JULY 18 2014
#AceWorldNews – 17 July – A ground operation in the Gaza Strip has been launched by Tel Aviv following more than a week of Hamas shelling the country and the IDF responding with air strikes. Over 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have died in the violence.
Palestinian radicals in Gaza have fired at Tel Aviv for a second time today. The Iron Dome system shot down two rockets over the city this evening, reported the press office of the Israeli army.
Egypt has renewed its call for a truce in the region. Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, speaking at a news conference in Cairo said: “We hope that all sides will support this initiative so that bloodshed stops and this escalation does not get worse. We call on all sides to accept this proposal. We are working to find a framework so that both sides agree,” reported Reuters.
Israeli tank shells have killed three in Gaza, including children, medics told AFP.
CNN has pulled correspondent Diana Magnay out of her post covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the reporter tweeted that Israelis cheering bombs hitting Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”
A CNN spokeswoman said Magnay has been reassigned to Moscow.
Shortly after the air raid siren report, the IDF tweeted that its Iron Dome air defense system had intercepted rockets over Tel Aviv.
The United Nations said it is going to ramp up emergency aid to Gaza, where Israel’s ground invasion intensified water shortages and fears of sewage contamination and water-borne diseases, Reuters reports.
“We are still very concerned about the water supply in Gaza, about half of the population are without water supply at this time,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spokeswoman, Amanda Pitt, told a news briefing in Geneva.
On Tuesday, UN aid agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that Gaza’s water system has been degraded over the course of years, with potential infrastructure damage incurred during the assault leaving the entire coastal strip vulnerable to a water crisis within a matter of days.
IDF attempt to show they abide by the Geneva Convention by providing medical treatment to a wounded combatant.
According to the first Geneva Convention – ‘for the Amelioration of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces and Field’ – if a member of the armed forces is wounded or sick, and therefore is unable to actively engage in combat, he is no longer part of the fighting force and becomes a vulnerable person in need of protection and care.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of state terrorism and genocide, saying the two states would not find rapprochement on his watch.
“Israel threatens world peace. Israel threatens peace in the Middle East. Therefore, I personally, can never contemplate anything positive with Israel as long as I remain on duty,” Erdogan told reporters after Muslim Friday prayers:
“Israel is at the moment waging terrorism; Israel at the moment is carrying out genocide,” he said.
Turkey and Israel had been working toward improving ties after Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and one Turkish American during a raid on a pro-Palestinian aid ship in 2010. Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and recalled its own top envoy following the incident. Israel ultimately apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to pay compensation under a US-brokered arrangement in 2013. In March, Turkish officials said the two sides had come close to reaching a compensation deal which would fully restore ties.
Cihan News Agency has posted video footage showing the pro-Palestinian rallies outside of the diplomatic missions in Istanbul and Ankara on Thursday. The first video, shot in Istanbul, shows police deploy a water cannon and pepper spray to disperse protesters after some turned violent, smashing windows and attempting to scale the compound gates.
The video from Ankara depicts a heated by far more peaceful scene, though there are unconfirmed reports that the compound in the Tukrish capital was attacked on Friday.
Turkey has since bolstered security at the facilities, though Tzachi Moshe, a spokesman for Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, said Israel “sharply protested the flagrant violation of diplomatic rules.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said since there is no way to deal with the tunnels only from the air, “our soldiers are doing it now from the ground,” the Jerusalem Post cites him as saying during the opening session of an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu said the ongoing military operation did not offer a100 percent shot at success, though everything would be done to get “maximum results.”
The Israeli PM said the army had been readied for the possibility of a significant expansion of the ground operation, blaming Hamas for not upholding its end of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire proposal on Tuesday.
“We decided to launch the action after we tried all the other ways, and with an understanding that without this operation the price we will have to pay later would be much higher,” he said.
He added that intense diplomatic efforts had given Israel the political capital necessary to use force against the “terrorist organization,” and that the supreme consideration at this point was to “restore security to civilians” and return the country to a state of calm.
“There is not a more moral army than the IDF, and we do not want to harm even one innocent civilian. Not even one. We are operating only against terror targets.”
He blamed Hamas for civilian casualties on both sides, claiming they were attacking Israeli towns and cities from behind human shields.
He said media distortions of the conflict were virtually “unpreventable.”
“But unlike in the past, this time there are many in the international community who understand that Hamas alone bears responsibility for the victims,” he said. “This is something very important for Israel.”
The Israeli Defense Force is live tweeting images of so-called ‘terror tunnels’, the ostensible reason the ground operation was launched into Gaza.
Israel has decided to evacuate the families of diplomatic staff in Turkey in Ankara after protests turned violent outside diplomatic missions in both the capital Ankara and Istanbul. The compounds were reportedly pelted with rocks as some demonstrators chanted, “Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine,” Hurriyet Daily News reported. Several Turkish diplomats attended the pro-Palestinian rallies, including a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“The occupying Israel has made a bloodbath of Palestine by bombing them for the past 15 days,” Murat Yıldırım said from Ankara.
At least 23 Palestinians – including three children – have been killed since Israel launched the ground offensive. Around 264 Palestinians have been killed since Israel first started bombarding Gaza on July 7. The Israeli death toll currently stands at two: one soldier and one civilian.
Barely a day into the operation, Netanyahu is discussing plans for a significant widening of the ground offensive.
Shortly before convening a meeting of cabinet ministers, he told reporters that “My instructions … are to prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation, and the military is preparing accordingly,” Reuters reported.
Those affected by the conflict in Gaza are receiving financial help from multiple sources abroad. The latest tranche comes from Denmark, which has donated $2 million toward alleviating civilian suffering there.
Reuters now reports 23 Palestinians dead since the start of the ground operation.
An Israeli military spokesman said in an interview to a radio station regarding the recent death of an Israeli soldier during the ground offensive on Gaza: “We are checking the circumstances” of soldier’s death.
This was the first Israeli casualty since the start of the operation.
According to Quentin Sommerville of the BBC, the number of dead since the start of the ground offensive, together with the number killed already in the preceding phase, puts the death toll at more than 250 people, with around 1980 wounded, as the conflict enters its 11th day.