Israel Unleashes New War on Gaza Ghetto, U.S. Calls for Settlements to Halt
As Gazan survivors of the latest Israeli onslaught piece together what is left of their lives, Israeli warplanes return to the skies of the territory to unleash fresh air strikes.
In the most intensive attacks in recent weeks, Israeli jets carried out at least four bombing runs on the Gaza-Egypt border on Tuesday night, medics and witnesses said.
The planes also hit a metal workshop and a police post in Gaza City and another workshop in central Gaza. The buildings were severely damaged but no injuries have been reported as of yet.
Another raid targeted a Gaza government outpost near a border fence with Israel, marking the first attack on a government position since the January 18 ceasefire ended three weeks of Israeli aggression against the territory.
Witnesses said that one of the missiles fired by the Israeli air squadron struck a moving car in Yafa Street in northern Gaza City.
Medical teams arrived at the scene and carried one casualty to Shifa Hospital. The Israeli military has declined to comment on the matter.
The nearly seven bombing missions carried out in the impoverished ghetto on Tuesday injured at least 5 Palestinians and damaged several houses. The full extent of the damage, however, is yet unknown.
The new attacks come as the United Nations has demanded that Tel Aviv end its sixty years of U.S.-advocated oppression against the Palestinians and allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
The Israeli government claims that the bombings were in response to alleged Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip several hours before the attacks.
Resistance fighters in Gaza have been using rocket fire as a retaliatory measure against Tel Aviv for its hostilities against the Palestinian nation — which is native to the land.
The Gaza Strip has been under a blockade from land, sea and air by Israel and Egypt for nearly two years. Critics have described the territory as the word’s largest open-air prison camp in which nearly 1.5 million people struggle to survive on a daily basis.
The last carnage wrought on the strip in January and December killed around 1,350 Palestinians and injured nearly 5,450 people — mostly civilians.
In addition to the lost lives, the onslaught cost the Palestinian economy at least $1.6 billion, destroying some 4,000 residential buildings and damaging 16,000 other houses.
Israel is also under pressure for its use of the flesh-eating white phosphorous weapons against civilians and U.N. positions in densely populated areas of Gaza during the war.
Hamas security forces on Tuesday began carrying out maneuvers for what they predicted to be a new war on the territory. Speculation that military operations against Gaza would take a new face emerged when hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gained control over Tel Aviv affairs.
While Netanyahu sat down with President Barack Obama on Monday for the first time since taking office to settle the differences between the two administrations, the American leader voiced opposition to the Israeli policies against Palestinians.
The new government in Tel Aviv has nevertheless sparked controversy with its contentions that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama would under-no-circumstance show opposition to Israeli policies.
“Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a centerpiece in the controversy, said in April in his first interview on foreign policy.
The head of a U.N. inquiry into human rights abuses committed during the three-week Israeli war on Gaza has been disappointed over Tel Aviv’s lack of cooperation.
“I’m disappointed, and the members of the mission are disappointed, that we’ve had no positive response from the Israeli government,” Richard Goldstone told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.
The South African Jewish jurist, who heads a four-member fact finding mission to Gaza, said despite his direct appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the group’s request to enter Israel has to date been met with a wall of silence.
“But we’ve really received no official response. There’ve been media reports of noncooperation but I regard those as unofficial. It would be good to get an official response and I would hope a positive response,” he explained.
Goldstone went on to express his determination to go ahead with the inquiry even if Tel Aviv fails to cooperate on the issue.
The team is obliged to submit a report by Aug. 4 on the conduct of both sides during Israel’s Operation Cast lead.
This is not the first time echelons in Tel Aviv deny a United Nations fact finding mission entry into the Gaza Strip, impoverished by a 22-month Israeli imposed siege on its inhabitants and constant military operations.
Human rights investigator Richard Falk was denied entry into the coastal territory at the onset of the military aggression in December.
The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories believes Tel Aviv is shirking all investigations in fear of the abundant amount of evidence that shows its violation of international laws of warfare in Gaza.
“The real reason is that the facts overwhelmingly support allegations that Israel is understandably concerned that any objective inquiry would indeed confirm the allegations and create a situation in which the international community would be obliged to seek some kind of procedure for accountability,” said Falk in an exclusive interview with Press TV in late April.
Tel Aviv claimed in late December that it had unleashed Operation Cast Lead upon the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians in “retaliation for Palestine rocket attacks on Israel”.
The three-week Israeli offensive on the tiny coastal strip killed nearly 1,350 Palestinians and wounded around 5,450 others — most of them civilians.
The onslaught cost the Palestinian economy at least $1.6 billion, destroying some 4,000 residential buildings and damaging 16,000 other houses.
The Israeli use of controversial flesh-eating weapons against civilians and U.N. buildings has also prompted universal condemnation and calls for war crime charges to be brought against Tel Aviv.
The United States has stepped up pressure on Israel to halt Jewish settlements on Palestinian land as a step towards reviving the peace process with the Palestinians.
Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, reiterated Washington’s position on the issue on Tuesday, saying that Barack Obama, the U.S. president, “was very clear yesterday in his statement that he wants to see a stop to the settlements”.
Her remarks came as Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister who is visiting the U.S., met several congressmen in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
Clinton said the US was “committed to a two-state solution … And therefore nothing should be done to undermine the potential resolution of the peace effort that could prevent such a two-state solution from taking hold”.
On Monday, Obama held talks with Netanyahu and told the Israeli PM to stop expanding Jewish settlements and grasp the “historic opportunity” to make peace with the Palestinians.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Clinton said the Obama administration is “determined to forge ahead on what we believe is in the best interest of the Israelis, the Palestinians, the larger region, and the world as well as what we think is right”.
Clinton said the U.S. was pursuing “a two-step effort”.
“First, we want to see a stop to settlement construction – additions, natural growth, any kind of settlement activity – that is what the president has called for.
“We also are going to be pushing for a two-state solution which by its very name implies borders that have to be agreed to and we expect to see two states living side-by-side,” she said.
The settlements issue was also raised by John Kerry, a high-profile senator, with Netanyahu during his visit to the U.S. congress on Tuesday. >>>
The Shin Bet chief acknowledges the separation wall that Israel is building in the West Bank is not a precautionary measure against possible Palestinian attacks.
Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel’s security service, known as Israel Security Agency (ISA), underscored that there is no security reason for continuing construction of what is widely viewed as Israel’s apartheid wall in the region.
Speaking to a parliamentary committee, Diskin said Israel had enough capabilities to prevent mortar and home-made rockets fired by the Palestinian fighters.
Israel has been citing security considerations to dampen outcries from Palestinian and international activists and organizations who condemn the move as a blatant land grab.
The United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) has also denounced the construction of the barrier wall, 90 percent of which passes through villages and town inhabited by the Palestinians, as contrary to international law.
Israel began the construction of the apartheid in 2002 and Palestinians and International protesters have since held weekly Friday demonstrations in the West Bank village of Nilin, near the city of Ramallah, and neighboring Bilin.
The protesters are usually faced with Israeli troops who attempt to disperse the crowed by firing ‘rubber-coated bullets and tear gas’. However, there are reports that the troops use live rounds on occasions.
There have been also incidents in which protesters were killed as a result of gun shots fired at them during peaceful demonstrations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that Israel was ready to immediately open peace talks with Syria without preconditions.
“There was agreement that we must immediately launch peace talks,” Netanyahu told reporters at Ben-Gurion Airport after three days of talks in Washington.
“I said I was ready to immediately open peace talks with the Palestinians, by the way, with the Syrians as well, of course, without preconditions,” Netanyahu said. “But I made it clear that any peace settlement there must find a solution to Israel’s security needs”.
Netanyahu, who took office seven weeks ago, had appeared cool to the idea of reopening stalled talks with Damascus. He has repeatedly voiced opposition to pulling out of the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War which Syria wants returned as part of any peace deal.” >>>