Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Crime & Punishment in the Gaza Strip – YouTube

We finally got a rare glimpse of the embattled Gaza Strip and a chance to see what life was like under the rule of Hamas. In 2007 we tried and failed to get into Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing. Back then the rival Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah were engaged in a bloody war for control of this tiny strip of land. Hamas won. When the post-Mubarak government of Egypt decided to start letting small numbers of folks into Gaza through their Rafah Crossing, we knew we could finally enter the region.

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Crime & Punishment in the Gaza Strip – YouTube

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

Gaza violence is latest salvo in war of narratives | Fox News

JERUSALEM Thousands of Palestinians took part in a mass protest along Gaza’s volatile border with Israel, the second large-scale demonstration in what is expected to be a steady turnout over the coming weeks.

More than 30 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded by Israeli fire in mass protests on Friday and the previous week.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who are orchestrating the demonstrations, say the protests are against a decade-old border blockade by Israel. But Israel accuses the Islamic militant group of using the protests as cover for trying to infiltrate the border and attack Israelis. It has warned that anyone approaching the border fence is risking their lives.

Here’s a closer look at how the sides reached this point:

THE HAMAS TAKEOVER

Israel captured Gaza, a thin strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, from Egypt in the 1967 Mideast war and occupied the area for nearly four decades before withdrawing all troops and settlements in 2005. Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, won legislative elections the following year and in 2007 seized control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza in an attempt to weaken the group. Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, while attempts at internal Palestinian reconciliation have repeatedly failed, in large part because of Hamas’ continued refusal to disarm.

Israel has defended the wars as a response to intense rocket fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza, and notes the group’s history of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks, especially during the second Palestinian uprising early last decade. But the wars have left several thousand Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, drawing heavy international criticism.

WHY NOW?

The blockade, wars, international isolation and failed attempts at reconciliation have left Gaza’s economy in tatters.

Unemployment is approaching 50 percent, according to official Palestinian figures. Gaza’s 2 million residents receive only a few hours of electricity each day, tap water is undrinkable and the coastline has been polluted by tons of untreated sewage. The Israeli-Egyptian blockade greatly restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of the small territory of barely 360 square kilometers (139 square miles) making it difficult to do business or travel abroad for work, school or family reasons.

Hamas says the demonstrations are meant to draw attention to the harsh conditions in Gaza. But with public discontent rising, it also appears to be an attempt by the group to shake up the situation after other options failed.

Hamas can also capitalize on any hatred of Israel among Gazans, over half of whom are descendants of refugees from what is now Israel.

WHY DOESN’T ISRAEL EASE THE BLOCKADE?

Israel says its blockade is aimed only at Hamas, and it has no quarrel with Gaza’s civilians. It has been careful to allow the continued flow of humanitarian goods and construction materials into Gaza, and says it will ease the blockade further based on security assessments.

But international organizations like the World Bank and United Nations say the blockade continues to stifle the economy. They have repeatedly urged Israel to ease the restrictions significantly.

Israel says it has no choice, accusing Hamas of trying to smuggle weapons and materials that can become weapons into the territory. It also has asked the international community, which already funnels hundreds of millions of dollars a year into Gaza, to increase aid.

WHY HAVE THE PROTESTS TURNED VIOLENT?

While thousands of Palestinians have gathered for what are billed as nonviolent protests, dozens of young men have approached the border and thrown stones, firebombs and burning tires toward the border fence. Israel has mobilized snipers and other special forces on the other side of the fence.

The Israeli military says Hamas has been using the demonstrations as cover for attacks, and says militants have attempted to carry out shootings, plant bombs and infiltrate the fence in order to attack inside Israel.

Military officials say they have used live fire only as a last resort when all other alternatives, including warning shots and rubber bullets, have failed to stop the demonstrators from reaching the fence. It says it has targeted only main “instigators” trying to carry out attacks.

But witness accounts and amateur videos have shown some demonstrators appeared to be unarmed or far from the fence when they were shot. The United Nations and European Union have called for an independent investigation and urged all sides to show restraint.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Hamas has called for a series of demonstrations in the coming weeks, culminating on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. Palestinians mark the date as their “naqba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were forced or fled from their homes.

Friday’s demonstrations were smaller, and the death toll was lower than last week’s demonstrations, suggesting the protests could be weakening.

But Hamas’ top Gaza official, Yehiyeh Sinwar, made a surprise visit to one of the protests and appeared to issue a new threat. “Wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

With Israeli communities lying just a few hundred meters away from the border, Israel has made clear that it will not accept any breach.

Sinwar’s threat could set the stage for another serious round of violence in the coming weeks.

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Gaza violence is latest salvo in war of narratives | Fox News

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April 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Palestinian Journalist Fatally Shot While Covering Gaza …

Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, 30, is evacuated after being fatally wounded by Israeli fire while covering the Palestinian demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters hide caption

Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, 30, is evacuated after being fatally wounded by Israeli fire while covering the Palestinian demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday.

Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja covered plenty of funeral processions during the 2014 war in Gaza.

Now his colleagues are covering his death.

They encircled his body, holding their cameras high, as he was carried out of Gaza’s main hospital on Saturday. They marched through the streets on their way to funeral prayers at the territory’s central mosque. Draped across his body was a Palestinian flag and a blue reporter’s flak vest.

Just one day before, Murtaja, 30, was at the Gaza-Israel border with his camera, covering demonstrations of some of the bloodiest violence Gaza has seen since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian territory.

Over more than a week, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered near Israel’s fortified border fence with the stated aim of demanding to return to lands their families lost in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s founding. But Israel accused Hamas of fomenting violence under the guise of a civil protest.

Many demonstrators stayed far back from the border fence, picnicking in the barley fields and holding a tent camp sit-in, but some young Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks toward the fence. Israel said there were also attempts to lob rudimentary explosives and damage or penetrate the border fence, as well as a pair of militants who shot at soldiers.

Israel said its troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire to prevent masses from crossing into Israel and in order to protect its border fence and soldiers. Gaza officials said Israeli troops have killed at least 29 Palestinians since last Friday and wounded hundreds. Palestinians and some rights groups say troops are firing on people even when they are unarmed or pose no immediate threat.

On Friday afternoon, Murtaja stood about 300 yards away from the fence, documenting Palestinians burning tires, said photographer Rushdi Serraj, a close colleague who said he was next to Murtaja when he was shot. “Suddenly, he shouts, ‘I’m injured, I’m injured, my stomach,'” Serraj recounted.

Photos show Murtaja on the ground, wearing a protective vest marked “PRESS” in big English letters. His family said he was hit by a bullet to an exposed side of his torso not covered by the front or back part of his vest.

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in Gaza said an additional five Palestinian reporters covering the border protests were wounded by Israeli fire. NPR met two of them, in hospital beds with serious leg wounds, who said they were shooting photos on the border and wearing PRESS-labeled vests when they were shot.

Adham Hajjar, 32, says he was wearing a vest marked “PRESS” when he was shot in the leg while covering protests at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday Daniel Estrin hide caption

Adham Hajjar, 32, says he was wearing a vest marked “PRESS” when he was shot in the leg while covering protests at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday

The Israeli military said it does not intentionally target journalists and is looking into the matter. Hours before Murtaja was shot, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said soldiers employ lethal fire only as a last resort.

“No one gets shot by standing and looking. They are shot after commanders specifically approve it against a specific person or threat,” Conricus said.

Late Saturday, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman seemed to suggest Murtaja had flown a drone above soldiers when he was shot. He also said Hamas men had dressed up as journalists. He did not provide evidence to back the claims.

“You don’t know who is a photographer and who is not,” Lieberman said. “Whoever employs drones above Israeli soldiers needs to understand he is endangering himself.”

The Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories called on the Israeli army to conduct a fast and open investigation, and to show restraint in areas where journalists work.

Murtaja’s colleagues said he’d done videography work for the BBC, VICE and other international media, and had worked with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on his 2017 documentary, Human Flow. He was also a leading videographer for Ai Weiwei’s video installation, Journey of Laziz, which was recently exhibited Israel’s leading museum, the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem. The visual artist shared photos of Murtaja on his Instagram account on Saturday.

The video featured Gaza’s last tiger, pacing in his cage. An animal welfare group, Four Paws International, later evacuated the tiger from what it dubbed the “world’s worst zoo,” which had been facing meager resources.

Videographer Khaled Al Ashkar said Murtaja once joked that he wished the animal welfare group would take him out of Gaza too. Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza for the last decade, ever since Hamas took control, and travel out of Gaza is severely restricted.

On March 24, Murtaja posted a photo on Facebook: a bird’s eye view of Gaza’s Mediterranean shore, taken with his drone. He wrote: “I hope one day I can take such a photo while I’m in the sky,” meaning, in an airplane.

He signed off: “My name is Yaser Murtaja. I am thirty years old. I live in Gaza City. I have never traveled!”

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April 7, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza violence is latest salvo in war of narratives – yahoo.com

JERUSALEM (AP) Thousands of Palestinians on Friday took part in a mass protest along Gaza’s volatile border with Israel, the second large-scale demonstration in what is expected to be a steady turnout over the coming weeks.

Nearly 30 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in two mass protests over the past eight days.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who are orchestrating the demonstrations, say the protests are against a decade-old border blockade by Israel. But Israel accuses the Islamic militant group of using the protests as cover for trying to infiltrate the border and attack Israelis. It has warned that anyone approaching the border fence is risking their lives.

Here’s a closer look at how the sides reached this point:

THE HAMAS TAKEOVER

Israel captured Gaza, a thin strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, from Egypt in the 1967 Mideast war and occupied the area for nearly four decades before withdrawing all troops and settlements in 2005. Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, won legislative elections the following year and in 2007 seized control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza in an attempt to weaken the group. Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, while attempts at internal Palestinian reconciliation have repeatedly failed, in large part because of Hamas’ continued refusal to disarm.

Israel has defended the wars as a response to intense rocket fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza, and notes the group’s history of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks, especially during the second Palestinian uprising early last decade. But the wars have left several thousand Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, drawing heavy international criticism.

WHY NOW?

The blockade, wars, international isolation and failed attempts at reconciliation have left Gaza’s economy in tatters.

Unemployment is approaching 50 percent, according to official Palestinian figures. Gaza’s 2 million residents receive only a few hours of electricity each day, tap water is undrinkable and the coastline has been polluted by tons of untreated sewage. The Israeli-Egyptian blockade greatly restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of the small territory of barely 360 square kilometers (139 square miles) making it difficult to do business or travel abroad for work, school or family reasons.

Hamas says the demonstrations are meant to draw attention to the harsh conditions in Gaza. But with public discontent rising, it also appears to be an attempt by the group to shake up the situation after other options failed.

Hamas can also capitalize on any hatred of Israel among Gazans, over half of whom are descendants of refugees from what is now Israel.

WHY DOESN’T ISRAEL EASE THE BLOCKADE?

Israel says its blockade is aimed only at Hamas, and it has no quarrel with Gaza’s civilians. It has been careful to allow the continued flow of humanitarian goods and construction materials into Gaza, and says it will ease the blockade further based on security assessments.

But international organizations like the World Bank and United Nations say the blockade continues to stifle the economy. They have repeatedly urged Israel to ease the restrictions significantly.

Israel says it has no choice, accusing Hamas of trying to smuggle weapons and materials that can become weapons into the territory. It also has asked the international community, which already funnels hundreds of millions of dollars a year into Gaza, to increase aid.

WHY HAVE THE PROTESTS TURNED VIOLENT?

While thousands of Palestinians have gathered for what are billed as nonviolent protests, dozens of young men have approached the border and thrown stones, firebombs and burning tires toward the border fence. Israel has mobilized snipers and other special forces on the other side of the fence.

The Israeli military says Hamas has been using the demonstrations as cover for attacks, and says militants have attempted to carry out shootings, plant bombs and infiltrate the fence in order to attack inside Israel.

Military officials say they have used live fire only as a last resort when all other alternatives, including warning shots and rubber bullets, have failed to stop the demonstrators from reaching the fence. It says it has targeted only main “instigators” trying to carry out attacks.

But witness accounts and amateur videos have shown some demonstrators appeared to be unarmed or far from the fence when they were shot. The United Nations and European Union have called for an independent investigation and urged all sides to show restraint.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Hamas has called for a series of demonstrations in the coming weeks, culminating on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. Palestinians mark the date as their “naqba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were forced or fled from their homes.

Friday’s demonstrations were smaller, and the death toll was lower than last week’s demonstrations, suggesting the protests could be weakening.

But Hamas’ top Gaza official, Yehiyeh Sinwar, made a surprise visit to one of the protests and appeared to issue a new threat. “Wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

With Israeli communities lying just a few hundred meters away from the border, Israel has made clear that it will not accept any breach.

Sinwar’s threat could set the stage for another serious round of violence in the coming weeks.

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Gaza violence is latest salvo in war of narratives – yahoo.com

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April 6, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Death toll rises in Gaza border protests | DW | 07.04.2018

A Palestinian journalist who was shot by Israeli forces during renewed clashes along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israelhas died of his wounds, bringing the toll of those killed during Friday’s protests to nine, the Health Ministry in the Strip said on Saturday.

The ministry also announced the death of another man to add to an initial death toll of seven. Nearly 500 people were injured by live fire and rubber bullets, 33 seriously, it said.

The dead journalist, Yasser Murtaja, was working as a photographer for the Gaza-based Ain media agency. He was more than 100 meters (yards) from the border and wearing a flak jacket marked “press” when he was shot.

The Israeli army has not yet commented on Murtaja’s death, saying only that it had stopped several attempts to breach the border fence and had acted “in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

The UN human rights office said on Friday that there were indications of Israeli forces using “excessive force” against protesters last week, when 21 Palestinians were killed or died later of their wounds amid clashes near the border.

Read more:Israeli defense minister rules out inquiry into Gaza killings

Several Palestinians used slings to hurl stones at Israeli troops

Long-running protests

At least 31 Palestinians have died in connection with violence at the border since last week, when Gazans launched six weeks of protests against the displacement of some 700,000 Arabs from their homes when Israel was founded in 1948. The protests are planned to run until May 15, a day after Israel marks the 70th anniversary of its founding.

Palestinians refer to the 1948 expulsion as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.” The 2 million people living in the 360-square-kilometer (139-square-mile) Gaza Strip are mostly descendants of the refugees, who have never been allowed to return.

Israel says that Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip, is using the mass marches as a cover for attacking the border fence. The army said on Friday that protesters had thrown explosive devices and firebombs.

Read more:Israel denies Easter travel permits to Gaza Christians

Dire humanitarian situation

Israel and Egypt have imposed blockades on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took power in 2007, making it increasingly difficult for the group to govern.

Unemployment stands at 50 percent and there are recurrent shortages of power and medical supplies.

However, Israel says Hamas itself is to blame for the humanitarian crisis because of its refusal to disarm and renounce violence.

tj/jlw (AP, dpa, AFP)

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Death toll rises in Gaza border protests | DW | 07.04.2018

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April 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Burning tires, tear gas and live fire: Gaza clashes turn …

GAZA CITY Clouds of thick black smoke billowed across the edges of the Gaza Strip on Friday as Palestinian protesters used burning tires in an attempt to shield themselves from sniper fire as they faced off against heavily armed Israeli troops. By the end of the day, seven Palestinians had been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

Israeli soldiers used live ammunition and tear gas as tens of thousands of Gaza residents gathered in the latest show of anger along the dividing line between Israel and the 140-square-mile strip of territory. The Israeli military said firebombs were hurled and explosives were planted near the fence in northern Gaza.

Through the early afternoon, the demonstration appeared significantly smaller than one a week earlier that turned into the bloodiest day for Palestinians in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.Groups mostly of young men advanced to the border and hurled rocks with slingshots from behind the clouds of smoke.

The protests swelled by late afternoon to include more women and children, with the Israeli military estimating that at least 20,000 people had gathered.

The use of live ammunition by Israeli forces initially appeared relatively limited. But toward the end of the day, the violence escalated.The Gaza Health Ministry said about 1,400 people were injured Friday, including 399 with gunshot wounds. The ministry said 754 people were hospitalized 730 men and 24 women.

In addition, another person died Friday from injuries sustained in the clashes a week ago.

Some Palestinian families had expressed concerns about attending the Friday protests after the violence a week earlier, when residents of the blockaded strip launched what they said would be six weeks of demonstrations.

The Israeli military says it has been forced to use live ammunition to prevent demonstrators from breaking through the fence and says Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, is exploiting the demonstrations as a cover to carry out terrorist attacks.

Hamas has thrown its weight behind the protests, which provide a distraction from the growing misery in Gaza. But the demonstrations have drawn Palestinians from various factions, who are rallying around the demand that they regain and return to their ancestral land.

About 70 percent of residents in Gaza are refugees or the descendants of those displaced from towns and villages now in Israel.

Many protesters who gathered at the border said they felt hopeless and frustrated. Gazas economy may be on the verge of collapse, according to the United Nations, and only a tiny proportion of the enclaves 2million inhabitants are allowed to leave because of tight Israeli restrictions and an often-closed border with Egypt.

Hamas has been paying those who are injured or killed, raising concerns that some protesters may be more inclined to risk their lives in the line of Israeli fire.

Abu Majahid, 32, who declined to give his full name, carried metal pump parts to the fence that he said he intended to throw at Israeli soldiers.

Others said they were engaged in more peaceful resistance.

Jalal Marzak, 40, said he sought to send the message that Palestinians in Gaza are still dreaming and hoping. Marzak, who said he didnt support any particular political faction, said he had sneaked out of his home after his wife demanded that the family stay away from the protests because of possible danger.

Thats her calling right now, he said as his cellphone rang. Ill cancel it. Im in big trouble.

Israels use of live ammunition against Palestinians a week earlier drew condemnation from human rights groups and calls for an investigation by the United Nations. The Israeli government praised its soldiers for protecting the fence.

On Friday, Kuwait attempted for the second time in a week to get the U.N. Security Council to call for an investigation into the clashes on the Gaza border. A draft statement seen by The Washington Post was almost identical to one that the United States blocked last week. It urged restraint and an independent and transparent investigation into the violence.

A U.N. diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the private negotiations, said that once again the United States blocked the statement. Kuwaits ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, promised to keep trying to get it adopted.

The number of casualties on Friday was lower than a week earlier. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said that Israeli forces had not adjusted their rules of engagement in response to criticism. He said the number of people shot depended on the tactics adopted by Hamas.

Conricus said figures from the Health Ministry in Gaza should be treated with theutmost caution.

The IDF released this footage of protesters in Gaza burning piles of tires. The protests began last week and are dubbed the “March of Return.” Israel has faced international condemnation for using live ammunition against the protesters. (Israel Defense Forces)

At al-Shifa hospital, the main medical facility in Gaza, ambulances screamed up to the front doors and unloaded the injured on stretchers.

Ayman al-Sahbani, head of the emergency department, said that 130 casualties had been brought in, all of them with gunshot wounds except for a few cases. That compared with 284 treated by the hospital last week, he said. Hospital logs viewed earlier by The Post showed the number to be 283.

At the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, Salah Abu Layla, head of the emergency room, said that 86 injured people had come in by 6 p.m., the majority suffering gunshot wounds to the lower limbs, but some suffering from gas inhalation and injuries from tear gas canisters or rubber-coated bullets.

Hashim Zakout, 24, lay in the emergency room with a bullet wound to the leg. He said he threwlittle stones, but they werefor the freedom. He said he hadnt attended demonstrations a week earlier because he had been volunteering as a clerk in a hospital and had been on his shift.

Conricus said that live ammunition was used as alast resort.Jets from water cannons could be seen piercing the clouds of black smoke, but Israels military said they were being used for putting out fires.

Tear gas canisters occasionally landed more than 300 meters from the fence the distance at which the Israeli military has told Gaza residents to stay away. However, banks of earth erected in the days before the demonstration at around the 300-meter mark prevented too many stray bullets traveling farther.

Hamas and the organizing committee for theMarch of Return, as they have named the protests, hope to sustain themuntil at least the May 15 commemoration of the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe the term Palestinians use for the flight and expulsion of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians seven decades ago upon Israels creation.

Hamass internal security branch on Friday called for protesters to remainpeaceful and to obscure their faces, amid speculation that the Israeli military was identifying and targeting known militants. Hamas said five members of its military wing were killed in the protest last week. Israel said the total number ofknown terrorists killed was 10.

Six Palestinian journalists were shot despite wearing clothes identifying them as members of the press, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said. The Israeli military said it did not have an immediate comment.

[Gaza families call for investigation into Israeli use of fatal force]

Eglash reported from Jerusalem. Carol Morello in Washington contributed to this report.

He had no gun, no molotov: Gaza families call for investigation into Israeli use of fatal force

Fifteen Gazans dead after Israeli army, Palestinians clash at border fence, officials say

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Burning tires, tear gas and live fire: Gaza clashes turn …

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April 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

With riots and live fire, Gaza just went 25 years back in …

Gaza has come a long way from the last time it was just Palestinian protesters against Israeli snipers. In April 1993, the Israel Defense Forces made a decision to go back to using live fire against Palestinian protesters or rioters in the Strip. It was over six years since the first intifada had begun and the army had been spending much of that time looking for more effective and less lethal means of controlling violent demonstrations.

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In the first weeks of the Palestinian uprising, dozens had been killed by soldiers who were still using live bullets. Then the army received the infamous order from Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to break their hands and legs and troops were issued wooden clubs. That didnt work so well either, as cases of cruel beatings, and in some cases to death, soon appeared. Israels defense industries came up with pebble-shooting cannons and all manners of strap-ons for a regular assault rifle barrel, allowing it to fire rubber pellets and tear-gas grenades.

>>DebunkingIsrael’s talking points on deadly Gaza protests | Opinion

Just like security forces in other parts of the world, the IDF learned that non-lethal riot-control tools can also kill, and while they can push back most of the crowd, they quickly lose their effectiveness against increasing numbers of more determined individuals. Veteran protesters (and during the intifada, 16-year olds became veterans very quickly) who have been teargassed dozens of times know how to take care of their eyes and noses in order to minimize the effects, while standard infantry rifles are not made to fire rubber-coated bullets accurately at short range, they can kill as well.

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With the first intifada in its seventh year, the army decided to ease the rule specifying that live ammunition could be used only in life-threatening circumstances not for everyone, just officers and specially-trained snipers with telescopic sights on their weapons. They were positioned in lookout posts above streets where violent protests were taking place, with orders to shoot at the legs of the main troublemakers.

>>Gaza carnage is a victory for Hamas and a propaganda nightmare for IsraelForget rockets Hamas found a more effective way to agitate the Israeli armyGazas refugees have always haunted Israel. Now theyre on the march>>

The result was a short spike in fatalities – shooting live bullets into a fast-moving crowd, surrounded by clouds of tear gas, smoke and dust, even when using selective fire and trying very hard to aim at the lower half of the targets body, will always cause deaths. But the level of violence went down, though it was more likely due to a general fatigue of the Palestinian population. The intifada had gone through its last throes of violence and was petering out by the time Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the first of the agreements that would become the Oslo Accords on September 9, 1993.

No serious research was carried out on the effectiveness of live fire as a riot-control method and none really needs to be: Bullets are made for killing, and no serious military official believes otherwise. Twenty-five years after that short and inconclusive exercise, the IDF once again found itself facing Palestinians in Gaza in similar circumstances on Friday.

After all that happened in Gaza over a quarter of a century, not least the doubling of the population and the increasing isolation and impoverishment in the enclave, Friday saw echoes of the first intifada. The Palestinian Authority took over in 1994, Israel dismantled its settlements and pulled out entirely in 2005 and Hamas wrested control in a bloody coup. The second intifada the waves of violence over that time was not a poplar uprising like the first one but an armed insurgency. Then came Israels military campaigns in 2005, 2008-9, 2012 and 2014, which were much more devastating than anything seen during the intifadas. Hamas and Islamic Jihad built up their rocket arsenals and dug tunnel networks. But these have now been rendered obsolete by the Iron Dome air defense system and the new underground barrier. Hamas is back to square one, isolated like never before in the Arab world.

There were three main scenarios for Fridays events. The best one, at least from Israels perspective, would have been a mass protest a few hundred meters from the border fence, without anyone getting too close. The worst case, for which large forces were prepared, was a mass storming of the fence. What actually happened was something in between. Standing on the Israeli side, less than a kilometer away, it was quite clear that three interconnected events were taking place simultaneously.

The large majority of the nearly 30,000 Palestinian protesters was groups of families who remained around 500 meters from the fence, around the tents that had been pitched on high ground, out of harms way. Some of them ventured as far as the dirt road, just outside the 300-meter range. That was the peaceful demonstration. But the narrative of a non-violent event eroded closer to the border.

Much smaller groups consisting mainly of young men, some throwing stones and rolling burning tires, pushed forward toward the fence. These were met mainly by tear gas grenades dropped from mini-drones. And every few minutes, individuals darted forward to reach the fence and other border installations, trying to wreck them or set them alight, and were hit by sniper fire.

In the first hours of the clashes, as the army assessed the situation, it was clear that there were not going to be masses at the fence, but there would still be plenty of violence. Hamas want to boost the number of casualties, one senior IDF general told me, but theyre not going to go all the way either. Theyre building it up to peak on May 15. At the time, two deaths had been reported.

No one had any doubt that whoever went into the zone 200 to 300 meters from the fence would get hurt. Badly. The IDF snipers had orders to aim for ankles, and only shoot to kill at individuals with weapons. How closely they all adhered to the orders is unclear. Footage from the scene shows that in at least a handful of cases, Palestinians were also shot when trying to run out of the buffer zone, and there are those who claim to have been shot farther away. But it was clear that even if Israeli soldiers scrupulously stuck to the rules of engagement, with the policy of firing at anyone in the zone, the number of casualties would be a result of how many tried to get into it.

Is using live fire at Palestinians trying to get close to the fence justified? Is it effective? From the IDFs perspective, it is defending a sovereign border: Anyone trying to sabotage it has been warned and is committing an act of violence. But the argument that can be made about justification is superfluous as long as there are young Palestinian men willing to risk their lives doing so, whether on their own initiative or as members of Hamas.

In the short term, both sides feel they are ahead. Israel prevented damage to the border and there was no interference to civilian life on the Israeli side. But the army has tied down a significant number of units and troops and will continue doing so as long as the Palestinians keep up the demonstrations. And the IDF is once again having to face the dilemma of whether to use its overwhelming firepower to achieve results, no matter how high the casualties may get.

Senior Israeli intelligence analysts now believe that Hamas has already reached the conclusion that since it will always be outgunned by Israeli arms and technology, its investment in rockets and tunnels has proven to be worthless not to mention the suffering that their use has caused the Palestinians due to Israels retaliatory attacks.

If that is indeed the case, then Hamas made a breakthrough Friday. They have found an old-new way to challenge Israel, and from the narrative emerging from the international media so far, succeeded in conflating the peaceful demonstration of the majority that held back with the much less peaceful rioting nearer the fence.

Will this be enough to draw the worlds attention back to Gaza at a time that other more compelling dramas are happening elsewhere? It certainly wont be enough if it remains a one-off event, or even a repeat occurrence over the next few Fridays and a similar-sized protest on Nakba Day on May 15. The ultimate test will be whether it continues into the summer and develops into something resembling the first intifada, only this time on the borders of Gaza instead of within the Strip.

As of Saturday afternoon, there were no major follow-up protests and the estimated 30,000 who turned up Friday less than two percent of Gazas tired population doesnt indicate a massive appetite for a new uprising. If Fridays events repeat themselves, there are the potential makings of a third intifada. But Hamas and other organizations that would like to see that happen just dont seem to have the support right now.

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Gaza: Pope Francis calls for peace in wake of violence – CNN

Speaking to a crowd of thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope Francis said “the wounds of ongoing conflict” did not “spare the defenseless,” according to the Vatican.

The Pope’s comments come after a Palestinian march to the border with Israel on Friday turned into the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 war.

Thousands of Palestinians amassed near the border for the March of Return, in which the ultimate goal is to cross the border fence into land that became Israel seven decades ago.

But violence quickly broke out.

Sides exchange blame

Israelis and Palestinians then blamed each other for Friday’s violence.

David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN on Saturday that Hamas organized the violence. He said Israeli forces responded defensively because Hamas engineered the event to have thousands of people “to storm into Israel, to overrun Israel.” He told CNN Saturday that calling it a protest is inaccurate.

“Bombs were placed, rockets were shot, guns were shot at Israelis. Israel did what any country around the world would have done. It defended its citizens,” added Keyes.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the large crowds reflect the determination and will of the Palestinian people to extract the right of return and break the siege, no one can remove this right.”

Mustafa Barghouti, founder of the Palestinian National Initiative, not affiliated with Hamas, told CNN on Saturday that the protesters were peaceful, likening their actions to followers of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

“They did not use guns,” he said, referring to the Palestinian protesters. “They did not use weapons. They were just trying to express their views in a peaceful manner and unfortunately they were shot by the Israeli army.”

He also said protesters came from all over Gaza and were not just members of Hamas.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official said the IDF responded to “violent terror demonstrations” in six separate Gaza locations.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for orchestrating the violence.

Palestinian activists released videos on social media that they say show protesters being targeted by the Israeli military.

The IDF warned Hamas published some of the videos “while others are edited or completely fabricated.”The IDF also released their own videos of what they say shows various attempts at sabotage.

Clashes continue

Saturday and Sunday saw much smaller crowds, and far fewer clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

On Saturday, several hundred Palestinians marched toward the border fence.

A CNN crew near Khan Younis in southern Gaza saw some in the crowd throwing rocks and aiming slingshots toward Israeli forces positioned in the distance. A few tires were set on fire and rolled toward the soldiers.

Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and the CNN team heard shots fired. It was not clear what type of weapons or ammunition the soldiers were using.

Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said they treated 49 moderately injured people on Saturday and a total of 9 injured people on Sunday.

Smaller crowds gathered near the fence Sunday so there were few reports of violence.

Burying the dead

Ten funerals took place across Gaza on Saturday for those killed the day before, including members of Hamas, the political and military group that governs the territory.

Hamas’ military wing, al Qassam Brigades, released the names of five people identified as members of the group who were killed.

The Israeli military also released a statement on Saturday saying, “At least 10 known terrorists with documented terror backgrounds” were killed.

Their list included alleged members of Hamas’ military wing, as well as other armed groups. Five of the names on the IDF list matched those on al Qassam Brigades’ list.

What were the protests about?

Friday’s crowds were the largest seen in Gaza in years. It was held on Palestinian Land Day, which commemorates the confiscation of Palestinian-owned land in Israel in 1976.

Tent cities have been set up to host the marches, which are expected to continue through May 15 when Palestinians mark the anniversary of the “Nakba” (“Catastrophe”), the day after Israel declared independence in 1948.

Roughly 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war, which lasted for nearly a year.

The United States plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem around May 14, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, increasing the potential for further protests and clashes.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and to many Palestinians, the change initiated by the Trump administration is viewed as a further erosion of hope for a two-state solution.

What’s the diplomatic fallout?

Following Friday’s violence, Kuwait drafted a statement calling on the United Nations Security Council to launch an independent inquiry.

But the US blocked the statement Saturday morning.

If one country objects, then the statement cannot be adopted. It is unclear if countries other than the US would have also objected.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called for an independent inquiry into Friday’s violence.

“This tragedy underlines the urgency of revitalizing the peace process aiming at creating the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations for a peaceful solution that will allow Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side peacefully and in security,” Guterres was reported as saying before an emergency UN Security Council meeting to address the issue late Friday.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, flatly rejected calls for an inquiry into the deaths of Palestinians killed during the Friday protests in Gaza.

Speaking on Israeli Army Radio Sunday, Liberman called those wanting an inquiry hypocrites for attacking Israel before looking into the large-scale killings of Syrians and other groups.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon lodged a complaint with the United Nations Security Council for holding the emergency session late Friday on the first night of Passover — a major Jewish holiday — according to a statement released by Israel’s UN Mission on Sunday.

Danon claimed Kuwait intentionally called for the session as Israel’s UN mission was observing Passover, thus barring their participation while they observed a religious holiday.

CNN’s Amir Tal, Ralph Ellis, Hilary Clarke, Richard Roth, Ingrid Formanek and Daniel Nikbakht contributed to this report.

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Families of slain Gaza demonstrators call for …

BEIT LAHIA, Gaza The morning after burying 19-year-old Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi, his family gathered in a tent set up to receive mourners, watching and re-watching a video of the moment they say Israeli soldiers shot him in the back of the head.

The video appears to show the teenager, dressed in black, running away from Gazas border fence with Israel carrying a tire. Just before reaching a crowd, he crumples under gunfire.

He had no gun, no molotov, a tire. Does that harm the Israelis, a tire? asked his brother Mohamed Abdul Nabi, 22. He wasnt going toward the Israeli side. He was running away.

The teenager was one of at least 15 people killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces on Friday during what Palestinian factions billed as a peaceful March of Return to mark Land Day, the anniversary of the expropriation of Arab-owned land by the Israeli government in 1976.But it ended as the bloodiest day in the 140-square-mile territory since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Israeli military for guarding the countrys borders. Israel will act firmly and decisively to protect its sovereignty and the security of its citizens, he said in a statement Saturday.

The Israeli military has warned that it will expand its response if violence continues. Hamas and other factions in Gaza have vowed to keep up demonstrations, raising fears of more clashes.

Video posted to YouTube appears to show the moment Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi was shot.

Abdul Fattahs family is among those demanding an investigation into the Israeli response to the protest, saying videos show he posed no threat.More than 700 people were injured with live ammunition in the demonstration, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.Forty-nine were wounded Saturday, it said.

The United Nations on Saturday said it wasdeeply concerned and called for a transparent, independent investigation. The Israeli human rights group Adalah and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights wrote to Israeli Attorney GeneralAvichai Mandelblit to demand accountability.

In the letter, they said the use of live fire against civilians was ablatant violation of international laws.

Israel said it stuck to strict rules of engagement to deal with a 30,000-strong crowd along the border, saying rioters threw molotov cocktails and stones, burned tires, and tried to break through the fence.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond Saturday to requests to clarify the rules of engagement that were followed. In the days preceding the demonstration, the military dropped leaflets warning residents of Gaza to stay at least 300 meters from the border fence or risk being shot.

Israel accused Hamas of using the cover of peaceful demonstrations to carry out attacks. Hamas said five of those killed were members of its military wing, releasing their names and pictures.

Israel put the number of Hamas militants killed at eight, including a 20-year-old with a name similar to Abdul Fattahs. Israel said two others among the dead also were members of militant groups.

Abdul Fattahs family said he worked in his brothers falafel shop during the week and in a kitchen on Fridays. They said he did not belong to an armed faction.

Unlike at funeral tents for dead militants, there were no signs indicating he had an allegiance to any group.

Posters bearing his photo in the funeral tent showed him wearing a black bow tie rather than the military garb typical of fighters. The Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment Saturday to clarify the name discrepancy.

His family, though, made no effort to hide the fact that Abdul Fattah went to demonstrations and threw stones. That was no reason for him to be shot, they said.

They were throwing stones, but the stones never even reached the fence, said 28-year-old Alaa Abdul Nabi, another brother of the slain demonstrator. Its a message, to throw a stone from our land.

Many demonstrators said they were there to protest peacefully.The family of 20-year-old Badr Sabbagh said he had just arrived to watch the demonstrations when he was shot. They rejected the Israeli armys assertion that everyone killed was involved in violence.

He asked for a cigarette, I gave it to him, he had two puffs, and then he was shot in the head, said Mohammed Sabbagh, his 29-year-old brother.Hed only been there 10 minutes.

I took my grandchildren. We went to a peaceful demonstration, said his father, Fayik Sabbagh, 64.We went there to tell them this is our land, but what we found was different.

The demonstrations, which Hamas and other Palestinian factions hope to sustain for another month and a half, had subsided Saturday, with thinner crowds at the border than a day earlier.

In response to the video of Abdul Fattahs killing, the Israeli military warned that Hamas had published several videos of Fridays events, some of which only depict parts of incidents while others are edited or completely fabricated.

Two other videos circulated online showed the shooting from different angles, while witnesses said Abdul Fattah was clearly running away from the fence.

Palestinian photographer Mahmoud Abu Salama was taking pictures at the time and captured Abdul Fattahs last moments. He said a man seen wearing a green shirt in the video had run toward the border fence to retrieve a tire left there earlier in the morning. He is seen in the video crawling on his belly toward the tire, then picking it up and running back to the crowd as bullets kick up dust around his feet. As he stumbles, Abdul Fattah runs to help him and grabs the tire.

Abdul Fattah was shot from behind a few hundred meters away from the fence, Salama said.

He was killed in cold blood, Alaa said.We will report that to the United Nations. We want to know who participated in killing him. He wasnt armed.

But he had little hope that anyone would be held accountable, a sentiment echoed by the Israeli human rights group BTselem.

These are the predictable outcomes of a manifestly illegal command: Israeli soldiers shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian protesters, said Amit Gilutz, a spokesman for the group.What is predictable, too, is that no one from the snipers on the ground to top officials whose policies have turned Gaza into a giant prison is likely to be ever held accountable.

Abdul Fattah, like the majority of Gazans of his generation, had never left the Gaza Strip. Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007.

Over the past year, though, the United Nations has warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating, adding that the economy and services may collapse. The unemployment rate is estimated to be about 50percent.

Israel blames Hamas for the worsening humanitarian situation, saying the group diverts money it should use for the benefit of its civilians to nefarious military activities.

Read more:

The Palestinian teen filmed slapping an Israeli soldier gets eight months in jail

How a Palestinian teens rubber-bullet injury to the brain turned to a biking accident overnight

Behind the fiery rhetoric, the Palestinian leadership is cornered and flailing

Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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Crime & Punishment in the Gaza Strip – YouTube

We finally got a rare glimpse of the embattled Gaza Strip and a chance to see what life was like under the rule of Hamas. In 2007 we tried and failed to get into Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing. Back then the rival Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah were engaged in a bloody war for control of this tiny strip of land. Hamas won. When the post-Mubarak government of Egypt decided to start letting small numbers of folks into Gaza through their Rafah Crossing, we knew we could finally enter the region. Hosted by Suroosh Alvi | Originally released in 2011 on http://vice.com Follow Suroosh Alvi on Twitter – http://twitter.com/surooshalviFollow Jason Mojica on Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/elmodernisto Watch “How to Buy Nukes on the Black Market”: http://bit.ly/Buying-Nukes Subscribe for videos that are actually good: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICECheck out our full video catalog: http://www.youtube.com/user/vice/videosVideos, daily editorial and more: http://vice.comLike VICE on Facebook: http://fb.com/viceFollow VICE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/viceRead our tumblr: http://vicemag.tumblr.com

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

Gaza violence is latest salvo in war of narratives | Fox News

JERUSALEM Thousands of Palestinians took part in a mass protest along Gaza’s volatile border with Israel, the second large-scale demonstration in what is expected to be a steady turnout over the coming weeks. More than 30 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded by Israeli fire in mass protests on Friday and the previous week. Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who are orchestrating the demonstrations, say the protests are against a decade-old border blockade by Israel. But Israel accuses the Islamic militant group of using the protests as cover for trying to infiltrate the border and attack Israelis. It has warned that anyone approaching the border fence is risking their lives. Here’s a closer look at how the sides reached this point: THE HAMAS TAKEOVER Israel captured Gaza, a thin strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, from Egypt in the 1967 Mideast war and occupied the area for nearly four decades before withdrawing all troops and settlements in 2005. Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, won legislative elections the following year and in 2007 seized control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza in an attempt to weaken the group. Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, while attempts at internal Palestinian reconciliation have repeatedly failed, in large part because of Hamas’ continued refusal to disarm. Israel has defended the wars as a response to intense rocket fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza, and notes the group’s history of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks, especially during the second Palestinian uprising early last decade. But the wars have left several thousand Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, drawing heavy international criticism. WHY NOW? The blockade, wars, international isolation and failed attempts at reconciliation have left Gaza’s economy in tatters. Unemployment is approaching 50 percent, according to official Palestinian figures. Gaza’s 2 million residents receive only a few hours of electricity each day, tap water is undrinkable and the coastline has been polluted by tons of untreated sewage. The Israeli-Egyptian blockade greatly restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of the small territory of barely 360 square kilometers (139 square miles) making it difficult to do business or travel abroad for work, school or family reasons. Hamas says the demonstrations are meant to draw attention to the harsh conditions in Gaza. But with public discontent rising, it also appears to be an attempt by the group to shake up the situation after other options failed. Hamas can also capitalize on any hatred of Israel among Gazans, over half of whom are descendants of refugees from what is now Israel. WHY DOESN’T ISRAEL EASE THE BLOCKADE? Israel says its blockade is aimed only at Hamas, and it has no quarrel with Gaza’s civilians. It has been careful to allow the continued flow of humanitarian goods and construction materials into Gaza, and says it will ease the blockade further based on security assessments. But international organizations like the World Bank and United Nations say the blockade continues to stifle the economy. They have repeatedly urged Israel to ease the restrictions significantly. Israel says it has no choice, accusing Hamas of trying to smuggle weapons and materials that can become weapons into the territory. It also has asked the international community, which already funnels hundreds of millions of dollars a year into Gaza, to increase aid. WHY HAVE THE PROTESTS TURNED VIOLENT? While thousands of Palestinians have gathered for what are billed as nonviolent protests, dozens of young men have approached the border and thrown stones, firebombs and burning tires toward the border fence. Israel has mobilized snipers and other special forces on the other side of the fence. The Israeli military says Hamas has been using the demonstrations as cover for attacks, and says militants have attempted to carry out shootings, plant bombs and infiltrate the fence in order to attack inside Israel. Military officials say they have used live fire only as a last resort when all other alternatives, including warning shots and rubber bullets, have failed to stop the demonstrators from reaching the fence. It says it has targeted only main “instigators” trying to carry out attacks. But witness accounts and amateur videos have shown some demonstrators appeared to be unarmed or far from the fence when they were shot. The United Nations and European Union have called for an independent investigation and urged all sides to show restraint. WHAT’S NEXT? Hamas has called for a series of demonstrations in the coming weeks, culminating on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. Palestinians mark the date as their “naqba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were forced or fled from their homes. Friday’s demonstrations were smaller, and the death toll was lower than last week’s demonstrations, suggesting the protests could be weakening. But Hamas’ top Gaza official, Yehiyeh Sinwar, made a surprise visit to one of the protests and appeared to issue a new threat. “Wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem. With Israeli communities lying just a few hundred meters away from the border, Israel has made clear that it will not accept any breach. Sinwar’s threat could set the stage for another serious round of violence in the coming weeks.

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Palestinian Journalist Fatally Shot While Covering Gaza …

Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, 30, is evacuated after being fatally wounded by Israeli fire while covering the Palestinian demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters hide caption Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, 30, is evacuated after being fatally wounded by Israeli fire while covering the Palestinian demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday. Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja covered plenty of funeral processions during the 2014 war in Gaza. Now his colleagues are covering his death. They encircled his body, holding their cameras high, as he was carried out of Gaza’s main hospital on Saturday. They marched through the streets on their way to funeral prayers at the territory’s central mosque. Draped across his body was a Palestinian flag and a blue reporter’s flak vest. Just one day before, Murtaja, 30, was at the Gaza-Israel border with his camera, covering demonstrations of some of the bloodiest violence Gaza has seen since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian territory. Over more than a week, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered near Israel’s fortified border fence with the stated aim of demanding to return to lands their families lost in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s founding. But Israel accused Hamas of fomenting violence under the guise of a civil protest. Many demonstrators stayed far back from the border fence, picnicking in the barley fields and holding a tent camp sit-in, but some young Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks toward the fence. Israel said there were also attempts to lob rudimentary explosives and damage or penetrate the border fence, as well as a pair of militants who shot at soldiers. Israel said its troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire to prevent masses from crossing into Israel and in order to protect its border fence and soldiers. Gaza officials said Israeli troops have killed at least 29 Palestinians since last Friday and wounded hundreds. Palestinians and some rights groups say troops are firing on people even when they are unarmed or pose no immediate threat. On Friday afternoon, Murtaja stood about 300 yards away from the fence, documenting Palestinians burning tires, said photographer Rushdi Serraj, a close colleague who said he was next to Murtaja when he was shot. “Suddenly, he shouts, ‘I’m injured, I’m injured, my stomach,'” Serraj recounted. Photos show Murtaja on the ground, wearing a protective vest marked “PRESS” in big English letters. His family said he was hit by a bullet to an exposed side of his torso not covered by the front or back part of his vest. The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in Gaza said an additional five Palestinian reporters covering the border protests were wounded by Israeli fire. NPR met two of them, in hospital beds with serious leg wounds, who said they were shooting photos on the border and wearing PRESS-labeled vests when they were shot. Adham Hajjar, 32, says he was wearing a vest marked “PRESS” when he was shot in the leg while covering protests at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday Daniel Estrin hide caption Adham Hajjar, 32, says he was wearing a vest marked “PRESS” when he was shot in the leg while covering protests at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday The Israeli military said it does not intentionally target journalists and is looking into the matter. Hours before Murtaja was shot, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said soldiers employ lethal fire only as a last resort. “No one gets shot by standing and looking. They are shot after commanders specifically approve it against a specific person or threat,” Conricus said. Late Saturday, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman seemed to suggest Murtaja had flown a drone above soldiers when he was shot. He also said Hamas men had dressed up as journalists. He did not provide evidence to back the claims. “You don’t know who is a photographer and who is not,” Lieberman said. “Whoever employs drones above Israeli soldiers needs to understand he is endangering himself.” The Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories called on the Israeli army to conduct a fast and open investigation, and to show restraint in areas where journalists work. Murtaja’s colleagues said he’d done videography work for the BBC, VICE and other international media, and had worked with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on his 2017 documentary, Human Flow. He was also a leading videographer for Ai Weiwei’s video installation, Journey of Laziz, which was recently exhibited Israel’s leading museum, the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem. The visual artist shared photos of Murtaja on his Instagram account on Saturday. The video featured Gaza’s last tiger, pacing in his cage. An animal welfare group, Four Paws International, later evacuated the tiger from what it dubbed the “world’s worst zoo,” which had been facing meager resources. Videographer Khaled Al Ashkar said Murtaja once joked that he wished the animal welfare group would take him out of Gaza too. Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza for the last decade, ever since Hamas took control, and travel out of Gaza is severely restricted. On March 24, Murtaja posted a photo on Facebook: a bird’s eye view of Gaza’s Mediterranean shore, taken with his drone. He wrote: “I hope one day I can take such a photo while I’m in the sky,” meaning, in an airplane. He signed off: “My name is Yaser Murtaja. I am thirty years old. I live in Gaza City. I have never traveled!”

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Gaza violence is latest salvo in war of narratives – yahoo.com

JERUSALEM (AP) Thousands of Palestinians on Friday took part in a mass protest along Gaza’s volatile border with Israel, the second large-scale demonstration in what is expected to be a steady turnout over the coming weeks. Nearly 30 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in two mass protests over the past eight days. Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who are orchestrating the demonstrations, say the protests are against a decade-old border blockade by Israel. But Israel accuses the Islamic militant group of using the protests as cover for trying to infiltrate the border and attack Israelis. It has warned that anyone approaching the border fence is risking their lives. Here’s a closer look at how the sides reached this point: THE HAMAS TAKEOVER Israel captured Gaza, a thin strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, from Egypt in the 1967 Mideast war and occupied the area for nearly four decades before withdrawing all troops and settlements in 2005. Hamas, a militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, won legislative elections the following year and in 2007 seized control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza in an attempt to weaken the group. Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars, while attempts at internal Palestinian reconciliation have repeatedly failed, in large part because of Hamas’ continued refusal to disarm. Israel has defended the wars as a response to intense rocket fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza, and notes the group’s history of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks, especially during the second Palestinian uprising early last decade. But the wars have left several thousand Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, drawing heavy international criticism. WHY NOW? The blockade, wars, international isolation and failed attempts at reconciliation have left Gaza’s economy in tatters. Unemployment is approaching 50 percent, according to official Palestinian figures. Gaza’s 2 million residents receive only a few hours of electricity each day, tap water is undrinkable and the coastline has been polluted by tons of untreated sewage. The Israeli-Egyptian blockade greatly restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of the small territory of barely 360 square kilometers (139 square miles) making it difficult to do business or travel abroad for work, school or family reasons. Hamas says the demonstrations are meant to draw attention to the harsh conditions in Gaza. But with public discontent rising, it also appears to be an attempt by the group to shake up the situation after other options failed. Hamas can also capitalize on any hatred of Israel among Gazans, over half of whom are descendants of refugees from what is now Israel. WHY DOESN’T ISRAEL EASE THE BLOCKADE? Israel says its blockade is aimed only at Hamas, and it has no quarrel with Gaza’s civilians. It has been careful to allow the continued flow of humanitarian goods and construction materials into Gaza, and says it will ease the blockade further based on security assessments. But international organizations like the World Bank and United Nations say the blockade continues to stifle the economy. They have repeatedly urged Israel to ease the restrictions significantly. Israel says it has no choice, accusing Hamas of trying to smuggle weapons and materials that can become weapons into the territory. It also has asked the international community, which already funnels hundreds of millions of dollars a year into Gaza, to increase aid. WHY HAVE THE PROTESTS TURNED VIOLENT? While thousands of Palestinians have gathered for what are billed as nonviolent protests, dozens of young men have approached the border and thrown stones, firebombs and burning tires toward the border fence. Israel has mobilized snipers and other special forces on the other side of the fence. The Israeli military says Hamas has been using the demonstrations as cover for attacks, and says militants have attempted to carry out shootings, plant bombs and infiltrate the fence in order to attack inside Israel. Military officials say they have used live fire only as a last resort when all other alternatives, including warning shots and rubber bullets, have failed to stop the demonstrators from reaching the fence. It says it has targeted only main “instigators” trying to carry out attacks. But witness accounts and amateur videos have shown some demonstrators appeared to be unarmed or far from the fence when they were shot. The United Nations and European Union have called for an independent investigation and urged all sides to show restraint. WHAT’S NEXT? Hamas has called for a series of demonstrations in the coming weeks, culminating on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. Palestinians mark the date as their “naqba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were forced or fled from their homes. Friday’s demonstrations were smaller, and the death toll was lower than last week’s demonstrations, suggesting the protests could be weakening. But Hamas’ top Gaza official, Yehiyeh Sinwar, made a surprise visit to one of the protests and appeared to issue a new threat. “Wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem. With Israeli communities lying just a few hundred meters away from the border, Israel has made clear that it will not accept any breach. Sinwar’s threat could set the stage for another serious round of violence in the coming weeks.

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Death toll rises in Gaza border protests | DW | 07.04.2018

A Palestinian journalist who was shot by Israeli forces during renewed clashes along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israelhas died of his wounds, bringing the toll of those killed during Friday’s protests to nine, the Health Ministry in the Strip said on Saturday. The ministry also announced the death of another man to add to an initial death toll of seven. Nearly 500 people were injured by live fire and rubber bullets, 33 seriously, it said. The dead journalist, Yasser Murtaja, was working as a photographer for the Gaza-based Ain media agency. He was more than 100 meters (yards) from the border and wearing a flak jacket marked “press” when he was shot. The Israeli army has not yet commented on Murtaja’s death, saying only that it had stopped several attempts to breach the border fence and had acted “in accordance with the rules of engagement.” The UN human rights office said on Friday that there were indications of Israeli forces using “excessive force” against protesters last week, when 21 Palestinians were killed or died later of their wounds amid clashes near the border. Read more:Israeli defense minister rules out inquiry into Gaza killings Several Palestinians used slings to hurl stones at Israeli troops Long-running protests At least 31 Palestinians have died in connection with violence at the border since last week, when Gazans launched six weeks of protests against the displacement of some 700,000 Arabs from their homes when Israel was founded in 1948. The protests are planned to run until May 15, a day after Israel marks the 70th anniversary of its founding. Palestinians refer to the 1948 expulsion as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.” The 2 million people living in the 360-square-kilometer (139-square-mile) Gaza Strip are mostly descendants of the refugees, who have never been allowed to return. Israel says that Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip, is using the mass marches as a cover for attacking the border fence. The army said on Friday that protesters had thrown explosive devices and firebombs. Read more:Israel denies Easter travel permits to Gaza Christians Dire humanitarian situation Israel and Egypt have imposed blockades on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took power in 2007, making it increasingly difficult for the group to govern. Unemployment stands at 50 percent and there are recurrent shortages of power and medical supplies. However, Israel says Hamas itself is to blame for the humanitarian crisis because of its refusal to disarm and renounce violence. tj/jlw (AP, dpa, AFP) Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of theday’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up toreceive it directly here.

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April 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Burning tires, tear gas and live fire: Gaza clashes turn …

GAZA CITY Clouds of thick black smoke billowed across the edges of the Gaza Strip on Friday as Palestinian protesters used burning tires in an attempt to shield themselves from sniper fire as they faced off against heavily armed Israeli troops. By the end of the day, seven Palestinians had been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. Israeli soldiers used live ammunition and tear gas as tens of thousands of Gaza residents gathered in the latest show of anger along the dividing line between Israel and the 140-square-mile strip of territory. The Israeli military said firebombs were hurled and explosives were planted near the fence in northern Gaza. Through the early afternoon, the demonstration appeared significantly smaller than one a week earlier that turned into the bloodiest day for Palestinians in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.Groups mostly of young men advanced to the border and hurled rocks with slingshots from behind the clouds of smoke. The protests swelled by late afternoon to include more women and children, with the Israeli military estimating that at least 20,000 people had gathered. The use of live ammunition by Israeli forces initially appeared relatively limited. But toward the end of the day, the violence escalated.The Gaza Health Ministry said about 1,400 people were injured Friday, including 399 with gunshot wounds. The ministry said 754 people were hospitalized 730 men and 24 women. In addition, another person died Friday from injuries sustained in the clashes a week ago. Some Palestinian families had expressed concerns about attending the Friday protests after the violence a week earlier, when residents of the blockaded strip launched what they said would be six weeks of demonstrations. The Israeli military says it has been forced to use live ammunition to prevent demonstrators from breaking through the fence and says Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, is exploiting the demonstrations as a cover to carry out terrorist attacks. Hamas has thrown its weight behind the protests, which provide a distraction from the growing misery in Gaza. But the demonstrations have drawn Palestinians from various factions, who are rallying around the demand that they regain and return to their ancestral land. About 70 percent of residents in Gaza are refugees or the descendants of those displaced from towns and villages now in Israel. Many protesters who gathered at the border said they felt hopeless and frustrated. Gazas economy may be on the verge of collapse, according to the United Nations, and only a tiny proportion of the enclaves 2million inhabitants are allowed to leave because of tight Israeli restrictions and an often-closed border with Egypt. Hamas has been paying those who are injured or killed, raising concerns that some protesters may be more inclined to risk their lives in the line of Israeli fire. Abu Majahid, 32, who declined to give his full name, carried metal pump parts to the fence that he said he intended to throw at Israeli soldiers. Others said they were engaged in more peaceful resistance. Jalal Marzak, 40, said he sought to send the message that Palestinians in Gaza are still dreaming and hoping. Marzak, who said he didnt support any particular political faction, said he had sneaked out of his home after his wife demanded that the family stay away from the protests because of possible danger. Thats her calling right now, he said as his cellphone rang. Ill cancel it. Im in big trouble. Israels use of live ammunition against Palestinians a week earlier drew condemnation from human rights groups and calls for an investigation by the United Nations. The Israeli government praised its soldiers for protecting the fence. On Friday, Kuwait attempted for the second time in a week to get the U.N. Security Council to call for an investigation into the clashes on the Gaza border. A draft statement seen by The Washington Post was almost identical to one that the United States blocked last week. It urged restraint and an independent and transparent investigation into the violence. A U.N. diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the private negotiations, said that once again the United States blocked the statement. Kuwaits ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, promised to keep trying to get it adopted. The number of casualties on Friday was lower than a week earlier. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said that Israeli forces had not adjusted their rules of engagement in response to criticism. He said the number of people shot depended on the tactics adopted by Hamas. Conricus said figures from the Health Ministry in Gaza should be treated with theutmost caution. The IDF released this footage of protesters in Gaza burning piles of tires. The protests began last week and are dubbed the “March of Return.” Israel has faced international condemnation for using live ammunition against the protesters. (Israel Defense Forces) At al-Shifa hospital, the main medical facility in Gaza, ambulances screamed up to the front doors and unloaded the injured on stretchers. Ayman al-Sahbani, head of the emergency department, said that 130 casualties had been brought in, all of them with gunshot wounds except for a few cases. That compared with 284 treated by the hospital last week, he said. Hospital logs viewed earlier by The Post showed the number to be 283. At the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, Salah Abu Layla, head of the emergency room, said that 86 injured people had come in by 6 p.m., the majority suffering gunshot wounds to the lower limbs, but some suffering from gas inhalation and injuries from tear gas canisters or rubber-coated bullets. Hashim Zakout, 24, lay in the emergency room with a bullet wound to the leg. He said he threwlittle stones, but they werefor the freedom. He said he hadnt attended demonstrations a week earlier because he had been volunteering as a clerk in a hospital and had been on his shift. Conricus said that live ammunition was used as alast resort.Jets from water cannons could be seen piercing the clouds of black smoke, but Israels military said they were being used for putting out fires. Tear gas canisters occasionally landed more than 300 meters from the fence the distance at which the Israeli military has told Gaza residents to stay away. However, banks of earth erected in the days before the demonstration at around the 300-meter mark prevented too many stray bullets traveling farther. Hamas and the organizing committee for theMarch of Return, as they have named the protests, hope to sustain themuntil at least the May 15 commemoration of the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe the term Palestinians use for the flight and expulsion of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians seven decades ago upon Israels creation. Hamass internal security branch on Friday called for protesters to remainpeaceful and to obscure their faces, amid speculation that the Israeli military was identifying and targeting known militants. Hamas said five members of its military wing were killed in the protest last week. Israel said the total number ofknown terrorists killed was 10. Six Palestinian journalists were shot despite wearing clothes identifying them as members of the press, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said. The Israeli military said it did not have an immediate comment. [Gaza families call for investigation into Israeli use of fatal force] Eglash reported from Jerusalem. Carol Morello in Washington contributed to this report. He had no gun, no molotov: Gaza families call for investigation into Israeli use of fatal force Fifteen Gazans dead after Israeli army, Palestinians clash at border fence, officials say No inquiry into Gaza border deaths, says Israeli defense minister Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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April 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

With riots and live fire, Gaza just went 25 years back in …

Gaza has come a long way from the last time it was just Palestinian protesters against Israeli snipers. In April 1993, the Israel Defense Forces made a decision to go back to using live fire against Palestinian protesters or rioters in the Strip. It was over six years since the first intifada had begun and the army had been spending much of that time looking for more effective and less lethal means of controlling violent demonstrations. To really understand Israel and the Palestinians – subscribe to Haaretz In the first weeks of the Palestinian uprising, dozens had been killed by soldiers who were still using live bullets. Then the army received the infamous order from Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin to break their hands and legs and troops were issued wooden clubs. That didnt work so well either, as cases of cruel beatings, and in some cases to death, soon appeared. Israels defense industries came up with pebble-shooting cannons and all manners of strap-ons for a regular assault rifle barrel, allowing it to fire rubber pellets and tear-gas grenades. > > DebunkingIsrael’s talking points on deadly Gaza protests | Opinion Just like security forces in other parts of the world, the IDF learned that non-lethal riot-control tools can also kill, and while they can push back most of the crowd, they quickly lose their effectiveness against increasing numbers of more determined individuals. Veteran protesters (and during the intifada, 16-year olds became veterans very quickly) who have been teargassed dozens of times know how to take care of their eyes and noses in order to minimize the effects, while standard infantry rifles are not made to fire rubber-coated bullets accurately at short range, they can kill as well. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. The email address you have provided is already registered. With the first intifada in its seventh year, the army decided to ease the rule specifying that live ammunition could be used only in life-threatening circumstances not for everyone, just officers and specially-trained snipers with telescopic sights on their weapons. They were positioned in lookout posts above streets where violent protests were taking place, with orders to shoot at the legs of the main troublemakers. > > Gaza carnage is a victory for Hamas and a propaganda nightmare for IsraelForget rockets Hamas found a more effective way to agitate the Israeli armyGazas refugees have always haunted Israel. Now theyre on the march> > The result was a short spike in fatalities – shooting live bullets into a fast-moving crowd, surrounded by clouds of tear gas, smoke and dust, even when using selective fire and trying very hard to aim at the lower half of the targets body, will always cause deaths. But the level of violence went down, though it was more likely due to a general fatigue of the Palestinian population. The intifada had gone through its last throes of violence and was petering out by the time Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the first of the agreements that would become the Oslo Accords on September 9, 1993. No serious research was carried out on the effectiveness of live fire as a riot-control method and none really needs to be: Bullets are made for killing, and no serious military official believes otherwise. Twenty-five years after that short and inconclusive exercise, the IDF once again found itself facing Palestinians in Gaza in similar circumstances on Friday. After all that happened in Gaza over a quarter of a century, not least the doubling of the population and the increasing isolation and impoverishment in the enclave, Friday saw echoes of the first intifada. The Palestinian Authority took over in 1994, Israel dismantled its settlements and pulled out entirely in 2005 and Hamas wrested control in a bloody coup. The second intifada the waves of violence over that time was not a poplar uprising like the first one but an armed insurgency. Then came Israels military campaigns in 2005, 2008-9, 2012 and 2014, which were much more devastating than anything seen during the intifadas. Hamas and Islamic Jihad built up their rocket arsenals and dug tunnel networks. But these have now been rendered obsolete by the Iron Dome air defense system and the new underground barrier. Hamas is back to square one, isolated like never before in the Arab world. There were three main scenarios for Fridays events. The best one, at least from Israels perspective, would have been a mass protest a few hundred meters from the border fence, without anyone getting too close. The worst case, for which large forces were prepared, was a mass storming of the fence. What actually happened was something in between. Standing on the Israeli side, less than a kilometer away, it was quite clear that three interconnected events were taking place simultaneously. The large majority of the nearly 30,000 Palestinian protesters was groups of families who remained around 500 meters from the fence, around the tents that had been pitched on high ground, out of harms way. Some of them ventured as far as the dirt road, just outside the 300-meter range. That was the peaceful demonstration. But the narrative of a non-violent event eroded closer to the border. Much smaller groups consisting mainly of young men, some throwing stones and rolling burning tires, pushed forward toward the fence. These were met mainly by tear gas grenades dropped from mini-drones. And every few minutes, individuals darted forward to reach the fence and other border installations, trying to wreck them or set them alight, and were hit by sniper fire. In the first hours of the clashes, as the army assessed the situation, it was clear that there were not going to be masses at the fence, but there would still be plenty of violence. Hamas want to boost the number of casualties, one senior IDF general told me, but theyre not going to go all the way either. Theyre building it up to peak on May 15. At the time, two deaths had been reported. No one had any doubt that whoever went into the zone 200 to 300 meters from the fence would get hurt. Badly. The IDF snipers had orders to aim for ankles, and only shoot to kill at individuals with weapons. How closely they all adhered to the orders is unclear. Footage from the scene shows that in at least a handful of cases, Palestinians were also shot when trying to run out of the buffer zone, and there are those who claim to have been shot farther away. But it was clear that even if Israeli soldiers scrupulously stuck to the rules of engagement, with the policy of firing at anyone in the zone, the number of casualties would be a result of how many tried to get into it. Is using live fire at Palestinians trying to get close to the fence justified? Is it effective? From the IDFs perspective, it is defending a sovereign border: Anyone trying to sabotage it has been warned and is committing an act of violence. But the argument that can be made about justification is superfluous as long as there are young Palestinian men willing to risk their lives doing so, whether on their own initiative or as members of Hamas. In the short term, both sides feel they are ahead. Israel prevented damage to the border and there was no interference to civilian life on the Israeli side. But the army has tied down a significant number of units and troops and will continue doing so as long as the Palestinians keep up the demonstrations. And the IDF is once again having to face the dilemma of whether to use its overwhelming firepower to achieve results, no matter how high the casualties may get. Senior Israeli intelligence analysts now believe that Hamas has already reached the conclusion that since it will always be outgunned by Israeli arms and technology, its investment in rockets and tunnels has proven to be worthless not to mention the suffering that their use has caused the Palestinians due to Israels retaliatory attacks. If that is indeed the case, then Hamas made a breakthrough Friday. They have found an old-new way to challenge Israel, and from the narrative emerging from the international media so far, succeeded in conflating the peaceful demonstration of the majority that held back with the much less peaceful rioting nearer the fence. Will this be enough to draw the worlds attention back to Gaza at a time that other more compelling dramas are happening elsewhere? It certainly wont be enough if it remains a one-off event, or even a repeat occurrence over the next few Fridays and a similar-sized protest on Nakba Day on May 15. The ultimate test will be whether it continues into the summer and develops into something resembling the first intifada, only this time on the borders of Gaza instead of within the Strip. As of Saturday afternoon, there were no major follow-up protests and the estimated 30,000 who turned up Friday less than two percent of Gazas tired population doesnt indicate a massive appetite for a new uprising. If Fridays events repeat themselves, there are the potential makings of a third intifada. But Hamas and other organizations that would like to see that happen just dont seem to have the support right now.

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April 3, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza: Pope Francis calls for peace in wake of violence – CNN

Speaking to a crowd of thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope Francis said “the wounds of ongoing conflict” did not “spare the defenseless,” according to the Vatican. The Pope’s comments come after a Palestinian march to the border with Israel on Friday turned into the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 war. Thousands of Palestinians amassed near the border for the March of Return, in which the ultimate goal is to cross the border fence into land that became Israel seven decades ago. But violence quickly broke out. Sides exchange blame Israelis and Palestinians then blamed each other for Friday’s violence. David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN on Saturday that Hamas organized the violence. He said Israeli forces responded defensively because Hamas engineered the event to have thousands of people “to storm into Israel, to overrun Israel.” He told CNN Saturday that calling it a protest is inaccurate. “Bombs were placed, rockets were shot, guns were shot at Israelis. Israel did what any country around the world would have done. It defended its citizens,” added Keyes. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the large crowds reflect the determination and will of the Palestinian people to extract the right of return and break the siege, no one can remove this right.” Mustafa Barghouti, founder of the Palestinian National Initiative, not affiliated with Hamas, told CNN on Saturday that the protesters were peaceful, likening their actions to followers of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. “They did not use guns,” he said, referring to the Palestinian protesters. “They did not use weapons. They were just trying to express their views in a peaceful manner and unfortunately they were shot by the Israeli army.” He also said protesters came from all over Gaza and were not just members of Hamas. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official said the IDF responded to “violent terror demonstrations” in six separate Gaza locations. Israel holds Hamas responsible for orchestrating the violence. Palestinian activists released videos on social media that they say show protesters being targeted by the Israeli military. The IDF warned Hamas published some of the videos “while others are edited or completely fabricated.”The IDF also released their own videos of what they say shows various attempts at sabotage. Clashes continue Saturday and Sunday saw much smaller crowds, and far fewer clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. On Saturday, several hundred Palestinians marched toward the border fence. A CNN crew near Khan Younis in southern Gaza saw some in the crowd throwing rocks and aiming slingshots toward Israeli forces positioned in the distance. A few tires were set on fire and rolled toward the soldiers. Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas and the CNN team heard shots fired. It was not clear what type of weapons or ammunition the soldiers were using. Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said they treated 49 moderately injured people on Saturday and a total of 9 injured people on Sunday. Smaller crowds gathered near the fence Sunday so there were few reports of violence. Burying the dead Ten funerals took place across Gaza on Saturday for those killed the day before, including members of Hamas, the political and military group that governs the territory. Hamas’ military wing, al Qassam Brigades, released the names of five people identified as members of the group who were killed. The Israeli military also released a statement on Saturday saying, “At least 10 known terrorists with documented terror backgrounds” were killed. Their list included alleged members of Hamas’ military wing, as well as other armed groups. Five of the names on the IDF list matched those on al Qassam Brigades’ list. What were the protests about? Friday’s crowds were the largest seen in Gaza in years. It was held on Palestinian Land Day, which commemorates the confiscation of Palestinian-owned land in Israel in 1976. Tent cities have been set up to host the marches, which are expected to continue through May 15 when Palestinians mark the anniversary of the “Nakba” (“Catastrophe”), the day after Israel declared independence in 1948. Roughly 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war, which lasted for nearly a year. The United States plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem around May 14, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, increasing the potential for further protests and clashes. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and to many Palestinians, the change initiated by the Trump administration is viewed as a further erosion of hope for a two-state solution. What’s the diplomatic fallout? Following Friday’s violence, Kuwait drafted a statement calling on the United Nations Security Council to launch an independent inquiry. But the US blocked the statement Saturday morning. If one country objects, then the statement cannot be adopted. It is unclear if countries other than the US would have also objected. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called for an independent inquiry into Friday’s violence. “This tragedy underlines the urgency of revitalizing the peace process aiming at creating the conditions for a return to meaningful negotiations for a peaceful solution that will allow Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side peacefully and in security,” Guterres was reported as saying before an emergency UN Security Council meeting to address the issue late Friday. Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, flatly rejected calls for an inquiry into the deaths of Palestinians killed during the Friday protests in Gaza. Speaking on Israeli Army Radio Sunday, Liberman called those wanting an inquiry hypocrites for attacking Israel before looking into the large-scale killings of Syrians and other groups. Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon lodged a complaint with the United Nations Security Council for holding the emergency session late Friday on the first night of Passover — a major Jewish holiday — according to a statement released by Israel’s UN Mission on Sunday. Danon claimed Kuwait intentionally called for the session as Israel’s UN mission was observing Passover, thus barring their participation while they observed a religious holiday. CNN’s Amir Tal, Ralph Ellis, Hilary Clarke, Richard Roth, Ingrid Formanek and Daniel Nikbakht contributed to this report.

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April 1, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Families of slain Gaza demonstrators call for …

BEIT LAHIA, Gaza The morning after burying 19-year-old Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi, his family gathered in a tent set up to receive mourners, watching and re-watching a video of the moment they say Israeli soldiers shot him in the back of the head. The video appears to show the teenager, dressed in black, running away from Gazas border fence with Israel carrying a tire. Just before reaching a crowd, he crumples under gunfire. He had no gun, no molotov, a tire. Does that harm the Israelis, a tire? asked his brother Mohamed Abdul Nabi, 22. He wasnt going toward the Israeli side. He was running away. The teenager was one of at least 15 people killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces on Friday during what Palestinian factions billed as a peaceful March of Return to mark Land Day, the anniversary of the expropriation of Arab-owned land by the Israeli government in 1976.But it ended as the bloodiest day in the 140-square-mile territory since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Israeli military for guarding the countrys borders. Israel will act firmly and decisively to protect its sovereignty and the security of its citizens, he said in a statement Saturday. The Israeli military has warned that it will expand its response if violence continues. Hamas and other factions in Gaza have vowed to keep up demonstrations, raising fears of more clashes. Video posted to YouTube appears to show the moment Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi was shot. Abdul Fattahs family is among those demanding an investigation into the Israeli response to the protest, saying videos show he posed no threat.More than 700 people were injured with live ammunition in the demonstration, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.Forty-nine were wounded Saturday, it said. The United Nations on Saturday said it wasdeeply concerned and called for a transparent, independent investigation. The Israeli human rights group Adalah and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights wrote to Israeli Attorney GeneralAvichai Mandelblit to demand accountability. In the letter, they said the use of live fire against civilians was ablatant violation of international laws. Israel said it stuck to strict rules of engagement to deal with a 30,000-strong crowd along the border, saying rioters threw molotov cocktails and stones, burned tires, and tried to break through the fence. The Israeli military did not immediately respond Saturday to requests to clarify the rules of engagement that were followed. In the days preceding the demonstration, the military dropped leaflets warning residents of Gaza to stay at least 300 meters from the border fence or risk being shot. Israel accused Hamas of using the cover of peaceful demonstrations to carry out attacks. Hamas said five of those killed were members of its military wing, releasing their names and pictures. Israel put the number of Hamas militants killed at eight, including a 20-year-old with a name similar to Abdul Fattahs. Israel said two others among the dead also were members of militant groups. Abdul Fattahs family said he worked in his brothers falafel shop during the week and in a kitchen on Fridays. They said he did not belong to an armed faction. Unlike at funeral tents for dead militants, there were no signs indicating he had an allegiance to any group. Posters bearing his photo in the funeral tent showed him wearing a black bow tie rather than the military garb typical of fighters. The Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment Saturday to clarify the name discrepancy. His family, though, made no effort to hide the fact that Abdul Fattah went to demonstrations and threw stones. That was no reason for him to be shot, they said. They were throwing stones, but the stones never even reached the fence, said 28-year-old Alaa Abdul Nabi, another brother of the slain demonstrator. Its a message, to throw a stone from our land. Many demonstrators said they were there to protest peacefully.The family of 20-year-old Badr Sabbagh said he had just arrived to watch the demonstrations when he was shot. They rejected the Israeli armys assertion that everyone killed was involved in violence. He asked for a cigarette, I gave it to him, he had two puffs, and then he was shot in the head, said Mohammed Sabbagh, his 29-year-old brother.Hed only been there 10 minutes. I took my grandchildren. We went to a peaceful demonstration, said his father, Fayik Sabbagh, 64.We went there to tell them this is our land, but what we found was different. The demonstrations, which Hamas and other Palestinian factions hope to sustain for another month and a half, had subsided Saturday, with thinner crowds at the border than a day earlier. In response to the video of Abdul Fattahs killing, the Israeli military warned that Hamas had published several videos of Fridays events, some of which only depict parts of incidents while others are edited or completely fabricated. Two other videos circulated online showed the shooting from different angles, while witnesses said Abdul Fattah was clearly running away from the fence. Palestinian photographer Mahmoud Abu Salama was taking pictures at the time and captured Abdul Fattahs last moments. He said a man seen wearing a green shirt in the video had run toward the border fence to retrieve a tire left there earlier in the morning. He is seen in the video crawling on his belly toward the tire, then picking it up and running back to the crowd as bullets kick up dust around his feet. As he stumbles, Abdul Fattah runs to help him and grabs the tire. Abdul Fattah was shot from behind a few hundred meters away from the fence, Salama said. He was killed in cold blood, Alaa said.We will report that to the United Nations. We want to know who participated in killing him. He wasnt armed. But he had little hope that anyone would be held accountable, a sentiment echoed by the Israeli human rights group BTselem. These are the predictable outcomes of a manifestly illegal command: Israeli soldiers shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian protesters, said Amit Gilutz, a spokesman for the group.What is predictable, too, is that no one from the snipers on the ground to top officials whose policies have turned Gaza into a giant prison is likely to be ever held accountable. Abdul Fattah, like the majority of Gazans of his generation, had never left the Gaza Strip. Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007. Over the past year, though, the United Nations has warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating, adding that the economy and services may collapse. The unemployment rate is estimated to be about 50percent. Israel blames Hamas for the worsening humanitarian situation, saying the group diverts money it should use for the benefit of its civilians to nefarious military activities. Read more: The Palestinian teen filmed slapping an Israeli soldier gets eight months in jail How a Palestinian teens rubber-bullet injury to the brain turned to a biking accident overnight Behind the fiery rhetoric, the Palestinian leadership is cornered and flailing Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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March 31, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed


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