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Israel continues provocation as scale of damage grows in Gaza

 Israel continues provocation as scale of damage grows in Gaza


A fragile ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad held on for a third day on Sunday despite sustained incendiary threats from the Israeli government and fascist attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, sustained by the police.

Israeli provocations escalated as more Gazans walked out of their homes over the weekend to witness the massive damage caused by the 11 days of Israeli shelling. The extent of the destruction became clearer, even as Israeli drones flew over their heads.

The United Nations said nearly 450 buildings were damaged, including six hospitals, 53 schools and 11 primary health care centers. More than 1,000 housing units in 258 buildings were destroyed, and another 14,500 houses were damaged.


Israel continues provocation as scale of damage grows in Gaza
A crater filled with water and sewage remains where Ramez al-Masri's house was located before it was destroyed by an airstrike before the ceasefire on Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. (AP Photo / John Minchillo)


More than 100,000 people have been internally displaced, and about ten times more, or half of the population of the tiny Gaza Strip, have limited access to running water due to the destruction of three large desalination plants, as well as power lines and wastewater treatment plants.


According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 248 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and 39 women, and 1,948 others injured in the Israeli attacks on Gaza. West Bank health officials have separately confirmed 31 deaths in that region, for a total of 279 across the Palestinian territories, compared to 12 in Israel.


Under these conditions, dozens of Jewish settlers, flanked by heavily armed Israeli special forces, entered the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, further escalating the tension hours after worshipers. Palestinians were beaten and assaulted by the Israeli police.


Earlier today on Sunday, citing witnesses, the Palestinian WAFA news agency said Israeli police assaulted Palestinians who performed dawn prayers at the mosque. The police had "beaten them to the extreme" in order to allow Jewish Israeli settlers to storm the complex, Islam's third holiest site.


It was the police assault on the mosque two weeks ago, coupled with measures to expel more Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, that sparked the 11-day conflict.


Israeli police again attacked and dispersed a Palestinian protest against potential evictions on Saturday night in Sheikh Jarrah.


On Sunday, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up its incitement to racist circles, on which the interim coalition regime depends for its political survival.


Finance Minister Yisrael Katz threatened to assassinate the leaders of Hamas, which rules Gaza, for any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Speaking to local radio station Reshet Bet, Katz said that in response to any rocket fire at southern Israel, the assassination of Hamas leaders would be carried out. He said the policy was approved by the Israeli security cabinet before the ceasefire was approved on Friday.


Netanyahu said: "If Hamas thinks that we are going to tolerate a few rockets, they are wrong." Vowing to respond with "considerable force", he boasted that Israel had done "bold and new things" during the conflict "without being drawn into unnecessary adventures."


Netanyahu also claimed to have sought to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, but this lie was exposed on Al-Wahda Street, where Israeli shelling caused three buildings to collapse in the middle of the night of May 16, killing more than 40 Palestinians. Among the dead is Dr Ayman Abu Al-Aouf, head of the internal medicine department at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. He was in charge of the hospital's COVID-19 department.


Israel said the objective of its attack on al-Wehda was to destroy a network of tunnels it called the “metro”. The military denied any intention to destroy the buildings.


Even before the last great Israeli assault, the two million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip were already living inside what they call "the biggest prison in the world", an area where unemployment is rising. 50 percent, where the health care system is overwhelmed, where the water is sometimes toxic and where power cuts are incessant.


For fourteen years, the Israeli Zionist regime and the Egyptian military dictatorship have imposed a blockade on Gaza, allegedly to limit the flow of arms and ammunition to Hamas. The two countries limit who and what can enter the enclave and control much of its energy supply, while Israel controls its airspace, sea fishing rights, birth registry and cellular data.


On Saturday, the United Nations and humanitarian agencies began distributing tents and mattresses for thousands of homeless people. Trucks bringing urgently needed medicine, food and fuel entered the Gaza Strip on Friday through border crossings previously blocked by Israel.


According to the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Observatory, more than 525 companies have been damaged or destroyed in the fighting. This toll includes at least 50 factories and hundreds of small businesses, devastating the livelihoods of thousands of workers and owners.


The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has launched a 30-day flash appeal for US $ 38 million to cover the most urgent needs of Gazans, as well as those living in Gaza. West Bank, which suffered heavy attacks. UNRWA commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini said the funds would be used to house up to 50,000 people in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, who are currently residing in around 50 designated emergency shelters.


The protests in Israel have shown the country's disgust and opposition to the military offensive and the eruption of far-right violence against Israeli Palestinians. On Saturday, a rally and march for peace in central Tel Aviv drew several thousand participants. These events called for a partnership between Jews and Arabs and an end to the occupation of the West Bank, which Israel seized in 1967. Similar protests had taken place in various parts of Israel during the previous week.


On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, demanding Netanyahu resign and accusing him of deliberately prolonging the conflict for personal and political reasons. About 200 people also marched in the mixed city of Jaffa, expressing support for the coexistence between Arabs and Jews.


Netanyahu used the military operation to hang on to his post, despite numerous accusations of corruption he faces. The mandate given to Yesh Atid president Yair Lapid to form a new government after four inconclusive elections in two years expires next week and seems unlikely to succeed after Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party (New Right ), said such a move was now "out of the question".


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the Biden government's support for Israel on the US ABC news on Sunday. He insisted that all aid to Gaza would not go through the Hamas government and he defended the latest $ 735 million weapons donation from the Biden government to Israel, which will continue to provide the Zionist state with the missiles he uses against the Palestinians.


As last week's World Socialist Web Site statement explained, the military assault on Gaza and the growing revolt within Israel itself poses with the greatest urgency the struggle to unite the working class, Arab and Jewish, beyond any national and sectarian divide, in a common struggle for a Socialist Federation of the Middle East, as part of the struggle to end capitalism all over the world.


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