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Mideast Conflict

Dozens killed in Mideast conflict that recalls 2014 Gaza war


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Published on September 18, 2021 7:14 AM
 
 
Hamas, claiming to be defending Jerusalem, launched a barrage of rockets at the city. Israel has struck 350 targets and killed at least 30 militants since Monday night, 14 of them on Wednesday.
 
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel killed a string of senior Hamas military figures Wednesday and pounded three multistory towers as it hammered the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and militants in the territory fired rocket barrages. Dozens have died in the worst violence since a 2014 war, with no resolution in sight. The fighting has taken on many hallmarks of that devastating 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, but with a startling new factor: a burst of fury from Israel's Palestinian citizens in support of those living in the territories as well as counterviolence by Jewish Israelis.

In response, Israel deployed border guards in two mixed Arab-Jewish cities that saw unrest in previous days, including the burning of a Jewish-owned restaurant and a synagogue, the fatal shooting of an Arab man and attacks on Arab-owned cars. It was a rare use of the paramilitary force, which normally puts down protests by Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Palls of gray smoke rose in Gaza, as Israeli airstrikes struck apartment towers and blasted multiple Hamas security installations. In Israel, hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza's Hamas rulers and other militants at times overwhelmed missile defenses and sent air-raid sirens and explosions echoing across Tel Aviv, Israel's biggest metropolitan area, and other cities.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 53 Palestinians, including 14 children and three women, according to the Health Ministry. At least 320 have been wounded, including 86 children and 39 women. Seven have been killed on the Israeli side by rocket fire, including the first death of an Israeli soldier in this round of conflict. The other deaths have been civilians, including three women and two children, one of them a 6-year-old killed in a rocket strike on an apartment building in city of Sderot. Dozens in Israel have been wounded.

There was no sign that...

Background

2014 Gaza War

The 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge was a military operation launched by Israel on 8 July 2014 in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members, the IDF conducted Operation Brother's Keeper to arrest militant leaders, Hamas fired rockets into Israel and a seven-week conflict broke out. It was one of the deadliest conflicts between the Palestinians and Israel in decades. The combined Israeli airstrikes and ground bombardment and Palestinian rocket attacks resulted in thousands of deaths, the vast majority of which were Gazans.

The Israeli operation was designed to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, which increased after an Israeli crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank was launched following the 12 June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by two Hamas members. Conversely, Hamas's goal was to bring international pressure to bear to lift Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, end Israel's offensive, obtain a third party to monitor and guarantee compliance with a ceasefire, release Palestinian prisoners and overcome its political isolation. According to the BBC, in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel launched air raids on Gaza.

On 7 July, after seven Hamas militants died in a tunnel explosion in Khan Yunis which was caused by an Israeli airstrike or an accidental explosion of their own munitions , Hamas assumed responsibility for rockets fired into Israel and launched 40 rockets towards Israel. The operation officially began the following day, and on 17 July, the operation was expanded to an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza with the stated aim of destroying Gaza's tunnel system; Israeli ground forces withdrew on 5 August. On 26 August, an open-ended ceasefire was announced. By that date, the IDF reported that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups had fired 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, with over 735 intercepted in flight and shot down by Iron Dome. Most Gazan mortar and rocket fire hit open land. More than 280 fell on areas in Gaza, and 224 struck residential areas. Militant rocketry also killed 13 Gazan civilians, 11 of them children. The IDF attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza; at least 34 known tunnels were destroyed and two-thirds of Hamas's 10,000-rocket arsenal was used up or destroyed.

Between 2,125 and 2,310 Gazans were killed and between 10,626 and 10,895 were wounded . Gazan civilian casualty rates estimates range between 70% by the Gaza Health Ministry, 65% by United Nations Protection Cluster by OCHA , and 36% by Israeli officials, The UN estimated that more than 7,000 homes for 10,000 families were razed, together with an additional 89,000 homes damaged, of which roughly 10,000 were severely affected by the bombing. Rebuilding costs were calculated to run from 4–6 billion dollars, over 20 years. 67 Israeli soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians and one Thai civilian were killed and 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured. On the Israeli side, the economic impact of the operation is estimated at NIS 8.5 billion and GDP loss of 0.4%.

Civilian deaths

Many of those killed were civilians, prompting concern from many humanitarian organisations. An investigation by Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel had probably committed war crimes on three specific incidents involving strikes on UNWRA schools. Amnesty International stated that: 'Israeli forces have carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, including through the use of precision weaponry such as drone-fired missiles, and attacks using munitions such as artillery, which cannot be precisely targeted, on very densely populated residential areas, such as Shuja'iyya. They have also directly attacked civilian objects.' B'tselem has compiled an infogram listing families killed at home in 72 incidents of bombing or shelling, comprising 547 people killed, of whom 125 were women under 60, 250 were minors, and 29 were over 60. On 24 August, Palestinian health officials said that 89 families had been killed.

Nine people were killed while watching the World Cup in a cafe, and 8 members of a family died that Israel has said were inadvertently killed. A Golani soldier interviewed about his operations inside Gaza said they often could not distinguish between civilians and Hamas fighters because some Hamas operatives dressed in plainclothes and the night vision goggles made everything look green. An IDF spokesperson said that Hamas 'deploys in residential areas, creating rocket launch sites, command and control centers, and other positions deep in the heart of urban areas. By doing so, Hamas chooses the battleground where the IDF is forced to operate.' The highest-ranking U.S. military officer, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that 'Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties'. Later in his speech he said, 'the Pentagon three months ago sent a 'lessons-learned team' of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation, to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling.' Col. Richard Kemp told The Observer, 'IDF has taken greater steps than any other army in the history of warfare to minimise harm to civilians in a combat zone.

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