Displaying items by tag: airstrikes
The worst fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in seven years intensified this week, as Israeli airstrikes began targeting Hamas offices in Gaza City and militants in Gaza fired rockets at the metropolis of Tel Aviv, the southern city of Ashkelon and Israel’s main airport.
In Gaza, at least 67 Palestinians, including 15 children, had been killed by Tuesday night, and 203 others were wounded, according to health officials. In Israel, five people were killed in strikes on Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Lod, and at least 100 were wounded, according to medical officials.
Away from the military conflict, a wave of civil unrest spread across Arab neighbourhoods as Palestinian citizens of Israel expressed fury at the killings in Gaza and longstanding complaints of discrimination inside Israel itself.
Towns with mixed Jewish and Arab populations have been struck by some of the worst communal violence that Israel has seen in years. Live footage was broadcast of far-right Israelis dragging a man they thought was an Arab from his car and beating him until he lay on the ground motionless and bloodied. Footage of the attack in Bat Yam, a Tel Aviv suburb, was broadcast live on TV. Those in the crowd justified the attack by saying the man was an Arab who had tried to ram the far-right nationalists, but the footage showed a motorist trying to avoid the demonstration.
At the same time, Arab protesters also took to the streets, triggering confrontations with Jews. They burnt cars and assaulted Jewish residents of mixed cities, according to police.
This all comes at a time when cities with mixed populations have been positive examples of co-existence but are now being destabilised by a small but destructive minority. As trust is damaged and moderate voices increasingly lost the fear is that violence will only continue to escalate.
The mayor of Lod, a city with both Jewish and Arab residents, warned that “civil war” was breaking out after Arab mourners clashed with police. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called on both Jews and Arabs to cease attacks on each other: “It doesn’t matter to me that your blood is boiling. You can’t take the law in your hands,” he said.
The fighting between Israel and Hamas was triggered by days of escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a holy hilltop compound in East Jerusalem.
The site is revered by both Muslims, who call it the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and Jews, for whom it is known as the Temple Mount. Hamas demanded Israel remove police from there and the nearby predominantly Arab district of Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face eviction by Jewish settlers. Hamas launched rockets when its ultimatum went unheeded.
Palestinian anger had already been stoked by weeks of rising tension in East Jerusalem, inflamed by a series of confrontations with police since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in mid-April.
It was further fuelled by the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers and Israel's annual celebration of its capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, known as Jerusalem Day.
The UN have stepped in amid concerns that the region is heading towards a full-scale war. The UN envoy Tor Wennesland said leaders on all sides “have to take the responsibility of de-escalation” after a day of ferocious confrontations and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promising to intensify attacks on Gaza. “The cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people,” said Wennesland. “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war,” he warned.
Read more insight into the situation surrounding Israel from Well Versed World.
Pray for peace and that the moderate voices calling for it will be heard above the explosions and gunfire.
Pray for the victims and their families that they may be comforted in their loss.
Pray for the political leaders in the region, that they will show wisdom in seeking an end to the violence and not seek political gain out of the situation.
Pray for all those living in fear that they may know the peace of God in these difficult times.
Pray for restoration of communities being torn apart by civil unrest and communal violence.
On 27 March security forces killed over fifty protesters who defied a warning that they could be shot ‘in the head and back’ if they came out while the country's generals celebrated Armed Forces Day. ‘Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,’ said Dr Sasa, a spokesman for the anti-junta group of deposed lawmakers. Local media reported that around 3,000 people from Karen state have left the country and crossed the border into Thailand to escape the violence. Airstrikes that sent villagers fleeing into the jungle show the Myanmar situation is ‘much worse’, a humanitarian worker said. At least 114 people were killed by security forces on 29 March, including a five-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl. Despite the bloodshed, protesters returned to the streets. Citizens are living amid increasing violence. People are being beaten and shot; now they face multiple airstrikes. Myanmar has not had airstrikes there for over twenty years.
The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says that those responsible for airstrikes targeting Syrian civilians could be charged with war crimes, calling it ‘a failure of leadership by the world's most powerful nations’. Since late April 400,000 have been displaced and over 730 civilians killed by Syrian and Russian attacks on militant-held Idlib where three million still live. The airstrikes on schools, hospitals, markets and bakeries killed over 103 civilians in just ten days, including 26 schoolchildren killed in their classroom seats. Ms Bachelet added, ‘These are civilian objects, and it seems highly unlikely, given the persistent pattern of such attacks, that they are all being hit by accident. There is an international indifference to the rising civilian death toll caused by a succession of airstrikes.` Both the Syrians and Russians deny targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.