Even in the afterglow of Inauguration Day, we’re keeping up on the news from Gaza, my darlings. It wouldn’t do to get distracted by shiny things. Considering how the ongoing crisis between Israel and the Palestinians destabilizes the Middle East, it’s worth keeping a close eye on.
The news is mixed. On the good side, Israel has withdrawn its forces:
The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said it had withdrawn all of its soldiers from Gaza, three and a half weeks after launching Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the coastal territory.
“As of this morning, the last of the Israel Defence Forces soldiers have left the Gaza Strip and the forces have deployed outside of Gaza and are prepared for any occurrences,” an army spokesman said.
On the bad side, there’s been mortar fire and some shootings:
Israel reported mortar shelling from Gaza on Tuesday. The Palestinians have said Israeli troops shot to death two farmers since the truce took hold.
[snip]The Israel Air Force on Tuesday attacked areas in the Gaza Strip from which Palestinians fired mortar shells. The Israel Defense Forces said that about eight mortar shells were shot from near a central Gaza refugee camp, apparently by Hamas. Two of the shells landed in the Strip and the rest fell in open territory in the western Negev near the border.
At this stage, the IDF is holding its fire after its attack at around 6 P.M. Tuesday.
The Palestinians also fired light weapons into Israel on Tuesday, from both north and south of the Kissufim crossing. An explosive charge was also apparently set off.
The reporting’s too sketchy to determine what exactly is happening – after the lies Israel told during the invasion, I’m disinclined to believe their claims that it’s all Hamas’s fault. But I’m also not going to be shocked in the least if some pissed-off Palestinians have ignored the cease-fire in the interest of extracting a pound or two of flesh.
After all, there’s plenty to be pissed about:
As outside observers enter Gaza, we’re learning more about what has happened during the Israeli attack. What they are seeing is devastating – and is leading to accusations of Israeli war crimes.
Amnesty International reported Monday on the findings of a four-person fact-finding team who have just been allowed to Gaza. The team included a weapons expert who said:
“Yesterday, we saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli army…White phosphorus is a weapon intended to provide a smokescreen for troop movements on the battlefield. It is highly incendiary, air burst and its spread effect is such that it that should never be used on civilian areas”.
And their conclusion is that the Israeli use in Gaza “is a war crime:”
“Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza’s densely populated residential neighbourhoods is inherently indiscriminate. Its repeated use in this manner, despite evidence of its indiscriminate effects and its toll on civilians, is a war crime,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
They’ve left behind plenty of outrage, and there’s that small matter of having destroyed the very security forces that might have enforced a cease-fire.
It’s not over. Not by any means.