israel and hamas
The third in a series of air strike conflicts since 2008 between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Operation Protective Eagle has been active for only two days, but has seen 430 Israeli air strikes, 41 Palestinian deaths and 160 rockets.

Late Tuesday, Hamas set off 40 long-range rockets, some of which were intercepted over Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There were no reports of injuries, but the attacks spurred the Israeli government to respond with even greater force. Israeli warplanes struck 150 sites said to harbor Islamist fighters in Gaza, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up 40,000 reservists, so if it came to it, Israel would have the option of ground invasion.

Wednesday, Israel released at least 160 air strikes on Gaza. Hamas responded with just four rockets, one of which was an M302, the same type of missiles that were in a shipment Israel intercepted from Iran in March. Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Learner says even if Hamas forces pull back, Israel will not back down. “We’re beyond that point now,” he said to a CNN reporter. “Hamas are going to pay for the attacks that they’re carrying out – it’s just unacceptable.”

Israel tries to make up for the violence by warning Hamas targets of attacks. Occupants of a building about to be bombed are given a brief warning in Arabic to evacuate – usually around five minutes before being bombed – in Israel’s efforts to reduce civilian casualties and avoid charges of indiscriminate killings. These targeted houses belong to Hamas members involved in military activity, and many have been used as operations rooms.

This isn’t the first time Israel has practiced this policy. During Operation Cast Lead in late 2008, Israel used telephone calls and leaflets to tell occupants to leave before striking, or they fired missiles without explosive warheads onto the roof as a warning to leave before the real missile came. But, often the warnings are in vain, and groups like Human Rights Watch have criticized the attempts because they can’t truly pardon armed forces from their actions. Often, people die from the attacks anyway because they defy the warnings or don’t leave in time, and sometimes missiles don’t hit the building at which they were aimed.

Operation Protective Eagle seems like just a repeat of history, following Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. But this time, it looks like Israel is getting stronger, while Hamas’s position is weakening. Israel’s new defense against rocket attacked, based on the Iron Dome system, is more sophisticated. So far, in this attack, no injuries or deaths have been reported from the Israel side. Meanwhile, Hamas lacks allies it once had – Hizbollah and Syria – because of the Syrian war, and its alliance with Iran is under strain. Because it didn’t support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Hamas has seen a sharp drop in financing from Iran. Israeli experts warn to also be careful of a weakened Hamas though, as it could lead to extremism.

– Rachel Reed

Sources: Reuters, CNN, New York Times, Telegraph Blog New York Times (2)
Photo: Reuters

Israeli Aggression Representatives of Islamic countries declared they would ask the Security Council to condemn Israeli aggression in the West Bank. Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour, as well as the ambassadors from the League of Arab States, Senegal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran, requested the Security Council to take action against Israel. Since three Israeli teenagers, 16-year-olds Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach, were abducted on June 12 while hitchhiking at night from Gush Etzion, Israel has assembled hundreds of Palestinians trying to find the teenagers. When Frenkel’s mother heard the news, she was praying that he simply did something irresponsible or stupid and he would be home soon. “But I know my boy isn’t stupid, and he isn’t irresponsible.” Unfortunately, on June 20, the bodies of the missing Israeli teens were found near Hebron, and Israel has taken violent action to retaliate against the teens’ deaths. Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. Secretary for Political Affairs, stated the United Nations is alarmed by the increasing death toll that is a result of Israeli aggression in the West Bank. Feltman calls for “restraint in carrying out the security operations in strict compliance with international law” and for Israel to not punish Palestinians for crimes they have not individually committed. Sheikha Alya Bint Ahmed Bin Saif al Thani said Qatar was “joining in solidarity with Palestine in also deploring the acts of aggression committed by Israel, the occupying power, against the Palestinian people.” She continued to say, “They are grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” She claims that Israeli aggression in the West Bank and the air strikes in Gaza are justifications for the Security Council to take action. She said her representatives would work with the representative of Jordan to “see what could be done.” “Instead of denouncing the boys’ abduction, the Arab states have the gall to stand before the international community and criticize Israel,” said Israel ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor. He argued that the Arab nations are oppressive and aggressive, and they have no business in accusing Israel of human rights violations. They kill innocent people around the world and they are committing human rights violations in Syria. He asked global leaders to imagine being in Israel’s position. “Imagine if it were your cities were under fire and your citizens under harms way. No nation should live under these conditions, and no nation should be asked to submit to terrorist groups. The only responsible course of action is to denounce terror groups and their supporters. And this is exactly what we should all be doing,” Prosor concluded. This situation has demonstrated how complicated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is. Most Israelis see the missing teenagers as harmless civilians abducted on a hitchhike home from school, and the Palestinians who were killed as having done something to deserve it. On the other hand, Palestinians claim that the suppression is unjust collective punishment against people living under illegal occupation. – Colleen Moore Sources: The New York Times, International Business Times, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, Worthy News, NDTV Photo: Israel Hayom