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Nine days of hope for Gaza ceasefire squandered by Israel

Nine days of hope for Gaza ceasefire squandered by Israel

by Leslie Bravery | Palestine Human Rights Campaign
13 July 2014

www.palestine.org.nz

Had Israel used the nine days of Palestinian ceasefire to reinforce the suspension of violence, then it is very likely that the present carnage could have been avoided.

On 21 November 2012, a unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel came into effect. Later the same day, armed Palestinian groups announced that they would abide by that cease-fire. Since then the record shows that Israel has done its best to provoke Palestinian retaliation from the Gaza Strip by attacking the territory on the days when no Palestinian missiles were fired. In the lead up to the present carnage in the Gaza Strip, which began with serious escalations in June 2014, it is revealing to consider the record of violence over the territory that occurred before that - in the preceding month of May.

For nine days, from the 14 May to the 22 May 2014, inclusive, no Palestinian missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement. On those nine days Israel continued to enforce a crippling three kilometre fishing zone on Gaza fishermen.

On 15 May the Israeli Navy opened fire on fishing boats off al-Sudaniya. On the 17 May the Israeli Navy again opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off al-Sudaniya beach,wounding one crew member, Hussein Assi, while an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on and wounded a Palestinian in Abasan al-Jadida. The following day on 18 May, another Palestinian, Abdel Rahman Mattar, was wounded when an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on workers in the north of Beit Hanun.Palestinian forbearance continued when on the next day, 19 May, another person, Mahmoud Al-Ba’, was wounded by Israeli Army fire on Beit Hanun. The same day, the Israeli Navy opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Beit Lahiya. That morning, Israeli Army positions behind the Green Line opened fire on Abasan al-Kabira and Khazz’a farmland. Still there were no Palestinian missiles fired.

On 20 May, unable to provoke any missile launches from Gaza, Israeli tanks shelled al-Qarara farmland before Israeli troops shot their way in and bulldozed crops. That evening,opening fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Rafah, the Israeli Navy detained two fishermen, Ahmad Jum’a and Imad Mansour, and hijacked their fishing boat. The loss of a fishing boat is devastating for the impoverished community. But that wasn't enough for Israel, later that night the Israeli Navy again opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Rafah, took prisoner another two fishermen, Alaa Al-Bardoul and Ayman Al-Bardoul, and hijacked their fishing boat also. Having still been unable to provoke a response, the next day, 21 May, the Israeli Army shot its way onto farmland in eastern Gaza and Khan Yunis and bulldozed crops. In the afternoon, one person, Saleh Qarara, was wounded when an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on residents in Khaza'a. On the 22 May, at dawn, the Israeli Army stormed the east of Jabalya and bulldozed crops. In the afternoon, an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on farmers in the Abu Safiya area of Jabalya and, later that afternoon, the Israeli Armystormed the al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood and bulldozed crops. Again, that same afternoon, an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on farmland in Abasan al-Kabira.

After nine days, Israel had finally managed to provoke a response and, on the evening of 23 May, a number of missiles were fired towards the Green Line, causing no damage. Now able to claim that it was responding to Palestinian violence, an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on and launched tear gas grenades towards peoplein Jabalya, causing nine tear gas casualties. That afternoon, Israeli forces positioned behind the Green Line opened fire on al-Qarara farmland and that evening, one person was wounded when Israeli forces positioned behind the Green Line opened fire on Jabalya farmers. Another Palestinian was wounded when an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on the al-Maghazi refugee camp. That afternoon, Israeli forces positioned behind the Green Line again opened fire on al-Qarara farmland. Throughout, the Israeli Navy continued to enforce a three-nautical-mile fishing limit on Gaza fisherman.

But the following day, no missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip and it took another seven days to provoke any more firings. In those seven days, the Israeli Navy opened fireon Palestinian fishing boats off Beit Lahiya and off al-Sudaniya. A Palestinian fisherman, Imad Salim, was wounded off Rafah when the Israeli Navy hijacked a fishing boat and took three fishermen prisoner. The Israeli Navy continued to gun for fishing boats and on the morning of 29 May the Israeli Navy opened fire on more Palestinian fishing boats,hijacking one of them and taking prisoner four fishermen, Sa’ed Al-Adgham, Yahya Abu Tafa, Foad Al-Habal and Haytham Al-H abal. Meanwhile, the Israeli Army was busy opening fire on workers in Beit Hanun on one day and, on another, opening fire on farmers in eastern Gaza. On the 27 May at 06:30, one person, Mohammad Kafarneh, was wounded when an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on workers in Beit Hanun while in the afternoon, Israeli forces stormed farmland near the al-Shuja’iya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza and bulldozed crops. In the evening, the Israeli Army stormed Beit Hanun and opened fire on a home.

On the final day of Palestinian adherence to the ceasefire that month an Israeli Army position behind the Green Line opened fire on al-Khaz'a farmland in the morning and, in the afternoon, Israeli forces positioned behind the Green Line opened fire on and launched tear gas grenades at residents in eastern Gaza. The Israeli Navy, not to be outdone, started early and at 07:00 opened fire on and hijacked a Palestinian fishing boat off Beit Lahiya and detained two fishermen: Mohammad Abu Warda and Ahmad Abu Warda. Again that morning the Israeli Navy opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Beit Lahiya and took four fishermen prisoner. That evening a Palestinian fisherman was wounded when the Israeli Navy again opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off Beit Lahiya. The following day a number of Palestinian missiles were fired towards the Green Line with inevitable Israeli retaliation. And so the grim cycle began again . . . and again. The events in May laid the foundation for the spiralling escalation in June that in turn resulted in the wanton death and destruction being visited by Israel upon the people of Gaza going on right now.

Had Israel used the nine days of Palestinian ceasefire to reinforce the suspension of violence, then it is very likely that the present carnage could have been avoided. But for Israel, news of Palestinian missiles is an invaluable diversion from world attention to the Zionist state's brutal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, not to mention its illegal settlement expansion and economic blockade and occupation of the Gaza Strip through armed intimidation. The Palestinian people have no defence capability against overwhelming Israeli military superiority – their only hope is for the international community to at last shoulder its responsibility for having placed them in this impossible and tragic position. The call for UN sanctions against Israel needs urgently to be addressed.

ENDS

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