Tag Archives: Gaza

If Re-Elected, Netanyahu Promises to Prevent Establishment of a Palestinian State

As he entered the final day of campaigning before Tuesday’s election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to garner support by promising that if re-elected, there would be no establishment of a Palestinian State in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The Associated Press reported that after six years as prime minister and as the “most dominant personality in Israeli politics,” Netanyahu’s standing has fallen in recent weeks.

According to Reuters, opinion polls predict that Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union will take 24 to 26 seats in the 120-member parliament, while Netanyahu’s Likud will only take 20 to 22.

In an interview with Israeli news website NRG, Netanyahu was asked about his stance on creating a Palestinian State. In his response, which was translated to English by the Times of Israel, he claimed that the establishment of such a state would only lead to radical Islamic attacks on Israel.

“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is giving radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The New York Times noted that Netanyahu’s statement was contrary to his endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2009, during a speech at Bar Ilan University, and that the change  “fulfilled many world leaders’ suspicions that he was never really serious about peace negotiations.”

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu has done more campaigning in the Israeli press this election season than in the last six years, and in his latest appearances, he appears to be “under pressure, nervous, tired and confused.”

The Associated Press reported that in contrast to Netanyahu, Herzog has vowed to “revive peace efforts with the Palestinians, repair ties with the U.S. and reduce the growing gaps between rich and poor.”

Reuters noted that both Herzog and his former running mate Tzipi Livni, have accused Netanyahu of “playing up fears over the Palestinians and Iran’s nuclear program to distract voters from the high cost of living and other social issues.”

Palestine Reaches Out to International Criminal Court, Accuses Israel of War Crimes

Following the vote by members of the United Nations to deny the resolution to recognize Palestinian statehood on Tuesday, Palestine reached out to the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, accusing Israel of committing war crimes when it declared war on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014.

RT reported that along with letters of accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas submitted a request to investigate Israel’s use of force starting June 13, 2014.

They attack us and our land every day, to whom are we to complain? The Security Council let us down – where are we to go?” Abbas said.

According to the Associated Press, Abbas’ decision to turn to the ICC signals a shift in Palestine’s relations with Israel, turning them “from tense to openly hostile,” due to the fact that Palestine’s ultimate goal is to “pressure Israel into withdrawing from the territories and agreeing to Palestinian statehood.”

PressTV reported that while Israel has launched three wars on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since 2008, Palestine is reaching out to the ICC for the “latest military aggression against Gaza,” claiming that the Israeli Defense Forces committed war crimes in the summer of 2014 when they “used advanced weapons to kill over 2,140 Palestinians and destroy thousands of homes.”

According to Reuters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that Israel would  “take steps in response,” and urged the ICC to reject Palestine’s bid to become a full member, claiming that Palestine does not “rank as a state.

“We expect the ICC to summarily dismiss the Palestinian Authority’s duplicitous application because the Palestinian Authority is not a state, it is an entity that is allied with a terror organization, Hamas, which commits war crimes,” Netanyahu said.

Following the news of Palestine’s bid to the ICC, the U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke released a statement saying that the United States was “deeply troubled” by the decision, and that Palestine’s actions would not help peace efforts in the region.

It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people,” said Rathke. “Actions like this are not the answer.

RT reported that Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center Director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said that the Gaza War “will be at the heart of the accusations,” and that if found guilty of war, Israel will suffer in terms of international relations.

“Israel will of course try to defend itself, but chances are they will lose,” said Darshan-Leitner. “And if they lose and they’re convicted for war crimes, it would be a game-changer. It would drop Israel to the bottom tier internationally.”

As previously reported, the resolution Palestine presented to the United Nations called for recognition of statehood, an end of Israeli occupation by 2017, the restoration to the 1967 borders, the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and the call for a third party to oversee Israeli withdrawal.

The resolution failed to pass, due to the fact that it only received eight out of the nine votes needed. Palestine pushed for the vote to happen before January 1, 2015, even though after January 1, the U.N. Security Council would have received five new members who were all likely to have passed the resolution.

This raises the question of whether Palestine pushed for an early vote so that they would still be able to push for Israel to be investigated for war crimes. Ben Swann was joined by Reema Abu Hamdieh on RT America to discuss:

Israel Confirms ‘Kidnapped’ Soldier Is Dead

Military’s Claims of Abduction Gave Family False Hope

by Jason Ditz, August 02, 2014

As reported last night here at Antiwar.com, the Israeli military is finally confirming today that British-Israeli soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin, claimed at the time by the military as “kidnapped,” died yesterday, and was never in Hamas custody.

Speculation of Lt. Goldin’s “abduction” centered on the belief that he was taken by Hamas fighters during an Israeli attack on a tunnel, though the putative “kidnappers” were actually slain in heavy Israeli bombardment that immediately followed the tunnel fight, making it probable that, whether by Israeli fire or in battle, the soldier was slain during the ensuing incident.

The Times of Israel later offered a similar assessment, in a front-page article this morning they noted that the claims Hamas would be denying a kidnapping they actually did were not credible, as Hamas normally publicizes capturing Israeli soldiers.

Faced with this and a growing number of similar reports, the Israeli military finally today announced that they ruled Lt. Goldin killed in action, and that a military rabbi, under halachic law, declared him to have “died in combat,” regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding his death.

The Israeli military, certainly privy to all the same details of the media outlets covering the story, maintained the false narrative of a kidnapping for over a day, and it was only in the face of growing coverage to the contrary that they finally admitted to his death.

The false hope this gave to his family was devastating, and his family are still clinging to the “kidnapped” story they inexplicably were offered, unwilling to accept his death.

The use of the “kidnapping” in the official narrative toward escalation yesterday also looms large in this story, leading the Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff to offer an assessment heretofore unprecedented for the paper.

It should be noted that Hamas really is interested in a ceasefire. This is not a cautious assessment, or an Israeli misjudgment. Hamas itself is making this clear at every opportunity. Its representatives had even agreed that Israeli forces would remain inside Gaza during the 72-hour truce — something it had firmly opposed just a few days earlier. The situation in Gaza is getting worse by the day, and with it the pressure on Hamas to stop fighting.

As for Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire work: One can only praise the effort he is making, but the 72-hour truce agreement, as published, did not specifically deal with IDF activities to find and demolish the Hamas tunnels. It did allow for Israel to leave the IDF in place in Gaza for the 72 hours, but did not talk of tunnel demolition. Thus, while Israel insisted that the IDF’s work on destroying the tunnels would continue during the truce, Hamas has stressed repeatedly that it did not agree to this. The lack of clarity in the ceasefire agreement on this issue may have been a factor in everything that played out subsequently.

Extended cease-fire reached in Gaza, officials say

After more than 2,000 people have died, and numerous bombs and rockets have been fired from both sides, officials are saying leaders from Israel and Hamas have reached an extended cease-fire agreement in Gaza.

“Israel has once again accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete cease-fire,” a senior Israeli official said, according to the New York Times.  “This cease-fire is unlimited in time.”  The official in question spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Even though the two sides agreed to a brokered cease-fire through Egypt, Hamas declared the end of the conflict a victory, according to TIME.  “We are here today,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a news conference at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, “to declare the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza, with the help of God, and the steadfastness of our people and the noble resistance.”

According to reports, Hamas initially said they would only agree to a cease-fire if the blockade on Gaza, which was imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas seized the area, was lifted.  However, as the violence has continued to escalate over the past seven weeks, Hamas rocket caches are reportedly down to one third of what they were at the start of the conflict, while Israel has claimed to have destroyed the majority of Hamas’ military tunnel system.

FOX News reports the blockade on Gaza will not be lifted, but Israel and Egypt will ease the blockade to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza as well as construction material to abet the war-torn territory.

Peace talks will continue to take place in Egypt, and discussions on key issues, including Hamas’ demand to end the blockade and Israel’s call to disarm Hamas, will begin within a month.

The cease-fire will take effect Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time.

Militants in Gaza publicly execute alleged spies

As fighting commences in Gaza following the week-long truce and funeral processions for the family of a Hamas military leader, Hamas militants have publicly executed 18 Palestinians for allegedly spying for Israel.

Seven of those executed were lined up in front of a crowd of hundreds outside of the Omari mosque on Palestine Square, with bags over their heads and their hands bound.  Each was shot with automatic rifles for those present to see.  The other 11 were executed by militants at an abandoned police station in Gaza, according to YNetNews.

One eye-witness to the Omari mosque executions told reporters, according to the Independent, the executioners told the crowd those who were executed, “had sold their souls to the enemy for a cheap price.”

The names of those killed were not released to the public, as Hamas said they wanted to protect the families of those killed.

These killings are reportedly the beginning of new crackdowns on Israeli collaborators in Gaza.  According to ABC News, rally cries for people to “[choke] the neck of the collaborators,” have also been heard throughout the area.

Hamas security services made a post to their website, Al Majd, saying from now on, people who are suspected of being spies would not have a court hearing to determine their innocence or guilt.  Rather, these individuals will be dealt with “in the field,” meaning soldiers will decide the fate of those who are accused of being spies.

This same site said those who had been executed had “confessed” to their alleged crimes against the people of Palestine.  Their crimes included reporting on the movement of military commanders and providing the locations of resistance fighters throughout Gaza.

Another pro-Hamas website made a post following the executions saying, “The resistance has begun an operation called ‘strangling the necks’, targeting collaborators who aid the (Israeli) occupation, kill our people and destroy houses.”

These executions come a day after Israeli forces tracked down and killed three high-ranking Hamas commanders, according to the Mirror.

Greenwald: Israeli Aggression Would Be Impossible Without the Support and Protection of the U.S. Government

In a recent article, Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who brought attention to a series of documents from the National Security Agency one year ago, referenced newly released NSA documents in regards to the relationship between the United States and Israel.

“Top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza,” wrote Greenwald.

While the fact that the U.S. supplies Israel with billions of dollars in aid is common knowledge, Greenwald maintained that the leaked NSA documents showed that the U.S. has also helped Israel by using NSA surveillance technology to collect data used to “monitor and target Palestinians.”

The new documents underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors,” Greenwald wrote. “That covert support is squarely at odds with the posture of helpless detachment typically adopted by Obama officials and their supporters.”

Greenwald added that although Obama recently said it was “heartbreaking” to see what was happening in Gaza, Brooklyn College Professor Corey Robin said, ”Obama talks about Gaza as if it were a natural disaster, an uncontrollable biological event.

“The same process repeats itself in both U.S. media and government circles,” wrote Greenwald, who tied together three times Israeli has attacked Gaza, in 2008, 2012, and now in 2014. He wrote that first, the U.S. government “feeds Israel the weapons it uses and steadfastly defends its aggression both publicly and at the U.N.,” next the U.S. Congress “unanimously enacts one resolution after the next to support and enable Israel,” and lastly, American media figures “pretend that the Israeli attack has nothing to do with their country.”

Greenwald concluded that, in response to this, “all decent Americans helplessly throw up their hands as though they bear no responsibility.”

While last September, The Guardian exposed the fact that the NSA “routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens,” The Intercept recently published a new NSA document from April, 2013, which shows that the NSA “maintains a far-reaching technical and analytic relationship with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU) sharing information on access, intercept, targeting, language, analysis and reporting.

According to the newly disclosed NSA document, “This SIGINT relationship has increasingly been the catalyst for a broader intelligence relationship between the United States and Israel.” The document went on to say that, “a dedicated communications line between NSA and ISNU supports the exchange of raw material, as well as daily analytic and technical correspondence.”

Greenwald pointed out that while the relationship between the United States and Israel has grown incredibly close in the last decade, “the cooperation between the NSA and ISNU began decades ago,” with U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

The document from the NSA also revealed that, “The Israeli side enjoys the benefits of expanded geographic access to world-class NSA cryptanalytic and SIGINT engineering expertise, and also gains controlled access to advanced U.S. technology and equipment via accommodation buys and foreign military sales.

The new Snowden documents illustrate a crucial fact,” wrote Greenwald. “Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks. And the relationship between the NSA and its partners on the one hand, and the Israeli spying agency on the other, is at the center of that enabling.”

US, UN Outraged as Israel Strikes Another Gaza School

10 Killed in Seventh Israeli Attack on a School So Far

by Jason Ditz, August 03, 2014

Israel continues its war in Gaza today, and continues to hammer refugee centers at an alarming rate, hitting the seventh UN-run school of the current war this morning with a drone strike.

The drone strike landed in the street immediately in front of the school gates, killing 10 civilians and wounding dozens of others, including children who were clustered around the gate playing.

It was, as mentioned, the seventh school hit so far in the war, and the third in the past 10 days. The UN has been using the schools as shelters for refugees, and gave the Israeli military exact coordinates, in theory to avoid them being mistakenly targeted.

Instead the attacks are becoming so common that Israeli military claims of “accidental” strikes are no longer credible, and while Israeli politicians have tried to present the shelters as legitimate military targets, their constant targeting is fueling international outrage.

The United Nations termed the attack a “moral outrage” and a “criminal act,” and the usual Israeli Lobby expressions of fury at UN criticism are no longer as quick to follow up, nor as shrill.

Even the United States, normally up for whatever Israel feels like doing, is no longer dancing around such incidents, with the State Department statement lashing the Israeli attack as “disgraceful” and reiterating that Israel has to stop attacking civilians.

UNRWA head Pierre Krahenbuhl, whose agency runs the schools in question, pointed out again today that the attacks are a violation of international law, a fact Israel no longer seems to be seriously trying to dispute, even if it isn’t stopping them from such attacks.

For the civilians chased out of their homes by the Israeli invasion and crammed into a handful of UN shelters, only to find the shelters themselves targeted, the international outcry is unlikely to be much comfort, especially so long as Israel remains content to keep pounding them and shrug off the criticism.

Conflict in Gaza Changing but Not Ending, More Civilians Dead, Tunnels Nearly Destroyed

On Sunday, news that Israel was redeploying a large number of its troops out of Gaza, was followed by news that another United Nations school had been hit by an Israeli airstrike. This airstrike on a UN facility that was being used to house displaced Palestinian civilians was added to the list as the seventh one that Israel has launched in the four weeks since their operation began.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 10 individuals were killed, and about three-dozen were injured at a UN boys’ school in the southern Gaza City of Rafa, as a result of the Israeli airstrike.

According to The New York Times, “Witnesses near the school, where about 3,000 Palestinians had sought shelter, said that those killed or hurt were waiting in line for food supplies when a missile hit.”

Although the Israeli Army claimed that their original target was “three members of Islamic Jihad on a motorcycle near the school,” the US State Department called the shelling “disgraceful.”

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said, “the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”

The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed,” said Psaki. “We once again stress that Israel do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, called Sunday’s airstrike a  “moral outrage and a criminal act” and he said that those responsible were in “gross violation of international humanitarian law” and should be held accountable.

While Israel has said that “thousands” of its troops had been deployed into Gaza, it has never given an exact number. A spokesman for the Israeli military, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said that there would be “substantial redeployments of the troops on the ground who will be regrouping, receiving further orders,” due to the fact that the destruction of Hamas’s tunnel network is just days from being complete.

It’s changing gears but it’s still ongoing,” said Lerner, in reference to the fact the large numbers of Israeli ground troops who were moving to positions just inside Gaza, while others were redeploying to Israel.

Colonel Lerner also addressed the death of Second Lt. Hadar Goldin. At first, Israel announced that Hamas militants kidnapped Goldin during the early hours of an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire on Friday. This supposed kidnapping put an end to the ceasefire.

However, on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced that Goldin had most likely been killed when his unit were trying to destroy a tunnel, and were ambushed by three Hamas militants, one of which exploded a suicide belt.

We can’t determine if he was killed on the ground or from the blast,” said Colonel Lerner, the army spokesman. “The indications on the ground are that he was killed in the initial attack.”

The Huffington Post reported that although Netanyahu has “vowed to press on against Hamas,” he is redeploying troops due to that fact that he is coming under “international pressure to halt the fighting because of the heavy civilian death toll.”

We promised to return quiet to Israel and that is what we will do,” said Netanyahu. “We will continue to act until that goal is reached, however long it will take and with as much force as needed.

Netanyahu also warned that Hamas “will pay an intolerable price” if it keeps fighting.

In addition to the airstrike, which hit the UN school, several more Israeli airstrikes occurred in Gaza on Sunday, killing 71 Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the 1,822 Palestinians have been killed and 9,370 have been injured. The New York Times reported that 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

According to International Business Times, while delegations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo on Sunday to participate in negotiating a ceasefire, which was organized by United States and Egyptian officials, Israeli officials still have yet to send a delegation.

Attempts by both the United States and United Nations to secure a permanent ceasefire have been criticized by those such as Yochanan Gordon, a blogger for the Times of Israel. In an article, which was deleted shortly after it was posted and received heavy criticism, titled “When Genocide is Permissible,” Gordon accused the US and the UN of being “completely out of touch.

Gordon also criticized networks such as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera for only focusing on the “majority of innocent civilians who have lost their lives.” Gordon concluded his controversial blog piece, saying, “If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?

(Although it was originally deleted, if you are interested in reading Gordon’s full article, you can find it here)

A similar attitude was evidenced in an article by The Jerusalem Post’s Martin Sherman, who claimed that, “The only durable solution requires dismantling Gaza, humanitarian relocation of the non-belligerent Arab population, and extension of Israeli sovereignty over the region.

On Sunday, Israel announced that it would hold a temporary ceasefire on Monday, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. in northern areas of the Gaza Strip. However, Israeli officials warned that they would respond if Hamas fired any rockets during those seven hours.

Unconditional Ceasefire in Gaza Collapses into One of The Deadliest Days So Far

On Thursday, the United States and the United Nations announced that there would be a 72-hour unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, starting at 8 A.M. Friday.

Although the ceasefire was meant to last three days, it was only in place for two hours. The New York Times reported that, “the Israeli military announced that two soldiers had been killed and a third apparently captured by Palestinian militants who emerged from a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

According to The Guardian, “Israeli tank fire on the southern town of Rafah was reported to have killed at least 40 Palestinians, turning what was intended to be the first day of calm into one of the deadliest days in Gaza so far.”

Hamas released a statement accusing Israel of breaking the ceasefire, and saying that the declaration of captured Israeli soldiers was meant to “cover up the barbaric massacres, especially in Rafah.”

A spokesman for the Israeli army, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said that the missing soldier, who was identified as 23-year-old Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, was captured by Hamas militants while Israeli forces were working to destroy one of Hamas’s underground tunnels.

While Friday’s ceasefire was called for by the United Nations, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was not in favor. Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon that calling a ceasefire in Gaza would meet the needs of Hamas, but not of Israel.

Last week, the Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, spoke out at a news conference in Qatar. “Everyone wanted us to accept a ceasefire and then negotiate for our rights,” said Meshaal. “We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices.

We need to be ready for a prolonged campaign,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday. Despite each ceasefire that has been called during the last three weeks, he has kept Israeli troops in Gaza, maintaining that they are there to destroy the network of tunnels built by Hamas.

As a result of this conflict, 62 Israeli soldiers, 3 Israeli civilians, 191 Palestinian militants, and 1,244 Palestinian civilians have lost their lives thus far.

Israel says its troops will not leave Gaza until they have demolished scores of Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border that militants use to infiltrate Israel and smuggle weapons,” reported The Washington Post. “Hamas says it will not cease fire until it receives international guarantees Gaza’s 7-year-old border blockade by Egypt and Israel will be lifted.

The US Reacts to Israeli Shelling of UN School in Gaza

On Wednesday, Israeli artillery shells hit a United Nations school in Gaza, which was functioning as a shelter for Palestinians who had been displaced from their homes due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. As reported by The Guardian, “At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across Gaza. More than 100 people were injured.”

An analysis done by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, reported that the school was hit by Israeli artillery, which caused, “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.”

On Thursday, The United States spoke out in condemnation of the shelling. Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House, released a statement saying, “The United States condemns the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza, which reportedly killed and injured innocent Palestinians, including children, and UN humanitarian workers.

We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza,” said the statement. “We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza.”

The statement concluded, “All of these actions, and similar ones earlier in the conflict, are inconsistent with the UN’s neutrality. This violence underscores the need to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible.”

As reported by RT, shortly after the White House condemned the shelling of the UN school in Gaza, the Pentagon pledged to “supply the Israeli military with new ammunition to further their campaign on the war-ravaged city.

The supplies that will be sent to Israel include “120mm mortar rounds and 40mm ammunition for grenade launchers,” which will come from a “stockpile the United States keeps in Israel, which is worth more than $1 billion,” according to CNN.

On Tuesday, a third arsenal of rockets was located at a UN school in Gaza. UNRWA reported that during a regular inspection of its premises, rockets were found that had been “hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip.” The report stated that, “As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets.

Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, claimed that not only had rockets been found in UN facilitates, they had also been returned to Hamas by UN officials.

I was appalled to hear reports, one as recent as today, of stockpiles of rockets in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza,” said Baird. “Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, once Israeli officials discovered their location.”

The attack on the school was the sixth time that UNRWA premises have been hit in the three weeks since the war in Gaza began.

According to the Associated Press, Israel’s military attributed the shelling of the school to a return of fire, “after soldiers were targeted by mortar rounds launched from the vicinity of the school.”

The UN’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, spoke out saying the attack on the school was “unjustifiable,” and that it “demands accountability and justice.”

I want to make it clear that the exact location of this elementary school has been communicated to the Israeli military authorities 17 times, as recently as last night, just a few hours before this attack,” sad Ki-moon. “They are aware of the coordinates and exact location of where these people are.”

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, called the school shelling a “serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.”

Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza,” said Krähenbühl. “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.

ABC Reporter Says The Current Conflict in Gaza is The Most Difficult One He Has Ever Covered

Alexander Marquardt is a veteran reporter for ABC, who specializes as a correspondent in the Middle East. Despite everything he has seen thus far in his career, Marquardt maintains that the current conflict in Gaza is the worst one he has ever witnessed.

“There are no conflicts that come close to covering something like this,” Marqaurdt said, in an interview with The Huffington Post. “There are so many times when there are just these awful, tragic, heartbreaking scenes.

“When you’re on the ground and you’re seeing things in terms of black and white, and just the human side of the story, the massive death toll, the massive level of destruction, it doesn’t matter what your politics are,” said Marquardt. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a viewer and you’re coming at this story from a certain angle. When you see children and babies crushed to death in their homes or targeted in airstrikes, it’s just heartbreaking.”

Marquardt found that the scenes that really stuck with him from Gaza were the ones that involved the Palestinian children who were victims of the conflict. He was among the journalists staying at a hotel near the beach where four Palestinian boys lost their lives, due to an Israeli airstrike. He also witnessed the death of a young boy who died after being hit by shrapnel. “These are things that really do stick with you,” Marqaurdt said.

Marqaurdt told The Huffington Post that he was shocked when NBC removed Foreign Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza. “It was the wrong move to pull him out,” he said. “It was certainly amazing to watch the community of journalists respond so angrily,” Marquardt added, referencing NBC’s decision to reinstate Mohyeldin as a correspondent in Gaza, after the network’s original decision created a major uproar on social media.

When comparing the coverage of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas to the coverage of the conflict between the two from 2008 to 2009, Marquardt said that the advancement of social media has “completely changed the dynamic” of the reporting.

“Israel was allowed to go about its business without as much scrutiny, whereas this time…there’s a lot more information coming out of Gaza,” said Marquardt, who added that due to the prominence of social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it is even more important now to provide accurate and balanced coverage of the story at hand.

Despite the fact that Hamas runs a totalitarian regime in Gaza, Marquardt said, “It’s very easy to move around.” He added, “I’ve never felt like they were trying to stifle my reporting.

However, in regards to the control exerted by Israel, Marquardt said, “I’ve never seen a PR machine like Israel’s. They are constantly bombarding you.

UN school in Gaza caught in the cross hairs, leaving 15 dead

As violence continues to escalate between Israeli forces and those of Hamas in Gaza, a UN backed school has reportedly been shelled by Israeli tanks, leaving 15 dead and about 200 wounded.

The school was in a coastal area of Gaza known as Beit Hanoun, which has been known to be a dangerous region since the fighting began.  Civilians had fled the region so they could find shelter and escape the fighting between the IDF and Hamas.  Of those killed and injured, all are believed to be civilians.

Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs, said, according to the Independent, “People are sheltering in UN schools which as a result cannot be used for education. They are running out of food, and water is also a serious concern.”

This strike comes amongst a day of heavy fighting throughout Gaza.  The fighting was sparked by a demand by Hamas for Israel and Egypt to lift the blockade around Gaza, according to the Guardian.

Spokesman for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Chris Gunness made a tweet, according to the Ma’an News Agency, saying, “Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army.”

A contact in the Israeli military told Al-Jazeera the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were not necessarily responsible, but the IDF had detected rocket fire from Hamas in the area.  This same contact said those detected rockets could have fallen short and hit the school.

This is the fourth UN facility to be hit in the fighting since the Israeli operation began on July 8.

Director of UNRWA, Robert Turner, said, in relation to all of the facilities caught in the line of fire, “We always call on all parties to ensure that civilians are not harmed.”

Hamas Calls FAA Flight Suspension a “Great Victory,” While US Politicians Call It an “Overreaction”

On Wednesday, the 24-hour suspension of flights to and from Israel was renewed for another 24 hours. The United States Federal Aviation Administration put the suspension in place on Tuesday, due to a “potentially hazardous security situation created by the armed conflict between Israel and Gaza,” after a rocket fired from Gaza hit near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel’s failure,” said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, in a statement released by Hamas.

While Hamas viewed the flight suspension as a “great victory,” United States Senator, Ted Cruz, viewed it as a way for the Obama administration to sabotage Israel’s economy.

“The facts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands,” said Cruz.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, replied to the statement from Cruz, calling his accusations “ridiculous and offensive.

The FAA takes its responsibilities very seriously,” said Harf. “They make these decisions based solely on the safety and security of American citizens, period. For anyone to suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.”

Although the Israeli government asked the White House to overrule the FAA’s decision, their request was declined.

Another United States Politician criticizing the FAA is the former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.

“Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world. It is safe and secure and flights from all over the world are landing here,” said Bloomberg, who flew into Tel Aviv on an El Al flight on Tuesday night. “It was an overreaction for the FAA to halt U.S. flights here – and a mistake they should correct.”

The FAA released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying it is “working closely with the government of Israel to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated so the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible.

Protests Against Violence in Gaza, Held Around The World

Following Israel’s decision to begin a ground invasion into Gaza on Thursday, people have taken to the streets all over the world in protest.

Toronto was one of the major cities in Canada in which protests were held on Saturday, condemning the government’s support for Israel. One of the protest’s organizers, Hind Awwad, said that the Canadian government’s “unwavering support” of Israel amounted to them sharing responsibility in the “crimes in the Gaza Strip.”

On Monday, around 500 people participated in a silent protest in Tokyo. According to The Daily Star in Lebanon, protesters waved Palestinian flags, formed large letters spelling “Gaza” in a local park, and carried signs reading, “Stop the killing in Gaza. Japan cares.”

We want people in Gaza to know that they are not isolated from the world,” said Sonoko Kawakami, who was one of the protest’s organizers. “Gaza is far from Japan, but we are going to continue to do whatever we can do here.

Protests were held near the Israeli Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Monday. The Daily Star reported that, “The protest was organized by left-wing trade unions and peace groups and included Turkish Cypriot activists from the ethnically divided island’s breakaway north.”

Marches of solidarity took place in the Middle East in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Demonstrations were also held in Europe, in capital cities such as Madrid, Belfast, and Amsterdam. One of the largest rallies in Europe over the weekend was a rally in Vienna, where the number of participants reached 11,000 people.

In Washington, hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the State Department on Sunday. According to the Washington Post, Palestinian Americans, Muslims, Jews, and others rallied “to demonstrate against Israeli violence in Gaza, with many expressing frustration with what they see as unconditional U.S. support for Israel.”

The U.S. is the primary patron of Israel and provides unequivocal diplomatic and military support,” said Noura Erakat, a Palestinian lawyer and professor at George Mason University. “It’s a complicit third party in what amounts to a massacre of the Palestinian population entrapped within the Gaza strip.”

Mervin Adwan, a mother of six from Gaza, has lived in the United States for the last 13 years. “I would like to see my people safe in their lands. I want to feel free to visit my family, and I can’t do that because it’s not safe for my kids,” said Adwan, who hasn’t been back to Gaza since she originally left.

We want to urge the U.S. to please stop this bloodshed,” said Rabbi Dovid Feldman, from the group Jews United Against Zionism, who was a speaker at the event. “It’s time to realize it’s wrong for the Palestinian people and dangerous for Jewish people.

On Saturday, a protest was held in San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Gate, those involved were “Chanting ‘Free Palestine’ and accusing Israel of genocide.”

At least this is something I can do, a way I can show my support for the Palestinians,” said Amal Saleh, a San Francisco protestor who claimed she was shocked by the “dehumanization of Palestinians” in this conflict.

Breaking: NBC Reverses Decision and Plans to Send Mohyeldin Back to Gaza

As Benswann.com previously reported, NBC executives chose to remove Foreign Correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, after he witnessed and provided a firsthand account of the murder of four Palestinian boys via Israeli airstrike on Wednesday.

Today, NBC News announced that they would reverse their decision, and would be sending Ayman Mohyeldin back into Gaza on Sunday.

NBC News Statement:

“Ayman Mohyeldin has done extraordinary reporting throughout the escalation of the conflict in Gaza, filing 25+ reports over the past 17 days, including his invaluable and well-documented contribution to the story on the deaths of the four Palestinian children on Wednesday. As with any news team in conflict zones, deployments are constantly reassessed. We’ve carefully considered our deployment decisions and we will be sending Ayman back to Gaza over the weekend. We look forward to his contributions in the coming days.

Just as he had turned to Social Media to give his account regarding the murder of the four Palestinian boys earlier this week, Ayman Mohyeldin did the same when breaking the news of his anticipated return to Gaza.

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NBC Removes Reporter from Gaza After He Witnessed Israeli Assault on Children

Foreign Correspondent for NBC News, Ayman Mohyeldin, witnessed the murder of four Palestinian boys via Israeli airstrike on Wednesday. After providing a firsthand account for NBC, he was contacted by the network’s executives, and was told to leave Gaza immediately.

NBC insisted that their decision to remove Mohyeldin from the region was due to “security concerns.” However, according to Journalist Glenn Greenwald, they quickly proceeded to replace Mohyeldin, who is an Arabic-speaking, Egyptian-American with experience reporting in the region, with Richard Engel and an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic.

Mohyeldin’s account of Wednesday’s events in Gaza weren’t just limited to NBC – he also shared them with social media. On Twitter, he reported that he had been playing and kicking a ball with the young boys, just minutes before their lives were ended.

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Mohyeldin also gave the boys an identity on Social Media, sharing their names and ages on Twitter.

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While the words Mohyeldin wrote made readers aware of the details of the event, the pictures he shared with both Twitter and Instagram brought the horrific and tragic reality of the Bakr boys’ murder to life.

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Mohyeldin posted the picture above on his Instagram, showing the reaction of a Palestinian mother, whose son was one of the victims of the Israeli airstrike.

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A second Instagram post from Mohyeldin showed a Palestinian man grieving after he also learned that his son was one of the four victims.

Despite NBC’s decision to remove Mohyeldin from Gaza, he has gained the attention of Journalists like Glenn Greenwald, who wrote, “Over the last two weeks, Mohyeldin’s reporting has been far more balanced and even-handed than the standard pro-Israel coverage that dominates establishment American press coverage; his reports have provided context to the conflict that is missing from most American reports and he avoids adopting Israeli government talking points as truth.”