[Marxism] Airstrike Near U.N. School Kills 10, Gaza Officials Say

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Aug 3 08:15:02 MDT 2014


NY Times, August 3 2014
Airstrike Near U.N. School Kills 10, Gaza Officials Say
By STEVEN ERLANGER and FARES AKRAM

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military continued its substantial military 
attacks around Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday, with Palestinian 
officials reporting that a strike near the entrance of a United Nations 
school sheltering displaced people killed 10 people and wounded 35 others.

Witnesses said those killed or hurt were waiting in line for food 
supplies when a missile hit. A photographer said the target appeared to 
be a motorcycle near the entrance of the school in the center of Rafah. 
About 3,000 Palestinians in the area, where the Israeli military has 
been battling Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, had been sheltering in 
the school.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment, and the United Nations 
said it was not immediately clear where the strike originated.

Mohammed Muafai, who works for the United Nations there, said that he 
was in the school when the missile hit. In a telephone interview, he 
said bodies were on the ground, including two guards and a sanitation 
worker. He said seven more people from displaced families also died, 
including one selling flavored ice.

Dr. Abdullah Shehada, director of the Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in 
Rafah, which was vacated and whose functions were moved to a smaller 
hospital, the Kuwaiti Specialized Hospital, said more than 30 of the 
injured were brought to the smaller institution. “We call for halting 
the Israeli operation around Abu Youssef Al-Najjar so we can return,” he 
said.

Last Wednesday, 21 Palestinians who sought refuge in a United 
Nations-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp were killed, health 
ministry officials said, in a series of predawn strikes. The Israeli 
military has said that it did not target the school and that Palestinian 
fighters were operating within 200 yards of the shelter that morning.

After an earlier strike on a school serving as a shelter in Beit Hanoun 
killed 16, the Israelis acknowledged they had fired a mortar that hit 
the courtyard, which was empty at the time.

Earlier on Sunday, airstrikes killed at least 30 Palestinians, medics 
and witnesses said. The deadliest strikes hit homes in Rafah and in the 
Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said 
that nine members of a family were killed in an air attack in Rafah. At 
midnight Saturday, before the attacks on Sunday, the health ministry put 
the cumulative death toll in Gaza at 1,712.

Israeli officials on Sunday defended their decision to announce the 
death of a missing Israeli soldier at 2 a.m., only hours after Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on national television that he had no 
new information about the case.

Army spokesmen said on Sunday that the declaration of the death of 
Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, was made as soon as possible and that DNA 
tests had been carried out on partial remains found after the lieutenant 
and two colleagues were attacked by a Hamas squad that emerged from a 
tunnel on Friday. One of the Hamas fighters had exploded a suicide belt.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, the army spokesman, said that tests were done “on 
items found on the field” and in the tunnel into which the Hamas squad 
had retreated with the lieutenant, including his bloody uniform, leading 
to fears that he had been captured alive.

“We can’t determine if he was killed on the ground or from the blast,” 
Colonel Lerner said. “The indications on the ground are that he was 
killed in the initial attack.”

He said that the tests had been carried out during the Sabbath because 
it was an emergency situation. The relatives of Lieutenant Goldin made 
emotional appeals earlier on Saturday, before Mr. Netanyahu spoke, that 
Israel and its army not leave the lieutenant behind, and they had said 
they believed he was still alive.

His funeral is expected later on Sunday. Lieutenant Goldin’s case is 
unlike others in which there were no remains, Colonel Lerner said, 
referring to an earlier episode in which another Israeli soldier had 
been feared captured and was later declared dead. The Goldin family will 
have some remains to bury.

“There were remains found also in the tunnel,” Colonel Lerner said. 
“That led us to think that there is the possibility that” the Hamas 
squad members “have body parts.”

For its part, Hamas’s military wing, while taking credit for the 
operation, said on Saturday that it had no information about the 
lieutenant and had lost contact with its squad, suggesting that all 
involved were dead. On Friday, Israeli forces immediately used a 
protocol for captured soldiers known as “Operation Hannibal” to pursue 
the Hamas squad into the tunnel and try to cut off any possibility of 
escape.

Hannibal includes intense pursuit and an option to engage the enemy 
“even at risk of the soldier,” Colonel Lerner said.

Israel has said that the attack occurred during an agreed cease-fire 
with Hamas; Hamas has said variously that it took place before the 
cease-fire went into effect and that it had never agreed to a cease-fire 
that would allow Israel to continue destroying the tunnel system. But 
the episode put an end to a cease-fire effort pressed by Washington and 
the United Nations.

Two other Israelis were killed in the attack: a company commander, Maj. 
Benaya Sarel, and a radioman, Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni. The soldiers who 
entered the tunnel said that one shaft led to a mosque and the other to 
a Hamas bunker.

The Goldin family was notified of the decision to declare the lieutenant 
dead by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and two officers, including the 
chief military rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz. The relatives said that 
they accepted the military’s conclusion and thanked the people of Israel 
for their support. People outside the family’s house in Kfar Saba, near 
Tel Aviv, were singing the Israeli national anthem, and some burst into 
tears when informed of the death.

Lieutenant Goldin is a relative of Mr. Yaalon’s: Mr. Yaalon’s 
grandfather and Lieutenant Goldin’s grandmother were brother and sister. 
Mr. Yaalon also lectured at Lieutenant Goldin’s school. Israel’s 
military censor had blocked publication of that detail of their family 
relationship until the death was announced on Sunday, concerned that 
Hamas might profit from that knowledge and demand a higher price for the 
officer’s return.

International journalists must agree in writing to comply with the 
censorship system in order to work in Jerusalem; Friday was the first 
time in more than six years that the censor had contacted The New York 
Times.

Later Sunday, Mr. Yaalon posted on Twitter in Hebrew: “Hadar Goldin of 
blessed memory was a member of my family. I have known him since he was 
born. He and IDF fighters who fell went to battle to return the quiet 
and the security to Israel. I embrace the families.”

Israel’s military operation will continue, Colonel Lerner said. “There 
is no end in sight,” he said. “The reality on the ground can take us in 
either direction.”

But he confirmed that once the operations to destroy the tunnels were 
completed, which he said could take 24 hours, some Israeli troops would 
redeploy away from populated areas and take up positions near the 
Israeli border with Gaza. “We are moving forces to different locations, 
but it will still let us carry out operational activities on the ground 
as required,” he said.

On Saturday evening, Mr. Netanyahu declared that Israel was achieving 
its goals and could alter its tactics. “We promised to return the quiet 
to Israel’s citizens, and we will continue to act until that aim is 
achieved,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “We will take as much time as necessary, 
and will exert as much force as needed.”

Israel is not ending its operation unilaterally, he said, adding: “We 
will deploy in the places most convenient to us to reduce friction on 
I.D.F. soldiers, because we care about them.”

Israeli television reports on Saturday said that some Israel Defense 
Forces troops were pulling out of Gaza, and that Israel had informed 
Palestinians in Beit Lahiya and al-Atatra, in northern Gaza, that it was 
now safe to return to their homes.



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