Israeli troops kill Palestinian murder suspects accused of slaying teens

“We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange” — is this how Israelis attempt to arrest criminal suspects? By first shooting at them?

Reuters reports: Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday and the military said they were members of Hamas responsible for the killing of three Israeli youths in June, an attack that led to the Gaza war.

Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha, both in their 30s, were shot dead during a gun battle after Israeli troops surrounded a house in the city before dawn, the army and residents said. Israel had been hunting the men for three months.

Kawasme and Abu Aysha were suspected of carrying out the kidnapping and killing of the three teenage seminary students, who were abducted while hitchhiking at night near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on June 12.

The military said army and police forces were trying to arrest the two suspects when a firefight erupted.

“We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said.

The Times of Israel reports: Palestinian security cooperation with Israel enabled Israel to target and kill two Hamas operatives suspected of kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers in June, a Hamas official in Gaza charged on Tuesday.

Salah Bardawil said in a statement published on Hamas’s official website that “the success of the Israeli occupation in assassinating the perpetrators of the Hebron operation [sic] early Tuesday morning was due to the security cooperation in the occupied West Bank.”

By killing Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha rather than arresting them, Israel has avoided the politically risky process of putting them on trial — a trial which might have highlighted that the two men were not following directions from Hamas and thus Netanyahu’s pretext for the most recent war on Gaza was baseless.

That the killings happened at the very same time that the international media is firmly focused on U.S. airstrikes in Syria must surely just be a coincidence. Right?

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Israeli drone conference is features aircraft recently used to attack Gaza

Quartz: A few weeks after Israel and Hamas signed an open-ended truce to end their nearly two-month-long war in Gaza, Israeli defense contractors are parading weapons used in the conflict at a conference in Tel Aviv. The annual Israel Unmanned Systems conference, which began Sunday and runs through Friday (Sept. 19), is jointly hosted with the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. According to its website, attendees include “senior officials from commercial and government entities” from Europe, Asia, North and South America.

The conference’s sponsors include the largest Israeli private defense contractors, among them Haifa-based Elbit Systems. Elbit’s Hermes 450 (pdf), a “multi-role tactical high-performance unmanned aircraft system” (UAS)—in other words, a battle drone—operated this summer in the Gaza Strip, and may have carried out attacks. [Continue reading...]

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Veterans of elite Israeli intel unit refuse reserve duty, citing mistreatment of Palestinians

The New York Times reports: Denouncing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians under occupation, a group of veterans from an elite, secretive military intelligence unit have declared they will no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians” in required reserve duty because of what they called “our moral duty to act.”

In a letter sent Thursday night to their commanders as well as Israel’s prime minister and army chief, 43 veterans of the clandestine Unit 8200 complained that Israel made “no distinction between Palestinians who are and are not involved in violence” and that information collected “harms innocent people.” Intelligence “is used for political persecution,” they wrote, which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence, further distancing us from the end of the conflict.”

The letter, revealed Friday in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper as well as The Guardian in Britain, echoes similar periodic protests by reservists over the years, including a group of 27 pilots who refused to participate in what Israel calls targeted assassinations, and 13 members of the vaunted commando unit known as Sayeret Matkal, both in 2003. But it is the first public collective refusal by intelligence officers rather that combat troops. Unit 8200 has a special role in Israeli society as a coveted pipeline to its high-technology industry.

“After our service we started seeing a more complex picture of a nondemocratic, oppressive regime that controls the lives of millions of people,” said one of the group’s organizers, a 32-year-old sergeant major who was on active duty from 2001 to 2005. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because the military prohibits Unit 8200 members from being publicly identified. [Continue reading...]

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Noam Chomsky: The fate of the Gaza ceasefire

Is there nowhere on the face of the Earth where opinion polls aren’t taken? In the wake of the 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza, parts of that tiny strip of land now look, according to photographs, like a moonscape of destruction. At least 10,000 homes were obliterated and thousands more damaged; at least 175 major factories were pummeled into the dust. Its only power plant was destroyed, damaging electricity, water, and sewage systems. Large apartment houses, as well as the ministry of education, schools, and other sites, were hit and sometimes reduced to so much rubble. It was all part of a massive Israeli assault on Hamas, several of whose senior leaders were assassinated, but also on the Palestinian population, involving what looked like collective punishment for its support of that organization or simply living in proximity to it. And indeed, with almost no hope of rebuilding much of their world any time soon, you might think that Palestinians would hold the Hamas leadership at least somewhat responsible for the destruction that has rained down, as assumedly the Israelis wanted them to. But a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), begun in the last day before the ceasefire took hold, and carried out, in part, amid the rubble that is now Gaza, suggests otherwise.

It finds that Palestinian opinion couldn’t be clearer.  Support hasn’t been this high for Hamas since 2006, when it won a fair and square democratic election. If a presidential vote were held today, the pollsters of PSR discovered, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would beat Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas hands down. Here are just a few of the findings: “79% [of Palestinians] believe that Hamas has won the Gaza War; 3% believe Israel came out the winner; and 17% believe the two sides were losers… If new presidential elections are held today and only two [candidates] were nominated, Haniyeh, for the first time since we have started asking about his popularity about eight years ago, would receive a majority of 61% and Abbas would receive 32%. [The] vote for Haniyeh stands at 53% in the Gaza Strip and 66% in the West Bank. Abbas receives 43% in the Gaza Strip and 25% in the West Bank… A majority of 53% believe that armed confrontation is the most effective means to establish a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel. Only 22% believe negotiation is the best means to establish a Palestinian state and 20% believe that popular non-violent resistance is the most effective route to statehood.”

As historically has often been the case, massive bombings and other assaults do not destroy the support of populations for movements or governments, but tend to solidify it. In other words, Israeli policy is reducing civilized life for Palestinians in a major way and yet increasing the urge both to fight on and the desire for revenge. It’s an ugly pattern and, as TomDispatch regular Noam Chomsky (whose latest book, Masters of Mankind, is due out this week) indicates today, it’s been going on in this same fashion for a remarkably long time, as Israel continues to gobble up Palestinian lands on the West Bank, while working to hem Palestinians in yet further in the Gaza Strip. Tom Engelhardt

Ceasefires in which violations never cease
What’s next for Israel, Hamas, and Gaza?
By Noam Chomsky

On August 26th, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both accepted a ceasefire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind. The agreement calls for an end to military action by both Israel and Hamas, as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

This is, however, just the most recent of a series of ceasefire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza. Throughout this period, the terms of these agreements remain essentially the same.  The regular pattern is for Israel, then, to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it — as Israel has officially recognized — until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality. These escalations, which amount to shooting fish in a pond, are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance. The most recent was more accurately described as “removing the topsoil” by a senior U.S. military officer, appalled by the practices of the self-described “most moral army in the world.”

[Read more...]

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For Israel, the beginning of wisdom is to admit its mistakes

Avi Shlaim writes: Israel has a habit of justifying its actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, however illegal and indecent, in the name of security. But denying any security to the other side only perpetuates the conflict.

Five days after reaching a ceasefire with Hamas to end the latest round of fighting in Gaza, the Israeli cabinet decided to appropriate 988 acres of land on the West Bank, near the place where three Israeli teenagers were recently abducted and murdered, to make way for another illegal Jewish city. This is the biggest land grab in three decades. As the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, pointed out: “It was a decision that weakens Israel and damages its security.” What it proves, if further proof is needed, is that Israel’s leaders are determined to prevent a two-state solution to the conflict.

Operation Protective Edge, which came to an end after 50 days of fighting, was the third and deadliest war in six years between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement that rules Gaza. Israel lost 66 soldiers and six civilians. On the Palestinian side, the war left 2,104 dead, mostly civilians, and 12,656 injured; 17,000 houses were destroyed or damaged; 520,000 people, out of a population of 1.8 million, were displaced. The damage to buildings and to the civilian infrastructure, estimated at $6bn, will take many years to repair.

What did Israel gain by unleashing the deadly firepower of the IDF against the caged population of this tiny coastal enclave? Virtually nothing. [Continue reading...]

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The Hannibal Directive: How Israel killed its own troops and massacred Palestinians to prevent soldiers’ capture

Max Blumenthal writes: In the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 1, 2014 is known as Black Friday. This was the day the Israeli military bombarded the city with almost every mode of destruction available to it, from F-16 missiles to Apache rockets to naval shelling to drone strikes and mortars.

Bulldozers ripped down homes at random while tanks barreled through neighborhoods, shelling anything in sight. In a matter of hours, at least 500 artillery shells and hundreds of missiles were dumped on the city, almost entirely in civilian areas. By the end, at least 190 people had been killed, so many that unequipped local hospitals were forced to store their corpses and body parts in ice cream coolers.

The target of the operation was not necessarily Rafah’s civilian population, though attacking it was part of the Israeli military’s underlying logic. Instead, the army apparently aimed to kill one of its own. Indeed, Israeli forces had invoked the Hannibal Directive, opening up an indiscriminate assault on the entire circumference of the area where one of its soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin, was allegedly taken captive by an ambush team from the Hamas military wing known as the Qassam Brigades.

It was one of possibly three instances during Israel’s 51-day war with Hamas that it initiated the Hannibal Directive. [Continue reading...]

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Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza neighborhood shocked the Pentagon

Mark Perry writes: The cease-fire announced Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian factions — if it holds — will end seven weeks of fighting that killed more than 2,200 Gazans and 69 Israelis. But as the rival camps seek to put their spin on the outcome, one assessment of Israel’s Gaza operation that won’t be publicized is the U.S. military’s. Though the Pentagon shies from publicly expressing judgments that might fall afoul of a decidedly pro-Israel Congress, senior U.S. military sources speaking on condition of anonymity offered scathing assessments of Israeli tactics, particularly in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

One of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came on July 20, when a live microphone at Fox News caught U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s military action. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”
Rain of high-explosive shells

Kerry’s comment followed the heaviest bombardment of the war to that point, as Israeli artillery rained thousands of high-explosive shells on Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. A high-ranking U.S. military officer said that the source of Kerry’s apparent consternation was almost certainly a Pentagon summary report assessing the Israeli barrage on which he had been briefed by an aide moments earlier.

According to this senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions — a minimum of 258 artillery pieces, according to the officer’s estimate — pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during a seven-hour period at the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report. [Continue reading...]

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Panoramic views of the destruction of Gaza

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Is this Gaza-Israel ceasefire different?

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Teenager describes being used as a human shield by Israeli soldiers

The New York Times reports: A Palestinian teenager says that Israeli soldiers detained him for five days last month, forcing him to sleep blindfolded and handcuffed in his underwear and to search and dig for tunnels in Khuza’a, his village near Gaza’s eastern border, which was all but destroyed in the fighting.

The teenager, Ahmed Jamal Abu Raida, said the soldiers assumed he was connected to Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates Gaza, insulted him and Allah and threatened to sic a dog on him.

“My life was in danger,” Ahmed, 17, said in one of two lengthy interviews on Thursday and Friday. As soldiers made him walk in front of them through the neighborhood and check houses for tunnels, he added, “In every second, I was going to the unknown.”

His assertions, of actions that would violate both international law and a 2005 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, could not be independently corroborated; Ahmed’s father, Jamal Abu Raida, who held a senior position in Gaza’s Tourism Ministry under the Hamas-controlled government, said the family forgot to take photographs documenting any abuse in its happiness over the youth’s return, and disposed of the clothing he was given upon his release. The case was publicized Thursday by Defense for Children International-Palestine, an organization whose reports on abuses of Palestinian youths in West Bank military jails have been challenged by the Israeli authorities.

The Israeli military confirmed that troops had suspected Ahmed of being a militant and detained him during their ground operation in Gaza, noting his father’s affiliation with Hamas. A military spokesman promised several times to provide more details, but ultimately did not deal with the substance of the allegations, saying they had “been referred to the appropriate authorities for examination.”

A military statement also challenged the credibility of D.C.I.-Palestine, which accused the Israeli military of using Ahmed as a human shield by coercing him to engage in military actions. Throughout the current conflict, Israel has argued that Hamas uses Gaza residents as human shields by conducting militant activity in crowded public places.

“D.C.I.-Palestine’s report represents a perverse inversion of a truth in which Hamas persistently engages in the use of human shields, while the I.D.F.’s code of conduct rejects, in absolute terms, such behavior,” the military statement said, using the abbreviation for the Israel Defense Forces.

Israeli soldiers could not have used human shields because they are all good boys who follow the rules.

What kind of imbecile in the IDF sees fit to present this line of reasoning? Israeli arrogance, in its contempt for the intelligence of others, is itself a form of idiocy.

In 2010, Haaretz reported:

The southern command military court convicted two Israeli soldiers on Sunday of using human shields during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, in the winter of 2008-2009.

The soldiers were convicted of offenses including inappropriate behavior and overstepping authority for ordering an 11-year-old Palestinian to search bags suspected to have been booby trapped.

The conviction is the first such conviction for what is termed in the Israel Defense Forces “neighbor procedure” – the use of human shields during searches and pursuits, which has been outlawed.

Note: this was the first conviction — not the first occurrence.

Moreover, when the report notes that the use of human shields has been outlawed, this alludes to two facts:

1. That the use of human shields was standard practice in the IDF, and
2. that even after Israel’s high court ruled that the use of human shields was illegal, the IDF tried to get the ruling overturned.

The fact that the IDF failed in that effort, does not infer that individual soldiers stopped viewing the use of human shields as serving their interests — merely that those engaging in this practice would understand that they would need to take greater effort to avoid getting caught.

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U.S. has called Israel’s use of Hellfire missiles ‘disgraceful’ yet new supplies will not be delayed

The Washington Post reports: An Israeli missile attack that killed 10 civilians sheltering in a U.N. school here early this month prompted a call for restraint from the U.S. government over what the State Department described as a “disgraceful’’ act.

Yet what Israel used in that Aug. 3 strike, according to the United Nations, was a Hellfire missile — a U.S.-made weapon. The incident was one of many in the ongoing six-week-old war in the Gaza Strip in which weapons sold to Israel by the United States and some European nations have played a prominent role.

In the fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas, the Palestinian death toll now tops 1,900, with nearly three-fourths of the dead being civilians, according to the United Nations.

Of the arms suppliers that have criticized Israel for those civilian deaths, Spain and Britain have announced plans to suspend or review their exports of arms and military-related equipment to Israel. President Obama has offered similar criticism, but U.S. officials also said in recent days that a new transfer of Hellfires will not be delayed. [Continue reading...]

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Israel destroys entire apartment building housing 48 families in Gaza

The Associated Press reports: Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a 12-story apartment tower in downtown Gaza City on Saturday. They collapsing the building, sent a huge fireball into the sky and wounded at least 22 people, including 11 children, witnesses and Palestinian officials said.

Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes against Gaza in nearly seven weeks of fighting with Hamas, but Saturday’s strike marked the first time an entire high-rise was toppled. The explosion shook nearby buildings.

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Israel kills mourners burying their relatives in Gaza

Ma’an News Agency reports: Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in Gaza City on Thursday after targeting a cemetery in the Sheikh al-Radwan district, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said.

The bodies of Muhammad Talal Abu Nahl, Rami Abu Nahl, Haitham Tafesh and Abed Talal Shuweikh were taken to al-Shifa medicial center.

The victims were burying relatives who had been killed overnight by Israeli airstrikes.

The Guardian reports: Israel dealt a blow to Hamas on Thursday by killing three of its most senior military commanders as uncertainty continued over the fate of the organisation’s top military chief, Mohammed Deif, whose wife and children died in an air strike on Tuesday.

Hamas announced the deaths of Mohammed Abu Shamlah, Raed Attar and Mohammed Barhoum after a house in Rafah, in the south of Gaza, was demolished by a series of missiles. Five civilians were also killed, and at least 40 injured.

A joint statement from the Israel Defence Forces and the internal security agency Shin Bet said that Abu Shamlah and Attar had been killed, but made no mention of Barhoum. Defence minister Moshe Ya’alon said the assassinations were a “great operational and intelligence achievement”.

It was unclear how Hamas’s military command structure would be affected by the losses, but rockets continued to be launched from Gaza throughout Thursday and Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel’s actions would “not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weaken the resistance”. Israel would “pay the price”, he added.

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Hamas warns foreign airlines to stop flying into Ben Gurion, says Israel truce talks over

AFP reports: The armed wing of Hamas warned foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv on Wednesday and declared truce talks in Cairo over as a six-week war with Israel spirals into further bloodshed.

Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes across Gaza again on Wednesday in response to multiple rocket attacks on southern Israel, as nine days of calm exploded into bloodshed.

Several thousand furious mourners poured onto the streets of Jabaliya refugee camp to bury the wife and infant son of the top commander of Hamas’s armed wing, baying for revenge.

Mohammed Deif, who has topped Israel’s most wanted list for more than a decade, escaped the assassination attempt, Hamas said.

Israel, which had carried out five previous attempts on Deif’s life, said its offensive in Gaza would continue until the security of Israelis was guaranteed.

At least 2,049 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side have now been killed since the conflict began on July 8, more than 20 of those Palestinians since fighting resumed late Tuesday.

“We are warning international airlines and press them to stop flying into Ben Gurion airport from 6 am (0300 GMT),” the spokesman of the Hamas armed wing, Abu Obeida, said in a televised speech.

Last month, many international airlines briefly suspended flights into Tel Aviv after a Hamas rocket struck close to the airport. [Continue reading...]

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Palestinians decry Gaza journalist killings

Al Jazeera reports: Hala Hamad first received the news of her husband Khaled’s death in a television report. “My family were telling me, ‘No, it’s not him,’ but I knew [from] his camera and his vest written Press on it,” she told Al Jazeera, breaking down in tears.

Twenty-four-year-old Khaled Hamad worked for a local media company in Gaza City called ‘Continue’ Production Films. He was killed alongside 28-year-old ambulance driver Fouad Jaber when an Israeli tank shell struck the ambulance in which they were travelling.

The two were in the hard-hit neighbourhood of Shujayea, as Jaber’s ambulance was one of the first to arrive to evacuate the wounded, and collect the dead bodies.

“I had an unusual feeling, something etched deep in my heart,” said Abu Fouad, about the day his son was killed. [Continue reading...]

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Fighters in Al Qassam Brigade, the armed wing of Hamas

Among the reader comments that appear here, a fairly common one is a rebuke on my choice of sources and my willingness to regurgitate “the lies of the mainstream media” — or something along those lines.

I don’t find “mainstream media” a particularly useful concept because all too often it’s employed as the bluntest possible tool for media analysis.

To view a particular piece of reporting as credible or lacking in credibility simply on the basis of the commercial niche occupied by its publisher, is plain dumb. The following report illustrates my point.

An article focusing on two fighters in Hamas appears in today’s Wall Street Journal.

How can a right-wing newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch with editorial writers like Bret Stephens, former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, provide solid reporting on Hamas? Surprisingly it can.

The report notes that Hamas is a “guerrilla army” thereby drawing a distinction between its objective nature and the politically charged designation — “terrorist” — which is applied by the U.S. and Israeli governments.

The report notes Hamas’ military accomplishments (and alludes to its recent use of drones for battlefield surveillance) and that its fighters are uniformed.

It notes that the choice to engage in armed resistance has been made by and supported by those have witnessed the futility of a peace process pursued through negotiations.

All in all, it’s a report that could profitably be read by many an Israeli who still accepts the propaganda that Israel faces a fanatical foe who values death more than life.

When the shrapnel-torn body of Ahmed Abu Thoraya returned to this city in the Gaza Strip, only one member of his family knew for sure he had been a fighter in Al Qassam Brigade, the armed wing of Hamas.

Mr. Abu Thoraya had given his brother, Mohammed, a short will before he left town on July 19. “He said ‘I’m going somewhere,'” his brother recalled recently. “I knew that he may not come back.”

The conflict in the Gaza Strip has brought the secretive guerrilla army of Hamas out of the shadows and into battle against Israel’s military for only the second time. When the brigade’s fighters are killed, Hamas street organizers eulogize them as heroes, posting images of them in fatigues and toting rockets. And families in the Gaza Strip are coming to terms with never-before-discussed identities of sons and neighbors.

The fighting has given Israel its first good look at Hamas’s street-fighting abilities since 2009—the only other time the Israeli Defense Forces have taken on large numbers of the Qassam fighters at close quarters. The Hamas militia has inflicted the heaviest death toll on Israel’s military in a decade, some 64 soldiers so far. Israel and the U.S. regard Hamas, which also has a political wing and delivers social services, as a terrorist enterprise.

On Tuesday, the latest cease-fire broke down when a salvo of rockets from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel, and Israel retaliated against militant targets in Gaza. Truce talks in Cairo were suspended.

“Hamas has advanced on all fronts,” said a senior official in the Israel Defense Forces. “This time when we meet them on the battlefield, they are better trained, better organized, better disciplined.”

That wasn’t the Hamas that Israel encountered in its 2009 ground invasion of Gaza. When Israel’s military entered the strip back then, Hamas fighters, for the most part, quickly melted away.

This time, Hamas surprised Israeli soldiers by using a network of tunnels under the walls and fences enclosing the Gaza Strip to emerge inside Israel. Hamas commando units that Israel believes took shape mostly in the last year carried out complex ambushes inside and outside Gaza.

Hamas’s internal communications proved more difficult for Israel to track, and Hamas exhibited a new capacity for aerial observation of Israeli troop movements. Hamas rockets, though mostly intercepted above Israel, managed to shut down Israel’s main airport for a time. [Continue reading...]

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The Israeli colonel waging a religious war on Gaza

Ahron Bregman writes: The Israeli forces didn’t give the Palestinians of Rafah any warning [before using the Hannibal Protocol in an attempt to thwart the capture of Lt Goldin], but embarked on the most aggressive bombing campaign of Operation Protective Edge. Airplanes struck Rafah 40 times, dropping massive bombs on its civilian neighbourhoods, and heavy artillery pumped more than 1,000 shells into the area. Tanks also invaded, firing in all directions, and heavy bulldozers moved in to flatten scores of houses on the heads of people who were still inside.

Palestinians who did manage to jump into cars to escape the inferno were shot at, and cars carrying injured civilians trying to approach the Rafah hospital were also attacked. The blitz lasted three hours and killed more than 150 Palestinians. It also injured hundreds of others, having buried them under the rubble.

The colonel who orchestrated the assault on Rafah was Ofer Winter, the commander of the Givati Brigade. A religious settler, on the eve of the Gaza war he dispatched a letter to his troops, laden with biblical references, which perhaps explains the ferocity with which they attacked Rafah.

What Colonel Winter called on his troops to do was, effectively, to conduct a religious war on Gaza.

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#Gaza war resumes with deadly strikes, rocket fire

Reuters reports: Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel for a second day on Wednesday after fighting resumed with the collapse of truce talks and an Israeli air strike that killed three people in Gaza.

Charging Israel had “opened a gateway to hell,” Hamas’s armed wing vowed to target Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport with rocket fire, possibly to retaliate for what Hamas was quoted by Israeli media as saying was an Israeli attempt to assassinate its top militant leader, Mohammed Deif, in a Gaza City strike.

It was not clear whether Deif, who has survived previous Israeli attacks, had survived the strike that killed a woman and a two-year-old girl who media reports said may have been his wife and daughter.

Deif has topped Israel’s wanted lists for years, as mastermind of deadly suicide bombings more than a decade ago. He is currently believed to be a behind-the-scenes leader of Hamas’s campaign against Israel.

Ynet adds: Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk charged on Wednesday after Gaza truce talks collapsed in a spasm of violence that Israel had targeted the group’s armed wing leader Mohammed Deif in one of its air strikes on Tuesday in the coastal territory.

The IDF would not specify any of the targets of some 30 attacks across Gaza in response to rocket fire aimed at Israel. Marzouk said Israel had ruptured the truce alleging it was in order “to assassinate Mohammed Deif,” but that civilians were killed at the site of the attack.

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