Week in Review: "Deadliest Violence in Gaza" Edition, Mar 16th
We take a special look at the events surrounding the deadliest escalation of violence between militant groups in Gaza and Israel since the 2008 Gaza War in this week's review of the top #Palestine stories.
Tit for Tat on Israel-Gaza Border
- It is not a cycle of violence in occupied Palestine: a cycle has no beginning and end. A line of violence has a beginning and end: it began with the creation of Israel and will end with the demise of Israel. How many US media pointed out that the recent chapter of violence began with Israel which assassinated a Palestinian local leader in Gaza?
- Last Friday morning, IDF missiles killed a Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) leader, which had orchestrated the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and a colleague. The IDF said the leader had been planning a terror attack near the Israel-Gaza border.Nearly a hundred rockets and mortar shells were then fired into southern Israel over the following weekend, causing eight injuries and some damage. Israelis were urged to stay indoors and authorities cancelled school. 27 of those rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome.
- The IDF responded to the rockets, calling them "unprovoked", carrying out strikes against what it identified as weapons factories and militant squads attempting to launch rockets.
- While army sources took care to point out al-Qaissi’s alleged involvement in the August 2011 incident, his assassination wasn’t just an act of punishment. No, Israel killed him on the basis of secret evidence – evidence that is not subject to legal or judicial review – that supposedly proves that al-Qaissi was planning a terror attack. Never mind that the Israeli supreme court’s December 2006 ruling placed numerous restrictions on such assassinations
- International Reaction
- At a UN Security Council meeting, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton condemned "in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel" and called on both sides "to restore calm".
The Arab League called the Israeli strikes a "massacre" in a meeting in Cairo. It called on the international community to "take a firm stance to dissuade Israel from its continued massacres and violations of the rights of the Palestinian people". It further stated that "Israel bears the responsibility, as an occupying force, to end the illegitimate blockade on Gaza and to protect the Palestinian people."
The Turkish Prime Minister also referred to the Israeli strikes as a "massacre" and actions of "state terror". He also stated that the Turkish people must "remember that Gazans are our brothers, and will always remain so."
The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc was "following with concern the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and in the south of Israel”. She also said, "I very much deplore the loss of civilian life. It is essential to avoid further escalation and I urge all sides to re-establish calm.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, "I am gravely concerned at the latest escalation between Gaza and Israel, and once again civilians are paying a terrible price. Rocket attacks out of Gaza against Israeli civilian areas are unacceptable and must stop immediately. I reiterate my call on Israel to exercise maximum restraint."
The Iranian foreign ministry released a statement saying that it "strongly condemns the savage crimes of the Zionist regime against the innocent and defenseless Palestinian people in Gaza". The statement added that international organizations and rights groups should speak out "about this abhorrent violation of human rights".
- "Restoring Calm"
- While Hamas worked to broker a cease-fire with Israel with the help of Egypt, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel's actions as perpetuating a "circle of violence" in the region and was reportedly in talks with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal on renewing a cease-fire.
- The lesson the Palestinian resistance groups should learn is that the Egyptian-sponsored truce, which managed to stop the aggression and the assassinations, is temporary. The resistance groups should prepare for another round, which might be tougher and bloodier, with an [Israeli government] that does not care about any ethical or humanitarian values... The Palestinian people will not rely on this truce. They do not trust the Israeli occupation and they have a bitter experience of it.
- The Toll
- The death toll over the next four days claimed an estimated 26 Palestinians. Local medics and organizations say that includes 5 PRC members, 10 Islamic Jihad fighters, and four civilians, among whom was a 12 year old boy. An estimated 28 were also wounded, five seriously. The events mark the deadliest confrontation between Israel and militant Palestinian groups in Gaza since the 2008-2009 war.
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