Gaza: Israeli prepares new assault, devastation

Israel's December 2009-January 2009 assault on Gaza killed more than 1400 Palestinians and destroyed much of the besieged territ

Israeli has launched a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip since October 29. reported on November 2 that Israel was preparing its military for a ground assault on the besieged territory — home to about 1.5 million Palestinians.

At least 11 Palestinians have been killed, said. Officials on both sides said at least seven members of Palestinian group Islamic Jihad (JI) had been killed,

The attack came after a rocket fired into Israel by JI killed an Israeli man in Ashkelon; an Israeli town about 20 kilometres north of Gaza.

A Time article on November 1 said Israel has agreed to briefly delay its military operations in the Gaza Strip to allow Egypt to try to broker a ceasefire with Palestinian resistance groups.

Israel gave Egypt 24 hours to achieve this. said Israel was preparing its military for a fresh assault — one that will doubtlessly lead to fresh killings of Palestinian civilians.

Since the end of Israel's war on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 — in which more than 1400 Palestinians died — Israel has launched periodic air strikes on the territory that have killed Palestinian resistance fighters and civilians.

Israel retains a near-total siege on the territory, which has prevented it rebuilding from the 2008-09 assault and denies the population badly needed medicines and other essentials.

On October 30, IJ said it would carry out a ceasefire if Israel did likewise, Time said. Rockets continued to be fired into Israel, but responsibility was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Despite the different groups claiming responsibility for the rocket attacks, Israel continues to hold Gaza's Hamas government responsible — and carry out collective punishment on all of Gaza's population with the siege and air strikes.

It is difficult to gauge to what extent Hamas could prevent the rocket fire. In the past, such as during the 2006 Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Hamas was able to prevent rocket fire by all Palestinian resistance groups.

However, it is hard to see how Hamas — seeking to govern a devastated territory unable to rebuild basic infrastructure — could possibly enforce a total ban on firing rockets.

Even if Egypt successfully secured a blanket ceasefire with all the Palestinian resistance groups, it would not be a total guarantee against rogue sections breaking it.

Israel uses the crude rockets fired from into its territory from Gaza as its excuse to the siege and military assaults on the territory, but Palestinians are overwhelmingly the main victims.

When Israel launched its last full-scale war on Gaza in 2008, using rocket fire as its justification, the rockets had killed 20 Israelis over the previous eight years -- less than die in traffic accidents in a month in Israel. But Israel's murderous assault killed more than 1400 -- including hundreds of children.

As a result of Israel's policy of collective punishment, within days residents of Gaza could be once again plagued by the incessant buzzing of the Israeli Defense Force drones as the state of Israel carries out its pre-planned military assault.

Israel is already on the back foot after Palestine achieved an important international breakthrough — winning full membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

It is a big step in recognition of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination — which has greatly angered Israel and the US.

The United States has responded by announcing its refusal to pay the US$60 million to UNESCO needed to complete its contributions for this year. It said it was suspending all future funding.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thundered from the podium of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) that Israel would act “vigorously and resolutely against those who threaten its security”.

Israel appears to be actively escalating the hostilities — potentially as a pretext for a repeat of the 2008-09 assault.

Hamas said on November 1 that the IDF had arrested West Bank-based Hamas leader Hassan Youssef. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the move was “a dangerous Israeli escalation against Hamas and against one of the symbols of the elected Palestinian legitimacy”.