A two-year-old is among the victims of a barrage of violence Israel this week thrust on the Palestinians, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
Palestinian medics treat a man wounded by Israeli fire in a hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip The Israeli occupation army and paramilitary Jewish settlers killed more than 10 Palestinians this week, including a two-year-old toddler who died after her Gaza home was hit by a missile fired from an Israeli military drone.
Israeli sources claimed some of the victims were involved in attempts to attack Israeli targets or trying to lay landmines along the Israel-Gaza borders, which is disputed by Palestinians who argue that Israel is killing Palestinians for the sake of it.
On Monday, 18 June, Israeli aircraft killed four Palestinians in two separate attacks in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. Five other Palestinians were also injured.
The killing in northern Gaza came after suspected resistance fighters killed a Jewish settler along Israel’s border with Egypt. Two of the fighters were subsequently killed by Israeli troops.
In addition to the toddler, Hadil Al-Hadad, the Israeli army targeted two people riding a motorcycle in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza as well as two other people affiliated with the military wing of Hamas. The Israeli air force also targeted metal workshops and foundries Israel claimed were involved in manufacturing rockets. The Israeli army has targeted dozens of these workshops, exacerbating the already shocking state of poverty in the Strip.
Earlier in the week, fanatical Jewish settlers chased and killed two unarmed Palestinians near the town of Yatta in the southern West Bank. Palestinian eyewitnesses described the killing as amounting to an execution.
Israeli sources, quoting settlers involved in the killings, claimed the Palestinians were trying to steal money from a Jewish settler.
Settlers implicated in murdering Palestinians are routinely “advised” by their religious leaders to concoct narratives that would exonerate them in case they are arrested or prosecuted by the authorities.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups retaliated by firing homemade missiles on nearby Israeli settlements, injuring four Israeli soldiers.
Israeli sources said as many as 30 rockets were fired from Gaza onto Israel in less than 24 hours. Most of the rockets landed in open fields.
Hamas possesses a small arsenal of mostly primitive and ineffective rockets it hopes can create a semblance of deterrence vis-³-vis Israel. On the other hand, Israel uses the “rockets of Hamas” as a propaganda tool to justify murdering Palestinians on a nearly daily basis.
Hamas and other Palestinian military factions have fired thousands of homemade rockets on Israeli targets, mostly as a response to deadly Israeli aggressions, creating fear and panic in nearby settlements and towns, but very few casualties.
On the other hand, Israel has killed thousands of mostly civilian Palestinians and destroyed hundreds of homes, using state-of-the-art of US technology, including F-16 jet fighters and armed drones.
It is unclear why Israel is escalating its terror and violence against the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli and Palestinian commentators believe the stepped-up attacks on Palestinians are intended to further exhaust the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and keep it in a perpetual state of imbalance. Israel may also be trying to appease settler circles following a recent government decision to evacuate a few settlers from a settlement outpost near Ramallah.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) blamed Israel for the “recent escalation”. It reiterated accusations that Israel was effectively eliminating any prospective chances for the resumption of the stalled peace process.
Hamas, for its part, accused the PA of adopting “a cowardly stance vis-³-vis Israeli aggression”. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that while Israel was murdering Palestinians non-stop, the PA was still pandering to the murderers’ government, in the hope of resuming a peace process that everyone knows leads will nowhere.
Barhoum said recent contacts between occupied Ramallah and Israeli authorities aimed at resuming negotiations between the two sides were a brazen betrayal of Palestinian blood.
Earlier, it was reported that PA negotiator Saeb Ereikat might meet with Shaul Mofaz, leader of the Kadima faction that recently joined the Binyamin Netanyahu government.
SETTLERS ATTACK MOSQUE: Meanwhile, Jewish settlers attacked an desecrated a mosque in the Palestinian village of Jabaa near Ramallah, torching the entrance of the mosque and scrawling anti-Palestinian slogans on its walls.
The slogans scribbled read: “The war has begun” and “You will pay the price.”
The torching of the mosque is the sixth of its kind in the West Bank in the past two years. Israeli sources suspect the terrorist act was carried out by settlers protesting Israeli government plans to evacuate dozens of settlers living in apartments built on private Palestinian land near Ramallah.
Despite the shocking frequency of such incidents, the Israeli army has failed to apprehend the perpetrators, who are believed to act on instructions or religious edicts issued by their rabbis.
Settler and pro-settler groups have long infiltrated the Israeli army and justice system to the point that the Israeli army is hesitant to confront settlers head-on, even when they are caught red-handed murdering, harassing, beating or aggressing Palestinians. (end)