Sunday, 28 December 2014

Still reeling from summer assault, Gaza faces new Israeli threats

Muhammad al-Gharib says his life was turned upside down when his father and younger sister were killed in an airstrike during Israel’s 51-day offensive on the Gaza Strip this past summer.

Shortly after his father, Baha, 58, and his sister, Ola, 16, stepped out of their home in Rafah on 29 July, they were directly struck by an Israeli missile. “They were only about two hundred meters [218 yards] from the house when they died,” al-Gharib, a first-year university student, told The Electronic Intifada. “We ran outside and couldn’t believe what we saw. They were dead.”

“As the war got really bad during the last days of his life, it was like he knew something bad was going to happen,” al-Gharib said of his father. “He was laughing all the time and joking, but we had a bad feeling.”

Amid a summer of soaring tensions and frequent clashes in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel launched its third major military operation in Gaza in the last six years.

Armed Palestinian factions fired rockets into southern and central Israel, while Israeli forces attacked the blockaded coastal enclave from air, land and sea.

Home to an estimated 1.8 million Palestinians, Gaza endured unprecedented destruction. Unlike during the 2012 attacks, the last full-scale assault on Gaza, Israel launched a ground invasion that devastated the Strip, particularly in areas bordering the south of present-day Israel.

The United Nations monitoring group OCHA estimates that 2,257 Palestinians were killed as a result of the fighting, including 1,563 civilians. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven civilians were also killed. more


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