Israel Night Time Airstrikes Intensify Against Gaza
Report – By Julie Webb-Pullman and The Scoop Team.
Scoop's correspondent inside Gaza, Julie Webb-Pullman, has reported that the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has not taken affect.
She reports that the civilian population inside Gaza has been under night attack, with Israel Defense Force (IDF) aircraft striking at will again Palestine's facilities and people.
She reports that Ismail Al Asmar, aged 34, was killed. He was one of the field leaders of the Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad. Strikes against the group also injured at least one other. The IDF claimed that the fighter “was involved in terrorist attacks in Sinai”, and in “smuggling weapons and munition into Gaza”.
Julie Webb-Pullman reports that this morning New Zealand time telephone communications inside Gaza have been cut. An intimitant internet connection made it possible via Skype for her messages to get out of Gaza.
Due to the increase of frequency of IDF aircraft overhead and with all communications cut off, she believes Israel is going to launch another large air attack.
“There are drones droning endlessly and the occasional Apache helicopter can be heard. I am not sure how much longer we will have contact with the outside world, if in fact we do have any - if you receive this it means skype is the only means right now.”
She added: “I'm not sure what is happening, there is no-one on the streets, so I think there is a fear that the ceasefire will not be respected by israel.”
“A woman at UNRWA said she believes it is all over, and all the internationals will return soon... They were all evacuated to Jerusalem, which strikes me as a bit odd, taking them (NGO foreign nationals) to Israel while they attack Gaza, then sending them back afterwards.”
Julie Webb-Pulman said an apached helicopter launched a missile at a group of civilians in Al Nafaq Street in Gaza City. She said six civilians were injured: “One has been reported dead. He was Mohamed Atia Maqat aged 20 years.”
From her base in Gaza she speaks of hearing rockets overhead and missiles being launched by IDF strike aircraft.
Gazans tolder her not to leave the house, and to expect an escalation.
Indeed, once late night arrived in Gaza there was more action – rockets being fired into Israel. The Gazans would look toward the nightsky waiting for the response from the IDF.
The attack came, this time in Rafah. Three were injured, one critically.
Julie Webb-Pullman reported: “I think tonight might be bloody because Israel has now killed four people today, while Gaza has not killed any Israelis.”
The ceasefire is clearly ineffective. Israel ignores it. She says Hamas is observing the ceasefire but a couple of groups have said they will not stop until Israel stops killing - and Isreal keeps killing.
Drones and Apaches and F16s were all flying overhead.
Israeli press reported that Hamas has sought help from the international community to intervene to stop Isreal attacking.
Groups Claim Responsibility For Attacks
Maan reports: "Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for firing five Grad rockets towards Ashkelon and Eshkol on Wednesday to avenge the murder of one of their members in an Israeli airstrike late Tuesday morning...
“The strike in the Tal As-Sultan area of southern Gaza killed Ismail Al-Asmar, a field commander in the Al-Quds Brigades, and injured one other person, said Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmiya.”
Palestinian medics later reported finding the body of Ismail Amoum, 65, in the same area. They said his body was blown to pieces, suggesting he may have been caught in the strikes.
“Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the PFLP, also claimed responsibility for firing a rocket towards Ofakim on Wednesday,” a statement said.
The Hamas government accused Israel of violating the unwritten ceasefire agreement with its latest air strikes and called for UN intervention: "Such aggressive behavior confirms that Israel has no true intention of maintaining the truce and insists on escalating the situation," Hamas said.
Julie Webb-Pullman said: Three days ago, Israel's F16 strike aircraft, drones and Apaches were everywhere 24 hours a day,. This morning, New Zealand Tme, she said the aircraft overhead are not as constant, “but are also not ceasing fire. There are constant drones in the north, east and south, with Apaches as well, but I haven't heard as many F16s - or maybe I am just getting so used to them I don't hear them any more.”
Heavy shelling in the north is being reported.
She adds: “Certainly an escalation tonight but whether it is as bad as or worse than Thursday/Friday (last week) is hard to say - reports that a sports club has been targeted - they have already destroyed most of the infrastructure so I guess there's not much left to destroy... except peoples' spirits - sport is one of the few things left... It is very clear that Israel has no intention of honouring the ceasefire although Hamas has done so.”
UPDATE Friday August 26: Regarding the damage overnight, the death toll stands at five with over 30 injured, some critically. This expected to rise. There was an event on at the sports centre so it was crowded, and in addition to the death of Salama Al Masry, 20 others were injured, including seven children and four women.