Max Blumenthal, whose book The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza allows the young men and women of Gaza to speak, offers a gripping and unembellished look at the misery on the ground in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli governments homicidal Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, the third war in this tiny stretch of land in the last six-and-a-half years.
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A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,declaredIsraeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in February. His ominous comments came just days after an anti-tank missile fired by the Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah killed two soldiers in an Israeli army convoy. It, in turn, was aresponseto an Israeli air strike that resulted in the assassination of several high-ranking Hezbollah figures.
Lieberman offered his prediction only four months after his government concluded Operation Protective Edge, the third war between Israel and the armed factions of the Gaza Strip, which had managed to reduce about 20% of besieged Gaza to an apocalyptic moonscape. Even before the assault was launched, Gaza was a warehouse for surplus humanity a 360-square-kilometer ghetto of Palestinian refugees expelled by and excluded from the self-proclaimed Jewish state. For this population, whose members are mostly under the age of 18, the violence has become a life ritual that repeats every year or two. As the first anniversary of Protective Edge passes, Liebermans unsettling prophecy appears increasingly likely to come true. Indeed, odds are that the months of relative quiet that followed his statement will prove nothing more than an interregnum between Israels ever more devastating military escalations.
Three years ago, the United Nations issued areportpredicting that the Gaza Strip would be uninhabitable by 2020. Thanks to Israels recent attack, this warning appears to have arrived sooner than expected. Fewof the 18,000 homes the Israeli military destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt. Few of the more than 400 businesses and shops damaged or leveled during that war have been repaired. Thousands of government employees have not received a salary for more than a year and are working for free. Electricity remains desperately limited, sometimes to only four hours a day. The coastal enclaves borders are consistently closed. Its population is trapped, traumatized, and descending ever deeper into despair, withsuicide ratesskyrocketing.
One of the few areas where Gazas youth can find structure is within the Liberation Camps established by Hamas, the Islamist political organization that controls Gaza. There, they undergo military training, ideological indoctrination, and are ultimately inducted into the Palestinian armed struggle. As I found while covering last summers war, there is no shortage of young orphans determined to take up arms after watching their parents and siblings be torn limb from limb by 2,000-pound Israeli fragmentation missiles, artillery shells, and other modes of destruction. Fifteen-year-old Waseem Shamaly, for instance,told mehis lifes ambition was to join the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He had just finished recounting through tears what it was like to watch a YouTube clip of his brother, Salem, being executed by an Israeli sniper while he searched for the rest of his family in the rubble of their neighborhood last July.
Anger with Hamass political wing for accepting a ceasefire agreement with Israel in late August 2014 that offered nothing but a return to the slow death of siege and imprisonment is now palpable among Gazas civilian population. This is particularly true in border areas devastated by the Israelis last summer. However, support for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas that carries the banner of the Palestinian armed struggle, remains almost unanimous.
Palestinians in Gaza need only look 80 kilometers west to the gilded Bantustans of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to see what they would get if they agreed to disarm. After years of fruitless negotiations, Israel has rewarded Palestinians living under the rule of PA President Mahmoud Abbas with the record growth of Jewish settlements, major new land annexations, nightly house raids, and the constant humiliation and dangers of daily interactions with Israeli soldiers and fanatical Jewish settlers. Rather than resist the occupation, Abbass Western-trained security forces coordinate directly with the occupying Israeli army, assisting Israel in the arrest and even torture of fellow Palestinians, including the leadership of rival political factions.
As punishing as life in Gaza might be, the West Bank model does not offer a terribly attractive alternative. Yet this is exactly the kind of solution the Israeli government seeks to impose on Gaza. As former Interior Minister Yuval Steinitzdeclaredlast year, We want more than a ceasefire, we want the demilitarization of Gaza Gaza will be exactly like [the West Bank city of] Ramallah.
Keeping Gaza in Ruins
Behind the quasi-apocalyptic destruction exacted on Gaza by the Israeli military during Operation Protective Edge lies a sadistic strategy whose aim is to punish residents of the besieged coastal enclave into submission. The Dahiya Doctrine, named after a southern Beirut neighborhood the Israeli air force decimated in 2006, is focused on punishing the civilian populations of Gaza and southern Lebanon for supporting armed resistance movements like Hamas and Hezbollah. In Disproportionate Force, a 2008 paper published by the Institute for National Security Studies, a think tank closely linked to the Israeli military, Colonel Gabi Siboni spelled out its punitive, civilian-oriented logic clearly: With an outbreak of hostilities, the [Israeli army] will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemys actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.
In the aftermath of Protective Edges massive destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, the Israeli government set out to obstruct any reconstruction process and extend the suffering of Gazas civilian population. When diplomats including American Secretary of State John Kerry gathered in Cairo last October to discuss repairing and rebuilding some of the $7 billion in damage caused by Protective Edge, then-Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz assured them that their efforts were ultimately futile. The Gazans must decide what they want to be: Singapore or Darfur, Katzsaid, ominously invoking the threat of Sudanese-style genocide. If one missile will be fired, everything will go down the drain. The nature of his warning was not lost on the diplomats in Cairo, where one complained of considerable donor fatigue.
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"A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable …
Catholic News Service
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip One year after a war with Israel that turned daily life here into a nightmare, a Catholic priest in Gaza said the situation in this besieged Palestinian territory has deteriorated even further.
Compared with a year ago, were worse off. Although a truce stopped the war, the blockade of Gaza by Israel has grown more intense. This has direct consequences for the population, said Father Jorge Hernandez, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza City.
A boy rides his bike amid the ruins of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, June 9. Houses in the area were destroyed during the 2014 war between Israel and the Hamas government of Gaza. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
The priest said the war also served as a recruiting tool for Hamas, the Islamic party that has controlled Gaza since 2007.
The war generated new activism throughout Gaza. The number of people willing to fight has multiplied, whether on behalf of Hamas or Islamic Jihad or the Salafists, and now even with the Islamic State. Despite that, the great majority of the people of Gaza is not aligned with one party or another. They just want to live a normal life, Father Hernandez, an Argentine missionary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, told Catholic News Service.
The 50-day war cost the lives of more than 2,250 Palestinians, 65 percent of whom were civilians, according to a June report from a U.N. investigation. The report said the scale of the devastation was unprecedented. It said the Israeli military launched more than 6,000 air strikes, 14,500 tank shells and 45,000 artillery shells into Gaza between July 7 and Aug. 26, 2014.
The war also caused immense distress and disruption to the lives of Israeli civilians, the U.N. said, reporting that nearly 4,900 rockets and more than 1,700 mortars were fired by Palestinian armed groups during that period. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers were killed, along with six civilians.
The report also cites as possible war crimes the conduct of Israeli operations in residential neighborhoods, as well as the killing of 21 suspected collaborators by Hamas armed wing.
Father Hernandez said militants came to his church compound twice looking for alleged spies among some 1,400 civilians who took shelter there. Church buildings were damaged when Israel bombed a neighboring house. At one point, Father Hernandez and several members of the Missionaries of Charity shepherded a group of 29 disabled children and nine elderly women into the open.
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The Dialog Gaza Strip
The blockades of the Gaza Strip refers to a land, air, and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip by Israel from 2007 to present. Egypt has also kept its border with Gaza mostly sealed. After the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip by Israel, in 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, triggering the 200607 economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East after Hamas refused to quit violence, respect previous agreements and recognize Israel. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a Palestinian authority national unity government headed by Ismail Haniya. Shortly after, in June, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in the course of the Battle of Gaza, seizing government institutions and replacing Fatah and other government officials with its own. Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel largely sealed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah had fled and was no longer providing security on the Palestinian side.
Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on its cities and to prevent Hamas from obtaining other weapons. Prior to its 2011 opening of the Rafah crossing, Egypt maintained that it could not fully open its side of the border since completely opening the border would represent Egyptian recognition of the Hamas control of Gaza, undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian National Authority and consecrate the split between Gaza and the West Bank.
Facing mounting international calls to ease or lift their blockade in response to the Gaza flotilla raid, Egypt and Israel lessened the restrictions starting in June 2010. Israel announced that it will allow all strictly civilian goods into Gaza while preventing certain weapons and what it designates as “dual-use” items from entering Gaza. Egypt partly opened the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza, primarily for people, but not for supplies, to go through. The Israeli NGO Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement reported in a July 2010 publication that Israel continues to prevent normal functioning of the Gazan economy. Israel continues to severely restrict and/or prevent people from entering or exiting Gaza according to Gisha. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) conducted an assessment of the humanitarian impact of the easing of the blockage in January and February 2011 and concluded that they did not result in a significant improvement in peoples livelihoods. The World Bank estimated in 2015 that the GDP losses caused by the blockade since 2007 was above 50%, and entailed large welfare losses.
Egypt for some time opened the Rafah border crossing permanently as of 28 May 2011. A limited number of women of all ages and men aged below 18 and above 40 were able to enter Egypt without a visa, although there are still severe restrictions on the movement of personnel and goods to and from Gaza. Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d’tat, Egypt’s military has destroyed most of the 1,200 tunnels which are used for smuggling food, weapons and other goods to Gaza. After the August 2013 Rabaa Massacre in Egypt, the border crossing was closed ‘indefinitely’.
The blockade has been criticized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights organizations, a criticism that has been officially supported by United States administrations. In June 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the humanitarian needs in the Hamas-controlled area must be met along with legitimate Israeli security concerns.
Most of the international institutions consider the blockade illegal. In September 2011, the Chair and Vice-Chair of a UN Panel of Inquiry concluded in the Palmer Report that the naval blockade was legal, based on the right of self-defense during a period of war, and had to be judged isolated from the restrictions on goods reaching Gaza via the land crossings. Concerning the restrictions on goods reaching Gaza via the land crossings the Palmer report stated that they were “a significant cause” of Gaza’s unsustainable and unacceptable humanitarian situation. A Fact-Finding Mission for the UN Human Rights Council (2009) chaired by Richard Goldstone, a former judge of the International Criminal Court, as well as a panel of five independent U.N. rights experts[who?] concluded that the blockade constituted collective punishment of the population of Gaza and was therefore unlawful. UN envoy Desmond Tutu, United Nations Human Rights Council head Navi Pillay, the International Committee of the Red Cross and some experts on international law consider the blockade illegal.
Since June 1989, Israel has formally restricted the movement of Palestinians, imposing a magnetic-card system whereby only those with such a card were allowed to leave the Strip: Israeli authorities did not issue magnetic cards to released prisoners, former administrative detainees, or people who had been detained and released without charges being filed against them. January 1991 marked the beginning of the permanent closure policy, whereby each resident of Gaza who desired to travel within Israel or the West Bank was required to have a personal exit permit. In March 1993, Israel imposed an overall closure on Gaza with newly built checkpoints; and, from October 2000, Israel imposed a comprehensive closure on the Gaza Strip.
When the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in September 2000 Israel put trade restrictions on the Gaza Strip and closed the Gaza International Airport. The economic effects worsened after the creation of a buffer zone in September 2001, that would seal all entry and exit points in the Palestinian Territories for “security reasons.” After 9 October 2001, movement of people and goods across the Green Line dividing the West Bank from Israel, and between the Gaza Strip and Israel, was halted, and a complete internal closure was effected on 14 November 2001. The worsening economic and humanitarian situation raised great concern abroad. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in January 2003, the Israeli blockade and closures had pushed the Palestinian economy into a stage of de-development and drained as much as US $2.4billion out of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces left the Gaza Strip on 1 September 2005 as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. An “Agreement on Movement and Access” (AMA) between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was concluded in November 2005 to improve Palestinian freedom of movement and economic activity in the Gaza Strip. Under its terms, the Rafah crossing with Egypt was to be reopened, with transits monitored by the Palestinian National Authority and the European Union. Only people with Palestinian ID, or foreign nationals, by exception, in certain categories, subject to Israeli oversight, were permitted to cross in and out.
The 20062007 economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority were economic sanctions imposed by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East against the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian territories following the January 2006 legislative elections that brought Hamas to power. The sanctions were imposed after Hamas refused to renounce violence, to respect previous agreements and to recognize the State of Israel. In March 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council established a national unity government, with 83 representatives voting in favor and three against. Government ministers were sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman on the Palestinian Authority, in a ceremony held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah.
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Blockade of the Gaza Strip – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
One year ago today, Israelinvaded, bombed and shelled Gaza, and continued to do that for the next seven weeks. According to the U.N., at least 2,104 Gazans were killed 1,462 of whom (69 percent) were civilians, including 495 children. A total of 6 Israeli civilians, and 66 soldiers, were killed. The shockingly high civilian death rate in Gaza included the now-iconic imagery of four young boys from the same family being killed by Israeli warshipswhile they played on a beach in front of a hotel filled with foreign journalists.
Months after the attack concluded, U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon visited Gaza and labeled the destruction beyond description, far worse than prior Israeli attacks. At least 17,000 homes were obliterated or severely damaged during the conflict, and it will take two decades to rebuild them; that means that nearly 60,000 people have lost their homes. On countless occasions, entire large families of Gazans were instantly extinguished by Israeli violence. Because the population of Gaza is so young 43 percent are under the age of 15, while 64 percent areunder the age of 24 the majority of its residents know littlebeyond extreme suffering, carnage, violence and war.
As harrowing as that data is, ittells only a small part of the story. Statistics like thesehave an abstract property to them: cold and clinical. Viewing the devastation of Gaza through their lens can have a distancing effect. Theyerase the most affecting facts: the stories of human suffering and devastation caused by this attack, the sadism and savagery that drove it.
The unbridled Israeli brutality that drove this attack, combined with the unprecedented ability of Palestinians to document what was happening to them throughuse of the Internet, significantlychanged the way Israel is perceived around the world. This attack will prove to be historicallyimportant for how the world regards Israel, and Blumethalsbook is indispensable for understanding what happened here.
Even in the world of the Israel/Palestine debate where smear campaigns and vicious ad hominem attacks are routine Blumenthal is the target of some of the most scurrilous attacks youll ever see. In part thats because hes an unlikely candidate to have become one of the most vocal Jewish critics of Israel: the son of a Washington insiderclosely associated withthe Clintons. In part its because hes an unflinching and fearless critic, avoiding euphemisms and niceties when, by design, they obscure the truth. In part its because he has in the past sometimes opted forpolarizing rhetoric and provocative, illuminating tactics.
But this book will likely surprise even those who have followed Blumenthals work and are sympathetic to his worldview. The 51 Day War is remarkably free of polemic, even as it retains its passion. It seems clear, at least to me, that Blumenthal was so movedby what he heard and saw in Gaza that he knew nothing would be more effective and revealing than just letting those stories speak for themselves. So he largely gets out of the way and simply serves as a vessel for the voices of those who are so rarely heard from in the Western world: those who live under Israeli brutalityin Gaza.
I spoke with him for roughly 40 minutes about his book, as well as his ownodyssey that has led him to devote himself to this topic with such singular devotion. Whatever your views on Israel and Gaza, Blumenthal is articulate, thoughtful anddeeply knowledgeable, and has done extensive, real reporting to write this book. Hes very worth listening to, and the book is highly worth the read. Our discussion can be heard on the player below, and a transcript is provided here.
Photo: Adel Hana/AP
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Israel Attacked Gaza One Year Ago Today: Interview with …
The 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict began on 8 July. By the time the bombardment ceased 50 days later, around 2,200 Palestinians had been killed, the majority of them civilians, including an estimated 500 children. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians lost their lives in Hamas attacks.
One year after the military operation, many people living in the ruins of Gaza fear another conflict, but are unable to leave the coastal enclave. Around 1.8 million people remain trapped in the tiny strip due to an eight-year blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt.
To mark the anniversary of the conflict, IBTimes UK presents this exclusive photo essay illustrating life in Gaza.
Mimi, Nunu and Lulu Nimer 14, 15 and 16 years old respectively had hoped to leave the Gaza Strip when the family won the US green card lottery.
Their father, Ayman, was optimistic about the possibility of leaving. “There were no safe places in Gaza. We don’t have bomb shelters or anything to protect our families,” he said. “We live in a big prison, surrounded by the navy at sea, to the south by Egypt, and to the north by Israeli artillery, infantry and tanks. In the sky: drones. We are monitored 24 hours a day with radar and cameras. They have the right to attack at any moment any target they deem suspicious.”
More about the Gaza Strip
Ayman was allowed out of the Strip for 24 hours for a preliminary visa interview at the US consulate in Jerusalem. On a second interview, the family’s visa was denied because his wife Heba does not have a college degree. Ironically, Heba is an entrepreneur whose jewellery can be seen from all over the world on her brand’s Facebook page, but her pieces can’t be exported to allow her to expand the business. There is no international postal service in and out of Gaza.
The girls are broken-hearted but their youth will not let them believe that that is it. “It cannot be it. It just can’t,” they sigh in disbelief.
The frustration felt by the Nimer girls is echoed in much of Gaza’s youth. Twenty-three year old rapper Ibrahim, aka MC Gaza, is eloquent on the subject. He said: “I think even our dreams are under occupation. The youth in Gaza is dead. They get diplomas in the universities but then they don’t have work, can’t travel, can’t do anything. We feel both pride and pessimism. Pessimism because of the situation in which we are trapped and pride because we have the capacity to do art, even in this situation.”
Ibrahim sees it as his mission to stir debate and motivate his peers. Hamas has forbidden concerts since 2007 when it took power. The remaining cultural and entertainment facilities that it hasn’t shut down were either damaged or destroyed in the wars.
Gaza Strip: Blitzed, caged and broken, Palestinians …
Gaza,Arabic Ghazzah, Hebrew Azza, GazaOneArmedMancity and principal urban centre of the Gaza Strip, southwestern Palestine. Formerly the administrative headquarters for the Israeli military forces that occupied the Gaza Strip, the city came under Palestinian control in 2005.
Records exist indicating continuous habitation at the site for more than three millennia, the earliest being a reference by Pharaoh Thutmose III (18th dynasty; 15th century bc). It is also mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna tablets, the diplomatic and administrative records of ancient Egypt. After 300 years of Egyptian occupation, the Peleset (Philistines), one of the Sea Peoples, settled the city and surrounding area. Gaza became an important centre of the Philistine Pentapolis (league of five cities). There the biblical hero Samson perished while toppling the temple of the god Dagon. Because of its strategic position on the Via Maris, the ancient coastal road linking Egypt with Palestine and the lands beyond, Gaza experienced little peace in antiquity; it fell, successively, to the Israelite king David and to the Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Persians. Alexander the Great met stiff resistance there, and, after conquering it, he sold its inhabitants into slavery. Throughout its history it was a prosperous trade centre. In Hellenistic and Roman times the harbour, about 3 miles (5 km) from the city proper, was called Neapolis (Greek: New City).
In ad 635 the Arabs took Gaza, and it became a Muslim city. Gaza has long been an important centre of Islamic tradition and is the reputed site of the burial place of Hshim ibn Abd Manf, great-grandfather of the Prophet Muammad, and the birthplace of al-Shfi (767820), founder of the Shfiite school of Muslim legal interpretation. The city declined during the Crusades and never regained its former importance. After the sultan Saladin (al al-Dn) defeated the Crusaders occupying the region at the Battle of an (1187), Gaza reverted to Muslim control; it passed to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. In World War I it was stoutly defended by the Turks and was not taken by British forces until November 1917.
After the war Gaza became part of mandated Palestine, and a small coastal port (fishing, lighterage) was operated on the coast. When the Palestine partition plan was promulgated by the United Nations (1947), Gaza was assigned to what was to be an Arab state. That state, however, was not set up, and Gaza was occupied in 1948 by Egyptians. At the time of the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian armistice (February 1949), Egypt held Gaza and its environs, a situation that resulted in the creation of the Gaza Strip. (See Arab-Israeli wars.) Egypt did not annex the city and territory but administered it through a military governor. Gaza and its surroundings have continued to be greatly overpopulated by Palestinian Arab refugees.
During the Sinai campaign of November 1956, Gaza and its environs were taken by Israeli troops, but international pressure soon forced Israel to withdraw. Reoccupied by Israel in the Six-Day War (June 1967), the city remained under Israeli military administration until 1994, when a phased transfer of governmental authority to the Palestinians got under way. In 2005 Israel completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, handing over control of the region to the Palestinians.
Long a prosperous citrus centre, Gaza also has extensive truck farms within the city limits. Dark pottery, food products, and finished textiles are manufactured; the city has a long-standing textile industry. Sites of interest include at the harbour an early Byzantine mosaic floor (6th century ad), evidently of a synagogue, showing King David playing the harp and dressed as the Greek hero Orpheus. Pop. (2005 est.) 479,400.
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Gaza | city, Gaza Strip | Britannica.com
Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, take part in a military march in Gaza City on Monday. Photograph: Wissam Nassar/Xinhua Press/Corbis
Islamic State insurgents have threatened to turn the Gaza Strip into another of their Middle East fiefdoms, accusing Hamas, the organisation that rules the Palestinian territory, of being insufficiently stringent about religious enforcement.
The video statement, issued from an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, was a rare public challenge to Hamas, which has been cracking down on jihadis in Gaza who oppose its truces with Israel and reconciliation with the US-backed rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
We will uproot the state of the Jews [Israel] and you and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be overrun by our creeping multitudes, said a masked Islamic State member in the message addressed to the tyrants of Hamas.
The rule of sharia [Islamic law] will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you. We swear that what is happening in the Levant today, and in particular the Yarmouk camp, will happen in Gaza, he said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria, including in a Damascus district founded by Palestinian refugees.
Islamic State has also taken over swaths of Iraq and has claimed attacks in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.
Hamas is an Islamist movement that shares the jihadis hostility to Israel but not their quest for a global religious war, defining itself more within the framework of Palestinian nationalism.
Deemed a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union, and viewed by neighbouring Arab power Egypt as a regional security threat, Hamass struggle against Islamic State-linked jihadis has not won sympathy abroad.
Israels intelligence minister, Israel Katz, accused Hamas on Tuesday of partnering with Islamic State affiliates in the Egyptian Sinai a charge long denied by the Palestinian group.
There is cooperation between them in the realm of weapons smuggling and terrorist attacks. The Egyptians know this, and the Saudis, Katz told a Tel Aviv conference organised by the Israel Defense journal.
Islamic State threatens to topple Hamas in Gaza Strip in …
If for whatever reason you are one of the very few people on this Earth who wants to go into,rather than get out of,the Gaza Strip, you may want to know what to expect.
Because although its been just a bit less than a year since the Israeli-Gaza conflict of 2014 or Operation Protective Edge, as the Israeli Defense Force called it came to a halt, you shouldnt expect to find a society rebuilding. No, according to The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, the new book from Max Blumenthal, the journalist behind 2013s incendiary Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, what youll see instead is mountains of rubble, barely any less than there was at the conclusion of the war.
Based on his contacts in Gaza as well as his own first-hand reporting, Blumenthals book does two things, neither of which are especially welcome in U.S. politics and the mainstream media. Blumenthal not only provides a methodical breakdown of the run-up to the conflict one that differs in crucial respects from the narrative most commonly found in American media but also offers a more detailed accounting of what was happening behind the fog of war. He also tries to answer some of the still-vexing questions about the war: Why did it last so long? Why so many civilian casualties? And what was even accomplished?
Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Blumenthal to discuss the book, the history of Gaza many Americans dont know, why he believes the war was an almost deliberate result of longstanding Israeli policy, and why he believes it wont be the last. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.
You argue that last summers war cannot really be understood in isolation, that one has to see it in a larger context. For example, why do you think the situation today is a consequence of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharons disengagement from Gaza in 2005?
The withdrawal of religious nationalist Israeli settlers (who numbered about 9,000) from the Gaza Strip was celebrated by liberals, because they saw these fanatics being forced by Israeli troops from an area that Israel [had] occupied. This actually should have been a scenario, this unilateral withdrawal, that anyone who had any concern for the people in the Gaza Strip would have opposed, because the agenda was very clear and out in the open. It was to remove [Israel] from the obligations of the Geneva Convention regarding the Gaza Strip, to claim that it was no longer occupied.
What did that new footing do for Israel?
It enabled it to establish a panopticon-style system, where it controls the exterior; the sky, the sea; and can place the Gaza Strip under a very high-tech siege, a robotically-controlled siege. Secondly, it allowed Israel to retrench its control of the major settlement blocks around East Jerusalem. They received a letter from George W. Bush [requesting] the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and guaranteeing these gigantic settlements on top of the Palestinian aquifer which cut deep into the heart of the West Bank and will eventually separate the West Bank from itself will remain in permanent Israeli hands under any US negotiated peace agreement. Thats point number two.
And point number three?
Point number three is that withdrawal, in the words of then Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, allows the military more freedom of action in the Gaza Strip. If there arent Jewish Israelis in the Gaza Strip, that allows you to start using 150-mm artillery shells during these barrages of the border regions; that allows you to use 2,000-pound fragmentation bombs. As soon as the withdrawal took place, you started seeing the use of experimental weapons, like dime weaponry. Gaza started to become a laboratory for the Israeli weapons industry, and for the entire mechanism of control that Israels trying to market and export to the word as field-tested.
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The question is just when: Max Blumenthal on war in the …
A year after the war that devastated the Gaza Strip, Israel is apparently helping Qatar which does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel partner with the Islamist movement and longstanding enemy Hamas to rebuild the the territory.
“Life is full of contradictions and strange things, Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research for Israel’s military intelligence, told NPRwhen commenting on Israel’s recent move to allow Qatar to channel its reconstruction aid through Hamas, which is a US-designated terrorist group.
Israel has always tried to isolate Hamas and has accused Qatar of financing the Islamist movement. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, rejects all agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and calls for Israel’s violent destruction in its founding charter.
But now Israel is letting a Qatari official channel millions of dollars to help the Palestinian faction rebuild the Gaza Strip, which was heavily damaged during last summer’s war with Israel.
Kuperwasser told NPR that letting Qatar help Hamas will be beneficial for Israel in the long run. We believe that better conditions in Gaza would lessen the incentive of Hamas and the population to go again to a war, so in a way, it is helping the deterrence, he said.
He also mentioned that Qatar was the only country willing to help despite a pledge of over $5 billion in aid for rebuilding the Strip in 2014 after the war.
Qatar alone has pledged $1 billion, the USpledged $212 million, the European Union $568 million and the United Arab Emirates and Turkey both committed $200 million. But of February 2015, only about 5% of what had been promised reached Gaza, according tohumanitarian news service IRIN.
Mohammad al-Emadi, a Qatari official, has been traveling between Israel and Gaza to discuss reconstruction projects in Gaza,NPR reported. Qatar does not recognize Israel and the countries have no diplomatic relations.
Nevertheless, al-Emadi met with the Israeli brigadier general in charge of letting goods and people through the country’s various crossings with Gaza, according to NPR.
Emadi said that Qatar was there to help Palestinians and not specifically Hamas but that there was no way to achieve that goal in the Strip without Hamas’s help. “You have to support them. You don’t like them … But they control the country, you know,” Emadi said during a visit to Gaza, according to NPR.
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Why Israel allows Qatar to support Hamas in Gaza …