by Ian Beeching
February 18, 2011
Egypt has warned that recent rocket fire by Palestinian militants into illegal Israeli settlements may lead to an Israeli attack similar to the December 2008 to January 2009 assault that left 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead.
For the last two years, Hamas has refrained from firing on illegal settlements. Ayman Taha, a Hamas official, stated his government did not want to provide Israel an excuse to “wage a new war against the Gaza Strip.”
The recent surge in rocket attacks by other militant groups in Gaza has led to Israeli retaliations, which killed at least 13 in December. Holding Hamas responsible for the rockets, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that militants were making “a terrible, terrible mistake” if they continued to “test our will to defend our people.”
Twenty-six children were murdered by Israeli troops near the Gaza border in 2010, according to a UNICEF working group.
“Because of the blockade’s devastating economic impact, children are being forced to work and scavenge near the fence. Even those who are not in the so-called ‘buffer zone’ unilaterally imposed by Israel are being targeted by Israeli soldiers,” said Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees.
Palestinian homes continue to be demolished as Israel announces that it will build 1,400 new homes in illegal settlements. This will bring the total number of new settlements to over 5,000 since Israel’s bloody bombardment of Gaza ended, despite repeated requests by the US to halt expansion.
“It is deeply regrettable that growing international concern at unilateral expansion of illegal Israeli settlements is not being heeded,” stated UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky early this month.
In a recent petition, more than 165 Israeli professors have boycotted Ariel University in occupied West Bank. Organizer of the petition, Professor Nir Gov of the Weizmann Institute of Science, said, “I have two young daughters and I want them to grow up in a democratic, free Israel…The occupation of millions of Palestinians without any human rights is really destroying it.” Similarly, a performing arts centre was boycotted by 150 Israeli artists in 2010.
Israel continues to block all but the most basic food and medical supplies from entering Gaza. Despite the massive damage caused to Palestinian homes by Israeli bombs, building supplies are kept out. Egypt supports the blockade by rerouting all but medical supplies from its border with Gaza to Israeli authorities.
Recent WikiLeaks documents quote the head of the Israeli Security Agency telling US diplomats: “they [Fatah] ask us to attack Hamas.” The collective punishment of the Palestinian people for democratically rejecting their previous Fatah leaders, in bed with the occupiers, must stop.