Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Israeli warplanes hit southern Gaza after sniper fire


Israeli fighter jets carried out an air strike in southern Gaza on Wednesday and killed a Hamas militant after a sniper attack on a patrol seriously wounded a soldier, the army and medics said.

The Israeli military said on a twitter statement that “sniper fire was opened on an IDF routine patrol near the southern Gaza Strip.”

“Following the sniper attack on the #Gaza border, IDF air & ground forces responded immediately to the threat. More details to come,” the statement added.

It was only the second time Israel had struck Gaza since a 50-day war ended with a truce on August 26, after witnesses reported a first strike early on Saturday.

Palestinian medical sources said the incident had taken place east of the southern city of Khan Yunis with Tayseer al-Ismary, 33, killed “as a result of gunfire and shrapnel from a tank shell.”

Hamas sources said he was a member of its military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner denounced the attack.

“Hamas sniper attack is an outrageous act of aggression. IDF will continue to protect its forces and the border area,” he wrote on Twitter, noting that the military had instructed Gazan farmers to keep away from the border area “for their own safety.”

Hamas blamed Israel. more

Palestinian killed, Israeli soldier injured in Gaza gunfight

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man was killed and an Israeli soldier seriously injured during a gun battle in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces fired heavily in border areas in Khuzaa and al-Qarara east of Khan Younis, killing Taysir al-Smeiri, 33, and injuring two others.

Hamas said al-Smeiri was the head of its reconnaissance unit in southern Gaza.

"In response to the firing at our forces who were east of the fence in the southern Gaza Strip, we carried out immediate attacks against the relevant targets. There was an air strike and one by a tank," an Israeli army statement said.

Israel's army confirmed that an Israeli soldier suffered a severe chest injury and was evacuated to hospital.

Last weekend, for the first time since the war ended on August 26, Israeli warplanes struck southern Gaza after militants fired a rocket over the border.

On Nov. 23, Fadil Muhammad Halawah, 32, was shot dead by Israeli forces while hunting birds east of Jabaliya. more

BBC’s Kafkaesque response to complaint over Gaza coverage


Last month, the BBC sent an email to the UK-based campaigning organization Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which was almost comical in its arrogance.

It was a response to a complaint made by PSC in October that BBC online reports were referring to the Gaza ceasefire as holding, despite the fact that by the end of October, Israel had breached the ceasefire numerous times since it was signed on 26 August.

In fact, Israel has fired on Palestinians in Gaza almost on a daily basis.

In its initial complaint, PSC referred to the website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which documents incidents of ceasefire breaches. These breaches had been collated in an article published by Middle East Monitor (MEMO), which reported that there was more than one Israeli attack on Gaza every day in September. The MEMO article was also included in PSC’s submission.

At the beginning of November, the BBC emailed to say: “You direct us to a non-BBC online report as evidence that the ceasefire has been violated by Israel. While we will not comment on the content or accuracy of what is published elsewhere, we would assure you that we are committed to due impartiality in respect of all our news reports and we are careful that this is maintained.”

There is more than a touch of Kafka about the first sentence of the BBC’s response, which seems to be suggesting that if anyone wants to prove that the ceasefire has been broken, and the BBC is wrong to say it is holding, then the proof that it has been broken must come from a BBC report — a report which doesn’t exist — as the BBC will not accept “a non-BBC online report as evidence.”

Laughable arrogance

And why won’t the BBC accept non-BBC reports as evidence that Israel has been continually violating the August truce? Because, as the email’s second sentence indicates, the BBC feels it can’t trust the veracity of any news or factual sources other than its own, not even the reports of PCHR.

And there’s the laughable arrogance of a news organization which apparently sees only itself as a trustworthy source of news and yet, as The Electronic Intifada exposed in October, produces maps so wildly inaccurate that they place Jerusalem entirely within Israel, even though under international law the eastern part of the city, occupied by Israel in 1967, is part of the West Bank.

A news organization which places such little value on accurate reporting that its governing body, the BBC Trust, has ruled that BBC journalists can refer to Jerusalem as a wholly Israeli city because Israel has “de facto control over the entire city in a political, administrative and military sense.”

It’s a news organization, which while seemingly saying it can’t trust MEMO or the fact-collecting of PCHR, can’t get its own news reports right.

It defends its senior presenters such as Martha Kearney, of Radio Four’s World at One, when they falsely report that Israeli soldiers were killed on the same day that Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza, and only admits to false reporting after seven months of twisting and turning in an attempt to justify Kearney’s erroneous remarks.

This is a news organisation which bends so far away from accurate reporting on Palestine and bows towards an Israeli viewpoint instead, that it even tries to blur the line on the occupation of Gaza and additionally tells its journalists to downplay the siege.

As The Electronic Intifada revealed last year, the BBC’s Online Middle East editor Raffi Berg sent an internal email to BBC journalists asking them to minimize Israel’s siege on Gaza in their reporting. The leaked emails were quickly posted, with approving comments, on a pro-Israel website. more

After the war, a bittersweet Christmas in Gaza


GAZA CITY (AFP) -- A garland in hand, 11-year-old Sara decorates the family Christmas tree with her parents. But this year, the young Palestinian in Gaza will be spending the rest of the holiday alone.

Her family applied for Israeli permits to leave the Gaza Strip and travel to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas in the not-so-little town in the occupied West Bank where Jesus was born.

Although her parents received them, she and her older brother and sister did not.

This year, Israel granted around 500 permits to Palestinian Christians, allowing them to travel from Gaza to the West Bank so they can visit Bethlehem's Nativity church and attend the traditional midnight mass.

"Christmas is a happy time but it's also a bit sad because I didn't get the permit to go with my parents," Sara admits.

Her mother, Abeer Mussad, spoke of a "joy tinged with sadness" as she and her husband celebrate Christmas Day in Bethlehem without their children who will on Thursday be "meeting Santa at church in Gaza".

"He will give us our presents," says Sara who will stay with her older sister and celebrate Christmas at St Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City.

In Gaza, the adults have done everything they can to ensure the holiday is not spoilt, but nobody can forget the deadly 50-day summer war which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and left the densely populated territory in ruins.

"We're going to celebrate Christmas in order to forget the suffering of the war," says 60-year-old Umm George, who lost her sister in the conflict and will be one of those traveling to Bethlehem.

In streets which still bear the scars of war, shops are spruced up with Christmas decorations and ornamented trees covered in sweets take pride of place in front windows. more