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Israel Launches Multiple Airstrikes in Gaza

Three blasts were heard across the Gaza strip as Israel launched multiple airstrikes in response to rockets launched by a Hamas rival, an ISIS-linked group called the “Omar Brigades”. The Brigades’ rockets landed in open areas in the Sdot Negev area and resulted in no damage, according to Israeli media. The Israeli Air Force's official statement declares that it struck three “terror infrastructures” without releasing details of the strikes. Hamas later confirmed that one of its military training grounds was hit by a missile.

According to RT, Hamas had reportedly killed a Salafist leader just a few days before and has accused the Omar Brigade of wanting to provoke an all-out conflict with Israel. While Israel has admitted that Hamas was not behind the rockets, it did not explain why Hamas infrastructures were targeted in the strikes. According to Reuters: “Witnesses and medics said the predawn attacks on two camps belonging to Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, and to the smaller Palestinian group Islamic Jihad caused some damage but no casualties.”

Thankfully, no one was injured in the strikes. As usual, Gazans reported feelings of fear and anxiety as the bombs fell on their city. The following are tweets posted by Shaima Ziara, Omar Ghraieb, Mohammed Omer and ‘Farah Gazan‘.

But some of them decided to end their live-tweeting with a touch of optimism:

Since Palestinian violations of the ceasefire are always breaking news, while Israeli violations rarely get reported, let alone make the front page, it's important to mention them in the name of fair coverage.

As Gaza-based reporter Dan Cohen wrote in a recent piece for Mondoweiss, “for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the period since last summer’s war has been a one-way ceasefire.” There has been as many as 67 shootings, six military incursions, 16 injuries and one fatality caused by Israeli violations of the ceasefire between January and March of 2015 alone. The Middle East Monitor and Maan News have been documenting major incidents by month and by type. Of notable emphasis are the routine targeting of Gazan fishermen, farmers and demonstrators.

Furthermore, as Visualizing Palestine documented in an info-graphic published by the Electronic Intifada, there have been 191 Israeli violations between 22 November 2012 (previous Egyptian-brokered ceasefire) until 7 July 2014 (beginning of Israel's latest war in Gaza) compared to 75 Palestinian violations. Of these 191 violations, 10 per cent resulted in death and 42pc in injuries or detentions while out of the 75 Palestinian violations, 4pc resulted in injuries and none in death. The info-graphic complemented a previous one published by Al Jazeera.

Following the recent war in Gaza in 2014, Israel and Palestinian factions had agreed to an indefinite ceasefire on August 26, following an agreement by both sides to follow the ceasefire demands. As we had previously reported, 72pc of Palestinians killed in the offensive were civilians, according to the United Nations, and about a third of the wounded children, will be forced to live with permanent disabilities. One-third of Gaza's total population, over 520,000 people, have been displaced of whom 279,389 were taking shelter in 83 UN-run schools. The total number of victims on each sides were around 2,137 for Palestinians, of whom 72% were civilians and over 500 children, and 72 on the Israeli side, of whom 8pc were civilians.

As to the demands of the peace deal, they were as follows:

“The immediate demands of the peace deal include: the end of hostilities on both sides; opening of the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza; handing over administration of Gaza's borders from Hamas to the PA, reconstruction of Gaza in coordination with the PA and international donors, including the EU; narrowing the security barrier along the inside of the Gaza border from 300 to 100m, easing restrictions on fishing in Gaza from 3 miles (4.8km) to 6 miles (9.6km). The international allowance is 12 miles (19.3 km.)

The long-term demands to be negotiated are: the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners kidnapped by Israel in June after the killing of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank; the release of long-serving Palestinian prisoners as demanded by the Palestinian Authority; Israel wants all body parts and personal effects of Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza; Hamas wants a sea port built in Gaza in order to allow goods and people to move freely; Hamas wants the un-freezing of funds to allow it to pay 40,000 police, government workers and other administrative staff who haven't had any salary since last year; Palestinians are asking for Gaza's airport, built in 1998 and destroyed in 2000 by Israel, to be rebuilt.”

It's hard to properly estimate the ‘success’ of the peace deal since most of the ‘immediate’ demands were never met, let alone the ‘long-term’ ones. Indeed, as former US president Jimmy Carter said on a recent trip to the area: “The situation in Gaza is intolerable. Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve,” referring to the lack of any viable reconstruction in Gaza. Furthermore, Egypt's border with Gaza was only opened for a few days since last summer. The International Coalition for Freedoms and Rights (ICFR) reported that 10 Gazans have died while waiting for Egypt to open its border with Gaza.

Also Read on Global Voices Checkdesk (a joint project between Global Voices Online and Meedan, which aims at verifying news):

Tensions Rise in Gaza Amid Israeli Ceasefire Violations, Hamas-ISIS Struggle

To join our Checkdesk team, please contact our Middle East and North Africa editor Amira Al Hussaini, Faten Bushehri or myself.

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