Continuation of my diary yesterday on news from the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
West Bank rage at Gaza bloodshed as protests erupt over UN school attack.
The violence of the conflict in Gaza spread to the West Bank on Thursday with at least two Palestinians killed and scores wounded in one of the biggest clashes seen for several years.
Further protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are expected following noon prayers on Friday, the last Friday of Ramadan, after the Palestinian Authority called for a “day of rage” over the bloodshed in Gaza.
Thousands of Palestinians took part in a demonstration after more than 15 women, children and United Nations staff were killed and around 200 injured when a UN shelter for those fleeing the Israeli bombing was hit.
The Israel Defence Forces insisted it had given the occupants of the shelter time to leave before shelling the area. But the UN flatly contradicted that, saying it had made repeated attempts to negotiate a window during which people could safely leave the area but none was granted. It said it had given the IDF precise co-ordinates of the location of the school.
The international outrage and escalation in violence seems to be having an effect
Sources: Netanyahu basically accepts Kerry's cease fire, works to push it in cabinet, positive signal from Qatar as to Mashal. We are close.The plan:
— Nadav Eyal (@NadavEyalDesk) July 25, 2014
Meanwhile reports emerged that the US secretary of state, John Kerry, had presented both sides with a new proposal for a cessation of violence. It centred around a week-long temporary ceasefire with Israeli troops allowed to stay in Gaza to locate and destroy tunnels; and simultaneous negotiations for a permanent deal, with guarantees by the US, EU and UN that the primary concerns of each side would be addressed.
The UN responds to the Israeli shellings of its school:
Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the UN, condemned the shelter attack, which came hours after the agency had warned that Israel's actions in the Palestinian enclave could constitute war crimes. "Today's attack underscores the imperative for the killing to stop and to stop now," Ban said.100+ shot @ Protest:
Valerie Amos, the UN's top humanitarian official, described the attack on the school as “appalling”.
The violence of the Gaza conflict has spread to the West Bank where two Palestinians have been killed and scores wounded in the biggest clashes with Israeli forces for several years. Protests are expected to resume on Friday afternoon.Reporter on the ground:
Palestinian medics reported that Israeli gunfire had injured several hundred protesters, 120 of whom were being treated for gunshot wounds, after thousands of Palestinians took part in a march from Ramallah towards East Jerusalem in response to a call from the Palestinian Authority for a "day of rage" over the bloodshed in Gaza, where the death toll has passed 800.
#c4news At scene of Qalandia riot, spent cases of live rounds used by Israelis, who shot around 150 Palestinians pic.twitter.com/mJJv7PBAGP
— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 25, 2014
#c4news Dir of Ramallah hosp says they were "overwhelmed" last night. Total 234 admitted here. Most gunshot. 1 died, shot x3; 7 v criticalThe Guardian also has a piece on human shields that should (but probably will not) answer many questions of those who criticize why Palestinians stay:
— Jonathan Miller (@millerC4) July 25, 2014
Gaza is one of the most overcrowded places on earth. Almost two million people are crammed into a strip of land just 25 miles long and between three and a half and seven miles wide – roughly the same size as the Isle of Wight. In general there are few opportunities to leave; and in the midst of a conflict such as this, there is no exit.
The separation between "civilian" and "military" in Gaza is much more blurred than with a conventional army – both physically and in the Gazan psyche. Hamas and other militants are embedded in the population. Their fighters are not quartered in military barracks, but sleep at night in their family homes. While it is not difficult to find antipathy to Hamas on the streets of Gaza in quiet times, most people defend their "right to resist" – and under such sustained military attack, support for Hamas rises.
They also note that yet again, this is not a one sided issue:
Israel, meanwhile, does not have an unblemished record in the use of human shields. In 2010, two soldiers were convicted in an IDF military court of using an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield in its 2008-09 operation in Gaza. The pair ordered the child to search bags they suspected of being booby-trapped.
It was the first conviction of what is known within the IDF as the "neighbour procedure" – forcing civilians to assist troops in military operations. Investigations by news organisations and human rights groups have suggested the IDF has used Palestinians as human shields in operations in both Gaza and the West Bank.
5:11 AM PT: Ed Miliband in London:
Ed Miliband today called on Israel and Hamas to agree a ceasefire and allow the international community access to Gaza to provide medical help to the wounded. The Labour leader also again opposed the Israeli incursion into Gaza, saying that whatever the provocation it was leading a cycle of violence.
Insisting he was speaking "as a friend of Israel and a friend of the Palestinian people", Miliband said Hamas rocket attacks were unjustifiable and act of terror, but at the same time he said the attack by Israel was leading to a mounting death toll which could not be justified.
Kerry, pursuing his cease-fire efforts from Cairo, did not cast blame for the attack on the school, which complicates his efforts to secure even a temporary truce.
According to people familiar with Kerry’s proposal, it would call a temporary cease-fire lasting approximately seven days. It is backed by United Nations and is the product of U.N., U.S., and Egyptian negotiators, with Turkey and Qatar acting as go-betweens with Hamas.
The proposed cease-fire would halt offensive activities but may not require Israel to withdraw its ground forces from Gaza. Israeli media reported that it could allow for the continued destruction of tunnels — an idea that would likely be opposed by Hamas.
The cease-fire might also include unspecified incentives to Hamas, including release of a small number of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and partial payment of suspended government salaries in Gaza, perhaps by Qatar.
5:43 AM PT: Reuters on how problems in Gaza have only just begun
At least 2,655 homes have been totally or severely damaged, while another 3,175 are damaged but not beyond use, the UN said.
Bombs have lashed 116 schools and 18 health centres, stadiums, playgrounds, mosques, roads, phone towers, water lines, sewage treatment plants and police stations.
The cost of rebuilding Gaza homes destroyed so far in Israeli bombing amounts to $800 million - the whole of Gaza's annual budget - the Palestinian housing minister told Reuters.
In Iran, hundreds of thousands of people participated in nationwide rallies held in solidarity with Palestinians. Every year, Iranians hold pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan but this year violent events in Gaza elicited what appeared to be a bigger turnout.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, was among many senior officials who participated in Friday’s rallies across Iran. Such rallies, organised by the state, are often shunned by a large group of Iranians, but this year a wider range of people, prompted by the extent of violence in Gaza and Israel, appeared to join in.
6:46 AM PT: As many of the commenters note this not a true ceasefire proposal.
This is a "let's stop shooting at each other while your sit and watch us tear up your stuff looking for 'tunnels' or whatever" offer by Israel.
7:08 AM PT: Settlers fire on Palestinian protestors as Reported @ The Guardian:
Today's death toll on the West Bank has now reached four, AFP reports, quoting Palestinian security sources:8:39 AM PT:
In the first incident, 46-year-old Hashem Abu Marieh and 30-year-old Sultan Yusef were killed in the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar near the flashpoint southern city of Hebron by Israeli soldiers.
In the second incident, a group of settlers opened fire on protesting Palestinians after they threw stones at their car near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The settler fire killed an 18-year-old Palestinian named as Khaled Oudeh.
Shortly afterwards, Israeli troops arrived at the scene and clashed with the Palestinians, firing live bullets and tear gas.
The Israeli army fire killed a second Palestinian, 22-year-old Tayyib Oudeh, the security sources said, adding that three other Palestinians were injured by live fire.
#Gaza: 150,137 displaced Palestinian civilians are seeking refuge in 84 UNRWA shelters. pic.twitter.com/28jvPGVN0B8:48 AM PT:
— UNRWA (@UNRWA) July 25, 2014
Hashem Abu Maria, 46, killed today in Beit Ummar near Hebron by Israeli soldiers, is reported to have worked with Defence for Children, an NGO for Palestinian kids.Shocked to learn that @DCIPalestine colleague #HashemAbuMaria was killed by Israeli forces in #BeitOmmar. Devastating.
— Brad Parker (@baparkr) July 25, 2014
10:49 AM PT: 'Ceasefire' now rejected by Israel?
The US editor of Haaretz reports whispers of a pending rejection on the Israeli side of a John Kerry ceasefire plan. Developing.
BREAKING: OK, @BenCaspit now tells Channel 10 that Israeli cabinet will reject Kerry cease fire proposal (or accept it in name only?)10:52 AM PT:
— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) July 25, 2014
@lrozen Have to wait for more info, but perhaps political mood (and cabinet) is such that even tactical OK to cease fire may be too much
— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) July 25, 2014
Reports: Israel's security cabinet rejects Gaza ceasefire proposal, seeks modifications - @Reuters, @AFP, @haaretzcom http://t.co/....
— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) July 25, 2014
Israel's cabinet has unanimously rejected a US-backed proposal for a week-long "humanitarian pause" in the offensive on Gaza after 18 days of fighting that has claimed more than 800 Palestinian lives.
Binyamin Netanyhau and his ministers reached their decision on a day when Gaza's death toll reached 822 and five more Palestinians were killed in protests that spread to the West Bank. Hamas had already signalled its opposition to the terms of the US plan, which it deemed too favourable to Israel.
The Israeli decision, reported by Israel's Channel 2 TV, left the US secretary of state, John Kerry, struggling to find a way to continue his efforts to halt the bloodshed.
11:38 AM PT: Remember when it was just about 'the tunnels'?
Israel army radio reported that Netanyahu's ministers had been divided over the wisdom of accepting Kerry's proposal, which was being supported by the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon. Hawkish ministers were said to favour widening the ground operation in Gaza and warning against any gain for Hamas. Under the US plan, Israeli troops could stay behind after a ceasefire to continue destroying cross-border tunnels. The week-long truce would be followed by talks on more permanent arrangements, under Egyptian supervision.