Israeli/Palestinian TIMELINE of Past Fateful Month
Hayes Brown in “Timeline: The Month That Brought Gaza Back To The Breaking Point” attempts to give a progressive summary of the conflict between the Israeli government and the Palestinians since June 12th.
One year ago, Hayes Brown points out, John Kerry pushed the Israeli government and Palestinian leaderships to try to achieve a two-state solution, stressing that the window of opportunity was fast closing.
Quite the opposite has happened. What is that cynical twist of an old saying? One step forward, two (or a hundred) steps backward?
War is now happening in the Gaza Strip according to Brown.
Three Israeli teens are hitchhiking back to their homes having been studying at Jewish settlements. One is 19, the other two 15. One of the boys tried to call the police during the abduction but the call was dismissed by Israeli police as a prank. The police finally respond when one child is reported missing by his family.
The Israeli population is unhappy over the disappearance of the boys along with the police delay in attempting to find them. The Israeli government puts a gag order on the press, forbidding it to report on the kidnapping.
A torched Hundai is found with DNA evidence of the remains of the three teens and their study materials. It seems clear all three teens are dead. But the Israeli government uses this as a pretext to launch Operation Brother’s Keeper, pretending it believes the boys are still alive so they can push into the West Bank Palestinian territory and round up Hamas political leaders. The Israeli government ends up detaining 300 Palestinians, re-imprisoning 50 whom it had just freed as part of a deal to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces that Hamas kidnapped the teens. Netanyahu is determined to destroy the political coalition of Hamas with Fatah -- a unity pact that many of the international community have been encouraging. There is no evidence linking Hamas’s leadership to the kidnapping. The Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee condemns Netanyahu for carrying out a racist campaign without evidence.
The search of the West Bank continues, even though there is DNA evidence that the boys have been killed. Netanyahu tells NPR that the Israeli government has proof that Hamas conducted the kidnapping. He claims that the Israeli government has shared evidence with the US government and others. He says for the moment, his number one concern is bringing the three boys back. Even though he knows they are dead.
That same day Hamas’ political leader Khaled Mesha does not confirm or deny responsibility for the abduction, but praises its happening which of course incites outrage among Israelis. A PLO member points out, says Brown, that Hamas always takes credit for its operations and the fact that it endorses the abduction but does not take credit probably indicates it was not behind it.
Hamas leadership deny involvement with the kidnapping. Two Hamas operatives have gone missing since the abduction. They are the suspected perpetrators by Israeli security forces. The homes of both suspects and their families are demolished by the Israeli Defense Forces. This was the first time since 2005 reports Brown that the IDF willfully and without evidence of wrongdoing demolished the homes of operatives of Hamas.
The First Salvos
Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip. They strike a diesel fuel tank and create a fire in a Sderot paint factory. Another explodes in “open terrain”. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tells the city’s Mayor that the defense establishment “will not tolerate Gaza terror groups’ attempts to disrupt the daily lives of the southern residents.”
Israeli officials report 62 rockets have been sent from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of June. Palestinian officials report there have been 80 Israeli air strikes in June killing three militants and a dozen civilians.
The bodies of the three teens are found buried under rocks in an open field, 10 miles from the torched car. Netanyahu announces: “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.” A Hebron police officer admits to Buzzfeed that all along the search was for the bodies and not the living teens.
Israel immediately launches 34 airstrikes on Gaza. They say this is in response to 18 rockets coming from Hamas-controlled territory. Netanyahu announces vengeance at the funeral of one of the teens. “Whoever was involved in the kidnapping and the murder will bear the consequences”... “We will neither rest nor slacken until we reach the last of them. And It does not matter where they will try to hide.” He also tells the press, “May God avenge their blood.”
Hamas denies it had involvement in the kidnapping. The leadership accuses Israel of using the kidnapping to use escalation against it. Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri says. “We reject all Israeli allegations and threats against us. We are already used to it and will know how to defend ourselves.”
Groups of Israelis begin to target Palestinians and Arab-Israelis to vent their fury over the deaths of the teens. In the morning of July 2, a Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir is forced into a car in Jerusalem. His body is soon after found having been tortured and burned. An autopsy reveals he was burned alive. The killing of the Palestinian teen is condemned by the Prime Minister and the families of the murdered Israeli teens.
Protests erupt throughout Jerusalem over the death of the Palestinian teen. At times they turn violent. There is a video of the Israeli police beating up a 15-year old Palestinian-American visiting who is a cousin of the burned and murdered Palestinian boy. The boy is released from prison on bail. Photos reveal a severely beaten face. The boy is sentenced to house arrest until he is allowed to return to Florida.
That same day, families of the murdered teens — Israeli and Palestinian — console each other over their losses. Yishai Fraenkel, uncle of Niftali Fraenkel, told Mohammed Khdeir’s family that “there is no difference between those who murdered Muhammed, and those who murdered our children. Those are murderers, and these are murderers. And both must be dealt with to the full extent of the law, and we told him that.”
Six suspects are arrested for the murder of the Palestinian teenager. Three of the suspects are reported to having confessed to the murder, explaining to police how they perpetrated it.
Operation: Protective Edge
Airstrikes begin against Gaza. It is the first major offensive against Gaza since an Egyptian negotiated cease-fire in November 2012. Israel calls up thousands of reservists for possible ground attacks. Israel announces all public bomb shelters are open as cover for rocket attacks.
The Jerusalem police place on leave the officer who beat up the Palestinian American cousin of the murdered and burned Palestinian teen. They however maintain he will have to face criminal charges. The UN Security Council finally meets for the first time about the Gazan violence. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warns of a risk of a ground offensive. He urges that Hamas stop its rocket firing. The US makes no public comment.
Obama calls Netanyahu and offers to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the PLO. Earlier in the day, Netanyahu and Hamas had both publicly refused a ceasefire. The IDF reports that six rockets every hour are entering Israel and the “iron dome” defense system is thwarting them.
There are an estimated 100 Palestinians killed from the bombing of Gaza. The Gazan health ministry reports that half at least are women and children. The IDF defends itself, claiming the homes destroyed were being used for weapons storage, communications, etc. Netanyahu brags that he will not be discouraged by international pressure to operate against terrorists in Gaza and that already 1000 targets in Gaza have been hit by air strikes.
Netanyahu announces that Israel will not release control of the West Bank, 20 times the size of Gaza, to avoid creating 20 Gazas. He calls out US Secretary of State John Kerry by name for advocating peace talk negotiations.
Israel invades Gaza by ground for the first time. Thousands of people flee northern Gaza to avoid further attacks. Leaflets are dropped warning civilians to evacuate. One of them dropped on population 70,000 Palestinian Beit Lahiya reads: “Those who fail to comply with the instructions will endanger their lives and the lives of their families. Beware.”
The Times of Israel reports that Hamas refuses a ceasefire deal that Egypt wants to negotiate. The terms are a 40-hour cease fire followed by a longer one.
The Palestinian Health Ministry reports that there are at least 175 Palestinians dead. The number of Israelis dead is zero. The IDF reports that it has shot down a drone sent out of Gaza. This is a surprise since it indicates Hamas may have more sophisticated weaponry available to it than just the rockets.
A senior Israeli military official admits to the AP:
“There is no knockout, it is more complicated,” ... “if there is a map of pain that the enemy sees, it will have to think about things.”
[cross-posted on open salon]