By Stephen Lendman
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) provides weekly snapshots of Israeli killings, targeted assassinations, arrests, home demolitions, destroyed farmland, assaults on peaceful protesters, community incursions, home invasions, and more besides full-scale attacks at its discretion – a decades-long onslaught against 1.5 million Gazans and over 2.5 million West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians.
On May 11, a recent assault occurred in the West Bank’s Lubban Al-Sharqiya village when settlers attacked a local mosque, set it ablaze and gutted it. Israeli fire-fighters blamed it on an electrical short-circuit, later investigations showing arson was responsible, what Palestinians knew all along.
A village spokesperson said the mosque was undergoing renovations, its electricity turned off in the section where the fire broke out. Other villagers heard cars arrive around 3AM and saw settlers entering the mosque. They tore down curtains to start the blaze, stacked Qurans next to a bathroom, and arranged shoes on the pile in the shape of a Star of David to desecrate them and the mosque.
Besides security force assaults, attacks like this happen often against Palestinian homes, businesses, vehicles, farmland, and livestock – even children on their way to school. Rarely are charges ever brought, giving settlers license to commit crimes with impunity, including cold blooded murder.
Other Recent Attacks
On April 1, Israeli jets struck Gaza’s Maghazi refugee camp and Palestinian businesses, including two cheese factories, claiming they were making weapons – the same justification Israel uses for other aggression, including saying it’s in retaliation for homemade rockets fired, done only in response to repeated Israeli attacks, mostly against civilians, including farmers in their fields and fishermen in their own waters.
A May 5 PCHR report titled, "Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza" documented the January through April toll, the result of 19 IDF attacks on them during the period – nine in February, six in March, and four in April, all unprovoked against civilians. They occurred as follows, similar to others:
On March 25 at 9:30AM, IDF gunboats fired on Palestinian boats about 800 meters off Gaza’s northern coast near Beit Lahia. Hazen Ahmed Juma’a al-Qur’an was wounded by shrapnel in his head, his boat heavily damaged; when treated at Kamal ‘Edwan Hospital, his condition was described as "moderate to serious."
A nearby fisherman, Jamil al-Aqra’a, described what he saw, saying:
"The gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats directly. Al-Qur’an, who was on his boat with another two fishermen, was wounded in the head as a result. They left their fishing nets in the water and rushed to rescue him."
On April 21, IDF gunboats fired at Gazan fishermen off the Rafah coast. Yousel Husam al-Habbash, 15 years old, was wounded in his right hand. In three other attacks, the Israeli navy arrested 11 fishermen. In four others, fishing boats were confiscated. In two more, the IDF destroyed fishing tools and equipment at sea. In all cases, Gazans were fishing in their own waters. Israeli forces entered them illegally and opened fire, a clear crime against humanity against defenseless civilians, Israel’s specialty.
Earlier on January 7, Haaretz Service reported that "Israel struck Gaza for the second time in 24 hours," saying:
"The Israeli Defense Forces launched a series of air strikes overnight….after a Qassam rocket fired from the Strip hit southern Israel" harming no one nor causing damage. Medics said three Palestinians were killed, including a 15-year old boy. Two others were wounded, and several others were feared trapped inside building ruins.
During the same week, various attacks killed three Palestinians, including one child, and wounded several others. Five air strikes caused no casualties, but during the same period, Israeli tanks entered Gaza, destroying farmland. On January 15, IDF tanks and artillery fire attacked civilian targets near Beit Hanoun. Homes were destroyed, but no injuries were reported.
In early May, Israeli snipers killed one Palestinian, wounding two women and a teenager in Gaza. Collaborating Egyptian forces sprayed disbursal gas into a tunnel, killing four Palestinians and injuring six others. In late April, other tunnel workers were targeted by the Egyptians and killed, six others at the same time injured.
On May 10, Israeli jets attacked tunnels southeast of Rafah, Israel’s military spokesperson calling them "terror sites." No casualties were reported, but dozens of Palestinians have died in them, bringing food, fuel and other vital supplies to the Territory under siege. These type attacks occur regularly, including:
— on March 22, against tunnels and a metal workshop, demolished by IDF missiles; no injuries were reported; during the same period, Israeli forces killed four West Bank Palestinians, two from Awarta village near Nablus and two others (including a child) in Iraq Bourin village, also near Nablus; reports said they were working on their land when shot at close range in cold blood; on the same day, warplanes struck al-Shouka village near Rafah, allegedly to destroy tunnels; no casualties were reported;
— from March 19 – 22, Israeli jets bombed the Mahdi al-Daia and Sons Company, completely destroying its building; no casualties were reported; other jets attacked Saladin Gate, Yebna refugee camp and Block J, located south of Rafah, allegedly to destroy tunnels; two injuries were reported; a farm east of Abasan village near Khan Younis was also bombed; no casualties were reported; on the same day, Gaza’s closed international airport was attacked, wounding 11 Palestinians, including two children who were gathering the destroyed runway’s raw aggregate;
— on March 13, IDF jets bombed Rafah area tunnels and a factory claimed to be making weapons;
— on January 28, tunnels again allegedly were attacked, ahead of US peace envoy George Mitchell’s arrival in Israel; no casualties were reported;
— on February 3, against tunnels in southern Gaza, Israel claiming were used to smuggle weapons and infiltrate "terrorists;" three Palestinians were injured;
— on April 2, BBC reported "Thirteen Israeli air strikes hit Gaza Strip," Hamas officials saying they targeted metal workshops, farms, a milk factory, and other small sites; Israel called them "weapons factories;" medical personnel reported several injuries, including three children and an infant hit by flying debris;
— on April 29, complicit Egyptian forces blew up four tunnels, killing four Palestinians and injuring 10 others; witnesses said an explosion on the Egyptian side caused the tunnel to collapse; Egypt is building an underground wall, 100 feet deep and 10 – 13 km long along its Rafah border, to destroy numerous tunnels and deter more; and
— on April 30, Israeli warplanes struck two "terror sites," destroying two tunnels; no injuries were reported.
On April 22, Gazan farmland, not tunnels, was targeted when Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered Al Faraheen in an Israeli-declared "buffer zone," hundreds of meters into the Territory putting around 30% of its arable land off limits. Jaber Abu Rjila’s home and chicken farm were attacked, his barn destroyed, killing 3,000 birds. His farmland was also razed, destroying fruit and olive trees, and other crops as well as farm equipment, water pumps, and a cistern.
He’s a farmer, not a fighter, like many others attacked, at times killed, and always losing their livelihoods – willfully, maliciously, and illegally.
In its first four-month 2010 report, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights documented "Continuous Israeli Violations against Palestinians," killing 13 and injuring 62, including 11 children. IDF forces also arrested 45 Palestinians, including 21 fishermen, some collecting rubble from destroyed Gaza structures.
— 13 Gaza incursions occurred;
— dozens of dunams of farmland were razed;
— 14 houses destroyed; and
— Palestinians were repeatedly fired on near Israel’s declared "buffer zone," some as distant as a kilometer away.
Israel’s year ago Gaza war never ended. It continues with regular air and ground assaults, killing and destroying ruthlessly and regularly as part of its slow motion genocide agenda – what Israeli historian Ilan Pappe wrote about Gaza before Cast Lead in a September 2006 Electronic Intifada article, saying:
"A genocide is taking place in Gaza….An average of eight Palestinians die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. (Many) of them are children. Hundreds are maimed, wounded and paralyzed. (It’s become) a daily business, now reported (only) in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts. The chief culprits are the Israeli pilots who have a field day" killing Muslims, so who’ll care or notice, especially ones called "terrorists."
International law expert Francis Boyle agrees, earlier accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, saying:
"Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian people." It’s an "undeniable fact."
A Final Comment
With Gaza under siege three years this June, various aid missions challenged it, some successful, others not. The latest is comprised of eight vessels, including the MV Rachel Corrie (1979 – 2003) in honor of the 23-year old American peace activist, murdered in Gaza on March 16, 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer operator when she tried to stop it from demolishing a Rafah refugee camp home.
According to witnesses, she climbed up on it, spoke to the driver, climbed down, knelt 10 – 20 meters in front in clear view, blocking its path with her body. With activists there screaming for it to stop, the soldier-operator crushed her to death deliberately by running her over twice to be sure.
On May 14, the MV Rachael Corrie set sail from Europe to Gaza. Other vessels, nine in all, will attempt to break the siege and deliver vitally needed aid, including over 10,000 tons of food, medicines, educational and construction materials.
On May 17, Haaretz writers Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid headlined, "Israel to Europe: Stop your citizens from sailing to Gaza with aid," saying:
"Israel warned a number of European states that it would not permit leftist-organizations planning to sail to the Gaza Strip with international aid to complete their mission."
Israel’s Foreign Ministry European affairs director, Naor Gilon, met with Turkish, Greek, Irish and Swedish envoys saying their citizens would be stopped at sea and prevented from entering Gaza.
On the same day, Israeli security forces released Izzet Shahin, a Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) volunteer, arrested earlier in the West Bank for helping to organize the relief effort.
According to its web site, IHH was organizing a "major initiative….to deliver aid via the sea to the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of concerned people will set out on 10 ships in May to take over 5,000 tons of relief aid and materials to Gaza."
Unspecified countermeasures are likely, including sea interdictions, arrests, cargo seizures, and perhaps violence in open waters against peaceful humanitarian activists v. a rogue state perpetrator of decades of crimes of war and against humanity intending more – its specialty against civilians.
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.