Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Akram Qassim

Pause from killing children? What for?

For how long? 24 hours?

It’s more fun shooting at sitting duck kids

SLIDE SHOW|13 Photos

Surveying the Damage in Gaza

Surveying the Damage in Gaza

Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

JERUSALEM — When a temporary cease-fire began on Saturday morning, Akram Qassim joined the throngs of Palestinians who emerged from their homes and temporary shelters. But when he reached his extended family’s three-story building, he found only a crater left by an Israeli airstrike.

“I expected that maybe a shell had hit it and caused some damage,” Mr. Qassim said. “But this is an earthquake.

Saturday’s cease-fire provided the first daylong relief from violence for civilians on both sides of the conflict since the start of the 19-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The 12-hour lull granted people an ability to move (except to a Palestinian village in Gaza) that is still under attack) with Israelis visiting their troops and Palestinians discovering damaged neighborhoods and dead bodies.

More than 140 bodies were recovered across Gaza on Saturday — including 21 members of one family — raising the Palestinian death toll to 1,139, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. On the Israeli side, 42 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Graphic: The Toll in Gaza and Israel, Day by Day

On Saturday evening, Israel’s top ministers decided to extend the lull for 24 hours, but said Israeli troops would continue their efforts to destroy tunnels. Palestinian fighters renewed their rocket fire at Israel, and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, said it rejected any cease-fire that did not include the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The vast destruction in communities across Gaza shocked residents who had fled their homes, and reactions to it could play a role in negotiations over the terms of a longer cease-fire.

Israel has said its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire by Palestinian fighters and to destroy the extensive network of tunnels — some of them concrete-reinforced — that militants use for combat, smuggling, and sneaking fighters into Israel.

This is likely to mean that the Israelis will insist on continuing strict border controls on materials that could be used to build more tunnels.

But Hamas is seeking an agreement that would ease the movement of goods into Gaza from Israel and Egypt — a goal it seeks desperately and may fight to obtain.

“If there is an agreement for a cease-fire, that’s great,” said Mohammed Abu Jama in Al Zanna, an area of central Gaza where power lines had been blown down, an abandoned Israeli military trailer stood in the street and dozens of houses bore the scars of intense clashes.

But Mr. Abu Jama, whose own house was damaged, said any agreement had to include an opening of the crossings that tightly control all movement in and out of Gaza.

And if there is no agreement, we want the resistance to continue fighting,” he said.

Visits to Al Zanna and two other front-line neighborhoods on Saturday revealed destruction that in places stretched for blocks, with walls punctured by artillery shells, buildings reduced to rubble and streets erased by yawning craters.

The destruction in the Shujaiya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, site of some of the worst fighting, was so extensive that in some places it was impossible to spot an undamaged building.

Scores of buildings, including a hospital and a mosque, had also been damaged or destroyed here in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.

As news of the pause spread though Gaza on Saturday morning, Mariam Fayyad joined the crowds rushing to the area. Many spoke on cellphones with relatives elsewhere, wailing when they received reports of their destroyed homes.

At one point, two men in black face masks who were carrying assault rifles approached from the opposite direction, suggesting that fighters were using the pause to change positions.

Entering her white, three-bedroom house surrounded by fruit trees, Ms. Fayyad let out a wail and ran from room to room, inspecting the damage. Artillery shells had punched holes in the walls and ceiling, doors had been blown from their hinges and rubble covered the floor.

The metal bathtub, crumpled like a tin can, sat in the kitchen.


Israeli civilians and soldiers used a bathroom as  a bomb shelter during a rocket attack near the border with Gaza on Saturday. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

“All the money we had went to this, everything we tired ourselves out for,” said her husband, Ibrahim. Both are teachers and had built the house from scratch, moving in two years ago, they said.

Tragedy also struck the al-Najjar family, whose house in central Gaza was struck by an Israeli airstrike before dawn on Saturday, killing 21 people.

“I was on the balcony when the hit came, and I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the hospital,” said Hussein al-Najjar, who lost his father, mother, one brother, two sisters and two sons, ages 1 and 6, in the strike.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, could not explain the airstrike some 19 hours after it happened.

“We’ve been unable to determine the target at this time,” he said late Saturday, adding that militants in the area could have fired antitank missiles, drawing an Israeli response.

Israel says that it strives to avoid killing civilians and blames Hamas for putting them in danger by fighting from residential areas and storing weapons there.

Israeli troops remained in place across Gaza during the lull and continued to search for tunnels but did not advance or engage with Palestinian fighters.

The Israeli authorities said that they coordinated with international organizations to evacuate wounded Palestinians, distribute food and repair utilities?

By Saturday morning, Israeli forces had found 31 tunnels and destroyed 15, Colonel Lerner said. (Why unable to destroy all found tunnels?)

In southern Israel, where most of the rockets fired by Gaza militants have fallen during the war, the lull allowed residents who had spent recent weeks rushing to shelters to venture out.

People visited beaches in Ashdod and Ashkelon, Israel Radio reported, and television news contrasted video footage of crowded cafes on Saturday with that from last week when the establishments were empty.

“I was very hesitant, because we know who we’re dealing with; in the end I decided to go out and see if people were around,” a beach-goer identified only as Sigalit said in a radio interview. “It’s fun, but there is still some fear. Let’s hope it continues so that we can enjoy ourselves a bit more.

At Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, a barber gave haircuts to wounded soldiers. In Maslul, a small community not far from a staging area for the Gaza operation, residents set up 10 barbecue grills to serve the troops, along with showers and a karaoke corner, Israel Radio reported.

Back in Gaza, a group of men and a bulldozer worked to remove bodies from a house that had been flattened in an overnight airstrike.

“We have pulled out six so far and there are three left,” said Mohammed Nasser, who had relatives among the dead.

As the bulldozer dug, one of the dead was found with a Kalashnikov rifle at his side. Cries of “God is great!” erupted from the crowd as the body was carried to an ambulance.





March 2023

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