In what some consider an unprovoked attack, Israel killed 3 Palestinian resistance leaders, 4 children, 4 women, and four others as Israeli warplanes bombed homes and other civilian objects
by Maureen Clare Murphy, reposted from Electronic Intifada, May 9, 2023
Israeli warplanes struck multiple sites across Gaza early Tuesday, killing three Islamic Jihad military leaders along with several others, with an initial total of 12 fatalities. [Later reports indicate 13 dead.]
[UPDATE: On Tuesday evening, the Israeli army fired a missile at a Palestinian car in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinians and wounding two – this is a breaking story, check back for updates]
The Israeli military announced on Twitter that it had launched the beginning of an operation and thus a major escalation and yet another episode of terror for Gaza’s besieged population of 2.2 million Palestinians.
Death toll in Gaza is 12 including 2 children and 3 PIJ top militants, rescue workers searching for survivors under rubble of a heavily damaged house in Gaza City pic.twitter.com/7zx1i8YLA2
— Rushdi Abualouf (@Rushdibbc) May 9, 2023
Unnamed “security officials” said “that they expect some military response from Hamas and that another round of fighting – lasting at least a few days – is likely,” the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported.
[Related: Understanding the Crisis in Gaza]
Israel said that it was “striking Islamic Jihad targets” in Gaza while updates posted on social media from the territory made clear that warplanes were bombing homes and other civilian objects.
تغطية صحفية: "لحظة استهداف طيران الاحتلال لموقع حطين في خانيونس جنوب قطاع غزة". pic.twitter.com/AsZKE7bdmG
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) May 8, 2023
تغطية صحفية: "منزل عائلة غنام الذي استهدفه طيران الاحتلال بمدينة رفح في قطاع غزة". pic.twitter.com/4ZQYIUo4Eq
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) May 8, 2023
There are bombings in my city, nearby my home, and I have no idea how to calm my frightened baby if we dare to survive this.
— Issam Adwan عصام عدوان (@Issam_Adwan) May 9, 2023
The Palestinian resistance faction named the assassinated leaders as Jihad Shakir Ghanam, secretary of its military council, Khalil Salih al-Bahtini, a commander in northern Gaza, and Tariq Muhammad Izzedine, who helped lead the group’s activities in the West Bank.
Also killed in the attack are the five-year-old daughter of Khalil Salah Al-Bahtini, Hajar Bahtini, and wife Leila Bahtini (not pictured).
Ghanam’s wife Wafaa (50) was also killed in the attack, and Dr. Jamal Khaswan (53), former chairman of the Gaza Dentists’ Association. His wife Mirfat (45) and son Yousef (20) are also among the casualties.
Dr. Jamal Khaswan, the Director of AlWafa hospital was killed along with his wife and son (who studying to be a doctor) this dawn in Gaza from Israeli bombing of a nearby home. They’re survived by a daughter, seen in this video comforted by a paramedic. Death toll is now 13 pic.twitter.com/TsD9tbcUjZ
— Nour Odeh 🇵🇸 #NojusticeNopeace (@nour_odeh) May 9, 2023
The names of two other casualties were also announced: Dania Adas (19) and her sister Iman (14).
Miral, traumatized as she lost her parents & brother. She survived alone. Dr Khashan, former head Dentists Syndicate,wife & son, Dr. Youssef were all murdered during the Israeli bombing of #Gaza this dawn. Holding #Russian citizenship, all Palestinians are target to Israeli fire pic.twitter.com/FtpDyQsXVG
— Dalal IRIQAT دلال عريقات (@DalalIRIQAT) May 9, 2023
عاجل | في تصريح صحفي.. ســرايـــا القدس: "ننعى القادة جهاد الغنام وخليل البهتيني وطارق عز الدين ومعهم زوجاتهم وعدد من أبنائهم، الذين ارتقوا جراء عملية اغتيال صهيونيــة جبانة فجر اليوم". pic.twitter.com/zAD3PcKaXg
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) May 9, 2023
Islamic Jihad stated on Telegram that the assassinated leaders’ wives and some of their children were also killed.
The surprise attack appeared to be a repeat of the unprovoked strikes targeting a senior commander from Islamic Jihad last August, triggering the launching of salvoes of rockets from Gaza.
Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of PIJ , says that three of its top military leaders were killed in Israeli raids, and vows revenge.
— Rushdi Abualouf (@Rushdibbc) May 9, 2023
Nearly 40 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza between 5 and 7 August last year. An additional 13 Palestinians in Gaza were killed during that period either by Israeli forces or by Palestinian rockets that fell short in the territory.
Additional Palestinians later succumbed to their injuries, including a 10-year-old boy who died earlier this year as a result from wounds sustained in an Israeli strike.
There were no fatalities or serious injuries in Israel as a result of projectiles fired from Gaza during those three days.
Israel sabotages ceasefire
Israel has a long history of deliberately sabotaging ceasefires reached with armed groups in Gaza, like that which ended a day of cross-boundary fire last week.
Israeli forces and Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza exchanged fire for one day following the death of hunger striking Palestinian prisoner and Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan last Tuesday. [NOTE: read about Khader Adnan’s life and death here.]
During that day-long episode, 58-year-old Palestinian civilian died after Israeli bombing caused the ceiling of his home to collapse on him.
By targeting faction leaders on Tuesday, Israel has embarked on another war of choice in the repeatedly bombarded Gaza Strip, which has been under a comprehensive blockade since 2007.
Hours before the Israeli bombing campaign was launched, Eli Cohen, Israel’s foreign minister, spoke with his American counterpart Antony Blinken. During the call, the US secretary of state purportedly “noted the importance of recent meetings in Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh aimed at de-escalating tensions,” according to a spokesperson.
Others took the timing of the bombing to mean the opposite of what the State Department claims – that instead of encouraging de-escalation, it gave Israel the green light to target Palestinian resistance leaders in Gaza.
The absurdity of this readout of Blinken's call with #Israeli FM Eli Cohen can't be measured. It cannot be a coincidence that #Israel started their latest bombing of #Gaza soon after. https://t.co/3BYwPqshf1
— Mitchell Plitnick 🔥🕎 (@MJPlitnick) May 9, 2023
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s extreme-right national security minister, celebrated the bloodshed on Twitter, saying it was “about time!”
[NOTE: Middle East Monitor reports that, following the airstrikes, “Extreme far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the attacks in Gaza,” and after previously boycotting the Knesset to protest Netanyahu’s “weak” position on Gaza, “[h]is party also announced that it will return to voting in the parliament, the Knesset.”]
Ben-Gvir’s portfolio includes authority over the Israel Prison Service, which human rights groups blame for Khader Adnan’s death.
Ben-Gvir and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, have openly disagreed over Gaza, with the former seeking an even more hardline response to rocket fire than the latter.
The power struggle has raised questions “over the stability of the partnership between [Netanyahu’s] Likud and [Ben-Gvir’s] far-right Jewish Power party,” as columnist Mazal Mualem stated in the web publication Al-Monitor on Monday.
The Israeli military, police and armed civilians have killed 124 Palestinians so far this year, according to The Electronic Intifada’s tracking. That number includes Palestinians who died from injuries sustained previously.
Twenty Israelis and foreign nationals were killed by Palestinians during the same period, or died from injuries sustained last year.
Extrajudicial execution in Tulkarm
On Saturday, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians, identified as Samer al-Shafei and Hamza Kharyoush, both 22, during a raid in the West Bank city of Tulkarm.
Israel claimed that the men had carried out a shooting attack at a nearby settlement earlier in the week, injuring a civilian.
A graphic video shows al-Shafei and Khayroush laying on a tin roof, apparently lifeless, as Israeli troops search them, turning one over with his foot. The video does not show the troops attempting to provide first aid.
Eyewitnesses told Palestinian media that the soldiers left the men to bleed out and fired at them at close range to ensure they were dead.
According to an eyewitnesses: Israeli soldiers hovered over the youth as they were injured & still breathing. One of the injured youth, Hamze, lifted his hands. The soldiers intentionally left them to bleed out, and even fired a pistol bullet from close range before they left. pic.twitter.com/zbnKBdzVCE
— Jalal (@JalalAK_jojo) May 6, 2023
The Tulkarm raid appears to be yet another Israeli extrajudicial execution operation in which the intent was to kill rather than apprehend the wanted men.
Last week, occupation forces killed three Palestinians who Israel claims were involved in a shooting attack that killed an Israeli woman and two of her daughters last month.
Netanyahu praised those who carried out the deadly raid on Thursday for “settling the score.”
Human rights groups have long protested Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy, saying that it is tantamount to a de facto death sentence, even though capital punishment is banned by that country.
“A soldier obeying orders”
B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has said that Netanyahu is responsible for “the transformation of police officers, and even of armed civilians, into judges and executioners” who shoot and kill Palestinians in the streets.
That deadly vigilantism, spurred by racist incitement by Israel’s top leaders, all but certainly factored into the shooting death of Diyar Omari, a 19-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, on Saturday.
Israel claims that Omari was killed in the north of the country during a road rage dispute. But video of the deadly encounter shows Omari being attacked by an Israeli man identified as Denis Mukin, who is seen removing the teen from his vehicle and then opening fire at him as Omari attempts to get back into his car.
Mukin was reportedly arrested by Israeli police.
“Despite an assessment by Israeli police that Omari’s killing was not politically or nationalistically motivated,” the Israeli publication +972 Magazine reported, “there is an overwhelming sense among Palestinian citizens that Mukin, who had just finished his army reserve service, was quick to use his weapon as a result of the hyper-nationalist, anti-Arab atmosphere that has fermented in recent years.”
The publication added: “This atmosphere, they say, has been especially encouraged by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who recently called on Israeli civilians to bear arms and for reservists to be allowed to carry guns without a special license.”
“[Ben-Gvir] literally asked Jews to carry weapons and have their finger on the trigger — and that’s exactly what he did. He was a soldier who was obeying orders,” Ahmad Omari, Diyar’s father, told the online magazine.
For a complete list of Palestinians and Israelis killed since 2000, please visit Israel-Palestine Timeline
NOTE: The entire West Bank has been under Israeli occupation since 1967; all its official entrances and exits are controlled by Israeli soldiers, making its Palestinian inhabitants virtual prisoners. Many are families that were ethnically cleansed from Israel during Israel’s founding war (see this and this and this) and its 1967 war. Israeli forces often invade them; one example is here.
Israel was established in 1947 through a war of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, both Muslims and Christians, and it continues to steal other people’s land for illegal colonies known as ‘settlements.’ While Palestinians most often use nonviolent resistance, a small number use armed resistance against the invaders.
Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.
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