News / Middle East

    Netanyahu Warns of 'Prolonged Campaign' in Gaza

    In this image taken from video an explosion hits the media complex that houses the offices of Hamas-run Al Aqsa television and radio in central Gaza City, July 29, 2014.
    In this image taken from video an explosion hits the media complex that houses the offices of Hamas-run Al Aqsa television and radio in central Gaza City, July 29, 2014.
    VOA News

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quashed hopes Monday for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, telling Israelis to prepare for a "prolonged campaign" against Hamas.

    Netanyahu spoke on national television, as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined world leaders in calling for an immediate Gaza cease-fire.  He accused both sides of irresponsible, "morally wrong" behavior during the weeks-long conflict.

    Also, an  Israeli airstrike hit a building that housed several media companies in central Gaza city in the early hours of Tuesday.

    A huge cloud of smoke could be seen coming out of Al-Shouroq building after the strike.

    In the latest development, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on Tuesday causing damage but no casualties, Gaza's interior ministry said.

    An Israeli military spokeswoman had no information on the report but was checking for details.

    Eleven people were killed in a strike on a house in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza City as Israeli forces hit targets across the territory in the most widespread night of attacks in the coastal enclave so far.

    Hamas said that its broadcast outlets, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio were  targeted. The television station continued to broadcast, however.

    Additionally, the U.N. Security Council adopted a statement calling for an "immediate and unconditional" humanitarian truce.  However, Netanyahu said the proposal would only help Hamas, while neglecting Israel's security needs.

    Palestinian mourners cry at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014.Palestinian mourners cry at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014.
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    Palestinian mourners cry at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014.
    Palestinian mourners cry at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday continued his push for a bilateral cease-fire, despite mounting Israeli media criticism of his efforts.

    The Obama administration rallied to Kerry's defense, rejecting Israeli commentary describing U.S. proposals as being more favorable to Hamas and dismissive of key Israeli concerns.  

    Palestinian and Israeli officials traded blame Monday for airstrikes that hit the main Gaza hospital compound and a nearby park, killing at least 10 people, including two children.  

    Hamas said Israeli missiles hit the hospital and park, while Israel says the deaths happened when errant Palestinian rocket fire hit the two sites.

    The Israeli army said five of its soldiers were killed Monday in and around Gaza, including four soldiers killed by a mortar shell in southern Israel who were initially reported to be civilians.  Israeli media say five militants were killed when they traded fire with Israeli soldiers.

    Decrying the deaths and displacement of civilians, the U.N.'s Ban called for an immediate break in the fighting in Gaza, a territory in "critical condition."
     
    "In the name of humanity, the violence must stop," he told reporters Monday from the organization's New York headquarters, hours after the U.N. Security Council called for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" in Gaza.
     
    "More suffering and siege conditions will only hurt innocent civilians, further isolate Israel, empower extremists on all sides and leave our world far less safe,'' said Ban.
     

    Deadly standoff

    The 21-day conflict between Israel and Hamas militants already has killed more than 1,087 people and displaced at least 167,000 Palestinians, the U.N.'s main agency in Gaza said. Most of the Palestinian dead have been civilians. Israel said it has lost 55 soldiers and three civilians.

    Tensions escalated Monday when an explosion that rocked a hospital and nearby park Monday killed at least 10 people, including children. Palestinians contended an Israeli missile hit Shifa Hospital; the Israelis said the attack came from a failed Hamas rocket.

    Marwan Hassanein, 4, gets a gift for Eid at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he’s being treated for shrapnel wounds to his head July 28, 2014.Marwan Hassanein, 4, gets a gift for Eid at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he’s being treated for shrapnel wounds to his head July 28, 2014.
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    Marwan Hassanein, 4, gets a gift for Eid at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he’s being treated for shrapnel wounds to his head July 28, 2014.
    Marwan Hassanein, 4, gets a gift for Eid at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he’s being treated for shrapnel wounds to his head July 28, 2014.

    Israeli media reports also said four Israelis were killed by mortar fire from Gaza. And Israel's defense forces said militants sneaked across the border from Gaza to attack an Israeli village near the border. Israeli media say five militants were killed when they traded fire with Israeli soldiers.

    The U.N. council adopted the presidential statement at an emergency meeting just after midnight Sunday as Muslims started celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

     

     

    In a CBS television interview, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal demanded that Israel end its occupation of Gaza and said he would not recognize Israel's right to exist, a position that has prevented any direct negotiations between the two sides.

    UN calls for truce

    The U.N.'s secretary-general, who just wrapped up six days of shuttle diplomacy to eight Middle East countries, on Monday repeated his call for calm.  

    "The temporary weekend pause in fighting brought a brief respite to war weary civilians; it also revealed how much the massive Israeli assault has devastated the lives of the people of Gaza," Ban said. "We saw scenes of indiscriminate destruction. Some described it as a man-made hurricane.”

    Ban said that beyond a cease-fire, the warring sides have a responsibility to resolve long-standing root causes of their years-long conflict "to break the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering."

    He said Israel must end its blockade of Gaza and "nearly half century of occupation," while Palestinians must agree to "security for Israel."

    Ending the bloodshed depends on Israeli and Hamas leaders, Ban said. "It's a matter of their political will," Ban said at the news conference, Reuters reported. The continued widespread killing, Ban added,  is "not responsible, [it's] morally wrong."  

    Ban added that about 10 percent of Gaza’s population has sought refuge at U.N. facilities. He said the casualty and damage figures raise serious questions about proportionality.

    Last week, a U.N.-run school in northern Gaza was shelled and more than a dozen civilians were killed. Ban has been reluctant to assign blame, saying he has ordered a full investigation.

    Israel's military, which hit two other U.N. shelters in recent days, has not claimed the attack, but acknowledged fighting in the area the day the school was struck.

    Ban said U.N. staff told him there is no safe place in Gaza.

    “The people of Gaza have nowhere to run; they are trapped and besieged on a speck of land. Every area is a civilian area. Every home, every school, every refuge has become a target.”

    He said both sides have a responsibility to stop fighting, begin talking and address the root causes of the conflict, including Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza.

    US calls for break in fighting

    Kerry, who met last week with Ban and other world leaders to address the crisis, on Monday repeated the call for calm.

    "Today, we are continuing to work toward establishing an unconditional humanitarian cease-fire, one that would honor Eid" and stop the fighting, he said in brief, televised comments Monday.

    "We believe the momentum generated by a humanitarian cease-fire is the best way to find out if you can put in place a sustainable cease-fire," one that would provide more time to address grievances behind the fighting, Kerry said.

    Kerry emphasized the United States' support for Israel to "address the threat ... posed by tunnel attacks," and said any resolution to the Gaza crisis "must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups."

    Gaza Strip residents and Reuters witnesses said Israeli shelling and Hamas missile launches slowly subsided on Sunday.

    However, the Israeli military said Monday that it had carried out three airstrikes on Gaza, targeting Hamas rocket launchers and infrastructure in the strip.

    The military said Israeli jets hit two rocket launchers and a rocket manufacturing facility in central and northern Gaza Monday.

    The strikes broke a relative lull in the fighting at the start of a major Muslim holiday.

    UN declaration

    Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour said he hoped the U.N. statement would lead to a long cease-fire, but criticized the Security Council for not taking the stronger action of adopting a resolution against what he called Israel's "aggression."

    Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour speaks following a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the worsening situation in Gaza at United Nations headquarters, July 28, 2014.Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour speaks following a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the worsening situation in Gaza at United Nations headquarters, July 28, 2014.
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    Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour speaks following a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the worsening situation in Gaza at United Nations headquarters, July 28, 2014.
    Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour speaks following a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the worsening situation in Gaza at United Nations headquarters, July 28, 2014.

    “We were expecting the Security Council to deal with the issue of providing protection of our people and to deal with legitimate concerns of our people in the Gaza Strip. The status quo is not sustainable, and to return to the situation before this aggression is not sustainable," Mansour said.

    Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor said Hamas has fired 2,500 rockets at Israel, and reiterated that if Israel were not facing rocket attacks, it would not need to carry out its own strikes.

    “We did everything we could to avoid this conflict, but Hamas refused to stop the attacks. Israel agreed to five cease-fire proposals; Hamas rejected or broke all of them, even the ones that they requested themselves," Prosor said.

    He said the Security Council statement was lacking in the specific mention of Hamas, militant rocket fire or Israel's right to defend itself.

    The Security Council statement, drafted by Jordan, “urged all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond” and “calls on parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative.”

    The call for a cease-fire follows new attacks launched by Israel and Hamas despite going back and forth over proposals for another temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting.

    US-Israel relations

    Israel sees no need for another Gaza cease-fire, an Israeli official was quoted as saying on Monday, as tensions between Netanyahu's government and Washington flared over U.S. mediation to end the almost three-week-old war.

    Monday marked the beginning of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Minarets from a mosque are seen in this view of Gaza city, July 28, 2014.Monday marked the beginning of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Minarets from a mosque are seen in this view of Gaza city, July 28, 2014.
    x
    Monday marked the beginning of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Minarets from a mosque are seen in this view of Gaza city, July 28, 2014.
    Monday marked the beginning of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Minarets from a mosque are seen in this view of Gaza city, July 28, 2014.

    Fighting had subsided over the weekend, with the battered Palestinian enclave's dominant Hamas Islamists endorsing a U.N. call for a 24-hour halt ahead of Monday's Eid festival.

    Yet Israel balked, having abandoned its own offer to extend a 12-hour truce from Saturday as Palestinian rocket launches persisted. Netanyahu's security cabinet met into the early hours of Monday to debate proposals including for an escalation of the Gaza offensive.

    The council, however, commended the efforts of Kerry and U.N. chief Ban in trying to broker an end to the fighting.

    Little progress in two decades

    Two decades of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have made little progress and been frequently interrupted, most recently in April when Netanyahu called off talks overseen by Kerry in response to Abbas's surprise power-share with Hamas.

    Speaking earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu sounded open to easing conditions for the Gaza Strip's 1.8 million Palestinians but said this must be "intertwined" with disarming Hamas.

    "I think you can't get social and economic relief for the people of Gaza without having an assured demilitarization," he told CNN.

    The Security Council expressed “grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties” and “reiterates the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection.”

    Meanwhile, the Israeli army released on Monday footage said to show forces preparing and executing the detonation of a militant tunnel network leading from Gaza into Israel.

    In the video, a tunnel shaft is seen ahead of its detonation. The explosion in two locations along the tunnel route is also seen in an aerial image.

    A poll published by Israel's Channel 10 television on Sunday said some 87 percent of respondents wanted Israel to continue the operation until Hamas was toppled. Another poll, published in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, found that 86.5 percent of Israel's majority Jews opposed calling a truce while rocket fire continued and Gaza retained any of the cross-border tunnels.

    The main U.N. agency in Gaza, UNRWA, said 167,269 displaced Palestinians have taken shelter in its schools and buildings, following repeated calls by Israel for civilians to evacuate whole neighborhoods ahead of military operations.

    But residents of villages near the southern town of Khan Younis on Sunday attacked offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, torching furniture and causing damage. They said the organization had not done enough to help them.

    During the lull in fighting inside Gaza on Sunday, residents flooded into the streets to discover scenes of massive destruction in some areas, including Beit Hanoun in the north and Shejaia in the east.

    An Israeli official said the army hoped the widespread desolation would persuade Gazans to put pressure on Hamas to stop the fighting for fear of yet more devastation.

    The Gaza turmoil has stoked tensions amongst Palestinians in mainly Arab East Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank, which Abbas governs in uneasy coordination with the Israelis.

    VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations and Scott Bobb contributed from Jerusalem. Some information also was provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: us from: us
    July 29, 2014 8:09 PM
    What? no sanctions against Israel. I guess it is okay for them to kill civilians.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous from: Anonymous
    July 30, 2014 10:32 AM
    Israel is making a new Holocaust escept this time the roles are reversed.

    by: Frank Williams from: Chile
    July 29, 2014 3:29 PM
    Hamas was founded in December 1987. In August 1988, it issued a covenant outlining its mission.

    The Charter identified Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors."

    The charter states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for "the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine", in place of Israel

    “:In The Name Of The Most Merciful Allah”

    “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, ...

    “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.”

    “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

    “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”

    If you support the Palestine cause of HAMAS you support all of the above. Justify that if you think you can.

    by: preacher from: kericho
    July 29, 2014 12:53 AM
    Isreal is blessed Nation we are ready to pray for peace every nation that doesnt honour Isreal wil face problem.pray pray end time is about rev1:8,mtt24:4~16

    by: meanbill from: USA
    July 28, 2014 7:08 PM
    NO MATTER what Israel says, (it can't win this Gaza war), and the Arab and Muslim worldwide rage is growing and spreading, and there is no excuse possible to justify the Israeli indiscriminate destruction and killings in Gaza, (while the Israeli's sit back in safety, and indiscriminately bombard and destroy everything, and kill anybody), instead of going into Gaza and fighting the Hamas militants in hand to hand combat..... (fight Hamas, don't kill the innocents)..

    HONESTLY.... Israel has lost it's myth of invincibility, and Hamas is becoming legendary in the Arab world.... (The Israeli army defeated the combined Arab countries armies in a (6) day war), but they can't defeat a tiny Hamas army, in a tiny strip of land, in over (21) days, and still counting.... (and a small Hamas militant group plea for Palestinian freedom, is now being heard worldwide)...... REALLY
    In Response

    by: AndyfromChicago from: Chicago
    July 29, 2014 2:40 PM
    @meanbill: Your comment merits several responses:

    1. Nobody can "win this Gaza war" because there is no desire for a political solution. As long as (a) Hamas declares the destruction of Israel as its mission, (b) Hamas continues to fire missiles at civilian targets, and (c) the Gazans support Hamas, the Israelis can only respond with force and everyone loses.

    2. Your comment that "Arab and Muslim worldwide rage is growing and spreading" is sadly true, but largely irrelevant to this conflict. Most victims of "Arab and Muslim worldwide rage" appear to be other Muslims, as we can see in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

    3. Why should the Israelis go into Gaza and fight the Hamas militants "in hand to hand combat"? Fighting of any kind in a densely-populated area like Gaza will result in large-scale collateral damage. The Hamas cowards need to stop hiding behind women and children.

    4. Your comment about "Israeli indiscriminate destruction and killings" is inaccurate. As I read the news, Hamas is shooting random missiles aimlessly into Israel. By contrast, the Israeli weaponry seems far more accurate, and focused on what they believe are Hamas launch sites and weapons stores.

    5. Your comment that "Hamas is becoming legendary in the Arab world" is strange; they seem to be incompetent fighters, and have succeeded only in creating tragic and unnecessary casualties among their own people.

    by: Sunita from: India
    July 28, 2014 3:26 PM
    Israel should never allow the depravity of the Arabs in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi, Qatar... to visit the Holy Land. Israel must answer with iron fist the contamination of Islam.
    Israel is the light of wisdom and intelligence to the world, and such it has attracted the envy and jealousy of those who wish to do her harm.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    July 28, 2014 10:08 PM
    Dear my India friend, A small swallow cannot creat Spring. So does Israel. All of us know well about Jewish wisdom and intelligence. But I think they are not intelligent enough because they only depend on technology, advanced weapons to achieve their goals. They are too stubborn to change their view. It comes from their self-importance and arrogance. They think they are the most intelligent people on Earth.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    July 28, 2014 9:59 PM
    Israel is the biggest terrorist country in the world. Review its history in Palestine since it was established 1948 and even before.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 28, 2014 3:00 PM
    The solution is in total demilitarization of Hamas and disarmament of Gaza Strip,. hence every other solution has failed. If that is not done quickly enough, there will continue to be more outcry and more blood shedding because Hamas will never stop firing rockets and missiles until the last blood. And to achieve this without further loss of civilian lives, the UN-whatever body overseeing the welfare of civilians in the strip should embark on immediate evacuation of women, child and the sick to safe locations outside Gaza Strip, after all there are only 1.8million people there. Volunteer countries should be called like Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain; that way, it's either Hamas gives in or get defeated and subdued for peace to return to the place. There should be no further funds to Hamas, seeing it only uses such funds for destructive purposes like building tunnels and acquiring arms instead of the well being of its people. Such countries as Qatar, Turkey and Iran that fund Hamas should be sanctioned at the UN and other international organization levels to prevent it from jeopardizing the lives of its civilian population and that of Israel.

    by: a
    July 28, 2014 2:55 PM
    The UN also enables Hamas to keep rockets at their facilities of UNRWA. The UN is thus cooperating with a terror organization. It should not call for cease-fire under these circumstances.

    by: Luther from: India
    July 28, 2014 2:14 PM
    No one should not blame any of Israeli actions, for they are just defending their own existence. They have every right to defend from those blind and stupid terrorists Hamas. Because of them thousand of civilian are being killed and displaced thousands of people. I support Israeli action in full. As long as people blame Israeli, problems between them could not be solved.
    In Response

    by: sahil from: india
    July 28, 2014 3:13 PM
    Hello Luther shame on you I feel sad with the way you think. I give you a simple scenario. You have a terrorist group based somewhere in India who's not supported in any way by India and this terrorist group based in India throw rockets on Israel and then Israel starts killing children and women and men who are just civilians and have nothing to do with the terrorist group which could in fact be your children or your family. Would you then support Israel? Be honest to yourself.

    by: Rick from: US
    July 28, 2014 1:30 PM
    So two peoples enter a room with the stated goal of peace ,. Lets drop all the smoke and mirrors, only their end goal should be heard. Both parties's CLEARLY DEFINED END GOAL must be compatible with TWO Sovereign states. Or they should NOT even be allowed to enter. Problem solved. Kill all the rest like the war monger's they are. Let them reap what they sow. GAME OVER!

    by: Rhgates from: USA
    July 28, 2014 1:20 PM
    Hamas wants Palestine to be a country, yet they do not want to take responsibility and put an end to the fighting. Can't have it both ways.

    It may sound cruel, but you reap what you sow. If peaceful muslims cannot stand up against their own extremists, they're guilty by association and any loss of innocent life is their fault as well.
    In Response

    by: someone that can see from: usa
    July 29, 2014 3:56 AM
    Israel is the one that started the fight. It has been annexing territory that it doesn't have a right to since Britain gave it a chunk of land.

    If you support Israel then you will also support me moving into your house, neutralizing all enemy militants inside, aka kill your family (I am sure they will try to attack me in some way, so they are obviously terrorist militants), and leave you on the street with nearly zero chance of recourse and no support at all.

    What would your reaction in this scenario be? If it is anything more drastic than giving up all your weapons and fighting power, then pleading with the global public, then your a terrorist as well.
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