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Could Israel face war crimes charges?

July 31st, 2014
04:17 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“Today the world stands disgraced.”

That is how the head of United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which runs shelters for Palestinians, reacted to the shelling of a Gaza school that was serving as a U.N. shelter for 3,000 Palestinians.

Twenty people were killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The United Nations blames Israel for the attack. Israel has not given a direct explanation, but says many Hamas rockets misfire and fall within Gaza; it also says that Hamas purposefully fire weapons from civilian areas and that the Israeli military does not target civilians.

UNRWA says that it have the school’s GPS coordinates to Israel 17 separate times to ensure it would remain safe.

“You see the Israelis shifting over the last several days to ground weapons,” CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr says. “You see them using tanks, mortars, artillery.”

“The real pinpoint accuracy comes if you’re going to go back to relying on airstrikes, because that type of munition – bombs out of aircraft – these days are guided to their target by a laser using GPS coordinates.”

Even the United States, Israel’s closest ally, said Thursday that the shelling of the school was “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.”

Could Israel face war crimes charges?

FULL POST


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

In Israel, ‘many people just feel like nobody understands them’

July 31st, 2014
10:08 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Growing international condemnation of Israel’s conduct in its offensive against Hamas in Gaza seems to have totally backfired in Israel, The New York Times’ Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Jodi Rudoren, told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

“Many people just feel like nobody understands them,” Rudoren said.

Indeed, the Israeli public is overwhelmingly supportive of the operation in Gaza – 95% according to a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute. (Rudoren said the numbers she had seen were somewhat lower.)

In her two years covering Israel, Rudoren said she has been examining what effect, if any, the criticism writ large of Israel – from European countries, among others – would have on public opinion.

“I think we've really seen that it's just reinforced this notion that nobody outside of Israel really understands what they're going through, that they're surrounded by enemies, and that they have no choice but to defend themselves”

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Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode

For children of Gaza, trauma can be worse than war itself

July 29th, 2014
03:07 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

For many children in Gaza, war is all they know.

“In the past six years, three wars happened in Gaza,” Rifat Kassis, director of Defence for Children International told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday. “So we are talking about a generation who only experienced war and violence.”

And there are a lot of children in Gaza – about 43% of the population is under the age of twelve. The United Nations says that more than two hundred children have been killed in this conflict, now three weeks old.

“When there is no place in Gaza where you can feel secure, when you lose your parents or one of your parents – this loss of the protection, this loss, the separation feeling from your parents, this is actually worse than the war activity itself,” Kassis said.

UNICEF says that about 200,000 children “are in need of immediate psychosocial support.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

U.N. political chief pushes for elusive Gaza, Israel cease-fire

July 29th, 2014
07:21 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The United Nations is doing its best to try to achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Jeffrey Feltman, the top U.N. political official, told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

“The U.N. is playing a role. I wish, like all of us, that the impact were on the fighting were clear now. But it's the responsibility of the leaders as much as nobody else.”

Feltman’s boss, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on Monday put blame for the failure to reach a cease-fire squarely on the shoulders of Israeli and Palestinian political leadership, saying that they must “show their humanity.”

“There are a hundred-and-seventy-three-thousand-plus Palestinians, ten percent of the Gaza Strip population, that are now being sheltered in U.N. facilities,” Feltman said.

“The U.N. is still working to – talking with all parties – to try to get to that immediate unconditional cease-fire that the Secretary-General has demanded.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

American teen recounts savage beating by Israeli police that helped spark crisis

July 22nd, 2014
02:48 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A Palestinian-American teenager whose savage beating by Israeli police helped set off the current crisis described his shocking ordeal in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“They kicked me in the face. They kneed me in the face. They punched me in the face,” Tariq Khdeir said. “They were beating me like they had no – they didn’t know what they were doing. Why would they be beating me like that?”

Amateur video of Khdeir’s beating went viral and caused widespread outrage; Israeli authorities say they have suspended one of the police officers involved in the case.

Khdeir was born and grew up in the United States; he was in the West Bank visiting family when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and found dead in the West Bank.

Khdeir’s cousin, Mohammed Abu Khedair, was murdered in what was largely seen as a retaliatory attack for the Israelis’ death.

“I asked if he needed anything from the bakery,” he told Amanpour. “And he said sure, and I went to the bakery and I bought him some things.”

“And I came back and I found the cop car there. And then the cops told me … ‘You can’t get closer to the scene.’ And Mohammed wasn’t there.”

Israel finds Hamas are no longer amateur fighters

FULL POST

Israel shelling of Gaza hospitals ‘needs to be questioned,’ says Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni

July 21st, 2014
02:55 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Israel’s shelling of hospitals in Gaza “needs to be questioned,” Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“So we are questioning this and we will make all the facts found public,” she said.

The Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza was hit by shelling, leaving five people dead - one patient and four relatives, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

“We are not trying and we are not punishing the Palestinian people for what Hamas is doing,” Livni said. “We are trying to target these tunnels, the places in which they hide weapons and missiles.”

FULL POST

Ex-Israel Intelligence chief Efraim Halevy calls for talks with Hamas: ‘There are worse options than Hamas’

July 15th, 2014
03:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The former Israeli Intelligence Minister called for negotiations with Hamas in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“Hamas is a very bad option, undoubtedly. But there are worse options than Hamas,” Efraim Halevy, former Mossad chief, said.

“And we already know what some of them might be, especially one of them: the ISIS – which is operating now in the northern Iraq and central Iraq – has its tentacles in the Gaza Strip too.”

Halevy said that just as in Europe, ISIS is recruiting in Gaza.

An Israeli cease-fire on Tuesday lasted six short hours; the Hamas rocket fire never stopped, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that attacks on Gaza be intensified.

It is “inconvenient politically,” Halevy said, for both Israel and Hamas to admit that they negotiate. But the truth, he said, is that they have already been doing it for years.

FULL POST

The grim reality in Gaza

July 10th, 2014
06:25 AM ET

As the shooting war between Israel and Hamas intensifies, what of the Gaza residents who aren't firing rockets, those who don't command or control Hamas fighters and aren't interested in the politics?

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, spoke with CNN’s Michael Holmes about the reality for the people on the ground.

Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

Israel warns of possible Gaza ground operation as Hamas vows to defend itself

July 8th, 2014
02:59 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

An Israeli ground operation into Gaza “might become necessary,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

On the same day, Hamas Foreign Policy Spokesman Osama Hamdan vowed that Palestinians would defend themselves against any “attacks.”

“If the Israelis continue their attacks, the Palestinian people will defend themselves. Not only Hamas – all the Palestinians,” Hamdan told Holmes.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

Shavit: Israel/Hamas escalation may be imminent

July 7th, 2014
03:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The latest airstrikes Monday night between Hamas and Israel may presage a serious escalation in violence between the two sides, Ari Shavit, senior correspondent for Ha'aretz, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“This is a very dramatic evening. I do not want to over-dramatize, but the last few hours may have been, God forbid, the tipping point.”

Tensions have already been high, with tit-for-tat violence; a 16-year-old Palestinian was kidnapped and burned alive, itself a possible act of retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers.

“For the last few days we’ve seen extraordinary attempts to stop the escalation. We’ve seen remarkable restraint on the behalf of the Israeli government – quite surprisingly for many, a right-wing, conservative government led by Benjamin Netanyahu did everything possible not to get into another war or cycle of violence. The same applies to President Abbas.”

“But Hamas – that kept on saying it wants to stop escalation – fired dozens of rockets into Israel in the last few hours, and Israel will not be able to be restrained anymore.”

FULL POST

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