How Israel shattered Gaza truce leading to escalating death and tragedy: a timeline

A wounded Palestinian boy at a hospital after an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on 15 November 2012.

Eyad Al Baba APA images

Today, 3 Israelis were killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.

This came after Israel had killed 13 Palestinians, including 3 children and a woman, and injured 115, including 26 children and 25 women since yesterday, 14 November.

This will be presented by Israel – and sympathetic or careless world media – as another justification for Israel’s attacks on Gaza to stop rocket fire. But this narrative is false.

Where there was calm and an effective truce, Israel chose to shatter it, bringing about the current deadly escalation.

In general, Palestinians fired rockets, or attacked the Israeli army, as a response to Israeli attacks, seeking to avoid escalation and publicly embracing a truce. Take a look at the sequence:

  • On 29 October the BBC reported that “Militants in Gaza have fired 26 rockets into Israel, officials say, amid a flare-up in fighting which shattered a brief ceasefire between the two sides. No injuries were reported from the barrage, in the south of the country.” The BBC said that, “It came hours after Israeli aircraft hit targets in Gaza, after militants fired rockets following the killing by Israel of a Gazan who Israel said fired mortars at its troops.”

BBC reporter Jon Donnison said, “It is often difficult to pinpoint when a specific escalation in violence started - both sides will always remember what they see as a previous act of aggression by the other which enables them to justify their attacks as retaliation.” But we can do better than that.

  • On 4 November, Israeli forces shot dead “an unarmed, mentally unfit man” walking near an Israeli-imposed “buffer” area inside the occupied Gaza Strip.

  • Yet, after the 28-29 October “flare-up” reported by the BBC, the Israel-based Twitter account @qassamcount, which catalogues projectiles fired from Gaza toward Israel recorded almost no rocket fire. Qassam Count tweeted at 23:56 UTC on 5 November about just one rocket.

The killing of Ahmad Abu Daqqa

  • On 8 November, Israeli occupation forces made an incursion into the Gaza Strip near al-Qarara villlage northeast of Khan Yunis fatally injuring a child. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR):

They leveled areas of Palestinian land amidst indiscriminate shooting. A few hours later, they moved southwards to ‘Abassan village. They opened fire indiscriminately and leveled areas of Palestinian land. An Israeli helicopter gunship also opened fire at the area. At approximately 16:30, as a result of the indiscriminate shooting by IOF [Israeli occupation forces] military vehicles, 13-year-old Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa was seriously wounded by a bullet to the abdomen. At the time he was shot, Ahmed had been playing football with his friends in front of his family’s house, located nearly 1,500 meters away from the area where the IOF were present.

Ahmad Abu Daqqa, profiled by The Electronic Intifada’s Rami Almeghari, died of his injuries.

  • On 9 November, the day after the killing of Ahmad Abu Daqqa:

Palestinians attack Israeli army, Israeli army kills civilians

Following this, Israel attacked civilian neighborhoods in Gaza. In the ensuing 72 hour period, Israeli forced killed 7 Palestinians. According to PCHR, five of the dead were civilians, including 3 children. Fifty-two others, including 6 women and 12 children were wounded.

“Four of these deaths and 38 of the injuries resulted from an Israeli attack on a football playground in al-Shoja’iya neighborhood east of Gaza City,” PCHR reported.

Not surprisingly, Palestinians fired rockets into Israel, as recorded by “Qassam Count”:

Truce talks

Qassam Count records no rockets on 11 November. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that Palestinian factions were in talks over a truce and were keen to see calm restored.

Israel’s Ynet reported on 11 November:

Egyptian Intelligence officials have successfully brokered an end to the current round of escalation in the south, Ynet learned Sunday. No Israeli source has corroborated the report.

The Ynet reported added:

According to senior Egyptian sources, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed to hold their fire if Israel suspends its airstrike on Gaza. > Cairo-based sources said that Israel reportedly agreed not to retaliate over sporadic rocket fire from Gaza, as long as it was sans casualties

Truce takes hold

Reuters reported on 13 November:

After five days of mounting violence, Israel and the Palestinians stepped back from the brink of a new war in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, sending signals to each other via Egypt that they would hold their fire unless attacked.

The report added:

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, praised the main armed factions in the enclave for agreeing on Monday night to a truce. “They showed a high sense of responsibility by saying they would respect calm should the Israeli occupation also abide by it,” he said.

Israel destroys the truce

Yet Israel was not interested in calm.

  • On 14 November Israel carried out the extrajudicial killing of Hamas military chief Ahmad al-Jabari.

Reuters noted that the Israeli attack “appeared to end a 24-hour lull in cross-border violence that surged this week.”

The rest is tragic history, some undoubtedly yet to be written in innocent blood.

An Israeli pattern

Israel’s contempt for truces and ceasefires is nothing new. In November 2008, Israel broke a months-long ceasefire, manufacturing a crisis that it then used to justify its December 2008-January 2009 massacre of 1,400 people in Gaza.

Israel has a long, well-documented history of breaking ceasefire after ceasefire, but you would never know it by watching the news or reading, say, The New York Times.

It is also important to keep in mind the context that Israel and Palestinians in Gaza are not symmetrical “sides.” Gaza is a small, impoverished enclave, home to 1.6 million people, some 80 percent of whom are refugees. Gaza is under a tight siege and blockade by Israel, the occupying power.

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Its like u just spoke exactly wots on my mind...and d funniest thing is dat they hide under civilian and started seeking for pity and shed fake tears when a civilian is killed..why hide behind dem in d first place....ccowards...

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couldn't have said it better myself Anthony. Just because Israel is more powerful does not mean they should not defend themselves, no matter how small the aggression. Gaza people are caught in the middle of a Hama's protest, innocent people are going to die unless they stop. Israel is within their human rights to protect themselves. It's a very sad situation.

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So the Israeli strikes are in retaliation for the Oct. strikes, despite the Israeli Government saying that it is protecting itself from rocket strikes post-assassination? That makes no sense whatsoever.

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If you read the article closely it said the Oct. 29th rockets were fired " after Israeli aircraft hit targets in Gaza," which in turn was "after militants fired rockets following the killing by Israel of a Gazan who Israel said fired mortars at its troops." These kind of skirmishes come up all the time in this area (between Gaza and Israel) and can be used as a convenient pretext to escalate hostilities when authorities so choose. But there is no need to look to these types of incidents for root causes of hostilities, just the fact that Israel has Gaza blockaded is itself considered a provocation and an act of war and is, in addition, a violation of international law.

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All the wrangling about who started and who answered is often beside the point. The real issue is that the Palestinians are systematically and savagely brutalized by asymmetric Israeli military and economic power while their national aspirations are frustrated. Given this punishment and given the chauvinistic, colonial-like policies of Israel, periodic violent responses to provocation like the ones we are witnessing are sadly, all by inevitable. I do not support the rocketing of civilians by either side. But there is no equivalence here. Israel is the aggressor, blockading and demonizing Gaza and its inhabitants and using provocation as a political tool. In my opinion, solidarity with the people of Palestine is the only appropriate response for peace-loving people.

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Thank you for your tempered response, and rising above the petty nature of the majority of the discussion.

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All in all, you summed it up perfectly.

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All the wrangling about who started and who answered is often beside the point. The real issue is that the Palestinians are systematically and savagely brutalized by asymmetric Israeli military and economic power while their national aspirations are frustrated. Given this punishment and given the chauvinistic, colonial-like policies of Israel, periodic violent responses to provocation like the ones we are witnessing are sadly, all by inevitable. I do not support the rocketing of civilians by either side. But there is no equivalence here. Israel is the aggressor, blockading and demonizing Gaza and its inhabitants and using provocation as a political tool. In my opinion, solidarity with the people of Palestine is the only appropriate response for peace-loving people.

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this is the real issue and should be the focus of all humanitarians

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Watching mainstream evening news in US - a map of Israel and Gaza briefly shown; look at sheer geoaphrical size occupied by Israel and see the tiny amount of land in Gaza. Even those completely uninformed would surely have to wonder how Gaza residents (prisoners ) could inflict any real damage on a state the size of Israel. How did Israel become the David to Gaza Goliath? We in US have lost our ability to reason as well as our compassion for the underdog and willingly give our brains up to whatever the TV here tells us, no questions asked. This is very scary and sad to me; we are devolving as a species. - am a woman and think this argument about gender in the media is not one to take up at this time. Time to join together not allow ourselves to be divided and conquered.

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"Look at sheer geographical size occupied by Israel and see the tiny amount of land in Gaza". OK, now go to Googlemaps and zoom-out of that same picture. The so called "illegal-occupation of Israel" is so miniscule in comparison to the muslim-owned lands in north Africa and the Middle-East that the idea that non-Palestinian Muslims have somehow been "robbed" is simply laughable.

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I'm so glad that the majority of people could find a way to enter a petty argument, assume severe personal insult, and overall act like kids who care more about being heard than anything else. And you wonder why nations are "needlessly fighting"?

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really shouldnt argue with equality between men, women, and children, its the tragedy of all man kind, stop arguing people.. we should be sad for this... killing one people is unforgiven, man, woman, or a child!

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This seems the obvious question to me. And the one that is difficult for Israel to consider as all they focus on is Hamas's belief that Israel doesn't have a right to exist when in fact in recent years Hamas has shown it is willing to compromise; (taken from Wikipedia)

'Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace.[63] The Atlantic magazine columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, along with other analysts, believes Hamas may be incapable of permanent reconciliation with Israel.[64][65] Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University, writes that Hamas talks "of hudna [temporary ceasefire], not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine."[66] Such negative analysis ignores, however, the precedent that when Hamas' parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, came to power in neighbouring Egypt, they upheld their country's peace treaty with Israel.[67][68] Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared he had no problem dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood so long as the peace treaty was respected.[69]'

Unfortunately I think the far right views from both countries will always get in the way of peace.

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I may have slightly different views but I come in peace, I assure you.
I came across this page and wanted to point out a few facts on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that you may be missing. I noticed that you emphasized the death of women and children. If the Palestinian side is so intent on protecting their people, why must they use women and children as human shields? Countless pictures validate this:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/9...@N00/177861618/lightbox/
There are many more but unfortunately, there's a character limit (google if you're interested)

The State of Israel, on the other hand, makes great efforts to avoid harming innocent people in Gaza. It is a very difficult task, in part because the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world; and also because almost all rocket launches are carried out in or in close proximity to major population centers, such as schools, hospitals, mosques. No other army calls residential houses and warns them that they are being given 5 minutes to evacuate their homes before military action is taken. In turn, Palestinians respond by gathering women and children to sit on the roofs.

The fact is that 12,000 rockets were launched at civilian towns from the Gaza Strip a few years ago, 1000 this year, and over 200 in the last week alone. The media and biased sites such as this fail to mention these facts. After years of violence, don't you think Israel has a right to defend itself?

Just a side note that people are often unaware of: The blockade of Gaza is not the way people likely imagine the situation. Every day Israel provides medical assistance, and brings tens of thousands of tons of food and other goods into the Gaza Strip, even during combat! Israel mainly prevents the entry of ships or aircraft into the Gaza Strip, due to the fact that Hamas is trying to smuggle weapons and money to the area.

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check out the % of food and other necessities that enter Gaza now and before the blockade and you will see the small amounts that come from Israel are like trying to stick a sticking plaster on a broken leg.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.u...
check points 4 and 5 in particular...

whenever they choose to Israel stops fuel for power, has stopped many of the materials needed to repair the damage to the infrastructure and home caused by their previous bombs, uses checkpoints to prevent even those with correct documentation from visiting hospitals and getting treatment, has taken over land with illegal settlements and the roads that serve them, removes water from the rivers stopping the flow into Gaza, won't let the fishermen fish outside the 3 mile line, has stopped violently the various convoys of ships carrying humanitarian aid despite being given full inspection opportunity to check for the weapons they claim these ships carry.

You paint a nice rosy picture but you need to take off those rose tinted glasses

the actions of the Israelis means there is insufficient food, water, power, medical supplied, means that it is not safe to live even at home as is shown by the killing of families by Israeli strikes, check out the number of children, 12 and over, who are in prisoned by Israel, check where they are kept, can they get visits from family members, and why are they in prison anyway and where were they picked up.

There are so many issues in Gaza that can be laid at the door of the Israelis and their funder the USA so please don't try to convince us that they are benevolent and are being misrepresented by all the charities and NGO's and the UN and that only they and their few allied really understand the situation.

Please campaign for the ceasing of the military attacks by the IDF that are killing so many innocent men, women and children rather than try to detract from that.

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“I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that”. Originally this quote was ‘Shylock’ the hero of The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare. He quoted this against the massacre of Jews by European Power(Christian Power). But this time what is going on! The Israeli Jews doing more than ferocious heated work & crime against Palestinian. Thousands of infant and ordinary people died by bombing of Israeli Jet Fighter. Palestinian ‘Hamas’ give answer just thronging “Katiusha Rocket” which is just like an Infant’s Toy. Israeli soldier using Biological Weapon every time against Palestinian. So that, now Palestinian infants are born handicap (Physically Disabled).
Day by day Israeli intelligence ‘Mosad’ and ‘Seanbeth’ killing serially Palestinian leaders. Just few days ago Israel killed Hamas senior leader Ahmed Al Jabir by Air Missile Attack. Unfortunately this leader tried to establishing permanent peace between Israel and Palestine. He is the man who freed of Israeli soldier ‘Gilat Salit’ from under custody of Palestinian and finally tried to ‘everlasting ceasefire’ between Israel and Palestine. It is quoted from western media that, before death of Al-Jabir- he was busy about the proposal of Israel regarding permanent peace and he stopped all rocket attack in Israel also doing conversation with Israeli counterpart to established final peace between two nations. After killing of Ahmed Al-Jabir- it proved that, the proposal of Israel for conversation to establish peace was just a “Drama of Israel”.Israel does not want peaceful coe

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.