On the eve of the fifth anniversary of its brutal Operation Cast Lead, Israel launched a series of attacks on the Gaza Strip on Thursday night, injuring at least two people. One of the injured has been identified as Salem al-Asi, aged 41 years.
The targets included the Al Nafaq Street in Gaza City, which has barely recovered from being submerged by flood-waters during recent storms, adding further suffering for the already-reeling residents.
Thursday’s attacks follow hard on the heels of Israel’s killing of three year old Hala Abu Sabikha whilst playing in her yard. Hala’s aunt and other relatives were also injured when an Israeli tank fired three shells at the family home.
Israeli Human Rights organisation B’Tselem condemned that attack. “Deliberate firing at a home occupied by civilians, without its inhabitants having been given any prior warning and without the military ensuring that the civilians have vacated the premises, as appears to be the case in this situation, is unlawful,” they reported.
In response to what is a clear war crime, rockets were later fired from Gaza into Southern Israel, which according to Israel’s own military reports, “fell in open areas, causing no damage or injuries.”
But in blatant contravention of proportionality of response, Israel then launched a series of air strikes on the Gaza population.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Israeli forces have killed 4 civilians near the Gaza Strip border fence in 2013, and wounded 55, including 12 children.
Rockets from Gaza have not killed or injured any Israelis in the same period, although one Israeli citizen, Bedouin labourer Salah Abu Latif, 22 was killed by sniper fire last week. The Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for that shooting.
During Operation Cast Lead, some 1500 Palestinians were killed by Israel, while there were only 13 Israeli deaths, four of them from ‘friendly’ fire.
Operation Cast Lead also ushered in a new era in the use of prohibited weaponry, such as white phosphorous and depleted uranium, for which Israel has still not been held to account in the international arena.
At an event in Gaza City today to honour former ministers and departmental heads, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the Strip’s Hamas-led government was the first in the region to face the transformation from running an Islamic organisation to running a state, an authority and a people.
“It was the first experiment in Islamist rule in the region, and sparked a revolutionary surge in Islamist rule,” he said, referring to the democratic election of Islamic-dominated parliaments in Egypt, Morocco and elsewhere.
Haniyeh emphasised that the Hamas government is determined to liberate all of Palestine, not just parts of it, and is working to reconcile with Fatah to achieve this. He denied they had any plans for Gaza to be an independent entity.
Along with others addressing the gathering, such as the First Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Bahar, Haniyeh expressed praise and gratitude to Qatar for its pledge of more than $200 million for the reconstruction of infrastructure and homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead.
Bahar also turned his attention to Egypt, urging its government to open the Rafah crossing for goods as well as people.