Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Challenge - Summarize and Analyze the Cycle of Violence in Gaza - Part 1

Today is Day 14,288 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements and almost the 40th anniversary of the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Micah.6:8 “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God"

For 11 days I have read the headlines and the articles about what is happening in Gaza. They all describe violence by Hamas, Fatah and the government of Israel. Rather than being conflicted about even reading about this, I thought I would challenge myself to summarize and analyze the cycle of violence. What I did first was to cut and paste excerpts from each article (primarily those from the Boston Globe) and compile them into one file. That file appears below. What I challenge you to do is to read the entire 11 day chronology and write your own summary and analysis. I am in the process of doing the same thing and will post mine when I am not prepared to agonize over it any more (note that I did not say "when it is completed"). I encourage you to do the same.

May 16, 2007

GAZA CITY -- Eight bodies sprawled face down in a cornfield, next to an overturned jeep, signaled a new phase in Gaza's increasingly brutal civil strife. After the initial attack, Hamas fired on Fatah reinforcements rushing to the scene, including the jeep that overturned. All eight men were killed, hospital officials said. Fatah security men also came under fire as they tried to move the bodies away from the overturned jeep.

Two Israeli helicopter gunships and three tanks moved toward the area, and Hamas fighters quickly withdrew. At one point, a major in the Palestinian Presidential Guard was killed by Israeli Army fire as he tried to leave the crossing, security officials said.

Before sundown, Hamas said it fired rockets at Sderot, an Israeli town near Gaza. Residents counted more than 20 rockets. One rocket hit a house, seriously wounding an Israeli woman. It was the first time in three weeks that Hamas has claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz summoned army commanders for late-night consultations. Earlier, defense officials said Israel would not be dragged into the fighting.

However, Israel closed Karni, the only route for cargo into Gaza. The closure means Gaza will soon run out of fuel for its power plant and electricity to most of the strip could be shut down by today, said Abdel Karim Abdeen, head of the Palestinian Energy Authority.

May 17, 2007

SDEROT, Israel -- Schools closed and residents huddled in bomb shelters or fled in buses yesterday as another barrage of rockets struck this Israeli border town, the target of thousands of Palestinian attacks since 2001. Late in the day, a homemade rocket hit an electrical transformer in southern Israel, the army said, knocking out power to the 24,000 residents of Sderot. More than 20 rockets were fired on the town yesterday, wounding two people. The attacks came a day after rockets injured five residents and destroyed several homes -- along with any remnant of a sense of security here. Hamas' decision to rocket Sderot this week appeared to be an attempt to draw Israel into Palestinian infighting as a way of uniting warring factions.

Dozens of Palestinians have died since Sunday in a surge of violence between the rival Hamas and Fatah movements.

Mayor Eli Moyal said more than 4,500 Qassam rockets have landed in the working-class town since 2001, killing seven residents and wounding dozens. A recent poll indicated about half the residents would leave if they could. "The anxiety level with the kids is unimaginable," said Tami Sagie, head of psychological services in Sderot. which includes a community of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia. Yesterday, dozens of Sderot residents crammed into buses provided by a Russian-Israeli billionaire to leave the battered town. However, what most residents want is for Israel to strike back hard at the Palestinians -- most of the rockets that hit Sderot come from the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, just 1.5 miles away.

The evacuations drew fire from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "I oppose population evacuations," he said. "These are the exact pictures that Hamas has been waiting for, and I am not prepared to grant any victory to terrorism." Olmert is under increasing pressure to launch a major operation in Gaza, from which Israeli troops withdrew in September 2005. Security officials said the army favors an immediate, large-scale ground offensive in Gaza while the Shin Bet security service favors a more measured response.

May 17, 2007

GAZA CITY -- Gunfire and explosions raged across Gaza City yesterday, killing at least 21 people in the most widespread fighting in nearly a year of clashes between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements.The infighting threatened to destroy a fragile unity government established in March and pushed Palestinians ever closer to all-out civil war. Hamas militants beat a female Fatah lawmaker and her two children before setting fire to her apartment.

Hamas also targeted Israel, firing barrages of homemade rockets for a second day, seriously wounding one person and knocking out power in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, officials said.

Israel staged two airstrikes on Hamas targets, reportedly killing five people. "Israel cannot continue to restrain itself when its citizens are being hit and therefore decided on a severe and serious response," Olmert's office said.

Forty-five people have died, most of them Fatah men, and dozens have been wounded. During the week, the attacks have grown increasingly brazen. Hamas gunmen fatally shot six bodyguards early yesterday during an assassination attempt on a top Fatah security official. The commander, Rashid Abu Shbak, wasn't home during the assault and his family escaped harm.

Hamas militiamen also set fire to an 11-story apartment building inhabited by several Fatah officials. Frightened residents huddled in darkened homes after electricity to some neighborhoods was cut off by a downed power line. Buildings were pocked with bullet holes and windows were shattered by explosions.

"What is happening in Gaza endangers not only the unity government, but the Palestinian social fabric, the Palestinian cause, and the Palestinian strategy as a whole," said Saeb Erekat, a top aide to the Palestinian president. Exiled Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk blamed the violence on the cutoff of international aid to the Palestinian Authority. "The international community and Arab countries shoulder part of the responsibility for the current events, due to their attitudes toward the national unity government," Abu Marzouk told The Associated Press. Hamas agreed to form the unity government with Fatah in the hope that the international community would end sanctions imposed on the previous Hamas-led government for Hamas's refusal to renounce violence and accept the existence of Israel. Abbas, Fatah's moderate leader, is respected in the West but has been unable to lift the boycott.

A nurse traveling in an ambulance was hit in the head by a bullet when she was caught in cross-fire, hospital officials said. Her family said she was brain-dead and on a respirator. Yesterday afternoon a group of about 200 Palestinians marched through central Gaza City waving Palestinian flags and demanding an end to the fighting.

Israeli ambulances stationed at the Gaza-Israel border transferred four Palestinian children who were badly injured to a hospital in southern Israel, according to Israeli rescue services.

May 19, 2007

JERUSALEM -- Israeli aircraft pounded border posts, headquarters buildings, and cars across the northern Gaza Strip yesterday, killing at least eight people, as Hamas gunmen confronted their armed rivals from the Fatah party in the streets. Hamas officials accused Israel and Fatah of working in tandem against Hamas,.In a statement issued late yesterday, Hamas contended that the Preventive Security Service, a branch controlled by Fatah, was collaborating with "multiple foreign governments."

Since Sunday, nearly 50 Hamas and Fatah gunmen have died in Gaza as a result of factional fighting.

In addition, at least 20 Palestinians, all of them apparently Hamas gunmen, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes this week.

May 20, 2007

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip --Israel's air force fired a missile at a house in Gaza City late Sunday, killing at least eight people, residents and hospital officials said. The strike followed a decision to step up attacks against Islamic militants in response to rocket fire from Gaza. The attack on the house was the deadliest airstrike since Israel started reprisals Tuesday for the rocket barrages. The house belonged to Hamas lawmaker Khalil al-Haya, who was not at home. He was one of the Hamas representatives in cease-fire talks with Fatah and was attending an Egyptian-sponsored truce meeting just before the strike, residents said. The missile hit a room used as a meeting place for the extended family, relatives said. Hospital officials said eight people were killed and 13 injured.All the dead and wounded were relatives and neighbors, al-Haya's wife said. Hamas said two of the dead were militants.

Israeli air attacks on militant targets earlier in the day killed another three Palestinians

May 21, 2007

JERUSALEM—Of the Israeli missile that killed 8 members of his family and friends, “These crimes will not stop us or our people from continuing the struggle and resistance," Haya, the head of Hamas's parliamentary bloc, said later at Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

But Israeli military officials said Haya was not the intended target. They said Israeli aircraft fired on a "terrorist cell" in the Sharjiya neighborhood where Haya lives. Israeli officials said one of the men killed was Sameh Ferwanah, 28, a senior Hamas military official from Gaza who has been involved in rocket and shooting attacks on Israel. The name appeared on the list of dead provided by Palestinian medical officials. "We know from initial reports that of the terrorist cells we targeted, all five were hit," said Captain Noa Meir, an Israeli military spokeswoman. "They were the target and they were hit. Anything else that happened, that was not our intention."

The strike followed another day of rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, along with warnings from the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, that the military response would intensify unless the attacks stopped.

About 35 Palestinians, most of them Hamas gunmen, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes over the past six days.

Last evening, an Israeli tank near Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza fired on a group of men who had just launched two rockets toward Israel, military officials said.

Palestinian hospital officials said the tank shell seriously wounded five members of the Masri family, including several children.(On Monday, an Israeli airstrike just after midnight on a post used by the Hamas military wing in Gaza killed at least one gunmen and wounded several others.)

Hamas's military wing has fired more than 120 rockets into Israel over the past six days. Israeli military officials said 20 rockets were fired yesterday toward Israel, many of them landing in and around the city of Sderot. One woman has been seriously injured in the days of attacks and dozens of others treated for light wounds and shock.

At the same time Israel appears to be ratcheting up its military retaliation, the factional fighting between Hamas and the rival Fatah party appears to be waning.A cease-fire agreement between the parties -- the fifth since the latest spasm of partisan fighting began a week ago -- held yesterday with no reports of casualties. More than 50 Palestinians have died in the fighting over the past week.

May 22, 2007

GAZA CITY -- Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated dangerously yesterday when Israel killed five militants in air strikes and hinted Hamas political leaders could be their next target.

A rocket fired from Gaza killed an Israeli woman, the first Israeli to die in a Palestinian rocket attack since November.

The precautions followed an Israeli air strike late Sunday on the home of Hamas lawmaker Khalil al-Haya that killed eight people. Israel denied Haya, who was not there at the time, was the target. But Israel's leaders said they would use more drastic measures to stop daily barrages of rocket fire into Israel.

Yesterday an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car carrying four Islamic Jihad men, killing all of them. A spokesman for the group, which has carried out hundreds of rocket attacks and suicide bombings in recent years, said the men were targeted just after firing rockets into Israel.

Other airstrikes yesterday killed a Hamas militant and hit suspected weapons-storage facilities, the Israeli Army said.

More than 40 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since a decision last week to start hitting back for the rocket barrages.

Late yesterday, Israel imposed a closure on Gaza and the West Bank, banning Palestinians from entering Israel except in humanitarian cases. The military said the closure would be lifted tomorrow after a Jewish holiday, depending on the security situation.

The Israeli strikes have not slowed the rockets. Militants launched at least 18 homemade rockets at Israel from Gaza yesterday, according to the military and Israeli media, bringing the total over the past week to more than 150.

In addition to the death yesterday, 16 Israelis have been wounded in the past week and the barrages have disrupted life in Israeli towns near Gaza. At sundown, a Palestinian rocket hit a car and set it on fire in the Israeli town of Sderot, about a mile from Gaza.

The woman died en route to the hospital and two others were wounded in the attack. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

May 23, 2007

GAZA CITY -- Israel launched more air strikes on suspected Gaza militants today, wounding seven people, hospital officials and residents of the northern part of the coastal strip said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that an aircraft had fired missiles into a building used to store munitions and that secondary explosions were observed.

Israel said yesterday that it could target the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, and that a Gaza ground offensive was possible unless world pressure was brought on the Islamist group to halt all rocket fire aimed at the Jewish state.

May 26, 2007

JERUSALEM (CNN) – Israel unleashed a new round of airstrikes on Gaza and arrested a second Hamas member of the Palestinian unity government in the West Bank on Saturday, Israel Defense Forces told CNN.Israeli forces seized State Minister Wasfi Kabaha at his home in the West Bankin in an early-morning raid.

On Thursday, Education Minister Nasser Al Shaer and about 30 other senior members of Hamas were arrested.

Airstrikes directed at Hamas targets in Gaza killed four members of Hamas' special forces and injured three, according to Palestinian security and Hamas sources.The airstrikes hit in Gaza City, Rafah and Khan Yunis.

Earlier in the day, Palestinian security sources reported four people were injured when Israeli airstrikes struck targets in and around Gaza City. Those targets included a facility used by bodyguards for Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and a wood workshop near the Jebailya refugee camp, the sources said.

Recent days have been marked by Palestinian rockets flying into Israel followed by Israeli strikes at Hamas targets.

On Friday, Palestinian security sources said Israeli airstrikes targeting positions in and around Gaza City killed a Palestinian and wounded more than 10 others.

The strikes followed a Palestinian-fired Qassam rocket hitting the yard of a house in Sderot Friday afternoon, according to the IDF and Israel Ambulance Services. At least eight rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza on Friday, officials said.

Also Friday, the IDF said it had carried out an aerial attack south of Gaza City against Hamas targets in an attempt to combat Palestinian rocket attacks.

Palestinian security sources said three Palestinians were wounded. They said the strike targeted a base of the Hamas Executive Force and a base of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
Journalist Talal Abu-Rahmi contributed to this report.

Palestinian factions met to discuss a possible truce with Israel.

May 27, 2007

GAZA CITY -- Hamas hardened its stance yesterday after a new barrage of Israeli airstrikes killed five militants, saying it would not consider a truce and calling for more attacks on Israel.

The Islamic militant group also warned Israel that if it continued its 10-day air assault, it would threaten the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier nabbed in June by Hamas-linked militants. Shalit has not been heard from or seen since his capture.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate from the rival Fatah faction, has tried in recent days to revive a cease-fire with Israel. Under his plan, Gaza militants would halt rocket fire for a month to allow for negotiations on a more comprehensive truce that would include the West Bank.

After a meeting late Friday, the militant groups initially asked for 48 hours to consider the proposal.

But after the rash of new air attacks yesterday, including five in less than an hour, Hamas called on its fighters to "direct painful strikes at the Zionist enemy." Hamas "will not offer a free truce to the Zionist occupation," the group said.

"If there is an end to the attacks, we can talk about a truce," said Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Hamas military wing.

He said Shalit's freedom was in danger, but not his life.

"The enemy knows that getting Shalit back is in our hands," he said. "It would be a dream" that Hamas would release him while attacks continued, he added.

Israel has launched dozens of targeted missile strikes over the past 10 days that have killed 48 Palestinians and damaged many Hamas installations in an attempt to stop Hamas rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli border towns.

Israel said some 225 rockets have landed in Israeli towns since May 15, killing one woman and sending thousands of frightened Israeli residents fleeing. Two rockets landed in Israel yesterday, including a direct hit on a home in Sderot. No one was injured.

In all, Israeli aircraft launched 14 missile strikes yesterday. Before dawn, they struck near the house of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in a Gaza refugee camp, while troops in the West Bank arrested a Hamas Cabinet minister.

One of the Israeli airstrikes hit a key Hamas base in Gaza City, killing five Hamas members and wounding four.

The compound was used as a training center and base for Hamas's militia, the Executive Force. Two rooms in the camp were destroyed and rescue workers searched the rubble. A nearby charity was badly damaged from the strike.

Earlier yesterday, two missiles hit close to Haniyeh's house in the Shati refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City.

One landed around 100 yards away and the other 300 yards away, hitting trailers used by Haniyeh's bodyguards.

"This is a critical stage," said Haniyeh in a statement hours after the strike. "The aggression will not achieve its goal, but will lead to more disturbance and will have serious consequences."

Deuteronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you” and the footnote in the 1980 Hertz Edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.

No comments: