Israel's latest assault Tuesday on the Gaza Strip, the boxed-in sliver of land termed the world's largest open-air prison that houses nearly 2 million Palestinians, drew condemnation from peace advocates around the world.
"In the U.S., we must not just watch, yet again, as Israel's massive military dominates and destroys Palestinian lives and livelihoods in Gaza," said Rabbi Alissa Wise, acting co-executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, in a statement.
The latest flare of violence began after Israel undertook an extrajudicial assassination attempt against a leader of the militant group Islamic Jihad Tuesday morning, killing commander Baha Abu al-Ata, 42, and his wife. Their two children were wounded, according to The Guardian.
The assassination was reportedly authorized directly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Attacks on the strip continued through Tuesday as Gazans fired rockets back at the occupying forces.
In her statement, Wise said the conflict needed to be understood in its proper context.
"I balk at calling Israel's extrajudicial assassination of an Islamic Jihad leader and his family an 'escalation of violence'—given Israel's daily torture and torment of Palestinians in Gaza," said Wise. "The illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel imprisons every aspect of life for Palestinians in Gaza, and the inhumane restrictions on food, electricity, and healthcare are all forms of violence, carried out daily for the past 11 years by Israel."
Wise accused Netanyahu of ordering the attacks in Gaza as a way to boost his fragile political standing in Israel.
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"This assassination is a reckless breach of international law and a flagrant political ploy by Prime Minister Netanyahu, amidst uncertainty in the future of the Israeli government," Wise said.
At 972Mag, reporter Edo Konrad laid out how the attacks play into Netanyahu's maneuvering with rival Benny Gantz, a former chief of staff for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), whose Blue and White Party is now under deadline to form a new governing majority in the country after split national elections last month:
Gantz is facing enormous pressure to form a unity government with Netanyahu in order to avoid a third election, while simultaneously trying to dodge criticism by the Israeli right over the possibility that he may form a minority government backed by the Joint List. (Less than 24 hours before al-Ata's assassination, Netanyahu tweeted a three-month old video of Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi saying that his party would leave the government should Israel start bombing Gaza). Netanyahu, then, hopes the security situation will be the key to the former IDF chief of staff's heart.
Observers on social media criticized the Israeli strikes.
Israel is targeting an apartment tower housing more than 100 Palestinian families in Gaza.— Yousef (@yosighh) November 12, 2019
It's very dangerous. Where are human rights? pic.twitter.com/KGaPC2spA9
In case you aren't paying attention. 7 killed in Gaza, including a woman— Ariel Gold אריאל (@ArielElyseGold) November 12, 2019
Bahaa Abu al-Atta 42
Asmaa Abu Ata, 39
Mohammed Hamouda 20
Zaki Ghanama 25
Ibrahim Ahmed Al-Dabous, 26
Abdullah al-Bilbisi 26
Abdul Salam Ahmed, 28#GazaUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/zNsjIKXZMq
"It's not a precision strike when you're targeting an apartment building full of civilians or an unarmed demonstrator demanding freedom," said poet and activist Remi Kanazi. "Palestinians in Gaza are trapped and the Israeli state is using sophisticated and deadly weaponry to terrorize them."