Israel To Reopen Gaza Goods Crossing Tuesday If Calm Is Maintained – Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman
Israeli defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman (C) speaks to reporters ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 15, 2018.
RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP

 

Israel will reopen its only goods crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday if calm is maintained, the defence minister said, after having closed it July 9 partly over kites carrying firebombs.

“If today and tomorrow the situation continues as it was yesterday, then on Tuesday we will allow Kerem Shalom to return to normal activity and the fishing zones will return to the same distances as before,” Avigdor Lieberman told journalists, referring to the name of the crossing.

Israeli Fire Kills Palestinians In Gaza Strip

An Israeli soldier stands next to Merkava Mark IV tanks in a deployment area near the Syrian border in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on May 10, 2018.  MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP

 

Israeli tank fire at an Islamic Jihad observation post killed two Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, the enclave’s health ministry and sources from the militant movement said.

The ministry identified those killed as Hussein al-Amour, 25, and Abdul Haleem al-Naqa, 28. The incident happened east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, a ministry spokesman said.

AFP

Five Dead In Explosion In Gaza Strip

Abbas Calls For Mideast Peace Conference In Rare UN Speech
President of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a United Nations Security Council concerning meeting concerning issues in the Middle East.                             Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Five people were killed in an explosion in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday in what was thought to be an accidental blast, residents and the health ministry said.

Gaza’s health ministry confirmed five people were killed and three others wounded in what residents said appeared to be an accidental explosion in the Az-Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip.

The blast comes after weeks of deadly protests and clashes along the border between Gaza and Israel, but there was no indication the explosion was the result of an Israeli strike.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not aware of the incident.

Authorities in Gaza, run by the Islamist movement Hamas, had not provided any further details on the blast.

Some explosions in the past in the Gaza Strip have resulted from the accidental detonation of explosive materials belonging to militant groups.

AFP

Israeli Forces kill Palestinian Who Stabbed Soldier – Army

isrealiIsraeli forces shot dead a Palestinian who stabbed and wounded a soldier in the West Bank on Saturday, the military said, as a flare-up of a nearly year-old wave of Palestinian street attacks entered a second day.

The soldier was taken to hospital for treatment, the military said.

With most anti-Israeli assaults carried out since October by individuals without any central guiding hand, it was difficult to gauge why violence had surged in the past 24 hours.

The frequency of what had been near-daily attacks had slowed in recent months.

On Friday, Israeli forces shot dead three Arab assailants in separate incidents in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said of Saturday’s attack that during a “routine security check” in the West Bank city of Hebron, an “assailant armed with a knife stabbed an (Israeli) soldier.”

“In response to the immediate threat forces at the scene shot the assailant, resulting in his death,” the spokeswoman said.

Palestinian officials had no immediate comment on the incident.

At least 215 Palestinians have died in violent incidents since October in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Of them, 144 were identified by authorities as assailants while others were killed during clashes and protests.

Palestinians, many of them acting alone and with rudimentary weapons, have killed at least 33 Israelis and two visiting Americans in attacks that have waned in recent months.

Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force and say some of those killed posed no threat or had no intention of attacking anyone. In some cases, Israel has opened investigations into whether excessive force was used.

Jerusalem: Three Israeli Dead In Attack On Bus

Israeli bus attackIsraeli police have said that three Israelis have been killed and more than 20 injured in shooting and stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and central Israel.

The Israeli Ambulance Service said that two were killed when two assailants, who were identified as Arabs, shot and stabbed passengers on a bus in Jerusalem before being shot by police.

Another Israeli died after being run down and stabbed elsewhere in the city.

Others were also injured in another attack in Jerusalem and two in Raanana.

Near-daily stabbings by Palestinians have left Israelis dead and wounded over the past fortnight.

Several attackers and at least 17 other Palestinians have been killed in the upsurge of violence.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, convened an emergency session of the security cabinet to discuss how to prevent further attacks.

Officials said that Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, was considering whether to seal off Arab areas in East Jerusalem from the rest of the city and ease gun-control regulations.

The militant Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, praised the “heroic operations in Jerusalem and greets the heroes who carried them out”.

Palestine, Israel Hold Truce As Life Returns To Gaza

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri is carried by Palestinians as they celebrate what they said was a victory over Israel following a ceasefire in Gaza CityA ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians aimed at ending their seven-week conflict in Gaza appeared to be holding early on Wednesday as the focus shifted to securing an arrangement for the long term.

No clear victor emerged from what had become a war of attrition between the Middle East’s most powerful armed forces and the dominant Hamas militant movement in the Gaza Strip.

Exacting a heavy toll in Palestinian lives and property, Israel said it dealt a strong blow to Hamas, killing several of its military leaders and destroying the group’s cross-border infiltration tunnels.

But Israel also faced persistent rocket fire for nearly two months that caused an exodus from a number of border communities and became part of daily life in its commercial heartland.

Palestinian and Egyptian officials said the deal, which was mediated in Cairo and took effect on Tuesday evening, called for an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the territory’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean.

A senior official of the Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, voiced willingness for the security forces of Western-backed Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and the unity government he formed in June to control the passage points.

Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are seeking guarantees that weapons will not enter the territory of 1.8 million people.

Under a second stage of the truce that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and Israel’s release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, possibly in a trade for body parts of two Israeli soldiers believed held by Hamas, the officials said.

After the ceasefire began, crowds and traffic filled the streets of Gaza. Car horns blared and recorded chants praising God sounded from mosque loudspeakers. Celebratory gunfire killed one Palestinian and wounded 19 others, hospital officials said.

“Today we declare the victory of the resistance, today we declare the victory of Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Israel gave a low-key response to the truce, saying it would facilitate the flow of civilian goods and humanitarian and reconstruction aid into the impoverished territory if the “open-ended” ceasefire was honored.

“We have no problem with civilian support for Gaza,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We don’t want to see Hamas rebuild its military machine.”

Many residents of southern Israel remained skeptical, and some officials recommended against returning home too soon.

“We had ceasefires in the past that didn’t succeed or work out well, and (Hamas) continued with their terror, destruction, with all their craziness, and we no longer believe them,” said Israeli Meirav Danino outside a supermarket in the border town of Sderot that for years has been hit by rockets.

The United States and United Nations urged both sides to comply with the terms of the agreement.

“We are all aware that this is an opportunity, not a certainty,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead.”

Palestinian health officials say 2,139 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in the enclave since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket salvoes.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel have been killed – a civilian died after the ceasefire was announced from a mortar attack earlier in the day.

Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip United Nation have been destroyed or damaged in the most prolonged Israeli-Palestinian fighting since a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising. The  has named a panel to investigate possible war crimes committed by both sides.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 540,000 people had been displaced in the Gaza Strip. Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants and uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launch sites for rockets.

“We have mixed feelings. We are in pain for the losses but we are also proud we fought this war alone and we were not broken,” said Gaza teacher Ahmed Awf, 55, as he held his two-year-old son in his arms and joined in the street festivities.

Many of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, a partly U.S.-funded project hailed by many Israelis as an example of their nation’s high-tech capabilities.

But short-range mortar bombs rained down on farming communities and towns near the Gaza border, putting into question the start of the school year in the area on Sept. 1.

Falana Asks UK To Facilitate Referral Of Israel To ICC Over Gaza

Femi-FalanaHuman rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, has written to British Prime Minister, David Cameron, seeking the investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court for unlawful killings and destruction of civilian property in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Falana urged Prime Minister Cameron to use the Kingdom’s position as President of the United Nation’s Security Council for the month f August, to refer Israel to the court.

“I am writing to request that you use your good offices and position to urgently facilitate the referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order for the court to investigate allegations of the unlawful killings and destruction of property perpetrated by Israel against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and West Bank” he said.

Falana further noted that since Israel “ has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the only way the court will be able to exercise jurisdiction over Israel is by a referral by the Security Council, pursuant to article 13, paragraph (b) of the Rome Statute”.

In a letter made available to Channels Television, Mr Falana further noted that “this referral will also provide an important opportunity for the court to investigate any allegations of international crimes committed by all parties—whether involved directly or indirectly—in the ongoing armed conflict” adding that he  has “followed very closely the conflict and has no doubt that international humanitarian law, which aims principally to protect civilian population is breached with an almost absolute impunity by Israel”.

The letter noted that “the breach of international humanitarian law is illustrated by the failure to differentiate between military targets and civilians and civilian structures, and the clear intentional and deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects in particular, homes, medical facilities, and schools. I should mention that so far there is no evidence that such homes, medical facilities and schools are being used for military purposes. Therefore, there cannot be any justifications for such attacks including the wanton killing of children.

“I therefore urge you to urgently work with other members of the Security Council to ensure referral of Israel to the ICC over alleged international crimes as outlined above. In the meantime, the UK will do well to suspend all transfers of weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology to Israel so it is not used to continue to perpetrate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”, he said.

He also drew the attention of the British government to the fact that “leaders of some African countries who did not commit such grave crimes against humanity were indicted by the International Criminal Court”, insisting that it will be “in the best interest of justice and international accountability that the UK exercises strong leadership to end the vicious cycle of violence and impunity of perpetrators in the Gaza Strip and West Bank”, he added.

Gaza Crisis: Israel, Palestine Hold Indirect Talks In Cairo

A Palestinian woman walks past destroyed buildings in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza StripA Gaza truce was holding on Wednesday, as Egyptian mediators pursued talks with Israeli and Palestinian representatives on an enduring end to a war that has devastated the Hamas Islamist- dominated enclave.

Egyptian intelligence officials met in Cairo with a high-level Israeli delegation late on Tuesday, a day after conferring with Palestinians who included envoys from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group, Egyptian officials said.

“The indirect talks between the Palestinians and Israelis are moving forward,” one Egyptian official said, making clear that the opposing sides were not meeting face to face. “It is still too early to talk about outcomes but we are optimistic.”

Egyptian and Palestinian sources said further discussions were expected to be held in Cairo on Wednesday, with expectations of an initial response by Israel to Palestinian demands, which it has so far shown no sign of accepting.

Israel withdrew ground forces from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning and started a 72-hour Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Hamas as a first step towards a long-term deal.

In Gaza, where some half-million people have been displaced by a month of bloodshed, some residents left UN shelters to trek back to neighbourhoods where whole blocks have been destroyed by Israeli shelling and the smell of decomposing bodies fills the air.

 

Israel Withdraws Troops, 72-hour Gaza Truce Begins

Israeli soldiers from the Givati brigade embrace after returning to Israel from GazaIsrael pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and started a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas, mediated by Egypt as a first step towards negotiations on a more enduring end to the month-old war.

Minutes before the truce began at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT), Hamas launched a salvo of rockets, calling them revenge for Israel’s “massacres”. Israel’s anti-missile system shot down one rocket over Jerusalem, police said. Another hit a house in a town near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. There were no casualties.

Israeli armour and infantry withdrew from the Gaza Strip ahead of the truce, with a military spokesman saying their main goal of destroying cross-border infiltration tunnels had been completed. “Mission accomplished,” the military tweeted.

Troops and tanks will be “redeployed in defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip and we will maintain those defensive positions”, spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, said, reflecting Israeli readiness to resume fighting if attacked.

In Gaza, where some half-million people have been displaced by a month of bloodshed, some residents, carrying mattresses and with children in tow, left U.N. shelters to trek back to neighbourhoods where whole blocks have been destroyed by Israeli shelling and the smell of decomposing bodies filled the air.

Sitting on a pile of debris on the edge of the northern town of Beit Lahiya, Zuhair Hjaila, a 33-year-old father of four, said he had lost his house and his supermarket.

“This is complete destruction,” he said. “I never thought I would come back to find an earthquake zone.”

Several previous truce attempts by Egypt and other regional powers, overseen by the United States and United Nations, failed to calm the worst Israeli-Palestinian fighting in two years.

An Israeli official said that in the hour before the ceasefire came into effect, the civilian airspace over Tel Aviv was closed as a precaution against Gaza rockets, and takeoffs and landings were delayed at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Death Toll

Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,865 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket launches.

Israel was expected to send delegates to join talks in Cairo to cement a longer-term deal during the course of the truce.

For now, Strategic Affairs Minister, Yuval Steinitz, told Israel’s Army Radio, “There are no agreements. As we have already said, quiet will be answered with quiet.”

Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that the Islamist movement had also informed Egypt “of its acceptance of a 72-hour period of calm”, beginning on Tuesday.

Diplomats Seek To End Bloodshed Between Israel And Palestines

Palestinian medic inspects a damaged room at Al-Aqsa hospital, which witnesses said was damaged in Israeli shelling on Monday, in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip Israeli forces pounded multiple sites across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, including the enclave’s sole power plant, and said it was meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists, as diplomats sought to end the bloodshed.

In a blow to Israel’s economy, U.S. and European air carriers halted flights in and out of Tel Aviv citing security worries after a militant rocket from Gaza hit a house near the airport. Israel urged a re-think, saying its airspace was safe.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Israel, spearheading international efforts to secure a ceasefire. Hamas ally Qatar was also working in the background to seek a solution.

Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes by Hamas Islamists, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the nearby occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

After failing to halt the militant barrage through days of aerial bombardment, Israel sent ground troops into Gaza last Thursday, looking to knock out Hamas’s missile stores and destroy a vast, underground network of tunnels.

Some 630 Palestinians, many of them children and civilians have died in the conflagration, including a seven-year-old hit by a shell in southern Gaza early on Wednesday, a medic said.

Some 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed, including a tank officer who was shot by a Palestinian sniper overnight. Two civilians have been slain by rocket fire. The military says one of its soldiers is also missing and believes he might be dead. Hamas says it has seized him, but has not released his picture.

Clouds of black smoke hung over the densely populated Mediterranean enclave, with the regular thud of artillery and tank shells filling the air.

“We are meeting resistance around the tunnels … they are constantly trying to attack us around and in the tunnels. That is the trend,” said Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner.

He said 30 militant gunmen had been killed overnight, bringing the total to 210 since the offensive started.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, said its fighters had detonated an anti-personnel bomb as an Israeli army patrol passed, killing several troops. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel.

There was also violence in the occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops near Bethlehem. The army said soldiers fired a rubber bullet at him during clashes with Palestinians hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails.

 

Hamas And Israel Resume Hostilities After Humanitarian Cease Fire

A Palestinian family gathers inside their damaged home, which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza CityPalestinians rushed to shops and banks on Thursday as a five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force, hours after the Israeli military said it had fought off gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.

About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when an Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.

The break in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza strip, ruled by the Hamas group viewed by Israel as terrorists, to gather supplies and repair some of the infrastructure damaged.

At least 224 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials say. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza, where the Israeli military says more than 1,300 rockets have been launched into the Jewish state in strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel’s military, which government officials said was poised to expand its air and naval bombardments into possible ground operations, said it would respond “firmly and decisively” if militants launched attacks during the truce.

In Gaza City, hundreds of Palestinian lined up outside banks to collect salaries paid directly into their accounts, while others went food shopping. Gaza roads almost deserted over days of conflict were filled again with traffic.

“We are here to get paid. Thank God for the calm and we hope it lasts,” said Zakaria Ahmed, 35. “We hope Egypt brings a good truce, we hope the killing will stop and (Gaza’s border) crossings will open.”

After the early morning clash over the tunnel, and before the five-hour ceasefire began, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country’s heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets.

The military said that at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.

Also, before the pause in fighting, an Israeli aircraft bombed a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing three people and wounding several others, medical officials said.

However, Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants have since the resumed hostilities in Gaza after the temporary humanitarian cease-fire came to an end.

 

There were no reports of violations of the truce but U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, James Rawley told VOA that the violence resumed shortly after the cease-fire expired.

“Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza,” he said, “so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza”, he said.

Israel Resumes Air Strike In Gaza Strip, Kills 7 Palestinians

A car, which police said was damaged in an Israeli air strike that targeted the house of top Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar, is seen in Gaza CityIsrael resumed air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a day after holding fire in deference to an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire deal that failed to get Hamas militants to halt rocket attacks.

Attacks in the Gaza Strip killed at least seven Palestinians in the early hours of Wednesday, Gaza health officials said, and destroyed the house of Mahmoud Zahar – who is believed to be in hiding elsewhere – in the first apparent targeting of a top Hamas political leader.

The week-old conflict seemed to be at a turning point on Tuesday, with Hamas defying Arab and Western calls to cease fire and Israel threatening to step up an offensive that could include an invasion of the densely populated enclave.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday it had sent out warning messages to residents in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes by 0800 (1 a.m. EDT) ahead of renewed attacks. Palestinian officials said residents in two Gaza City neighborhoods had received the warnings but Gaza Interior Ministry told people not to heed the Israeli messages and dismissed them as psychological warfare.

Gaza militants kept up rocket salvoes into Israel, firing more than 150 rockets at Israel since Tuesday, when the truce was to begin.

Under the blueprint announced by Egypt – Gaza’s neighbor and whose military-backed government has been at odds with Islamist Hamas – a mutual “de-escalation” was to have begun at 9 a.m. (2 a.m. EDT), with hostilities ceasing within 12 hours.

Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire deal, a proposal that addressed in only general terms some of its key demands, and said its battle with Israel would “increase in ferocity and intensity”.

But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas political official who was in Cairo, said the movement, which is seeking a deal that would ease the Egyptian and Israeli border restrictions throttling Gaza’s economy, had made no final decision on Cairo’s proposal.

Israel, citing the persistent salvoes, resumed attacks in Gaza six hours after implementation of the truce was to have begun. The military said it targeted at least 20 of Hamas’ hidden rocket launchers, tunnels and weapons storage facilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks late on Tuesday that Israel had no choice but to “expand and intensify” its campaign on Hamas, though he did not specifically mention the possibility of a ground incursion.

The Israeli security cabinet which met into the early hours of Wednesday had discussed a limited ground operation, an Israeli official said.