Gaza Update: Breaking the Cease-fire
There are reports of a clash on the Gaza border and unconfirmed news of one Israeli soldier killed and three wounded. At the moment it is difficult to tell what really happened. The most complete report so far is from Reuters:
Palestinians living near Kissufim crossing told Reuters they had seen a small group of gunmen, numbering two or three, moving toward the border fence early in the morning mist. They later heard explosions and gunfire shortly after 8 a.m. (0600 GMT). They did not see gunmen return.
Neither the ruling Hamas Islamist movement nor any of its allied militant groups made a claim of responsibility.
Residents later saw Israeli helicopter gunships in the air and Israeli infantry moving inside the Gaza Strip. In the city of Gaza, some miles away, two loud explosions were later heard.
Later reports in Xinhua say one Palestinian has been killed:
A Palestinian civilian was killed on Tuesday morning by an Israeli shelling on an area east of central Gaza Strip near the border with Israel, medics and witnesses said.
The witnesses said Israeli tanks shelled the Palestinian residential area near the crossing of Kissufim on the border between Israel and east of central Gaza Strip.
Hospital officials said one Palestinian was killed in the shelling on Palestinian houses, adding that no other injuries were reported.
The Israeli shelling was carried out shortly after an Israeli soldier was killed and three others wounded near the border between Israel and an area east of the central Gaza Strip.
Still, one thing is striking in these reports – each identifies this clash as the first break in the cease-fire. For example, Al Jazeera English writes:
It is the first apparent breach of a January 18 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
Yet several foreign news services have been reporting violations of the cease-fire for days.
Michael Jansen of the Irish Times, writing from Gaza City reported on Friday:
ISRAEL’S ROUTINE shelling of the Gaza coast was heavier and louder than usual yesterday. It began at precisely 7.35am and ended at 9.25am. Four Palestinians were wounded – two little girls (4 and 5), a boy of 15 who was shot in the head, and a man.
Another boy (8) was also shot in the head by a sniper when he was playing near his house close to the land border with Israel. He is in a coma, on life support and under heavy sedation. The doctors in the intensive care unit at the Shifa hospital, the Strip’s main facility, said his situation will become clearer in 48 hours.
McClatchy’s Jerusalem bureau chief Dion Nissenbaum reported similar breaches:
It is Day Five of the cease fire, and the Israeli gunboats are booming off the Mediterranean coast.
It’s barely dawn and the Israeli warships off the Gaza Strip coast are opening fire on the small Palestinian fishing boats a few hundred yards off the shore. The Palestinians pulling in their meager hauls from the cloudy, sewage-saturated waters try to ignore the incoming fire that splashes in the waters around them.
The Israeli ships enforcing a Naval blockage of Gaza have been firing on the fisherman every morning in an apparent attempt to keep them from getting too far from shore.
But this morning, Thursday, Jan. 22nd, the Israeli fire blasts through the morning all along the coastline. Then the Israeli fire gets closer to shore. By late morning, five Palestinians, including a little girl, have been wounded by the Israeli cease fire shelling.
This is post-war Gaza.
Is the persistent shelling of Gaza and its fishermen so routine that it does not count as a breach of the cease-fire even when Palestinian children are wounded?