November 14th, 2012, By International Solidarity Movement, Gaza Strip
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 supply.
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.