will start to lose legitimacy if it doesnt.

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April 16, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed


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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Under the 'fair use' rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author's work without asking permission. Fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. The fair use privilege is perhaps the most significant limitation on a copyright owner's exclusive rights.

Fair use as described at 17 U.S.C. Section 107:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phono-records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  • (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for or nonprofit educational purposes,
  • (2) the nature of the copyrighted work,
  • (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and
  • (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."