News / Middle East

Israeli Military Thrust Into Gaza Sows Terror, Defiance

Mourners carry the bodies of three Palestinian teenage siblings from Abu Musalam family, who medics said were shelled by an Israeli tank inside their house, during their funeral in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014.
Mourners carry the bodies of three Palestinian teenage siblings from Abu Musalam family, who medics said were shelled by an Israeli tank inside their house, during their funeral in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014.

Gaza's Palestinians hunkered down in fear for their lives while Hamas militants urged defiance after Israel sent forces into the densely populated territory on Thursday after 10 days of cross-border fire.

Residents largely abandoned the usually teeming streets after a fevered night of bombardment. Ships spitting machinegun fire drifted closer to the desert enclave's Mediterranean shore, artillery shells lit the skyline orange every few seconds and buildings shook from the air attacks.

Small groups of drowsy men trudged to Friday prayers in Gaza City despite the frequent boom of Israeli artillery.

“We're terrified. My whole family hears the bombs fall around us and we could be hit any time. We feel like there's nothing we can do to protect ourselves,” said Yousef al-Hayek, 60, wearing a white robe and clasping prayer beads.

“Everything's in God's hands. The invasion was expected, but how it will end is not yet clear. We hope for a truce.”

Among the 23 Palestinians killed in the night darkness after Israeli announced ground operations to destroy underground tunnels used by militants were three young cousins - Mohammed, Mohammed and Ali Nutaiz, aged between 4 and 26.

They fled with their families from Israeli tank fire in an eastern border town, only to be killed when the house to which they fled was shelled, a relative told Reuters at their funeral.

Palestinian medics say 222 of the 260 Gazans killed in the hostilities have been civilians, including 40 children.

Hamas said it welcomed Israel's ground thrust and looked forward to killing and capturing soldiers after many of its some 1,400 rockets - according to the Israeli military - so far were deflected by missile defenses. Just one Israeli civilian has been killed, as well as one soldier in the incursion.

“Are you promising us what we are waiting for? Gaza is waiting for you to suffer bitter death,” Abu Ubeida, the masked and camouflaged spokesman of Hamas's armed wing, the al-Qassam brigades, boasted last week.

“The world will see the skulls of your soldiers stepped on by the bare feet of our children. We will turn it into the promised hope of freedom dawning soon for our prisoners,” he said, referring to the militants' hope of abducting Israeli troops and exchanging them for Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli warnings, hackings

Israel says it takes pains to avoid civilian casualties and targets only the militants and their weapons, but that this is not easy to do because it says rocket crews use residential areas for cover against an enemy with far superior firepower.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday: “The Israeli Defense Force is a uniquely moral army and doesn't aspire to hurt even a single innocent person. Not even one. We act only against terror targets, and regret any harm, in error, done to civilians.”

The Israeli military has warned Palestinians of impending strikes by telephoning residents of targeted houses, dropping disabled warning bombs on their roofs and strewing leaflets across endangered neighborhoods.

It has repeatedly hacked Hamas's al-Aqsa TV channel to broadcast the warnings, but the areas so far mentioned are home to several hundred thousand people. While around 30,000 have fled to temporary U.N. shelters, many insist they will stay put.

“It's impossible for everybody from my area to flee. Where would they all go?” said Faris Aryan, a shopkeeper from the northern border town of Beit Lahiya.

“The shells were landing almost every second. I just go from the shop back home. We don't know what is going on or what to expect. We fear things could get much worse.”

While its leaders have gone into hiding and its fighters disappear into shadowy warrens on the front lines, Hamas's media called for courage and tried to gird Gazans for a long fight.

“This urban war, which the heroes of al-Qassam are going on above and below the ground, and they've achieved great successes and the enemy has taken heavy losses!” an announcer on Hamas's al-Aqsa radio intoned proudly.

"The people must realize all this, despite how they try to frustrate our morale and the psychological war this cowardly enemy is practicing."

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Comment Sorting
by: SummerHeat from: AZ
July 18, 2014 2:58 PM
@meanbill: The Palatinians have every opportunity to pursue lives beyond your incorrectly dubbed apartheid scenario. Thousands of Palatinians live outside Gaza in perfect harmony with their neighbors. These illogical and stupid comments show blindness and bias... Hamas' primary targets -- always -- are civilians. Without Iron Dome thousands of Israelis would've been killed in the last 10 days; but as Israel seeks to stop the obvious terrorism and targeting of innocents the sad reality is that there are going to be civilian casualties... Which are 100% Hamas' only targets. People will deny obvious truth and embrace a false reality when it fits their established POV on whats happening in Israel. It's pathetic.

by: meanbill from: USA
July 18, 2014 1:20 PM
WHY do the Gaza Palestinians fight against the overwhelming Israeli firepower, without any chance of ever winning just one battle? ... (To get the worlds attention on the inhumane apartheid laws the Israeli's are forcing them to live by).... they're willing to die? ..

ASK YOURSELF? ... Would you want to live under the horrific "apartheid laws" the Israeli's force the Palestinian people to live under since the 1967 six day war? .... Denying you any civil rights, or privileges, unless you obey them on everything, and being arrested and held without trial by Israel state security, fenced in and walled in, with limited education and health resources, and places you can or cannot live, and limited by the Israeli's of land ownership, of your own occupied Palestinian lands, and being prohibited from praying in the "Dome on the Rock" mosque in Jerusalem? ..... (like black South Africans, under apartheid?) .... What would you do?

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