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Palestine’s other enemies

By: Michael Brull

Sourcehttps://newmatilda.com/

If it’s true that you remember the silence of your friends more than the silence of your enemies, Palestinians have an awful lot of remembering to do. Michael Brull explains.

By now, in New Matilda at least, there have been many denunciations of the atrocities Israel is committing in Gaza.

However, one aspect that has largely escaped critical scrutiny in Australia is the international aspect of the attack on Gaza. Specifically, Israel has had many supporters and accomplices, who also deserve critical scrutiny for their role in the slaughter.

First, there is the case of Egypt. As is well known, in 2011, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in the wake of a popular uprising.

After a brief experiment with democracy, there was a military coup in July 2013 against Egypt’s elected government.

Whilst the new government could have effectively ended the Israeli siege on Gaza by opening its northern border at Rafah, it chose a different path.

By September, Egypt’s systematic destruction of tunnels from Gaza had caused an estimated $250 million damage to the economy.

By June 25 this year, the new military dictatorship of Egypt had destroyed 1736 tunnels from Gaza, preventing the export and import of goods – including health and medical supplies – from Gaza and leaving the Palestinians in an increasingly desperate state.

During the Mubarak years, Egypt subsidized Israel with hundreds of millions of dollars every year in gas purchases – Ha’aretz reported that Israel received Egyptian gas at a 70 percent discount.

This was, naturally, deeply unpopular in Egypt, and after the Egyptian uprising, the pipeline was repeatedly bombed until finally the government cancelled its contract with Israel.

Once Egypt’s experiment in democracy ended, it was able to reach a new deal: in June this year, Egypt signed a $30 billion deal to buy gas from Israel.

Unsurprisingly, Israel supported Mubarak in the face of the protests that ousted him.

And when the time came for a military coup, demolishing Egyptian democracy, Israel lobbied Washington to continue its military aid to Egypt, recognising that it had gained a closer friend, even if it was at the cost of Egypt suffering through another military dictatorship.

The Israeli attack on Gaza began on June 8. On June 11, an Israeli journalist in Ha’aretz noted the curious reality that “Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi has yet to denounce Israel’s assault on Gaza”.

One Egyptian journalist complained that Sisi had not yet condemned the bombing. However, Barel noted that other Egyptian journalists were writing “venomous” attacks on Hamas, blaming it for Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Al Monitor had a ready explanation for Sisi’s silence:

Prior to Israel’s attack on Gaza at dawn on July 8, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr channel reported that Maj. Gen. Mohammed Farid al-Tohamy, the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, had visited Tel Aviv hours before the attack and met with Israeli security officers. It also reported that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had given Israel initial approval to launch a military operation on Gaza to destroy Hamas.

Despite full Egyptian complicity with the attack on Gaza, Hamas declined to criticise Egypt, though a spokesman noted pointedly: “It is surprising that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip coincided with the closure of the Rafah crossing.”

On July 10, Egypt opened the Rafah crossing to Gaza for a few hours to Palestinians and Egyptians who had suffered critical injuries.

Eleven Palestinians were able to pass the crossing before it was closed: charity and medical workers were not able to enter Gaza to deliver aid.

Hamas spokesman complained that the closing “represents contempt and disregard for the suffering of travellers and the injured”.

An Israeli journalist observed that “Egypt has not allowed for a commercial border crossing with the Gaza Strip, despite repeated pleas by Hamas to allow the free flow of commodities which would render smuggling tunnels superfluous.”

Elhanan Miller wrote that whilst Sisi was “very delicate in his criticism of Hamas”, there was “unprecedented hostility” towards Hamas in the Egyptian media, including “blatant animosity toward all Palestinians…. Keen observers of Egyptian-Palestinian relations have a hard time remembering such high levels of vitriol spewed from both publicly and privately owned TV channels, representing the anti-Brotherhood sentiment currently prevalent in mainstream Egyptian media.”

For example, one writer urged that Palestinians be expelled and their property confiscated.

THEN there is the case of Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority. Though the Bush administration pushed for elections in the occupied territories, when they were held in January 2006, Hamas won.

An important article by David Rose in Vanity Fair documented the

covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Muhammad Dahlan “Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza”, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power…

But the secret plan backfired… Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

The ‘Quartet’ – the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – also responded to the election of Hamas by cutting off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Though Dahlan’s forces were known for their brutal methods of torture, including allegations of sodomising prisoners, the US considered him “our guy”.

US Lieutenant General Keith Dayton supplied training to Dahlan’s forces, whilst money and arms were funnelled to them through reactionary Arab states Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Israel was allowed to veto these weapons shipments, but approved the small arms that were to be used to overthrow Hamas.

After aspects of these plans were leaked to Jordanian and Israeli newspapers, Hamas finally launched a pre-emptive strike against Fatah in June 2007.

By this time, Fatah’s contras had killed some 250 Hamas members. Once Fatah’s forces were crushed, Israel intensified the siege: Rose estimated that by then, April 2008, “Seventy percent of Gaza’s population was now living on less than $2 a day.”

Once Hamas took control of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, took control of the West Bank.

Abbas’s services to the Israeli occupation are long-standing, well-documented, and by now, presented by Abbas without shame.

In May, Abbas explained that “security coordination is sacred”.

As Ali Abunimah explained, “US-financed PA intelligence and security forces work closely with Israeli occupation forces and Shin Bet secret police to suppress any Palestinian resistance to occupation.”

After the three Israelis were killed, human rights organisations condemned Israel’s raids in the West Bank and “collective punishment”.

However, Abbas worked with Israel to apprehend the murderers. Palestinians were understandably unimpressed: whilst Abbas works with Israel to protect Israelis and to punish those who harm Israelis, there is no reciprocity: when the Israeli army and settlers injure and kill Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority does not demand justice for Palestinian victims, but meekly continues its “sacred” cooperation with Israeli occupation forces.

And as the Israeli army rampaged through the West Bank, Abbas didn’t seek to hold them accountable for their violations of the rights of Palestinians, but instead supported them.

Abbas even stressed his categorical opposition to resisting Israel: “We will never have another Intifada — that would destroy us”.

As the attack on Gaza began, Abbas attended a “peace conference” organised by an Israeli newspaper.

He didn’t think to mention anything as trivial as Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

PA media was also accused of ignoring the bloodshed in Gaza.

On July 10, Abbas criticised the firing of rockets at Israel, explaining that, “We prefer to fight with wisdom and politics.”

As I noted in a previous article, the ceasefire terms offered by Egypt in mid-July rejected Hamas’s demands, would have meant the continuation of the siege, and were considered a defeat verging on humiliation for Hamas in the Israeli press.

It is worth noting how this ceasefire offer came about.

The Quartet’s special envoy, Tony Blair met with Netanyahu to discuss a ceasefire.

He then met with President Sisi: Egypt acknowledged it was working with Blair to mediate a ceasefire.

As prominent Jewish journalist JJ Goldberg noted in the Forward, “The Arab League, led by Saudi Arabia, lined up formally behind Egypt — and by implication, Israel. The Jewish state had never had more sympathy in the Arab world for its defense needs.”

Goldberg noted that Qatar also launched a “cease-fire initiative, which included the preconditions Hamas had demanded — freeing prisoners, opening borders, putting the Gaza-Egypt border under international supervision — but nobody endorsed it.”

Meanwhile, the Arab League said they ”demand all parties concerned accept the Egyptian initiative”.

Abbas also praised the Egyptian ceasefire offer.

On July 17, Abbas and Sisi issued a joint statement urging an immediate ceasefire: that is, that Hamas accept the terms that had probably been worked out between Blair and Netanyahu, and conveyed to Sisi by Blair, before Sisi presented them as his own.

The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton issued a statement supporting the Egyptian ceasefire offer and, “in particular”, welcomed the support of Egypt in working towards a ceasefire.

Our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, complained that Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire terms, and praised Abbas for supporting them.

And of course, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Hamas to accept the Egyptian ceasefire offer.

WHICH brings us to the US.

For decades, the US has been a key supporter of Israel, financially, militarily, and diplomatically, as documented at length by scholars like Naseer Aruri and Noam Chomsky.

On July 8, as the bombing began, President Obama’s spokesman condemned the rocket fire from Gaza, and supported “Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.”

The US House of Representatives unanimously endorsed Israel’s attack on Gaza, as did the Senate.

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu on 17 July, defending Israel’s “right to defend itself against terrorist threats emanating from tunnels into Israel”.

Kerry wanted this to be a “precise operation”. He was later caught on camera – seemingly accidentally – saying sarcastically that Israel’s attack was a “hell of a pinpoint operation”.

Once Kerry was aware he was on camera, he strongly defended Israel’s attack, condemned rockets fired into Gaza, and said Hamas were “offered a ceasefire, and they’ve refused to take the ceasefire. Even though Egypt and others have called for that ceasefire, they’ve just stubbornly invited further efforts to try to defuse the ability to be able to rocket Israel.”

However, the State Department was willing to observe that Israel could do “more” to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza.

As the attack progressed, the death and destruction in Gaza mounted, and so Arab public outrage increased.

As Goldberg wrote, the Arab League then “declared the Sheja’iya assault a ‘war crime.’… Abbas followed by calling it a ‘massacre’ and declaring three days of mourning for the Palestinian dead. That evening he demanded an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.”

Presumably, the new rhetoric was meant to disguise the fact that they had, in the words of Goldberg, “lined up” behind Israel.

Comically, the Egyptian foreign minister had the chutzpah to complain that Hamas did not share Egypt’s “desire… to protect the Palestinian people in Gaza”.

As Hamas rejected the Israeli-Egyptian-Arab League-Tony Blair ceasefire, efforts have been made to reach a new agreement.

We are not privy to what goes on in secret, but we can get some idea of what kind of negotiations are proceeding, and where they may lead.

The American ambassador to Israel said the US would work to “help the moderates” to “become stronger in Gaza”, expressing hope that they – the PA – could run Gaza instead of Hamas.

If funding and arming the gangs of Dahlan wouldn’t do it, perhaps this can be a new opportunity to achieve similar goals.

On July 17, it was reported that former defence minister Shaul Mofaz called for demilitarising Gaza.

He submitted this proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office, and then discussed his proposal with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, and Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser.

“Shortly thereafter”, the Times of Israel reported, “for the first time during this ongoing conflict, Netanyahu spoke explicitly about the goal of partial demilitarization”.

Mofaz “acknowledged that months of diplomatic legwork were required to rally the likes of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States to the framework of the deal.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, he wrote, would likely “want to lend a hand to this sort of move and he should be involved in the process”.

On July 28, Obama spoke to Netanyahu, and demanded an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, leading to an end to hostilities based on the 2012 agreement.

A spokesperson for the President commented on Obama’s “view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza”.

Barak Ravid reported for Ha’aretz the consensus that Israel reached with the US on reaching a ceasefire:

Netanyahu wants to establish an international framework for demilitarizing the Gaza Strip, supervising entry of people and goods into the enclave and preventing smuggling, a senior Israeli official said Monday. This mechanism will oversee the use of funds, building materials and arms in Gaza, in order to ensure that they are not used for terror.

This would mean an end to the blockade, and the international community could help rebuild Gaza, but international cooperation would ensure a plan to prevent weapons going to Palestinians in Gaza.

John Kerry supported Israel’s goal of disarming the Palestinians, explaining “We also believe that any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups. And we will work closely with Israel and regional partners and the international community in support of this goal”.

An Al Akhbar journalist has argued that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have joined the plan to disarm Hamas, and hope to get Abbas’s forces patrolling the Rafah crossing to this end.

Before the US and Israel reached agreement on this goal, there had been some friction over a draft ceasefire proposed by Kerry.

However, as explained at 972, the Kerry proposal was pretty similar to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

Tsurkov notes that the Kerry proposal doesn’t address Israel’s concerns about tunnels from Gaza, or demilitarisation of Gaza.

She observes the Egyptian proposal didn’t either, and concludes that Israel was simply concerned about who sponsored the proposal, or perhaps didn’t want to defy public opinion.

However, I suspect that this is simply a case of Israel’s goals changing: when Egypt suggested a ceasefire, it had not yet invaded Gaza and lost dozens of soldiers to the Gazan resistance.

It had not yet considered Mofaz’s plan to demilitarise Gaza.

If Israel is not able to crush Hamas on the battlefield – and after losing dozens of soldiers already, that outcome is not on the cards – it may yet be able to disarm Hamas diplomatically, and wipe out the last vestiges of military resistance to the Israeli occupation.

It should be remembered what happened on a previous occasion when the Palestinians agreed to disarm in the face of American pressure.

After Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the US negotiated the evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which had resisted the invasion and protected Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps.

The US promised to protect the now vulnerable and defenceless Palestinians, but within nine days of the PLO departure, the US marines left too.

After the Christian president, a puppet imposed by the Israeli invasion, was assassinated, Israel invaded West Beirut, supposedly to protect the Palestinians from Christian revenge attacks.

Strangely forgetting their pretext, Israel then sent a Christian militia into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. They spent the next few days massacring defenceless Palestinian refugees, with a final death toll that may have reached as high as 3,000.

In short, American promises to Palestinians do not amount to much.

The Palestinians in Gaza are facing a desperate situation, besieged, bombed, and surrounded by enemies far more powerful and wealthy than they are.

When the fighting ends – even if the blockade ends – their subjugation will continue.

Whilst the bombing of Gaza is news today, the occupation of Gaza – when the fighting ends – will not be.

Without resistance to the occupation, Israel will hope that it can continue indefinitely.

It is therefore important that we understand that the enemies of the Palestinians are not just those who bomb them, but those who strive to defend the Israeli occupation, and undermine and disarm all resistance to it.

The US, whenever it comments on the fighting in Gaza, says that Israel has the right to defend itself.

Yet the Palestinians are human beings too. Whilst international law does not grant them the right to fire indiscriminate weapons at Israel, the overwhelming majority of those Hamas has killed in the last three weeks have been Israeli soldiers.

It is surely a reflection of the perverse nature of international affairs that as Israel kills around 1,200 Palestinians, at least three quarters of them civilians, it looks like negotiations are headed towards disarming the Palestinians, and not Israel.

It seems the international community supports Israel’s right to defend its occupation, but not the Palestinian right to defend their homes, their land and their lives, or even their basic rights.

Whilst 55 Australian politicians, mostly from the Greens and the ALP, have signed a letter condemning the attack on Gaza, the leadership of the major parties, have not*.

As the barbaric onslaught gives way to an unjust peace cementing Israel’s hold on the occupied territories, it is important to remember that many will be complicit in the subjugation of Palestine.

And we should know who they are too.

* Note to readers: This article has been corrected. The third last paragraph incorrectedly stated that Greens leader Christine Milne had not signed a joint parliamentary letter.

Israel-Gaza conflict: Ex-soldiers reveal the pressure they are put under by their superiors – and question the IDF’s commitment to leaving the unarmed unharmed

Veterans have made their testimonies available to ‘The Independent’ to make a statement against the current fighting

JERUSALEM

Memories of his service along the Gaza border two years ago have been streaming through the mind of Shai Davidovich this week as he hears news from the crowded coastal enclave of heavy Palestinian civilian casualties from the devastating Israeli military campaign there.

Mr Davidovich, 27, the educational director for an ex-soldiers’ group Breaking the Silence, served in field intelligence during Operation Pillar of Cloud, a previous Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza in 2012. He says he was repeatedly ordered to help prepare for the firing of artillery during the hostilities but that he thought it was “crazy’’ to use artillery in a crowded area, in this case the town of Beit Hanoun.

“The news is bringing me back to when we were there and we got orders every day that at 5pm we will shoot artillery. We prepared all day for this, but in the end it didn’t happen. It was surrealistic to see kids playing in Beit Hanoun. With the binoculars we saw a lot of civilians, but I don’t remember that anyone ever spoke about the civilian population. I thought to myself, ‘how can you fire without harming civilians?’

“Artillery is an imprecise weapon. Artillery fire to an area inhabited by civilians cannot be moral, we trained on open areas.’’

Mr Davidovich’s memories fuse with the images of large-scale carnage in the current conflict, which he unequivocally opposes, unlike the near consensus of Israelis who view this as a just war of self-defence against rocket fire and tunnel infiltrations, and blame Hamas for all the civilian casualties. “Any campaign in which the civilian population is harmed on a large scale cannot be moral,’’ he says. “Israel has a right to defend itself, but not like this.’’

Mr Davidovich’s colleagues in Breaking the Silence, which collects soldiers’ secret testimonies to try to enlighten the Israeli public as to the true nature of the army’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza. This week, alarmed at the civilian deaths in Gaza, it took testimonies from soldiers who served in previous Israeli operations in the region, including Mr Davidovich.

They made the testimonies available to The Independent to make a statement against the current fighting. Operation Rainbow in 2004 is the earliest of the campaigns covered while Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 and Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012 also feature. They do not include anything from the current conflict.

“If you look at all the recent operations continuing into the current operation you see a moral descent that doesn’t stop and a military aggressiveness that only increases,’’ says Yehuda Shaul, the founder of Breaking the Silence.

“The level of destruction, the death toll of civilians and the practices teach us that it gets worse and worse.’’ He takes issue with the use of artillery and the bombing of family homes of Hamas personalities, which the army says are used for command and are, therefore, legitimate targets.

Mr Shaul says that even if Israel warns civilians to vacate areas to be targeted, that does not absolve it of moral responsibility for their fate. “If they don’t leave do they deserve to die?’’, he asked.

“One of the biggest lies of this operation and Cast Lead is that we’re doing everything to avoid civilian casualties. When you use artillery in a place like Gaza you can’t say you are taking every precaution. It’s not the case that generals are looking to kill more civilians, far from that. But we are far away from the official line that everything is being done to avoid civilian casualties.’’

While Breaking the Silence views the testimonies from the past as a way to understand the present, the army believes the group is rehashing old claims to embarrass it at a sensitive time. Asked about the allegations, Col (res.) Shaul Shay, former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council and a scholar at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, told The Independent that the army “kept, is keeping and will keep high moral standards in all its Gaza operations.

“To our sorrow, the approach of Hamas is to use civilians as a human shield and to war against our civilian population. The army adheres in an exceptional manner almost to the point of endangering our soldiers in order to try to have war with minimum civilian casualties. The more Hamas shelling builds shooting positions, tunnels and attack positions in built-up areas, the more the army is forced to fight there and from this there are [civilian] casualties”.

He says steps to warn civilians to leave their homes go beyond anything the US or UK militaries have done. “Breaking the Silence has no case. It saddens me that Israelis make such claims at such a time, claims that serve the propaganda and psychological warfare of the enemy,’’ Mr Shay said.

The testimonies

‘We open fire and don’t ask questions’

Sgt Major Amir Marmor

Unit Armoured Corps

Time 2008-2009

Operation Cast Lead

Area Gaza StripSgt Major Amir Marmor

We began a week of practice on the ground, during which we talked with the officers commanding the operation. Pretty soon we realised that the idea was not just a campaign, but an actual war in which gloves were to be taken off.

Considerations we were accustomed to hearing in briefings, like rules of engagement and attempts not to hurt innocents and the like, were not made this time. On the contrary, the attitude was, war is war.

To paraphrase the brigade commander who spoke to us one day in the field… we were sitting around the campfire one evening, and he came and spoke with us about events in Gaza.

Among other things, he told us what we should expect and how we were supposed to behave – he even brought up people who asked him about morality and innocents.

His reply to them, and to us, in this regard was that this time it was war and we should have no second thoughts about damaging anything – including mosques, including any threat we feel, real or imagined. The approach is to open fire and to try not to consider the repercussions. At any obstacle – any problem – we open fire and don’t ask questions. Even if it’s firing in the dark, aiming at an unknown target – firing when we can’t see, deterrent fire – no problem with that.

A vehicle that’s in the way – crush it. A building in the way – shell it. This was the spirit of things that was repeated throughout the training.

‘I don’t remember being told about civilians’

Staff Sgt Shai Davidovich

Unit Field intelligence

Time 2012

Operation Pillar of Defence

Area Northern Gaza Strip

Staff Sgt Shai Davidovich

We were positioned east of Beit Hanoun [north Gaza]. People are walking around in the streets with lots of children hanging about. I see kids on bicycles in a street where shells are falling and the children run around free.

Not far from the houses was a major hit. And I see this kid riding his bike as if nothing happened, two meters away from him now. I don’t remember having been told about civilians there.

Our mission was to shoot at sources of fire. It was very intense in both directions: the IDF strikes, I recall the shots. Crazy blasts. You keep seeing all of Gaza up in the air. The light it created, it was insane. There were combat helicopters up in the air constantly.

There were drones with which we worked. There was gunfire from Gaza at all times – there was so much gunfire. We were working with X, giving the open-fire orders. We told him “we detect” – no one was actually firing.

I don’t remember seeing a group of combatants, just flashes of rockets fired all the time. You see houses but it’s very difficult to detect a target. You can’t be precise – you can’t really aim.

‘I’m asked why I’m not killing anyone’

Captain Oded Kimron

Unit Shaldag airforce commandos

Time 2004

Operation Rainbow

Area Rafah

During Rainbow Operation, we sent two squads. The mission was to take over a house for stake outs. I commanded one of the squads; a friend of mine commanded the second squad. At the beginning of the briefing we are told that we have to divide Rafah from Tel-Sultan.

A few days before the operation a Golani [infantry] force entered Tel-Sultan, did some job there and went out. The idea, as I understood, was that since Giv’ati [infantry] had to enter Rafah, and since they didn’t want the (Golani) operation in Tel-Sultan to have been for nothing, we had to enter and create a buffer zone.

At the end of the briefing, the brigade commander gets up; he bangs on the podium, and says: ‘Guys, the bottom line is that the mission is to kill as many armed men as possible.’ This had its effect on the mission. On the first day we shot no one; we actually did nothing, while from time to time – every one or two hours – a message from the commander and his commanding crew arrived: ‘What’s going on guys? Why have you not started killing yet? What’s going on there?’

All around us there was destruction on a scale I had not seen before – of houses, greenhouses, and roads. Everything there just became a bunch of sand dunes. All the while, I am repeatedly asked by the force commander: ‘Why aren’t you shooting? What is going on? Why aren’t you killing anybody?’ Non-stop pressure.

‘Don’t check the weight and you hit a school’

Anonymous

Unit Artillery

Time 2008-2009

Operation Cast Lead

Area Gaza Strip

The problem with artillery fighting in an urban area is that one tries to be as precise as possible, but there are a million parameters at play: weather, the weight of the shell. I might have a high-explosive squash head that blows up and destroys a lot with that kind of weight, and then another shell of a different weight.

If you don’t check the weight, you can have a 200-300m difference in range that may end up hitting a school instead of the target.

Israel’s economy lost $950m during Gaza aggression

 

Sourcewww.middleeastmonitor.com

Nearly 30 per cent of workers in central Israel have returned to working in factories inside shelters which have were made specifically for times of war, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said last week.

According to the newspaper, the lack of suitable working environment inside the shelters has reduced Israel’s production capacity by 40 per cent.

The paper and the Israeli radio pointed out that 70 per cent of the institutions, factories and farms did not resume work since the war on Gaza started on July 7.

The newspaper estimated that Israel has lost nearly $950 million in the first three weeks of its aggression on Gaza.

Several factory and farm owners demanded the Israel Finance Ministry compensate them for their losses.

Journalist Antoine Shalhat said the Palestinian resistance’s rockets have inflicted heavy losses on the Israeli economy forcing employers to transfer their businesses and projects to northern areas that are believed to be safer. Shalhat pointed out that this move will leave the southern communities lifeless and force their inhabitants to immigrate to the north.

Israel Finance Minister Yair Lapid said, during a visit to the south last week, that the ministry will compensate all those affected by the war in Gaza and pointed out that the Israeli government will set up a new Iron Dome anti-missile defence system in those areas to repel resistance rockets.

According to previous figures issued by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics at the end of March, the southern area’s share of economic power is estimated at 10 per cent and contributes to eight per cent of Israel’s total foreign exports.

Israel’s total foreign exports amounted to $93 billion in 2013, according to the Israeli Export.

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