Bombings Continue as Israeli Troops Mass on Gaza Border
Leaders speak of calming tensions, but violence continues as tensions burn
As tensions rise and violence continues between Israeli military forces and Palestinians, a buildup on the border of the Gaza Strip on Thursday is creating worry that a large scale bombardment or military operation of the sealed-off enclave may soon occur.
Israel has launched dozens of airstrikes into Gaza this week as street-level skirmishes in the occupied West Bank have followed the murder of both Israeli and Palestinian teenagers and other civilians in recent weeks.
Outlets report a surge in IDF forces moving to the border region on Thursday amid continuing airstrikes.
Ma'an news agency reports on those wounded inside Gaza following the latest round of bombing:
Eleven Palestinians were injured overnight Wednesday as Israel attacked 15 targets in the Gaza Strip, medics said.
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said 11 Palestinians were hospitalized following multiple airstrikes, including a 17-year-old boy who sustained shrapnel wounds near Gaza City.
Another airstrike targeted a Hamas training base west of Gaza City, with an elderly woman and teenage girl sustaining injuries in the northern Gaza Strip.
According to the New York Times:
The escalating tit-for-tat clashes in the south come against the backdrop of heightened tensions in Jerusalem, where the burned body of a 16-year-old Palestinian, Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was found in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday. Muhammad had been forced into a vehicle near his East Jerusalem home about an hour before his body was discovered, and the police are investigating whether he was killed in retaliation for the death of three Israeli teenagers who were buried on Tuesday after being kidnapped in the occupied West Bank last month.
Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, said in an interview published Wednesday that the organization was also not interested in an escalation. But a Gaza-based Hamas leader said on Thursday that the group was having trouble convincing other militants to hold their fire.
“In general, there was an agreement to calm the situation,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of internal politics. “We are communicating with the factions to stop them from firing rockets, but the justification is always, ‘Look at what the Israelis are doing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.'”
The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has placed the blame for the recent violence squarely on Hamas and ordered aggressive military action in both the occupied territories and Gaza. As Vox.com reported on Wednesday:
Netanyahu's government is launching attacks against Hamas, which Netanyahu insists is collectively responsible for a kidnapping that appears to have been conducted by rogue members. This makes it far more likely that full-on conflict will resume between Israel and Hamas, a dynamic that Netanyahu seems to prefer, because it favors Israel's overwhelming military strength and marginalizes Hamas politically. The last round of Israel-Hamas violence, in November 2012, killed dozens of civilians, almost all of them Palestinian.
Amnesty International on Wednesday condemned what is widely seen as the Israeli government's policy of 'collective punishment' during these recent developments. The human rights group said in a statement: "Justice will not be served by Israel seeking revenge by imposing collective punishment, or committing other violations of Palestinians’ rights."