More than 1,300 Palestinians and 56 Israelis have been killed in the non-stop war since July 8th, after Hamas refused the cease-fire and announced it will not stop fighting until the blockade, maintained by both Israel and Egypt, is lifted. The current offensive is considered the longest yet between Israel and armed resistance in Gaza. The offensive in 2008 lasted for 22 days, and the 2012 offensive lasted for 8 days.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that any truce must allow for its protection against tunnels, used by Palestinian militants in Gaza, to make their way into Israel.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, told CNN: “Hamas is responsible for all deaths on their side and on our side because they are the ones who kept this conflict going.” This is drastically over-simplifying the issue and irresponsibly removing the Israeli military’s responsibility for civilian deaths.
Israel Hit UN Schools
At least 20 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early (around 5 a.m.) on Wednesday, July 30th, at the Jabaliya refugee camp. The camp is actually a UN school where 3,300 Palestinians had taken refuge from the violent war against their homes in Gaza, it appears to have been struck by four Israeli artillery shells that hit the area. The only warning given was that of a protracted military campaign.
UN spokesman Chris Gunness said “the world stands disgraced” by the attack, in which 15 died and dozens more were hurt. The UN says this is the sixth time that one of its schools has been hit by shellfire since this conflict began.
As Chris Morris, BBC Correspondent in Gaza stated: “when the UN said an Israeli mortar had hit a school in Beit Hanoun last week, killing at least 13 people, Israel produced video from an aerial drone which it said showed the school compound was empty. But the UN told me – and it has made the same point to the Israeli military – that the resolution of the video is so poor compared with proper satellite imagery that you cannot see some of the trees in the compound, let alone the people.”
The Israeli military denied responsibility for this crime too.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is sheltering more than 200,000 Palestinians in 85 of its schools now, according to Gaza-based director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Robert Turner.
Turner said that there had been at least 5-7 strikes on the facilities since Israel’s ground operation in Gaza began on July 17. He added, “What we’ve seen in our shelters is indicative of what we’ve seen more generally. When they started naval bombardment, artillery and tank fire, that’s just not as accurate as airstrikes. They can’t see what they’re shooting at, so we’ve seen more destruction, more damage, more death.”
After killing children hiding in a UN school, Israeli military spokeswoman said “Palestinian militants” had “opened fire at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity” of the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp Wednesday morning, and that the Israeli troops “responded by firing toward the origins of the fire.” A UN source said there was no evidence of militant activity inside the school.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military described the new “massacre” by claiming no United Nations facility had been targeted during the operation!
More Condemnations from UN
The commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbuhl, condemned “in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces”. He mentioned that UN crews, the very people leading the humanitarian response, are being killed during the war in Gaza.
This is what he said in his statement – according to The Guardian:
“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in an UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.
We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analyzed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts.
It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. But we know that there were multiple civilian deaths and injuries including of women and children and the UNRWA guard who was trying to protect the site. These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army.”
Survivors are Talking
Assad Sabah, who was hiding with his five children under the desks during the strike, was one of the survivors of this massacre, he spoke to the Associated Press saying: “We were scared to death, after 4.30 A.M, tanks started firing more. Three explosions shook the school. One classroom collapsed over the head of the people who were inside.”
Ahmed Mousa is another survivor, who was in the school courtyard when the shells hit. He said: “My house was burned and death followed us here, where am I supposed to go?”
Israel Strikes the Only Power Plant in Gaza: Gazans Have No Electricity Now!
At least 40% of Gaza’s fuel had been burned by early Tuesday, July 29th, according to Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Energy Natural Resources Authority in Gaza. The attack came hours after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a televised speech of prolonged war.
“We cannot supply electricity for hospitals, sewage treatment or domestic use, this is a disaster. We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room,” Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil said. “Everything was burned.” He said crew members were trapped by the fire for several hours before they were able to be evacuated.
According to NBC News, Jamal Dersawi, the plant’s general manager, confirmed that the main fuel storage tanks supplying the facility took a hit before dawn. There was no immediate comment from Israel’s military about the attack.
“The power plant is finished,” said its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, signaling a new crisis for Gaza’s 1.8 million people, who were already enduring power cuts of more than 20 hours a day.
Amnesty International said the crippling of the power station amounted to “collective punishment of Palestinians”.
Interestingly it has been reported that Overseas Private Investment Corp., a US government agency, provides political risk insurance to US general contractor Morganti to cover its investment in the Gaza power plant. The coverage plan, which has been in place since 2004 is worth up to $48 million.
New Massacre in Shujaya!
After killing more than 74 Palestinians in Shujaya, at least 17 people have been killed and 160 wounded in a new Israeli strike today, July 30th, that hit a fruit and vegetable market near Gaza while hundreds of people were shopping in the market.