Sunday, April 10, 2011

Are we heading toward another massacre in Gaza?

Statement by Sky Bauman
Reposted from Norman Finkelstein's site at
My fear is that the current fighting is going to become a pretext for a major attack on Gaza, like what happened in December of 2008.
I see some ominous parallels between what is happening now and what happened then. As far as I know, Hamas had not been launching rocket attacks on Israel before the current crisis. I believe there was only light and sporadic rocket fire from other groups. Supposedly in response to a single rocket which caused no damage (and when people’s attention was focused on other events in the Middle East), Israel killed two members of Hamas in an air strike. That reminds me of what Israel did on the day of Obama’s election, although it is not as dramatic. Hamas responded, and Israel has been carrying out more attacks. Militant groups in Gaza called for a ceasefire, but Israel has found reasons to continue attacking. I feel like this might be intended to provoke Hamas.
I can imagine a sudden, devastating attack on Gaza coming a month later to supposedly stop a barrage of rockets.
February 17: Israeli troops kill 3 Palestinians for going too close to the Gaza-Israel border [1]. This is the first incident of violence reported on the BBC website since January 18.
February 23 and 24: An Israeli tank fires on Palestinians near the Israel-Gaza border [2, 3]. One Palestinian militant is killed. Palestinians claim that 11 people were injured, including 3 children. Israel claims to have responded to militants planting explosives at the border.
Palestinian militants respond to the tank attack by firing two rockets, one of which damages an Israeli home.
Israel responds to the rockets by carrying out air strikes on four Hamas training sites [2, 3]. Three Palestinian militants are injured by the air strikes.
March 11: Five members of an Israeli settler family (the parents and three young children) of eight are murdered in their home in the West Bank [4, 5]. The perpetrators are not apprehended, but Israeli police suspect Palestinians [5].
This serves as the pretext for the detention of dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank on March 29 [5] and April 7 [32].
March 15: Israeli commandos seize a German-owned vessel in international waters, which was heading from Turkey to Egypt [6]. Israel claims the vessel contained weapons meant for Gaza.
March 16: A rocket is fired into Israel [7, 8], but causes no damage or casualties.
Israel carries out an air strike on a Hamas security compound [7, 8], reportedly as reprisal. Two Hamas members are killed [8, 9].
March 18: Palestinian militants fire an anti-tank missile at an Israeli patrol [8], presumably in response to Israel’s March 16 attack on Hamas.
March 19: Gaza militants fire 56 mortars into Israel, some of which are launched by Hamas [7, 8, 9]. Hamas claims responsibility for 10 mortars [7]. But according to the ICG, Hamas is responsible for firing 33 [8]. Two Israelis are injured in the attack [9, 10], and an Israeli home is damaged [10]. The mortar attack presumably is reprisal for the March 16 attack on Hamas.
Israel responds with a tank shelling of Gaza, which injures 5 people [11].
March 20: Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians for getting too close to the Israel-Gaza border [11].
March 21: Israel carries out air strikes in Gaza, injuring 17 people including 7 children [12]. This presumably is reprisal for the March 19 rocket attack.
In response to recent violence, Hamas announces that it is committed to preserving an unofficial truce with Israel [8, 13].
The order of these two events is unknown.
March 22: Israel carries out two air strikes in Gaza, killing 8 Palestinians (including 2 children) and injuring others [8, 14]. This presumably is reprisal for the March 19 rocket attack.
March 23: A bomb at an Israeli bus stop in Jerusalem kills a British woman and injures more than 30 other people [8, 15].
Gaza militants fire two rockets into Israel [16], presumably in response to recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. One Israeli is injured.
Israel then launches air strikes in Gaza [16], presumably in response to the two rockets.
A Hamas fighter tells the ICG that instructions to cease fire — provided that Israel stops attacking — have been issued [8]. The fighter says that Hamas’ leadership has asked other Palestinian factions to cease fire as well.
The timing of the bus bomb and the message to the ICG relative to the other events are unknown.
March 24: Gaza militants fire two rockets into Israel [17], presumably in response to the March 23 air strikes. There are no casualties. Gaza militants also fire mortars into the western Negev desert [17].
There are at least three Israeli air strikes on Gaza, as well as artillery fire on the region [17].
An Israeli air strike is reported to have occurred every day of the week [18].
March 26: Hamas announces a call for a Gaza ceasefire, on behalf of itself and other militant groups [19, 20]. They say that they will agree to a ceasefire if Israel stops attacking.
March 27: Israel carries out an air strike in Gaza, killing two members of Islamic Jihad [21, 22]. Israel claims the air strike was meant to stop an attempt to fire a rocket [21].
Israel deploys its Iron Dome missile defense system outside of Beersheba [23]; the town had been a target of rockets during the current round of fighting.
The order of these two events is unknown.
March 29: Israeli troops detain 60 Palestinians in the West Bank, claiming to try to apprehend those who killed the settler family on March 11 [5]. Many of the Palestinians are released, but Israel continues to hold 40 of them [5].
A rocket is fired into Israel, from Gaza [24, 25]. This presumably is in response to the March 27 air strike.
The relative timing of the detention and the rocket fire is unknown.
March 30: Israel carries out an air strike in Gaza, killing one militant and wounding another [24].
April 1: An Israeli air strike kills three members of Hamas and injures another person [26]. Israel claims this was a preemptive strike meant to prevent attacks and kidnappings over Passover. Hamas threatens “consequences”.
April 4: The half-Palestinian half-Jewish Israeli actor and activist Juliano Mer Khamis dies after being shot by a masked gunman during a visit to a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin [27].
April 6: An air strike on Sudan kills two people [28]. Sudan blames Israel, which makes no comment. The target region is one which Israel has alleged is used for smuggling weapons to Gaza.
April 7: Palestinian militants fire roughly fifty mortars into Israel, from Gaza [29]. A missile from Gaza strikes an Israeli school bus, wounding the bus driver and critically injuring a sixteen year old student (those injured were the only ones who had not gotten off of the bus) [29]. Israel claims the bus was struck by an anti-tank missile [29]. Hamas claims responsibility for the attacks, stating they were reprisal for the April 1 air strike by Israel [29].
Israel claims that its Iron Dome missile defense system stopped two missiles from Gaza [29].
Israel bombs a Hamas compound in northern Gaza, as well as targets in Gaza City and Rafah [29]. Israeli helicopters machine gun targets in Gaza [29]. Israel carries out air strikes in southern Gaza, supposedly against smuggling [29]. Israel’s actions presumably are in response to the bombardment by Gaza militants on this day.
Hamas announces a ceasefire, which it claims it brokered with other groups in Gaza [29, 30].
Abbas calls on the West “to immediately intervene to stop this aggression” [29]. He also calls on militant groups to avoid giving Israel reasons to attack.
Israeli soldiers enter the West Bank village of Awarta after midnight, impose a curfew, raid Awarta homes, and arrest 100 women (many of whom are elderly) [31]. Many of the women are released, but Israel continues to hold twenty of them [31]. These actions in the West Bank supposedly are in response to the March 11 killing of an Israeli settler family.
The order of these events are unknown, except that Israel carried out air strikes in response to Palestinian fire.
April 8: Hours after the Palestinian call for a ceasefire, Israel carries out air strikes in Gaza [32, 33]. The total number of Palestinian dead is reported to be 10 [33] or 12 [32, 33]. The number of civilian dead is reported to be 3 [32] or 5 [33]. Nearly 40 Palestinians are injured. Israel claims its action is in response to the April 7 strike on a bus (despite having already retaliated on that day).
Palestinian militants fire dozens of rockets and mortars at Israel, presumably in response to the air strikes [32, 33]. No casualties are reported. Hamas claims responsibility for some of the missiles, accusing Israel of breaking the ceasefire declaration. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a small PLO faction) also claims responsibility for some of the fire. Israeli police claim that 15 rockets entered Israel [32, 33]. Israel claims that its Iron Dome missile defense system stopped a rocket [33].
April 9: Israel carries out air strikes in Gaza, killing 4 Gaza militants [34]. Israel claims to be responding to the missile which struck a school bus, which Netanyahu says had “crossed the line”.
Hamas accuses Israel of breaking the ceasefire call, and threatens retaliation if attacks on Gaza continue [34].
1. BBC News, “Israeli troops fatally shoot three Palestinians in Gaza,” February 17, 2011.
Israel claims the victims were planting explosives. Relatives of the victims claim they were unarmed civilians who had been gathering sea shells.
2. BBC News, “Gaza militants fire rockets at Beersheba, Israel,” February 23, 2011.
3. BBC News, “Israeli jets hit Gaza after Palestinian rocket attacks,” February 24, 2011.
4. BBC News, “`Palestinian’ kills five Israelis in West Bank,” March 12, 2011.
5. BBC News, “Fogel murders: Israeli army `detains 60 Palestinians’,” March 29, 2011.
Note that this article states that there were previous arrests of Palestinians in response to the killing, as well as curfews. However, the BBC has no news articles focusing on these actions.
6. BBC News, “Israel seizes Egypt-bound ship ‘with weapons for Gaza’,” March 15, 2011.
7. Haaretz, “Palestinians: Three killed in Israeli air strike on Gaza,” March 16, 2011.
This report puts the number of Palestinians killed in the March 16 air strike at 3. The ICG and other sources report that 2 militants were killed.
8. International Crisis Group, “Gaza: The Next Israeli-Palestinian War?” March 24, 2011.
This report establishes the dates of all events cited. According to this report, the two Palestinian children killed in the March 22 air strike were members of the same family. A third member of that family also was killed.
9. BBC News, “Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars into Israel,” March 19, 2011.
10. Haaretz, “Israel strikes Gaza after massive mortar barrage on south,” March 19, 2011.
11. BBC News, “Two Palestinians killed at Gaza-Israel border,” March 20, 2011.
12. BBC News, “Gaza Strip: Israel launches air strikes,” March 21, 2011.
13. Jerusalem Post, “Hamas repeats commitment to keep unofficial truce,” March 21, 2011.
This article puts the date of Hamas’ announcement at Monday, March 21, in agreement with the ICG report.
14. BBC News, “Gaza: Children die in Israeli attack, say doctors,” March 23, 2011.
15. BBC News, “Deadly bombing targets Jerusalem bus stop,” March 23, 2011.
16. BBC News, “Air strikes on Gaza after rockets hit southern Israel,” March 23, 2011.
17. BBC News, “Israel: Gaza rocket attacks strike Ashdod and Yavneh,” March 24, 2011.
18. BBC News, “Gazans count cost of escalating violence,” March 24, 2011.
This article puts the number of Palestinians killed up to this point to be at least 10. It puts the number injured to be more than 30.
19. BBC News, “Gaza militant groups agree Israel ceasefire, says Hamas,” March 27, 2011.
This article puts the number of mortars and rockets fired by Gaza militants to be over 80 up to this point. It puts the number of Palestinians killed to be more than 10.
20. UPI, “Israeli official warns on future peace,” March 27, 2011.
This article establishes that the call for a ceasefire was made on Saturday, March 26.
21. BBC News, “Israeli air strike kills two militants in northern Gaza,” March 27, 2011.
Note: This article indicates that the air strike was meant to stop what Israel claimed was an attempt to fire a rocket. It does not indicate that a rocket was stopped by Israel’s missile defense system or was fired at all.
22. Xinhua News, “Tension back to Gaza following Israeli airstrike [sic], Jihad vows revenge,” March 27, 2011.
This article establishes that Israel’s air strike was on Sunday, March 27, after the call for a ceasefire.
23. Jerusalem Post, “IDF deploys Iron Dome battery outside Beersheba,” March 28, 2011.
24. Haaretz, “Israel air strike kills Gaza militant linked to rocket attack near border,” March 30, 2011.
This article establishes that the rocket was fired on Tuesday, March 29. It establishes that Israel’s reprisal was on Wednesday, March 30.
25. Times Live, “Neither Hamas nor Israel seem to want new war,”
This article establishes that the rocket was fired on Tuesday, March 29.
26. BBC News, “Gaza: Hamas militants killed in Israeli air strike,” April 1, 2011.
27. BBC News, “Arab Israeli actor Juliano Mer Khamis killed in Jenin,” April 4, 2011.
28. BBC News, “Sudan accuses Israel over Port Sudan air strike,” April 6, 2011.
29. BBC News, “Gaza: Israeli forces strike after attack on bus,” April 7, 2011.
30. BBC News, “Gaza violence: Hamas declares ceasefire with Israel,” April 7, 2011.
31. Al Jazeera, “Mass arrests of Palestinian women by Israel,” April 7, 2011.
This article claims that Israeli soldiers had been carrying out frequent raids in Awarta for the past four weeks, but this was the first time they arrested arrested women. It states that this arrest puts the total number of Palestinians taken into custody in recent weeks at 75. It quotes the deputy mayor of Awarta saying that 80% of the homes in this village have been raided, and over 300 men and boys have been arrested. It claims that 40 men and boys were in Israeli jails at the time of the mass arrest of women, and that none had been charged with a crime. (Note: 40 men and boys plus 20 women seems to be in conflict with the report of 75 in custody. One possible explanation is that males also were arrested during this raid, and this was not reported. The disparity also could be due to confusion.)
This article notes that Israel also bulldozed Palestinian houses in a northern Wet Bank farming village. It states that Israel destroyed 29 Palestinian homes in the West Bank in January, 70 in February, and 76 in March.
32. BBC News, “Gaza: Israel kills 12 amid cross-border exchanges,” April 8, 2011.
33. Al Jazeera, “Three Gazans killed in new Israeli air raids,” April 8, 2011.
34. BBC News, “Death toll mounts as Israel strikes again at Gaza,” April 9, 2011.

~ reposted by Sofia Smith

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