Gaza ceasefire in jeopardy as six Palestinians are shot
Israeli troops yesterday shot dead six Palestinians in two separate incidents, as evidence emerged that an increasingly fragile ceasefire between armed groups loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and Israel appeared to be in danger of breaking down.
The shootings, the most serious violence in months, came a day before today’s first anniversary of the outbreak of Israel’s war against Gaza in which almost 1,400 Palestinians died – and as allegations have emerged from Israeli human rights campaigners who opposed the war that they are facing concerted attempts to silence them.
Three of the Palestinians were killed in an airstrike just inside the Gaza border. According to Israeli officials they had been scouting the area for a possible infiltration operation, but according to Hamas officials and medics they had been searching for scrap metal to salvage.
More serious in its implications, however, was the shooting dead of three members of Fatah’s armed wing – the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – in a raid on the northern West Bank city of Nablus, apparently in retaliation for the shooting of an Israeli driving near the settlement at Shavei Shomron. Relatives who witnessed the Nablus shootings said soldiers fired at two of the men without warning. An Israeli army spokesman, Major Peter Lerner, said troops fired after the three men failed to respond to calls to surrender. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — To be an Israeli soldier is to be able to murder with impunity. It’s as simple as that.
The reporting on the murder of three members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is quite extraordinary. An Israeli commander is quoted saying: “we have the responsibility to act against whoever executed the attack [in which a Jewish settler was murdered on Thursday] and settle the score with them.”
Ynet reported: “The defense establishment is investigating why the three, who are considered fairly mature, decided to execute the attack themselves, and why they acted so shortly after being released from the Israeli prison.”
Suspects can be arrested and put on trial, but if settling scores is the name of the game then we’re not talking about suspects — we’re talking about targets for killing.
Haaretz reported: “According to B’Tselem, in two of the three cases the troops behaved as if they were preparing for an execution, not an arrest. Relatives and eyewitnesses told B’Tselem that the two were unarmed and did not attempt to flee, and that the soldiers weren’t trying to stop them, but rather shot them from close range once their identity was revealed. There were no witnesses to the shooting of the third man.”
Then we have what might be called the torturers’ defense: look, we didn’t suffer a scratch — proof that we were exercising restraint.
A senior IDF officer told Ynet: “The fact that no soldier was injured in the incident shows that we did not act too aggressively and that everything was done properly despite the extremely complex and dangerous mission.”
Meanwhile, Israel awaits Hamas’ response to the prisoner exchange offer for securing the release of Gilad Shalit… and a bomb goes off in Beirut killing two Hamas members.
Is Mossad trying to block the deal?