November 23, 2009
After ceasefire declaration by Hamas, Israel launches air strikes in Gaza
By Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News
Early Sunday morning, the Israeli airforce launched a series of missiles into the central, northern and southern Gaza Strip, wounding seven Palestinians. The air strikes follow a Saturday night declaration by the Hamas leadership in Gaza (the elected leadership of the Palestinian people) that they had managed to convince the armed factions in Gaza to cease firing homemade shells across the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
The pattern of Israeli air strikes following Palestinian cease-fire declarations is one that has become common over the years, particularly in 2008, when Hamas declared a six-month ceasefire, but Israeli forces refused to recognize or participate in that ceasefire, instead launching numerous attacks on Palestinian fishermen, extrajudicial assassinations of suspected fighters, and air strikes on civilian areas. One of the most egregious examples of this pattern was on July 21, 2002, when, just hours after Hamas announced the conclusion of a delicate negotiation with all armed groups which resulted in the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, Israeli forces launched a massive airstrike on an apartment building in Gaza City, killing 22 civilians, 14 of whom were children. The ceasefire eroded after that attack.
In Sunday's attack, Israeli forces hit a metal foundry in central Gaza, a trailer home in northern Gaza, and smuggling tunnels in the south used by Palestinians to sneak in much-needed food and medical supplies that are banned from entry into the Gaza Strip by the Israeli siege.
The Israeli military said that the air strikes were in response to a shell that had been fired by Palestinian fighters early Saturday morning, causing no injuries or damage. The Israeli military gave no response to the fact that later on Saturday, Hamas officials had announced a ceasefire that they had negotiated with all of the fighting factions in Gaza.
According to Israeli sources, almost 270 shells have been fired by Palestinian fighters into Israel since January, causing no injuries and very little damage (the Palestinian homemade shells are small, crude and impossible to aim). The Israeli sources added that this is a significant decrease from 2008, when they claim that nearly 3,300 shells and other small projectiles were shot over the border.
In the last year, Israeli forces have killed over 1500 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are civilians. In the same time period, Palestinian fighters have killed 5 Israeli civilians.