Bearing Witness

Israel-Gaza conflict 2006

The conflict began on June 24, 2006, when in light of ongoing Qassam rocket attacks on Israeli cities, Israeli operatives seized suspected Hamas members Osama and Mustafa Muamar in the Gaza Strip. On June 25, a Hamas attack in Israeli checkpoint resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit. In turn, Israel launched Operation Summer Rains on June 28.

Israel maintains that it mobilized thousands of troops in order to suppress Qassam rocket fire against its civilian population and to secure the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit. It is estimated that between 7,000 and 9,000 heavy Israeli artillery shells have been fired into Gaza since September 2005, killing 80 Palestinians in 6 months. On the Palestinian side, approximately 1,000 Qassam missiles are believed to have been fired into Israel.

Israel has stated that it will withdraw from Gaza and end the operation as soon as Shalit is released. The Palestinians say the assault is aimed at toppling the democratically elected Hamas-led government and at destabilizing the Palestinian National Authority, citing the targeting of civilian infrastructure such as a power station and the captures of government and parliament members.

After Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, pulling 9 thousand settlers from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, tensions had remained high in Gaza due to the continued shelling of areas in Israel with Qassam rocket attacks launched by Palestinians from Gaza into areas such as the Israeli city of Sderot, reported to have exceeded 800 rockets in the past seven months. Between the end of March and the end of May 2006, Israel fired at least 5,100 artillery shells into the Gaza Strip Qassam launching areas in an attempt to stop them from firing.

On June 9, during or shortly after an Israeli operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians.Other Israeli missile attacks included one on the Gaza highway on June 13 that killed 11 Palestinians and injured 30, and on June 20 that killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 15.

Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, and began openly taking responsibility for the ongoing Qassam rocket attacks.

On June 24, 2006, Israeli commandos entered the Gaza Strip in the first capture raid into the Strip since Israel pulled out of Gaza in September 2005. In the raid they captured two Palestinians, identified by neighbors as brothers Osama Muamar, 31, and Mustafa, 20, who Israel claims are Hamas militants. Noam Chomsky has claimed in a recent interview that these two Palestinians were civilians, a doctor and his brother. Chomsky claims not to know the fate the kidnapped men.

On June 25, 2006, armed Palestinians crossed the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel via a makeshift tunnel and attacked an Israel Defense Forces post. During the morning attack, two Palestinian militants and two Israel Defense Force soldiers were killed and four others wounded, in addition to Corporal Gilad Shalit, who suffered a broken left hand and a light shoulder wound. Hamas claimed that the attack was carried out in response to the death of the Ralia family on north Gaza beach a few weeks before.

Shalit’s captors issued a series of statements demanding the release of all female Palestinian prisoners and all Palestinian prisoners under the age of 18. The statements came from Ezz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing Hamas), the Popular Resistance Committees (which includes members of Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas), and the Army of Islam. More than 8,000 Palestinians are held as prisoners by the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Prisons Service. Approximately two thirds of these prisoners were convicted in court, while around ten percent are held without charge.

* The above information was obtained at www.palestinehistory.com

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October 29, 2008 - Posted by | History of the Occupation | , , , , , ,

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