The horrific events in Gaza have continued unabated since I wrote my last news roundup on the subject. No matter your position on the conflict, the situation is hardly acceptable.
An entire family in Gaza was killed by an Israeli missile, reportedly due to technical error, resulting in the deaths of Ibrahim, 2, Yusef, 4, Jamal, 6, and Sara, 7, all children of Mohamed El Dallo, a man whom the Telegraph called a “rumored Hamas member.”
Nine members of the family, all women and children, along with two neighbors, were killed by the missile fired from an Israeli F-16. Dallo, the reported Hamas member, was not even home at the time of the strike.
This airstrike has been the single most deadly incident in the entire conflict thus far. The timing was especially unfortunate as, “It was launched as optimistic reports from anonymous Israeli military officials circulated in the local media suggesting that the crisis talks taking place in Cairo may soon produce a ceasefire,” according to the Telegraph.
Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra reported that an additional airstrike “leveled two houses belonging to a single family, killing two children and two adults and injuring 42 people, including children,” according to CBS. However, 12 to 15 members of the same family were still being searched for under the rubble at the time of publishing.
Al-Kidra also reported that an Israeli aircraft bombed the ruins of the national security compound in Gaza City, the shrapnel from which killed one child and wounded others living nearby.
Sunday’s death toll alone was 29 while, according to The New York Times, “Gaza health officials reported that 70 Palestinians had been killed in airstrikes since Wednesday, including 20 children, and that 600 had been wounded.”
CBS, on the other hand, reports, “In all, 81 Palestinians, about half of them civilians, have been killed in the five-day onslaught and 720 have been wounded.”
Thus far three Israelis have been killed and 79 wounded by rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. CBS said the wounded Israelis number in the “dozens.”
Anonymous has kicked their Israel-targeted hacking offensive into high gear with Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz reporting that Israel has “deflected 44 million cyber-attacks on government websites” over the past four days alone.
“This is an unprecedented attack, and our success has been greater than we anticipated,” Steinitz said.
President Obama, speaking at a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, made his position on the conflict abundantly clear.
“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” he said, according to ABC. “If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable. That’s not just preferable for the people in Gaza, it’s also preferable for the Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”
“We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours, but what I’ve said to [Egyptian] President Morsi and [Turkish] Prime Minister Erdogan is that those who champion the cause of the Palestinians should recognize that if we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza than the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future,” Obama added.
Ultimately, Obama sided completely with Israel, stating, “We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”
It is hardly surprising that Obama focused on the potential deaths of Israelis – which is obviously far from acceptable – and avoided the issue of the very real and rising numbers of dead Palestinian civilians.
The New York Times is now reporting that Hamas is attempting to leverage their relationship with Egypt’s new Islamist government in making thoroughly unrealistic demands of Israel.
“The group’s leaders, rejecting Israel’s call for an immediate end to the rocket attacks, have instead laid down sweeping demands that would put Hamas in a stronger position than when the conflict began: an end to Israel’s five-year-old embargo of the Gaza Strip, a pledge by Israel not to attack again and multinational guarantees that Israel would abide by its commitments,” writes David Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh for The New York Times.
For those with an even basic grasp of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such demands likely seem unrealistic to the point of absurdity, yet it seems that Egyptian President Morsi is entertaining such notions given that he met with Khaled Mashaal, a top Hamas leader, on Sunday.
Reda Fahmy, a member of the Egyptian upper house of Parliament and of the dominant Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, said, “Hamas has one clear and specific demand: for the siege to be completely lifted from Gaza.”
“It’s not reasonable that every now and then Israel decides to level Gaza to the ground, and then we decide to sit down and talk about it after it is done,” Fahmy continued. “On the Israeli part, they want to stop the missiles from one side. How is that?”
“If they stop the aircraft from shooting, Hamas will then stop its missiles. But violence couldn’t be stopped from one side,” Fahmy said.
“Now we’re exerting pressure to stop the fighting on both sides, but we can’t pressure the victim while the perpetrator isn’t even ready to settle,” Fahmy added.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official who settled in Cairo after the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak, said that if another conflict were to occur with Israel, “The position of all Islamists in the region will be that of Hamas, not the other way around.”
Yet the Israeli intelligence minister, Dan Meridor, expressed no interest in relenting. In a statement on Israeli television, Meridor said that they would wait for Hamas “to stop firing” before they would negotiate a long-term cease-fire agreement.
Until that point, Meridor said that Israel will do “whatever it takes” to remove Hamas’s rocket-firing capability, which potentially includes “an incursion into Gaza,” according to The New York Times.
IDF: Israel gives Hamas 36-hours ultimatum before starting major offensive — via RT.
Israel has warned Hamas it will step up its offensive in the Gaza Strip in 36 hours if they do not cease rocket fire. Israel’s Finance Minister told IDF radio the time left before Israel escalates its attacks can be measured in “hours, not days.”
”We are at a junction,” said Minister Yuval Steinitz. “Either we go toward a calm or toward a meaningful widening of the operation… including a possible move to achieve complete military decision.”
Israel has demanded that Hamas cease firing rockets into Israel for a period of “several years”
and that they stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. The conditions are part of a six-part proposal put forward by the Israeli government at negotiations with Hamas in Cairo.
In addition, the proposal asked that Israel be allowed to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack.
Hamas’ official Moussa Abu Marzuk said Hamas would not accept the creation of an Israeli “security belt” in eastern Gaza.
For their part, the Palestinians have demanded the immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza and the cessation of IDF targeted killings.
UPDATE 2: Harry Fear is live streaming from Gaza. His feed goes in and out but you can watch it here, provided it’s online.
We will attempt to keep you up to date with the latest events in this conflict. If we missed anything, please let us know by email or in the comments section.
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