Saturday, 13 September 2014

Israeli officer admits ordering strikes on civilian areas to kill 'captured' soldier

In a rare admittance of the use of the so-called 'Hannibal Directive', in which Israeli soldiers kill their fellow soldiers to avoid their capture, an Israeli military officer admitted in an interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth that he ordered a mass bombardment of parts of Rafah during the Israeli invasion, last month, in order to ensure the death of an Israeli soldier who he believed had been captured.

The Rafah bombardment lasted for three straight days, from August 1st to 4th, and resulted in at least 114 deaths of civilians, in a bid to kill an Israeli soldier that Winter believed had been captured.

It turned out later that the soldiers had never been captured, but had been killed in an engagement with Hamas fighters, on August 1st.

The civilians killed in that bombardment included a number of families who were crushed to death when their homes were hit by airstrikes – like the Zo'rob family, who lost five children, including 7-year-old twins Amir and Odai, their 8-year-old brother Khaled, 10-year-old Shahd and 12-year-old Rawan.

In his interview with Yedioth Ahranoth, Colonel Ofer Winter called the civilian population in Gaza “a partner of terror” that “gets what they choose”.

Journalist Rania Khalek with the Electronic Intifada wrote, “Just as a temporary three-day humanitarian ceasefire negotiated by Egypt and the United States went into effect on the morning of Friday, 1 August, a unit of soldiers from the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade conducted a tunnel incursion in Rafah, provoking fire from Palestinian resistance fighters.

“Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the ensuing firefight and another, Hadar Goldin, went missing. It was later determined that Goldin died in the battle but, in the immediate aftermath, the Israeli army operated under the assumption that he had been captured. more

Blockaded Gaza faces huge challenges to rebuild after war

Fifty days of war in one of the most densely populated parts of the world have left swathes of Gaza in ruins. With the economy reeling under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, the enclave now faces an almost impossible task of rebuilding.

To do it, Gaza will have to find billions of foreign dollars, contend with Israeli limits on construction materials entering the territory, resolve internal political strife and keep aid flowing to the battered population as it rebuilds.

One fact stands out: before the war, an average of 30 tons of cement crossed into Gaza each week. Now, an estimated 10,000 tons will be needed every day for the next six months.

In Shejaia, a town near the border hit by heavy Israeli shelling in the war, many homes and factories lie in ruins amid mounds of broken bricks and rubbish festering in the heat.

"Some of the areas here in Gaza, unbelievably enough, look as if they were hit by an earthquake," said Borge Brende, the foreign minister of Norway, who visited the area this week to try to assess the humanitarian and reconstruction needs.

The Palestinian Authority said in a study last week the work would cost $7.8 billion, two and a half times Gaza's gross domestic product, including $2.5 billion for the reconstruction of homes and $250 million for energy.

Gaza economist Maher al-Tabbaa puts rebuilding costs at a lower $5 billion. Either way, international donors meeting in Cairo on Oct. 12 for a rebuilding conference - including the EU, Turkey and Qatar - know one thing: it will be expensive. more

Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says army Gaza probe will be "whitewash"

The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B'Tselem said Thursday that it does not hold out hope that an army investigation into the Gaza hostilities will lead to anything other than a whitewash.

The organisation explained in a statement, in response to the Israeli military advocate general's (MAG) intention to investigate "exceptional" cases during Operations Protective Edge that, "based on past experience, it isn't holding out hope that this process will lead to results other than a whitewash".

B'Tselem announced earlier this week that it will not assist the current military investigation saying "with its current form, the investigation amounts to nothing more than a masquerade", demanding it be replaced by an independent, transparent and impartial mechanism.

B'Tselem Executive Director, Hagai Elad said, "the announcement demonstrates one of the current system's main shortcomings: its adamant refusal to investigate senior officials and examine honestly wide ranging policy issues pertaining to Israel's use of military. more

At least 10 Injured, 1 seriously, in clashes with Israeli soldiers near Ramallah

Palestinian medical sources have reported, Saturday, that ten Palestinians were injured, one seriously, during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

The sources said the Osama Bseiso, 37, suffered a serious injury after being shot in the head, from a very close distance, by a rubber-coated metal bullet, fired by the soldiers from a short distance.

He was moved to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah.

Around nine Palestinians suffered mild injuries, and received treatment at a local clinic in the town.

In addition, soldiers kidnapped a young man, identified as Issa Farooq and took him to an unknown destination. Farooq carries an international license as a soccer referee. more