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Politics Groundhog Day in Gaza

19:35  20 may  2021
19:35  20 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Gaza militants, children among 24 dead as Israel hits Hamas

  Gaza militants, children among 24 dead as Israel hits Hamas The escalation in the conflict was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem. © Khalil Hamra/AP Photo Flares by Israeli forces light up the sky of eastern Gaza Strip on May 11. Since sundown Monday when the cross-border attacks began, 24 Palestinians — including nine children — were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, Gaza health officials said. The Israeli military said 15 of the dead were militants. During the same period, Gaza militants fired more than 250 rockets toward Israel, injuring six Israeli civilians in a direct hit on an apartment building.

The latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas - the fourth since 2008 - has settled into a drearily predictable pattern.

a train on a track with smoke coming out of it: Rockets are launched towards Israel from the southern Gaza Strip © Getty Images Rockets are launched towards Israel from the southern Gaza Strip

First, Hamas seizes on some pretext to start lobbing rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, aiming indiscriminately at population centers. That's terrorism, or it's a war crime, take your pick.

Then outraged Israelis retaliate with air strikes and sometimes troop incursions, targeting Hamas leaders and fighters, as well as a labyrinthine network of tunnels the Islamist group has dug to move fighters, weapons and contraband beneath Gaza's sealed borders.

Gaza's Wounded Now Filling Hospital Beds Set Aside for COVID Patients

  Gaza's Wounded Now Filling Hospital Beds Set Aside for COVID Patients "Before the military attacks, we had major shortages and could barely manage with the second [virus] wave," Gaza Health Ministry official Abdelatif al-Hajj told the Associated Press. "Now casualties are coming from all directions, really critical casualties. I fear a total collapse."As the conflict continues, hospitals say they won't be able to care for COVID-19 patients.

Hamas has launched 3,000-plus rockets at Israel. Most have been intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system, but some do get through, and by showing it can inflict pain on Israel, Hamas burnishes its credentials as the leader of Palestinian resistance to Israel.

Its broader goal is to win sympathy throughout the Middle East and indict Israel as the aggressor in the court of world opinion. And, sure enough, it took less than a week for the usual chorus of credulous U.S. leftists and journalists to start decrying the "occupation" as justification for Hamas attacks and posit a false moral equivalence between the combatants.

"Do Palestinians have a right to survive?" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) asked disingenuously in a tweet, when the more apposite question is, does Hamas have a right to terrorize Israeli civilians with rockets?

West Bank erupts in protest amid more Israel-Hamas fighting

  West Bank erupts in protest amid more Israel-Hamas fighting GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Turmoil from the battle between Israel and Hamas spilled over into the West Bank on Friday, sparking the most widespread Palestinian protests in years as hundreds of young demonstrators in multiple towns clashed with Israeli troops, who shot and killed at least 11 people. Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued into early Saturday, when an airstrike on a house in Gaza City killed at least seven Palestinians — the highest number of fatalities in a single hit. That strike came a day after a furious overnight barrage of tank fire and airstrikes that wreaked destruction in some towns, killed a family of six in their house and sent thousands fleeing their homes.

While condemning Israel - some even likening Israel's attempts to suppress rockets as "an act of terrorism" - the anti-Israel left, here and in Europe, studiously ignores Hamas's dirty little secret: To advance its political goals, Palestinian women, children and noncombatants have to die. Hamas needs martyrs to justify its forever war on Israel.

Like other Islamist terror groups, it deliberately embeds its operatives and weapons in crowded buildings and neighborhoods. Taking your own people hostage also is a war crime under international law.

Yet "progressive" critics like AOC and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) heap moral opprobrium mainly on Israel. They also are attempting to transpose U.S.-style "social justice" and racialized frames to the Arab-Israel struggle over land. For example, AOC has called Israel an apartheid state, and Sanders declared that "Palestinian lives matter" in a recent New York Times op-ed.

The Latest: Palestinian leader accuses Israel of war crimes

  The Latest: Palestinian leader accuses Israel of war crimes RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Israel is carrying out “organized state terrorism and war crimes” in Gaza that are punishable under international law. In a televised address Wednesday, he said the Palestinians “will not hesitate to pursue those who commit such crimes in front of international courts.” Abbas is the head of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority, whose forces were driven from Gaza when the militant Hamas group seized power in 2007. The PA has limited autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

In contrast, President Biden initially affirmed Israel's right to self-defense. He knows that if anyone started raining missiles on the United States, the American people would demand a powerful military response. Although he had previously called for a ceasefire, Biden yesterday appeared to succumb to pressure to "get tough" on Israel by issuing a "blunt demand" that Israel de-escalate.

That's a political misstep that can only whet the left's appetite for blocking his administration's plans to sell weapons to a key U.S. ally and beleaguered democracy in the Middle East. So far, about 219 Gazans and 12 Israelis have been killed. Despite the disparity, Israel likely will ignore U.S. and international criticism and keep pummeling Gaza until it believes it has "restored deterrence" by inflicting heavy and disproportionate losses. At best, this will only buy another brief period of relative

calm before Hamas attacks again.

The Islamist group's 2007 forcible takeover of Gaza has made peace seem like an impossible dream to Israelis across the political spectrum. It's demoralized a once robust peace movement and decimated the center-left, which has been out of power for two decades. As Israelis sensibly observe, you can't make peace or reach a political settlement if the person sitting opposite you at the negotiating table seeks your extinction.

Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas agree to a ceasefire

  Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas agree to a ceasefire Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire, after more than a week of conflict left hundreds dead, most of them Palestinians. The truce signals an end to the immediate bloodshed, but will likely leave both sides further apart than ever. © Fatima Shbair/Getty Images GAZA CITY, GAZA - MAY 20: Palestinians inspect damage to buildings in Al-Saftawi street northern Gaza City on May 20, 2021 in Gaza City, Gaza. Civilian casualties continue to rise as Israel-Gaza violence entered a tenth day.

On the West Bank, a corrupt and feckless Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas is still committed to negotiating a two-state solution to the crisis. But it has rejected deals proposed by a succession of U.S. presidents and has little sway over the two million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Hamas's implacable opposition to the existence of what its political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, calls "the usurping entity" is the root cause of both Palestinian division and the recurrent fighting with Israel.

But it's not the only cause. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right also bear heavy responsibility for ignoring legitimate Palestinian grievances and aspirations. Under Netanyahu, Israel renounced the two-state solution without proposing any alternative, and provocatively gave the green light to new Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in Jerusalem.

The government affirmed the Jewish character of the state, effectively consigning Israeli Arabs to second-class citizenship. In the West Bank and Jerusalem, it made little effort to curb the daily humiliation of checkpoints, roadblocks and other restrictions on life under occupation.

Netanyahu also egged on ex-President Donald Trump's impulsive decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem without asking Israel to offer any concessions in return. That thoughtless move, coupled with the lockstep GOP support for Israel, sent Palestinians an unmistakable message that Washington no longer cares about their plight.

His predecessor's strategic incoherence has made it difficult for Biden to restore America's influence on either side. His left-wing critics aren't helping by putting Hamas and Israel on the same moral plane, and treating the conflict like an extension of America's culture wars.

Will Marshall is president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

Blinken heads to Egypt on mission to shore up Gaza truce .
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to Cairo Wednesday as he presses efforts to shore up an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. - British FM in Jerusalem - British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab meanwhile travelled to Jerusalem Wednesday, also to back international efforts to shore up the ceasefire. Speaking ahead of planned talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Raab urged an end to the "cycle of violence" through a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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