by Stephen Lendman
Israeli regimes are guilty of decades of crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide.
State terror is official policy. Besieged Gazans are being slowly suffocated. Over 1.7 million Palestinians are affected. Air, ground and sea attacks repeat with disturbing regularity.
The latest came late Thursday. Israeli warplanes bombed multiple sites. Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan and Al-Hawouz neighborhoods were targeted. So was Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.
Other Israeli missiles struck vacant land east of Ash-Shujaeyya. It was close to where an IDF contract worker was killed.
Shifa Hospital sources said two Palestinians suffered shrapnel wounds. No deaths so far were reported.
Earlier repeated Israeli provocations targeted Gazan farmers, children and other civilians. One death was reported. A three-year-old Palestinian girl won't reach age four.
In response, gunfire from Gaza killed an IDF contract worker. On Tuesday, Israeli warplanes responded. So did tanks and ground forces from inside Israel's border.
Gazans responded again. They did so in self-defense. One or more homemade rockets hit an uninhabited area in southern Israel. No casualties or damage resulted. It didn't matter.
Israel bombed Gaza again. Official policy call civilians, residential neighborhoods, and other non-military related sites legitimate targets.
International law states otherwise. Israel spurns it with impunity. Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst.
On the previous day, Israeli soldiers destroyed dozens of dunums of agricultural land. They did so south of the West Bank town of Qalqilya.
Bulldozers and other heavy equipment uprooted almond, citrus and olive trees. Destruction was near Israel's apartheid wall.
Witnesses said soldiers prevented farmers from reaching their land. They tried. They weren't able to save crops too valuable to lose.
Hours before Israel bombed Gaza on Thursday, its forces stormed Beit Jala. They targeted Bethlehem one day after Christmas. Tourists there still celebrate it.
Soldiers and plain-clothed elements raided the heart of the city. They stormed homes with police dogs. They ransacked them. They damaged them. They arrested four civilians.
They blockaded areas where they lived. Israel declared privately owned Palestinian land a "closed military zone."
Heavy gunfire prevented residents from entering or exiting. Journalists nearby were threatened.
On Christmas night, Israeli forces stormed the Wadi Maale neighborhood. It's near Bethlehem's center. Two Palestinian homes were raided.
Families were terrorized. Hamzah al-Kamel and Shehadah Muhammad Shedadah were arrested. A third area home was targeted. An unidentified resident fled before soldiers arrived.
These type raids happen virtually daily. Usually it's multiple times daily. Holidays are no exception.
Palestinian civilians are terrorized. Children are traumatized. Crimes against humanity repeat. No Israeli commander or official in memory was ever held accountable.
Thugs pose as military commanders and government officials. Their policies speak for themselves. They consider self-defense terrorism.
They claim Israel has a divine right to terrorize, arrest, imprison, torture, and murder Palestinians with impunity.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon called Gazan self-defense terrorism. Other rogue Israeli officials say the same thing. They absolve their own high crimes too grave to ignore.
They've committed too many to count. Israel's rap sheet is bloodstained. It's long and deplorable.
On November 14, 2012, Israel murdered Ahmed Jabari. A missile struck his car. He was well known. He was highly respected.
Many considered him Hamas' most important military and political leader. Hours before his assassination, he concluded a truce agreement draft.
It included ways to establish ceasefires in case of future flare-ups. He was working with Egypt to establish permanent truce.
Israel killed him to prevent it. Operation Pillar of Cloud followed. It was premeditated naked aggression. Eight days of attacks ravaged Gaza. Serious war crimes were committed.
Around 170 Palestinians died. Over 1,000 were injured. Nearly half were women and children. At least 963 houses were damaged or destroyed.
They included 10 health centers, 35 schools, 2 universities, 15 NGO offices, 30 mosques, 14 media offices, 92 industrial and commercial facilities, 1 UNWRA food distribution center, 8 government buildings, 14 police/security stations, 5 banks, 34 vehicles, 3 youth clubs, 3 cemeteries, and 2 bridges.
On November 21, attacks ended. Egypt under President Mohamed Morsi acted as intermediary to do so.
Israel agreed to ceasefire terms. So did Hamas. They included:
"A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.
B. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.
C. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents' free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
D. Other matters as may be requested shall be addressed."
Implementation mechanisms included:
"A. Setting up the zero hour for the ceasefire understanding to enter into effect.
B. Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.
C. Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations, Egypt as the sponsor of this understanding, shall be informed to follow up."
Both sides agreed not to breach ceasefire terms. Hamas stuck by its agreement. Israeli ones aren't worth the paper they're written on.
Straightaway, it committed violations. It did so repeatedly. It continues to do so. On December 27, Maan News headlined "Islamic Jihad: 1,400 Gaza ceasefire violations since 2012," saying:
Israel violated ceasefire terms "over 1,400 times since December 2012â€¦" Killing a three-year old Palestinian girl was the latest incident. Hundreds of others preceded it.
Al-Quds Brigades spokesman Abu Ahmad said Islamic Jihad supported ceasefire terms. They matter because Gazans benefit, he stressed. Given repeated Israeli violations, "we will not keep (them) forever," he added.
Ceasefires must be reciprocal. Israel's agreement was meaningless. "Every drop of blood that falls must be countered, but the nature of the field determines how," said Ahmad.
On December 26, Haaretz editors headlined "Israel must let the Gazans live. The Strip is a powder keg waiting to explode, and zero-hour is not far off."
Occupation harshness bears full responsibility. Lawless siege reflects it. So do repeated Israeli premeditated attacks.
Normal life is impossible. Israel's "government must reevaluate its policy toward Gaza and do what is necessary to allow its people to live a reasonable life," said Haaretz editors.
"Reasonable" isn't good enough. Nor in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Nothing short of liberation is acceptable.
Israeli accountability must be addressed. High crimes against peace must be punished. Failure to do so assures they'll continue.
Haaretz editors are right saying "Israel must let Gazans live." They stopped short of explaining what's required to do so.
They should demanded an end to occupation. They should have denounced settlement construction.
Jews only housing is built on stolen Palestinian land. Israel is expected to announce tenders for 1,400 new units.
Under agreed on peace talk terms last July, Israel promised to release 104 Palestinian political prisoners.
Twenty-six are scheduled for this Sunday. Israel usually combines prisoner releases with new settlement construction announcements.
It's done to make lawlessness look more acceptable. It fools no one. Land theft can't be justified any time for any reason.
So-called Palestinian peace negotiators are longtime Israeli collaborators. They disgraced themselves for special benefits long ago.
They betrayed their own people in the process. Their high-minded rhetoric means nothing. They speak with forked tongue.
They repeatedly warned about settlement expansions making peace impossible. The continue negotiating anyway. They do it disgracefully. The sham process persists.
They represent Israeli interests, not Palestinian ones. They've done it in earlier peace talk rounds. They surrendered to Israeli demands numerous times. Other times they accomplished nothing.
Occupation harshness persists. So does Palestinian suffering. It shows no signs of ending. Gazans suffer most. Siege and repeated Israeli attacks reflect conditions too intolerate to allow.
World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye. They don't give a damn. They literally let Israel get away with murder.
They've done it since 1948. They let Palestinian suffering continue. They don't care. They blame Palestinians for Israeli crimes. They whitewash their own at the same time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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