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Israel drops bombs on sheltering refugees

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Issue 2415
Scenes of devastation in Gaza
Scenes of devastation in Gaza (Pic: Ahmed Dalloul / IRIN)

Israel hit a United Nations (UN) school in Rafah, Southern Gaza killing ten people and injuring around 45 last Sunday. 

The school was operating as a shelter for people who had fled Israeli bombing elsewhere in Gaza—often after being told to by the Israelis.

The UN reports that this is the seventh of its buildings that Israel has attacked since it invaded Gaza in early July. The school was sheltering more than 3,000 people who had fled their homes.

UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon said that Israel was repeatedly told of the school’s coordinates.  He condemned the attack as a “moral outrage and a criminal act”. 

The Palestinian death toll now exceeds 1,800 with more than 9,000 people injured. Up to 80 percent of the casualties are civilians. According to UN figures more than 20 percent of those massacred are children. 

In the last week Israel’s targets have included Gaza’s university and its sole power plant. 

More than a quarter of Gaza’s population have been displaced and they are short on options. Nearly 65,000 people have had their homes destroyed.

Almost half of Gaza has been declared a “no-go zone” by the Israeli military and even UN shelters can’t guarantee their safety.  

Gaza’s facilities are dangerously stretched. The UN warned, “A health disaster of widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding.” 

The destruction of the power plant has left many hospitals at the mercy of unreliable back-up generators. 


Medical supplies are critically low and hospitals are being overwhelmed by the number of injured and dead. 

Hospitals themselves have also been the target of Israeli air strikes. Al-Aqsa hospital, Central Gaza, was hit by a missile on 21 July. 

Three people were killed and the hospital has been working at 50 percent capacity ever since. 

Gaza medics have even been forced to use ice cream freezers to store the bodies of dead children. 

The Israeli military and Gaza’s resistance fighters agreed a 72-hour ceasefire on Friday of last week. But it lasted only a matter of hours with Israel unleashing a ferocious bombing campaign over Rafah. 

Over 70 people were killed and more than 200 injured. 

Another round of ceasefire talks began in Cairo last Sunday with another three-day ceasefire announced on Tuesday.  Former British prime minister and current Middle East special “peace” envoy Tony Blair attended the talks. 

Israel’s actions in Gaza make things hard for politicians who support it.

Even Ed Miliband has been forced to criticise Israel’s massacre. He described David Cameron’s “silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action” as “inexplicable”.

Israel wants to withdraw from Gaza on terms it dictates.

The Israeli Defence Force have been working on destroying cross-border tunnels. The government has announced that its mission to destroy the tunnels was almost complete. 

 It claims at least 32 of the underground passages and dozens of access shafts had been located and blown up.

Don’t swallow the propaganda

Israel blamed Hamas for breaching a ceasefire on Friday of last week. It claimed the Palestinians had captured a soldier.  

The media told us his name and his background. His family was interviewed. 

US president Barack Obama “unequivocally condemned” Hamas, echoing the Israeli line that the capture was a “kidnap”. Hamas denied holding the soldier—this proved to be true. 

Not for the first time Israel’s accusations proved false. It knew that the soldier had died in fighting and later admitted it. 

Israeli spin doctors then went on to claim that it was probably Hamas who had killed children sheltering in schools—not Israel as the UN affirms.

US tops up Israel’s stock of weapons 

The US has restocked Israel’s ammunition in the middle of the onslaught on Gaza. 

Israel requested the top-up on 20 July and it was approved within three days. 

The US has kept a billion dollar (£600 million) stockpile of weapons in Israel since the 1980s. It allowed Israel to instantly restock tank shells and illumination rounds. 

As the weapons were being supplied White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the shelling of civilian targets was “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”.

Britain also helps to arm Israel. More than £10 million worth of licences were agreed for Israel last year. These included components for targeting equipment, combat aircraft and electronic warfare equipment. 

With £8 billion of extant military export licences to Israel it is unlikely that none of the weapons being used in the current massacre have at least parts made in Britain. 

Yet a spokesperson said, “We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict.”

The Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills stated on Monday that it would review the licences on a case by case basis. 

The uses such weapons are put to should not be a surprise.

Palestinian resistance surprises Israeli invaders

The fierceness of the resistance put up by Hamas during the current campaign has surprised Israel’s military.

Israel is the fourth largest military power in the world, but it is used to matching its machine guns and tanks against children throwing stones. 

The sustained resistance it has faced will recall the casualties it got fighting Hizbollah in Lebanon during 2006.

Conservative estimates suggest that the resistance has killed 64 soldiers in the five weeks since Israel’s assault began. 

This is over four times the number of casualties that Israel’s army suffered in its 2008 invasion of Gaza and its 2012 incursion combined. 

Defence experts IHS Jane’s argues the resistance has learned from Hizbollah. It has “utilised relatively sophisticated tactics and weaponry to embroil the IDF in heavy close-quarters fighting and have inflicted substantial casualties.”

The number of fatalities is 67, only 3 of them civilians. Contrast with Gaza’s civilian casualties which make up almost 80 percent of the total deaths.

Palestinians are right to resist. 

Israel’s actions give the lie to the claim that “there is no more moral army than the IDF.” 


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