Israeli forces kill 5 as Gaza teeters on brink of war

An injured protester is carried east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on 26 October.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Israeli occupation forces killed and maimed protesters in Gaza for the 31st consecutive week as reports emerged of a short-term agreement between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt intended to avoid a full-scale military confrontation.

Late Friday night, however, Gaza witnessed military escalation as Israel hit multiple sites across Gaza.

Palestinian groups fired multiple rockets towards Israel from Gaza, some of them reportedly intercepted, earlier in the evening.

Video is said to show the interception of rockets:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two resistance factions, have previously denied responsibility for rockets fired from Gaza which they said were intended to thwart efforts to broker a long-term truce with Israel in exchange for lifting the siege on the territory.

West Bank killings

Earlier on Friday, soldiers killed a Palestinian during a raid near the West Bank city of Ramallah – the second such fatality in the territory this week.

Uthman Ladadweh, 38, was reported killed during confrontations between Palestinians and occupation forces in al-Mazraa al-Gharbiya on the outskirts of the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

A photo of Ladadweh was published after his death:

Nine others were reported wounded during the confrontations that broke out after Israeli forces repressed a march protesting confiscation of village land.

Soldiers targeted journalists, firing tear gas canisters and preventing them from covering the events, the Quds news outlet reported.

A crowd rallied outside the Ramallah hospital where Ladadweh and the other wounded persons were brought on Friday:

Ladadweh’s slaying comes two days after Muhammad Mahmoud Bisharat, 23, was shot and killed during a raid in the village of Tamoun, near the West Bank town of Tubas.

Three others were injured during the raid, two critically.

Bisharat’s brother told the Ma’an News Agency that the young man had met with friends to repel occupation forces from the village but were ambushed by soldiers who opened heavy fire towards them.

With the shooting death of Muhammad Muammar al-Atrash, 42, at a Hebron checkpoint on Monday, Israeli forces have killed three Palestinians in the West Bank this week.

Gaza’s health ministry reported that four Palestinians were killed during Great March of Return protests along the eastern perimeter of the territory on Friday.

The slain men were identified as Muhammad Khalid Mahmoud Abd al-Nabi, 27, killed east of Jabaliya in northern Gaza, and Nassar Iyad Abu Teem, 19, Ahmad Said Abu Libdeh, 22, and Ayyash Ghassan Shaath, 23, all killed east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Video from Khan Younis on Friday shows paramedics coming to the aid of several injured protesters at the same time:

Paramedics were also among those injured:

More than 230 others were injured, the health ministry said.

Another man was killed in an accidental explosion in Bureij, central Gaza Strip, and a second man was seriously injured in the same incident, according to the ministry.

Earlier in the week, 18-year-old Muntasir Muhammad Ismail al-Bazz was killed during confrontations with soldiers along the eastern boundary of the central Gaza Strip.

Around 170 Palestinians, including more than 30 children, have been killed during protests in Gaza since 30 March, which marked the launch of mass Great March of Return demonstrations along the territory’s northern and eastern boundaries with Israel.

Some 260 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been killed by Israeli soldiers and armed civilians since the beginning of the year. Eleven Israelis were killed by Palestinians during the same period.

“State of unlivability is upon us”

On Wednesday, a UN human rights expert said that dire conditions in Gaza “explain much about the impetus for the large scale demonstrations that the world has witnessed over the last seven months at the Gaza frontier.”

“The United Nations stated in 2012 that Gaza may well be unlivable by 2020,” Michael Lynk, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in occupied Palestinian territory, told the UN General Assembly.

“When electricity has been cut to five hours a day, when safe drinking water has almost disappeared, and when its economy is cratering before our eyes, then the state of unlivability is upon us, and the international community must insist that all parties, and particularly Israel, the occupying power, bring an immediate end to this humanitarian disaster.”

Lynk, who is prevented by Israel from accessing the occupied Palestinian territories, said that the “international community … has to insist” that the 11-year air, sea and land blockade on Gaza come to an end.

He additionally called for an “absolute prohibition on the import of settlement goods from Israel,” and recommended “studies leading to the possibility of penalties on companies who invest in or financially support business activities in the occupied Palestinian territory that help to entrench and deepen the occupation.”

He also warned that action must be taken to stop Israel’s annexation of West Bank land.

“During five decades of the occupation, Israel has steadily entrenched its sovereign footprint throughout the West Bank,” Lynk stated.

“The Israeli Knesset has adopted a number of laws in the past year that have become a flashing green light for more formal annexation steps.”

He pointed to “the unwillingness of the international community to enforce what it has proclaimed” in international law as a primary factor for the success of Israel’s annexationist aims.

He held up Khan al-Ahmar, a West Bank village that Israel intends to vacate and demolish with the approval of its highest court, as an example of what can be accomplished by local human rights activism combined with “unified international action.”

The village remains standing today after the government postponed its evacuation and forcible transfer on Sunday. Days earlier, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned in the context of Khan al-Ahmar that “extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes.”

Lynk pointed to cuts in humanitarian aid to Gaza, principally by the United States, as disproportionately affecting refugees, the territory’s “largest and most vulnerable population.”

Gaza “could even be worse” next year

UN humanitarian official Jamie McGoldrick meanwhile said in an interview this week that aid workers are struggling to keep up with the “severe catastrophe” in Gaza, warning that the situation “could even be worse” next year.

He recalled visiting the emergency ward of a children’s hospital in Gaza when the electricity shut off and it took a full minute before a backup generator began running.

“In that time the doctors had to hand pump the oxygen into the lungs of children on life support machines,” he recalled. “And that’s not one day. That’s every day like that.”

The UN’s Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov stated on Thursday that the Gaza power plant began generating additional electricity:

Earlier in the month it was reported that Qatar would fund the purchase of fuel for the power plant, with the aim of increasing the availability of electricity from four to eight hours per day.

Gaza’s sole power plant has not operated at more than half its capacity since it was badly damaged by Israeli bombing in 2006 following the capture of an occupation soldier.

In 2017, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank stopped paying for fuel transfers from Israel to Gaza, leading to the power plant’s temporary shutdown.

Over the weekend Israel’s security cabinet stripped defense minister Avigdor Lieberman of his ability to unilaterally halt fuel supplies to Gaza, as he has done repeatedly in recent weeks.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that military officers “warned that cutting off the fuel supply would trigger a countdown to war because soon Gaza would have no power.”

This article has been changed to reflect the correct age of Muntasir Muhammad Ismail al-Bazz. His age was 18, not 17.

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picture

Butterfly bullet

Butterfly bullet
Singing in the wind
Landing with a splat
To make an amputee

Snipers on the hill
Pick and choose
What player
They will shoot

Come Friday
Here it comes again
Refuges and prisoners
Fighting to be free

Butterfly bullets
Singing in the wind
With a sniper’s eye
They find the football players and kids

Every face that comes to protest
On a list from a data sheet
They pick and choose
Who the next amputee will be

Handala is there
In every face and throw
Handala is watching
The greatest crime of our time
Where is the outrage
Where is the outrage

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.