zaterdag 24 november 2012
Hamas heeft met het recente conflict niets substantieels gewonnen volgens onderstaande opsomming, maar met de openlijke steunbetuiging en het bezoek van de Egyptische president Morsi lijken ze wel minder geïsoleerd te staan dan eerst, en ze hebben gedemonstreerd over raketten te beschikken die Jeruzalem en Tel Aviv kunnen bereiken. In Palestijnse ogen heeft Hamas dan ook aan prestige gewonnen, vooral ten koste van Abbas en de PA. Verdere winst is dat wederom vooral Israel scheef wordt aangekeken door de internationale publieke opinie.
Onduidelijk is nog in hoeverre de grenzen rond de Gazastrook verder open zullen gaan. Daarover wordt nog onderhandeld, maar Egypte schijnt wel toezeggingen te hebben gedaan over een soepeler grensbeleid bij Rafah.
From occasional EoZ contributor Zvi:
So let me get this straight. They're saying, "we won because we picked a fight with Israel and Israel has better things to do than flatten Gaza."
That's a victory?
The terrorists and their sympathizers:
* lost a large percentage of their most advanced and long-range weapons
* lost experienced senior terrorist commanders from Hamas and PIJ
* did no damage at all to Israel's ability to fight a war
* only squeaked a small percentage of rockets past Iron Dome
* only received "moral support" from Islamists, Arab regimes, communist hold-overs and the Russians, who mostly did it because they are trying desperately to distract attention away from Syria.
* failed even to stop Israeli shipments of food and fuel into Gaza through Kerem Shalom
* exposed their use of hospitals and press facilities as military command posts
* highlighted in front of the international media the extent to which Israelis are under fire, and the extraordinary efforts that Israelis have taken to protect civilians, in contrast to Hamas' attacks on civilians
* came whining to the Egyptians for help in stopping an escalation that they started themselves, basically forcing the Egyptian government to underwrite an agreement with Israel
* executed some "collaborators" in public and had a nice little motorcycle parade for the cameras, embarrassing the Hamas leadership
* put Khaled Meshaal back in charge (apparently)
* attempted to surpass Baghdad Bob by continually making ludicrous claims that were subsequently disproved.
* killed some of their own supporters while celebrating a nonexistent victory.
* committed a wide plethora of war crimes, many of which (storing explosives in civilian buildings, for example) resulted in the deaths of their own people.
Yes, they killed a handful of Israelis, mostly civilians and one an Arab. Yes, they caused a lot of damage, hurt a lot of people and wasted a lot of time. As much as I mourn for the innocents killed by the Gaza terrorists, and wish their families peace and strength, it is important to point out that while their losses are horrible tragedies for us, they achieve nothing real for people in Gaza.
So what exactly is Hamas celebrating?
I guess when Gazan terrorists can't achieve anything real, they celebrate pretend victories.
Volgens de Palestijnen heeft Israel het staakt het vuren geschonden, maar ik had begrepen dat het om een demonstratie ging waarbij men oprukte naar het grenshek. Volgens het leger zou er zelfs een Palestijn Israel binnen zijn gedrongen en diverse anderen probeerden de grens over te gaan. Voordat de escalatie van afgelopen week begon werden geregeld explosieven bij het grenshek gelegd en Israelische soldaten beschoten. Van de andere kant kun je je afvragen of Israel niet had kunnen voorkomen dat er een dode en 19 gewonden vielen.
Overigens werd het staakt het vuren eerder al door de Palestijnen geschonden, die kort na het ingaan ervan 12 projectielen op Israel afvuurden.
The fighting killed 166 Palestinians, 120 of whom were “engaged in terrorist activity,” according to the IDF, and six Israelis.
Waarom kom ik zo’n zin nou nooit in Nederlandse media tegen??
300 Palestinians attempt to breach Gaza border fence
IDF fire kills one and injures several others, report Palestinian sources; Palestinian Authority FM, Islamic Jihad spokesman say shooting violates ceasefire
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Roughly 300 Palestinians approached the border fence at several locations in southern Gaza Friday, tried to damage it and cross into Israel, according to the IDF. Protesters also hurled rocks at Israeli troops. A Palestinian man was reported killed in the clashes.
Soldiers fired warning shots in the air to distance the Palestinians from the fence, but after they attempted to cross into Israel, troops fired at their legs, the military said. It also said a Palestinian infiltrated into Israel in the course of the unrest, but he was returned to Gaza.
A Palestinian health official said Israeli troops shot dead a 20-year-old Palestinian man and wounded 19 people as crowds surged toward the border fence, the first violence since a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers took hold some 36 hours earlier.
According to one version of events, the Palestinians who neared the border fence were agricultural workers. According to another report, the Palestinians were on their way to prayers. A family member of the man reportedly killed told Reuters that the 20-year-old had attempted to place a Palestinian flag on the fence.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the IDF shooting of the man was a violation of the ceasefire agreed upon between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza on Wednesday night following eight days of cross-border fighting, the bloodiest between Israel and Hamas in four years.
Speaking at a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, Malki called the incident “a clear violation of the agreement and should not be repeated.”
Nafez Azzam, a spokesman for Gaza’s Islamic Jihad, also said the shooting was a violation of the truce and that Egypt had been informed.
Still, Hamas’s Gaza prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, urged militant factions to respect the ceasefire. It appeared unlikely Hamas would retaliate for Friday’s shooting because that could jeopardize the group’s potential gains from the ceasefire deal, such as an easing of restrictions on movement in and out of the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday, two people were reportedly injured by Israeli fire while marching near the same area, east of Khan Younis.
In the past, Israel’s military has barred Palestinians from getting close to the fence, and soldiers have opened fire to enforce a no-go zone meant to prevent infiltrations into Israel.
Since the ceasefire, growing numbers of Gazans have entered the no-go zone.
In one incident captured by Associated Press video, several dozen Palestinians, most of them young men, approached the fence, coming close to a group of Israeli soldiers standing on the other side.
Some Palestinians briefly talked to the soldiers, while others appeared to be taunting them with chants of “God is great” and “Morsi, Morsi,” in praise of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whose mediation led to the truce.
The ceasefire agreement allowed both Hamas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step back from the brink of a full-fledged war. Over eight days, Israel’s aircraft carried out some 1,500 strikes on Hamas-linked targets, while Gaza fighters battered Israel with roughly the same number of rockets.
The fighting killed 166 Palestinians, 120 of whom were “engaged in terrorist activity,” according to the IDF, and six Israelis.
In Cairo, Egypt is hosting separate talks with Israeli and Hamas envoys on the next phase of the ceasefire: a new border deal for blockaded Gaza. Hamas demands lifting all border restrictions, while Israel insists that Hamas must halt weapons-smuggling to the territory.
The independent Maagar Mohot poll released Friday shows 49 percent of respondents feel Israel should have kept going after the squads that fire rockets into Israel. Thirty-one percent supported the government’s decision to stop. Twenty percent had no opinion.
Twenty-nine percent thought Israel should have sent ground troops to invade Gaza. The poll of 503 respondents had an error margin of 4.5 percentage points.
The same survey showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party and electoral partner Yisrael Beytenu losing some support, but his hard-line bloc would still be able to form the next government. Elections are January 22.
donderdag 22 november 2012
Het haalde onze media niet of nauwelijks, want raketten die geen doden veroorzaken vindt men doorgaans niet interessant. Dat die doden worden vermeden door scholen te sluiten, een duur raketafweersysteem te installeren en schuilkelders te bouwen, beseffen mensen niet waardoor men denkt dat die raketten niks voorstellen. Israel heeft geregeld geklaagd bij de VN over de raketten, die immers een schending zijn van het oorlogsrecht en andere VN conventies. De VN negeerde deze brieven, waardoor Israel zich uiteindelijk genoodzaakt zag zelf hard op te treden. Waarna het ervan werd beticht de escalatie te hebben uitgelokt.
UN Watch has a must read:
On at least 20 separate occasions this year, the Israeli government appealed to the UN to take action against Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, in letters sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the Security Council.
In the letters, Israel informed the United Nations about repeated instances of rockets fired from Gaza against Israeli civilians, and urged the U.N., at a minimum, to speak out and condemn the attacks.
“Inaction today could help ignite an escalation of conflict tomorrow,” Israel warned the UN, while exercising astonishing measures of restraint that no other country facing a similar onslaught of rockets has ever shown.
Yet we are unaware of any UN action whatsoever taken in response.
The world media, human rights organizations and the UN yawns when Israel is under attack. But when Israel finally gets fed up, they pretend that it all happened in a vacuum.
Highlights of the letters:
The situation in Gaza must be addressed with the utmost seriousness. Day after day, international law is flagrantly violated by the terrorists that operate with impunity in Gaza. In letter after letter, Israel has warned the international community about the dangerous potential for escalation. Yet, we still hear no words of condemnation from the Security Council. There has been no concerted effort inthe international community to halt the fire of rockets into Israeli cities.
All responsible members of the international community have a duty to clearly and unequivocally condemn these attacks. The world must act now to prevent terrorism in Gaza from sparking even greater turmoil and conflict in the Middle East.
I write yet again to express Israel’s serious concern about the rockets flying out of the Gaza Strip day after day into our homes, cities and communities. It is clear that these acts of terrorism could ignite an escalation of conflict in our already volatile region. Unfortunately, some members of the Security Council continue to turn a blind eye to the serious dangers posed by these attacks.
Reminder: One million civilians in southern Israel remain under fire.
– In the past seven days, seven rockets have exploded in Israeli communities.
– Not one word of condemnation has been issued by the Security Council, to date.
– No responsible Government can tolerate the unabated targeting of its citizens.
Caution: Inaction today will bring instability tomorrow.
• Since my last letter four days ago (S/2012/472 of 21 June 2012) 87 more rockets were fired into Israeli communities.
• We see the same reality, month after month: as aid flows into Gaza, rockets fly out.
• The Security Council has not uttered a single syllable about this appalling terrorism.
Caution: The Security Council’s decision to stay mute could have grave consequences.
Inaction today could help ignite an escalation of conflict tomorrow.
Last week, the Security Council showcased unprecedented efficiency when rockets were fired in the direction of another country in the Middle East — and rightly so. This is the Council’s responsibility.
Meanwhile the Security Council has slept through more then 12,000 rocket attacks against Israelis over the past decade. We applaud the Council’s condemnation last week — and expect the Council to act with the same speed and conviction to condemn the rocket fire targeting 1 million Israeli civilians.
The serious danger of an even greater escalation hangs over our very volatile region. Many Israeli civilians and soldiers have been injured. Damage to property has been significant. One million people in Southern Israel remain under grave threat. The people of Israel cannot – and will not – tolerate these acts of terrorism. The Israeli government has a right and a duty to protect its citizens.
Israel holds Hamas fully responsible for all acts of terrorism flowing from Gaza. Israel’s leaders have been very clear: we are prepared to take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from Hamas terror. Those who target Israelis with terrorism today will pay a very heavy price tomorrow. Israel has exercised – and will continue to exercise – our right to self-defense.
At this critical moment, responsible members of the family of nations have an unmistakable duty. All Security Council members that truly value peace and security will send a very clear message to Hamas without delay. The time for the Security Council to condemn Hamas terrorism with one voice is now, before it is too late.
The Palestinian leadership also has a fundamental responsibility to clearly condemn Hamas terrorism. The silence that continues to echo from President Abbas’ office speaks volumes.
It isn't as if Israel didn't warn the world about what was happening.
The hypocrisy of the UN Security Council immediately condemning Syria's shelling of Turkey while ignoring thousands of rockets from Hamas says volumes.
(One slight correction: One of the letters UN Watch lists is actually about Hezbollah, not Gaza. Not that the UNSC issued any condemnation then, either.)
De raketten vallen niet toevallig nu op Israël
Ronny Naftaniël, directeur Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israël (CIDI) − 20/11/12, 16:00
OPINIE Sommige analisten zeggen dat de escalatie van geweld tussen Israël en Hamas, waaronder het doodschieten van Hamas-commandant Ahmed al-Jabari, is ingegeven door electoraal belang in Israël. De Israëlische premier en Likoedleider Netanjahoe zou bij de verkiezingen op 22 januari profiteren van een ijzerenvuistpolitiek.
Het is een ontoereikende verklaring voor de geweldsspiraal waarvan Israëlische en Palestijnse burgers alweer de voornaamste slachtoffers zijn. Vier jaar geleden na de operatie 'Cast Lead', de grondoorlog die Israel tegen Hamas voerde, stonden er ook Israëlische verkiezingen voor de deur. De Kadima-partij van premier Livni werd niet beloond voor het optreden in Gaza en verloor zelfs door de stevige winst van de oppositionele Likoedpartij haar plaats in de regering. Het optreden leverde Israël vooral internationale kritiek op terwijl de Palestijnse wapenvoorraden alweer snel waren aangevuld. Waarom zou het scenario bij de operatie 'Pillar of Defense' anders zijn? Veel Israëli's verwijten Netanjahoe nu al dat hij te lang heeft gewacht met het uitschakelen van de raketten. Uit de bombardementen door de Israëlische luchtmacht blijkt dat deze op de hoogte was van de locaties van de wapenopslagplaatsen.
Een cynischer, maar waarschijnlijker, verklaring voor de uitbarsting van het geweld is de haat die Hamas en de Islamitische Jihad koesteren tegen de Palestijnse Autoriteit op de Westelijke Jordaanoever. Zij begonnen met hun barrage van projectielen op Israël toen duidelijk werd dat president Abbas de statusverhoging van Palestina in de Verenigde Naties wilde doorzetten. Tijdens een plechtigheid in Ramallah op 11 november ter nagedachtenis van Yasser Arafat zei de Palestijnse president: "Wij gaan naar de Verenigde Naties in november 2012, niet 2013, of 2014".
Hamas is die opwaardering een doorn in het oog. Zij bevestigt Abbas als president over de Westelijke Jordaanoever, maar ook over de Gazastrook, een plek waar Abbas al jaren niet meer welkom is en waar zijn partijgenoten bij bosjes in de gevangenis belanden. Bovendien beperkt een eventuele VN-acceptatie van Palestina de aspiraties van Hamas om heel het gebied, inclusief Israël, onder Arabisch-islamitische controle te brengen.
Dat Hamas en andere terreurorganisaties in staat zijn de plannen van de Palestijnse Autoriteit effectief te dwarsbomen bleek al in de eerste jaren na het sluiten van de Oslo-akkoorden in 1993. Telkens als de Palestijnse leiders een compromis met Israël leken te vinden, pleegden zelfmoordterroristen van Hamas bloedige aanslagen op bussen, cafés en winkelcentra in Israël. Israëlische burgers zagen het vredesproces veranderen in een nachtmerrie. Elk vertrouwen in het vermogen van het Palestijnse leiderschap om echte vrede te garanderen raakte zoek.
Op 10 november, toen in een dag 25 raketten op Israëlische steden terechtkwamen en vier Israëlische militairen gewond raakten, flikten Hamas c.s. dit kunstje weer. Elke regering, ook de Israëlische, heeft nu eenmaal de plicht zijn burgers te beschermen. Met escalatie van het geweld wilde Hamas laten zien dat de Palestijnse Autoriteit niets te zeggen heeft over wat er in Gaza gebeurt. Hamas toont dat de op te waarderen staat Palestina twee regeringen heeft, die elkaar bestrijden en deels tonen niet in vrede te willen leven met de buren. Daarom dient de wereldgemeenschap eerst de destructieve politiek van Hamas te bestrijden door die organisatie te isoleren en geen geld te geven en dan pas te overwegen of een opwaardering van de status van Palestina de vrede en veiligheid in de regio ten goede komt.
Het kersverse staakt het vuren is alweer geschonden:
Hamas said that it has officially ordered its military wing to stop firing projectiles on Israel, but rockets continued to be fired from Gaza towards the south of the country after the ceasefire took effect.
A Grad rocket that was fired towards Beersheba at around 8 pm Wednesday hit a house, but there no reports of injury. At least five rockets were fired toward the southern city shortly after Egypt declared that a truce between Israel and Hamas will go into effect at 9 pm. Rockets also landed in Netivot and Ashkelon.
Later, additional rockets were fired toward Ashdod, Netivot, Beer Tuvia and the Bnei Shimon and Hof Ashkelon regional councils. Some of the rockets landed in open areas, while others were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Challah Hu Akbar grabbed the text of the cease-fire agreement that is supposed to be going into effect right about now:
Understanding Regarding Ceasefire in Gaza Strip
1. a. Israel shall stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.
b. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks, and attacks along the border
c. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents free movement, and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
d. Other matters as maybe requested shall be addressed.
2. Implementation Mechanism:
a. Setting up of the zero hour for the Ceasefire Understanding to enter into effect.
b. Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commit to what was agreed upon.
c. Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations, Egypt – as the sponsor of this understanding – shall be informed to follow up.
Fairly generic as far as I can see. One immediate issue, though, is that it sounds like it is requiring Israel to no longer enforce the buffer zone - the 300-to-1000 meters that Israel requires to remain clear so that there won't be any attempted explosives along the fence or other attempts to infiltrate Israel.
I can see that being a problem, and possibly it will be interpreted differently by each side.
Not that I am optimistic that this will last the night anyway - there are enough nutty jihadist groups that will be happy to lob a few rockets to prove their manhood.
UPDATE: So far, 23 minutes after the "cease-fire" was to go into effect, there have been rockets towards Hof Ashkelon, Beer Sheva, Shaar HaNegav and Eshkol. It appears that this is the world's definition of a cease fire - only Israel can break one.
De kant van het verhaal die in de media wordt onderbelicht: Israel probeert burgerslachtoffers te voorkomen, maar wil natuurlijk tegelijkertijd Hamas treffen, en dat is lastig. Dagelijks staan Israelische piloten voor dilemma’s, en geregeld worden luchtoperaties op het laatste moment afgeblazen omdat het risico op burgerslachtoffers te groot wordt geacht. Desondanks gaat het weleens fout, met alle tragische gevolgen vandien. Daarvoor is Israel echter niet alleen verantwoordelijk, Hamas speelt een cynisch spel door haar eigen burgers te gebruiken als menselijk schild in plaats van ze te beschermen tegen geweld zoals Israel doet.
Dealing with Hamas’s human shield tactics
The radio message to the Israel Air Force pilot en route to bombing a Hamas rocket launcher in Gaza came in loud and clear: Abort mission.
Civilians spotted, the pilot was told.
It was one of many occasions in which pilots were ordered to call off air strikes in the last moment, after real-time footage of the target area revealed the presence of Palestinian non-combatants.
The IAF is dealing with an enemy keen on using the densely populated Gaza Strip as a rocket base, often shooting the projectiles from the tops of residential buildings, or near schools, mosques, and other public places.
Such tactics are not new for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In recent years, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya declared that “the Palestinians are a nation of jihad and martyrdom,” while Hamas MP Fathi Hamed, addressing Israel, said, “We desire death more than you desire life.
Hamed went on to state that, “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel... the elderly excel at this... and so do the children.
This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children.”
Hamas TV campaigns instruct the population that “bombs are more precious than children.”
In line with this ideology, rockets and explosives are hidden in Gazan homes, and senior terrorists, such as Yahiya Abiya, the head of Hamas’s rocket program, often remain in homes surrounded by civilians.
While the IDF makes major efforts to avoid harming civilians, such as distributing warning leaflets instructing noncombatants to stay away from areas used by Hamas to fire on Israel, phoning- in warnings, and deliberately missing targets on the first strike, to give civilians time to leave, these attempts at caution don’t always succeed.
In the case of Abiya, the air strike killed 10 Palestinian civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
While Abiya was hit in the strike, it seems fair to assume that IDF planners were not aware of the fact that the home was filled with noncombatants as well.
Each air strike carries its own cost-risk analysis, a calculation influenced by the level of threat posed by the intended target.
Yahiya was responsible for firing thousands upon thousands of rockets at Ashdod, Beersheba, and Ashkelon, and would have been seen as a high-value target.
This won’t be the last time that senior Hamas terrorists will seek cover behind Palestinian civilians.
woensdag 21 november 2012
Terwijl de media suggereren dat er vooral vrouwen en kinderen omkomen bij de Israelische bombardementen op de Gazastrook, zegt zelfs het Israel-kritische Betselem dat ruim 60% strijders waren. Overigens geeft ook Betselem dit op een nogal indirecte manier aan, door het aantal burgers te noemen. Ik wil daarbij opmerken dat Betselem nogal een brede definitie van een burger hanteert, en daar in het verleden ook Hamas activisten die op het moment van hun dood niet bezig waren met terroristische activiteiten onder telde.
In de meeste guerrilla oorlogen, zeker in dichtbevolkt gebied, is het percentage en ook het aantal burgerslachtoffers veel hoger. Iedere onschuldige dode is er natuurlijk een teveel, en de beelden zijn er niet minder schrijnend om wanneer je weet dat dit een ‘goede score’ is. Toch willen we erop wijzen dat Israel er veel moeite voor doet om het aantal onschuldige doden te beperken, terwijl Hamas ze juist in gevaar brengt door vanuit burgergebied raketten af te schieten en ook wapens en explosieven in woonwijken op te slaan. Bovendien riep Hamas dinsdag haar burgers op om de waarschuwingen van het Israelische leger te negeren. Het leger waarschuwt de bevolking van Gaza al dagen via pamfletten, telefoontjes en radio berichten voor aankomende bombardementen.
Initial Findings: 41 of the Palestinians killed by the Israeli military up to the night of 19 Nov. were civilians, among them 19 minors.
Published: 20 Nov 2012
Initial B’Tselem investigations indicate that 105 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip between the launch of the Israeli military’s “Pillar of Defense” operation on the afternoon of November 14, 2012 and the night of November 19. Initial investigations indicate that at least 41 of those killed were civilians, among them 19 minors, and 11 women.
B'Tselem will continue to investigate the incidents in which civilians have been killed in Gaza, and to review reports coming in even now regarding additional incidents in which civilians have been killed or injured.
Three Israelis were killed in the course of the operation up to the night of the 19th, as a result of rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian militant organizations.
Published on: November 20, 2012
Hamas Spokesman Urges Palestinian Civilians to Ignore IDF Warnings
Published on: November 20, 2012
This afternoon, the IDF dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip, warning civilians to stay away from Hamas operatives and infrastructure. The first leaflet: To the residents of Sheikh Ajlin, Tel Al-Hwa, Rimal South, Zeitoun, Sjaiya, Turkeman and Sajiya Jadida: For your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards the central Gaza city, via Al-Khara, Jma’at Al Dul Al Arabia, Al Aqsa Al Qudsiya, Um Alaimoun, Salah A-din, Al-Maqsurra, Hal’s Mjdad. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the areas of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south. The second leaflet: To the residents of of the outskirts of Shati, Al-Atatra, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun: for your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards central Gaza city via Al-Falujah, Al-Udda and Salah A-din. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the roads of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south. A short while ago, the Hamas interior ministry spokesman was interviewed on Al-Quds Radio in Gaza and urged his listeners to ignore the IDF warnings. IDF intelligence was listening to the broadcast and relayed the following transcript: Question: As the bombings go on, I want to address a specific issue: People have been receiving text messages urging them to evacuate their houses… Hamas Interior Ministry Spokesperson: This is all part of the psychological warfare held by the Zionist enemy… So by using this way of communication, our public radio, I address all our Palestinian brothers by saying: Please do not listen to the orders noted on these text messages, their only purpose is spreading fear and panic within our people.
This afternoon, the IDF dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip, warning civilians to stay away from Hamas operatives and infrastructure.
The first leaflet:
To the residents of Sheikh Ajlin, Tel Al-Hwa, Rimal South, Zeitoun, Sjaiya, Turkeman and Sajiya Jadida: For your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards the central Gaza city, via Al-Khara, Jma’at Al Dul Al Arabia, Al Aqsa Al Qudsiya, Um Alaimoun, Salah A-din, Al-Maqsurra, Hal’s Mjdad. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the areas of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.
The second leaflet:
To the residents of of the outskirts of Shati, Al-Atatra, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun: for your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards central Gaza city via Al-Falujah, Al-Udda and Salah A-din. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the roads of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.
A short while ago, the Hamas interior ministry spokesman was interviewed on Al-Quds Radio in Gaza and urged his listeners to ignore the IDF warnings. IDF intelligence was listening to the broadcast and relayed the following transcript:
Question: As the bombings go on, I want to address a specific issue: People have been receiving text messages urging them to evacuate their houses…
Hamas Interior Ministry Spokesperson: This is all part of the psychological warfare held by the Zionist enemy… So by using this way of communication, our public radio, I address all our Palestinian brothers by saying: Please do not listen to the orders noted on these text messages, their only purpose is spreading fear and panic within our people.
Lees onderstaande artikelen eens rustig door en laat de inhoud tot je doordringen. Juist ja, Syrië, dat dagelijks tientallen burgers doodt, martelt en bewust bommen op appartementen en scholen gooit, veroordeelt Israel dat reageert op de duizenden raketten die de afgelopen jaren op Israel werden afgevuurd vanuit de Gazastrook. Iedere vergelijking gaat mank, omdat Syrië de eigen bevolking uitmoordt terwijl Israel tegen een vijandig regime, namelijk Hamas, strijdt, maar de Syrische veroordelingen zijn hoe dan ook een beetje out of place. Ondertussen heeft Syrië zelf ook honderden Palestijnse vluchtelingen gedood, zonder dat ik daar veel verontwaardigde reacties op heb vernomen uit het pro-Palestina kamp.
Syria condemns Israel over Gaza airstrikes
Syria condemned the Israeli air raids night on Gaza on Tuesday, which killed 25 Palestinians, and called upon the international community to undertake urgent steps to put an end to these activities", said a Foreign Ministry statement.
"Syria strongly condemns the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, and extends its support to the Gaza population," the statement said. (AFP).
PLO: Over 400 Palestinians killed in Syria conflict
More than 400 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the fighting between the Syrian army and anti-government forces, Zakariya al-Agha, a senior PLO official, announced Thursday.
The announcement came as Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria to Jordan complained that the Palestinian Authority was doing nothing to assist them.
Nearly 500,000 Palestinians live in a number of refugee camps in Syria.
Agha, who heads the PLO's refugee department, said that since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the Palestinian leadership's policy has been not to support any of the rival parties.
"The refugees in Syria are there as guests until they return to the homeland from which they were forced out," Agha told the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station. He said that because the Palestinian refugees camps in Syria have not been involved in the conflict, many Syrian civilians found shelter with Palestinian families.
Agha accused radical Palestinian groups that are affiliated with the Syrian regime of seeking to involve the Palestinian camps in the conflict.
Although he did not name the Palestinian groups, PA leaders have accused Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command of dragging the Palestinians into the fighting in Syria. Jibril's group has long been supportive of the Syrian regime and its members are said to be fighting alongside the Syrian army.
Agha said that all 400 Palestinian victims were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.
Human rights activists in Syria said that that 18 Palestinians were killed on Wednesday when the Syrian army used artillery to attack Yarmouk. The activists said that four women and three children were among the victims.
Meanwhile, representatives of Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria to Jordan complained that the PA was not doing anything to ease their suffering. In a letter to the PA leadership, the refugees said that the PA Embassy in Amman was refusing to extend any type of assistance to them. They also said they have been forced to seek help from international aid organizations and the Jordanian authorities in light of the PA's failure to help them.
Vanuit Wolfson Medical Center zou de NOS een prachtige reportage kunnen maken over hoe het leven van Palestijnse kinderen wordt gered terwijl Hamas en Israel elkaar bestoken met raketten. Mooi zou ook het beeld zijn wanneer het luchtalarm afgaat en de kinderen die daartoe in staat zijn naar de schuilkelder rennen.
Overigens zijn er vandaag aan Israelische kant twee doden gevallen, waaronder een Arabier.
The children given life in the midst of war
Israel and Gaza may be fighting a bitter conflict, but at Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv, children from Gaza get a new chance at survival.
Mohamed Ashgar is bored. The 11-year-old, who suffers from rheumatic heart disease, has been at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for a week waiting for surgery, but it was delayed because of poor blood test results. Now he just wants to have the operation and get back home quickly to his parents and his four brothers and sisters. His dream when he is finally well again – to go back to school. Ill health has kept him out of class for over a year already.
Sitting on the end of his bed in hospital pajamas, Mohamed has a cheeky face and a sweet, wide grin. He tells ISRAEL21c that he’d like to be prime minister when he grows up – maybe. It’s all so completely normal, except for one thing: Mohamed is from Betlahia in Gaza, and his operation is taking place in Israel in the midst of a bitter and dangerous conflict that has seen both sides bombing each other continually for seven days.
On Sunday, Mohamed and his grandfather Dahud, 58, who accompanied him into Israel, were in the hospital when a siren went off. They and the other children on the ward – many of them crying and scared — were hurried to the shelter, a room at the end of the corridor that doubles as a nurses’ cupboard with boxes of stationery and spare pajamas on the shelves.
The missile from Gaza was intercepted by the Iron Dome, but fragments of it fell a few meters from the hospital, causing a car to burst into flames. Another part of the shell was later found inside the hospital.
Mohamed is in Israel thanks to the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), a non-profit organization based at Wolfson that provides children from developing countries, often those ravaged by war, with heart surgery and follow-up care.
He’s not the only child at the clinic from Gaza right now. There are also two baby girls – Remas, and Leen, who has Down syndrome — and a six-year-old boy, Salah, who arrived with his mother on Sunday during the siren. In the midst of some of the fiercest fighting, they managed to come by car from Khan Yunis to Gaza City, and then by ambulance to the Erez crossing, where they were met by Israelis and brought to Wolfson.
There are Palestinians from the West Bank too, including six-month-old Losen, who was in surgery when the sirens went off. Her father, Ahmad Faygan, 30, a municipality worker from Tul Karem, said the only thing he could think about as the sirens blared was whether the surgeons would abandon his daughter to take to the shelters. They didn’t.
There are five Iraqi children, and 18 others from Kosovo, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zanzibar – all mixed in together.
‘Missiles are falling, but we carry on as usual’
SACH is the largest program of its kind in the world. Aside from bringing children to Israel for lifesaving surgery, the organization trains physicians, goes on missions abroad to operate on kids, and has a weekly clinic on Tuesdays for children in the West Bank and Gaza. The 70 to 80 medical staff involved in the program all work voluntarily. All medical costs for most of the patients are covered by SACH.
The organization was conceived by US immigrant Dr. Amram Cohen, and founded in 1995 by Cohen and Dr. Sion Houri, now head of the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson. It began with Ethiopian children and broadened to include children from 44 countries. Cohen died in 2001 in a climbing accident on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Some 3,000 children have had surgery at Wolfson through SACH, of which about half are Palestinian, and 70 percent of these from Gaza. SACH also sends Israeli doctors to train cardiologists and treat patients in the developing world. In addition, SACH personnel at Wolfson train medical practitioners from developing countries — so far, nearly 80 doctors, including about 20 Palestinians – and work intensively with doctors in Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The goal is to duplicate Israel’s own experience, says Houri. “When I was a young doctor, Israeli children were dying because they needed heart surgery that wasn’t available in Israel. You don’t see that now. We sent physicians to train abroad, and had immigrants like Amram coming to Israel with knowledge and experience. If we managed it, then it’s doable for them, too.”
Does being in a conflict with Gaza make a difference to the staff?
“From outside it might look strange, but here it’s routine,” says Houri, as he walks the wards of the pediatric department greeting patients, parents and nursing staff in a mix of Hebrew, Arabic and English. “It’s Middle East logic: At the same time we are bombing each other, a mother comes with her son from Gaza for surgery. Missiles are falling, but we carry on as usual. For us it’s normal to be so abnormal.
“We aren’t political. We don’t belong to the left or the right, we’re just a group of physicians,” he adds. “You can’t be mad at a child. We know for sure that we have treated children whose parents were in Hamas. We don’t care. The only color we don’t tolerate is blue, because it means there isn’t enough oxygen in the blood.”
‘We feel more protected here’
For the parents and children from Gaza right now, it’s no doubt a surreal experience. Their leadership is at war with Israel, militants are firing hundreds of missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and their own families are sheltering from Israeli retaliation. But here in Israel they are treated warmly and compassionately, and – most important of all – their children are being given vital surgery.
“We are very glad to be here for the operation, but we really feel for our family back home,” says Dahud. “We aren’t frightened for ourselves; we’re frightened for them in Gaza. We feel more protected here.”
“We have family in Gaza and we’re very much afraid of what’s happening there, but we aren’t nervous about being here in Israel,” says 26-year-old Anfam Faygan, mother of Losen. “We have some anxieties about being hit by a missile, but we don’t feel any different from the other parents in the hospital. They treat our daughter as they would their own.”
It’s her daughter’s second operation at Wolfson. Her first was at the age of 10 days. Her final corrective surgery was on Sunday.
“The parents and children feel very safe in Israel,” remarks Houri, whose son is now serving in the Israel Defense Forces. “You can see they feel good, by their smiles.”
He remembers an incident some years ago when two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah were lynched by a mob of Palestinians. At the same time a Palestinian mother was at Wolfson with her child. “She was sitting outside the ward and she was completely white,” says Houri. “I had to calm her down. Here, now, people don’t seem to be in much anxiety. Their main concern is that people at home might get hurt, not that they are here amongst Israelis.”
Does all this work with Gaza have an impact on the situation?
“Judging by the amount of missiles that have fallen on Israel, it doesn’t seem to,” says Houri ruefully. “We just have to do what we can. People know the reality. It’s not just one child from Gaza that we’ve operated on, it’s not something that can be hidden away. We’ve operated on hundreds of children. We’ve had all kinds of reactions over the years. At Wolfson, Palestinian and Israeli mothers sit down and talk to each other for the first time.”
Another baby saved
SACH is always in need of more funds. While some money comes from the Palestinian Authority, which helps support surgery for Arab children from the West Bank, most of the budget comes from fundraising.
The organization has now begun a $20 million fundraising campaign with the aim of building a worldwide center of competence at Wolfson that will serve as a model for similar centers in developing countries. Wolfson, which serves the poorer neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv, Holon and Bat Yam, has little in the way of luxuries. Parents who come with their children have to sleep in a tiny room crammed with four makeshift beds, and a curtain for a door.
If SACH can raise enough money, the new center will offer state of the art child oriented medical facilities, enabling them to carry out up to 400 pediatric heart surgeries a year.
As we finish, Houri goes on a quick tour of the intensive care ward before returning to his office. He stops by Losen. She looks tiny on the hospital bed and is wired up to dozens of machines. She’s crying fretfully as a nurse alters her pain medication.
“You see that blue line?” Houri says, pointing to one of the monitors. “It shows the saturation of oxygen in her blood. It’s 99; that’s normal. Before the operation it was just 60. She’s a bit miserable now, because she’s in pain. But she looks excellent,” he says with evident satisfaction.
In the meantime, Mohamed is still anxiously waiting for his turn. If his blood tests improve, the operation should go ahead next week. His grandfather, who worked for 40 years in Israel, hopes that one day the situation between Gaza and Israel will improve.
“I used to travel all over the country for work and then go home afterwards,” he says passionately. “I’m hoping that these days will come again.”