Beginning at 3:35 pm today, the Gaza Strip has been shaken by several Israeli army attacks from drones, apaches, F-16s, and naval vessels. One of the first people killed was Ahmed al-Jabari, chief of staff of Hamas’ military wing. Palestinian factions vowed revenge, and their armed wings have fired dozens of rockets towards Israel. Since the first attack this afternoon, Israeli forces have carried out more than 50 airstrikes across the Gaza Strip resulting in at least eight fatalities, including two young children and a woman pregnant with twins. The Ministry of Health also reports that more than 90 people have been injured.
Fears are growing that Israel may launch a large-scale ground offensive, a fear fuelled by the dropping of Israeli leaflets in North Gaza warning of an imminent overland invasion in the area, as well as the ongoing attacks.
Israel launched its ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’ this afternoon with the targeted killing of al-Jabari in an airstrike on a car in the Thalatin area in the east of Gaza City. Al-Jabari’s aide, Mohammad Al-Hams, who was also travelling in the car, suffered injuries and later died in hospital. Following this attack, a series of airstrikes was launched, targeting civilian areas throughout the Gaza Strip.
In the early evening, Israeli warships encroached into the Gaza sea and took position close to the shore, firing towards land. At approximately 8:00 pm, Israeli naval forces fired between 12 and 15 shells northwest of Beach Camp in Gaza City.
Many expect that the offensive will continue for several days, since the Israeli Prime Minister has declared that he is prepared to expand the operation. In a news conference earlier today, Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, said, “[t]he provocations we have suffered and the firing of rockets to the southern settlements within Israel have forced us to take this action. I want to make clear that Israeli citizens will not suffer such actions. The targets are to hit the rockets and to harm the organisation of Hamas.” However, the majority of the victims of these attacks have been civilians. People in Gaza have stocked up on food and fuel and taken shelter in their homes, and the staffs of most international organisations have been placed under curfew.
Hospitals throughout the Strip have been inundated with victims of the attacks. Speaking in a press conference outside al-Shifa hospital, Dr. Mafed el-Makha el-Makhalalaty, the Minister for Health, explained that hospitals are suffering shortages due to the ongoing closure of the Gaza Strip and the increased attacks over the last week, in which several children were killed. Today’s attacks have left hospitals depleted of medicines and medical supplies.
Injured civilians are brought into al Shifa hospital during a series of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, November 14 2012 (Photo: Lydia De Leeuw)
The people of Gaza are being subjected to ongoing drone strikes, air strikes, tank shellings, and naval fire in this indiscriminate and disproportionate military offensive. Trapped within the Gaza Strip, they are easy targets of remote-controlled warfare, waged from buzzing drones and roaring F-16s.
We call on people of conscience around the world to stand up against this unlawful aggression against Palestinian civilians.
The international community must take urgent action to put a stop to these violent attacks.
For further information, please contact:
Adie Mormech (British) +972 (0) 592280943
Adriana Zega (Italian) +972 (0) 597241318
Gisela Schmidt Martin (Irish) +972 (0) 592778020 blipfoto.com/
Joe Catron (United States) +972 (0) 595594326 twitter.com/jncatron
Julie Webb-Pullman (New Zealand) +972 (0) 595419421 todayingaza.
Lydia de Leeuw (Dutch) +972 (0) 597478455 asecondglance.
Meri Calvelli (Italian)
We are a group of internationals living in the Gaza Strip, working in the fields of journalism, human rights, education, and agriculture. We seek to defend and advocate for the rights of Palestinians in the context of the Israeli occupation and military operations. Besides being eyewitnesses ourselves, we gather our information from our personal networks across the Gaza Strip, from local media reports, medical staff, and local and international NGOs in Gaza.
We verify the information we send out and hope our reports will contribute to accurate media coverage of the situation in Gaza.