Brussels/London, March 12, 2012
CEPR condemns Israeli attacks on Gaza
On Friday night (March 9, 2012) Israeli military forces began an attack on Gaza by air which has so far left at least 18 dead and 50 injured. Israel started its latest assault with the targeted assassination of Zuhair al-Qaissi, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), who was killed along with his son-in-law Mahmoud Hanini when their car was hit by a missile.
The weekend saw numerous strikes on other targets including locations for Hamas’ Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades and the response from Gaza militants with Qassam rockets reaching southern Israel. At least 95 rockets have fallen in southern Israel since Friday wounding three people, according to the Israeli military as a response to the Israeli assassination of Zuhair al-Qaissi. On Sunday, two rockets hit residential neighbourhoods of Beersheba, damaging a school, a house and several vehicles but causing no injury.
A 12-year-old boy playing outside in northern Gaza and a second civilian in his 60s who was guarding a farm, were among the civilians killed by the Israeli attacks. According to the IDF, 23 separate air strikes had been carried out by Monday morning. It should be mentioned that the weekend death and injury toll was the highest since Operation Cast Lead, Israel's three-week military assault on Gaza just over three years ago.
Gaza militants fired more rockets on Monday morning toward the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Be'er Sheva, after an overnight IDF strike in Gaza that killed two Islamic Jihad militants and wounded 38 Palestinians, including several children.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ Prime Minister in Gaza, said in a statement that Egypt was working to stop violence and bring a truce between the two parties. Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, on the other hand predicted in a statement that it would take several days until the violence ends.
On behalf of the international community U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that “we call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts. We regret the loss of life and injuries, and we call on both sides to make every effort to restore calm.” The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, voiced concern about “the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and in the south of Israel”, adding it was “essential to avoid further escalation”.
Despite these statements and while in recent days a genuine effort is being made for internal Palestinian reconciliation Israel once more is trying to jeopardize these initiatives. At a time when the international community is trying to bring the Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table, Israel has preferred to provoke again by carrying out extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians.
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