An Israeli military offensive on the Palestinian territory of Gaza starting on July 8 has brought widespread condemnation from governments and activists in Latin America. The response to the current military action, which is codenamed "Operation Protective Edge," follows a pattern set during a similar December 2008-January 2009 Israeli offensive in Gaza, "Operation Cast Lead," when leftist groups and people of Arab descent mounted protests and leftist and center-left governments issued statements sharply criticizing the Israeli government.
Israel resumed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip for the 20th day on July 27, as Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stressed that the group was ready to "coexist with the Jews" but would not tolerate "occupiers." The Israeli assault on Gaza continued after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to renew a ceasefire agreed to earlier in the day after he claimed Palestinian militants had violated earlier truces. At least two Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in Israeli airstrikes and shelling from land and sea that evening, as the total Palestinian toll in the deadly assault hit 1,032 with more than 6,200 injured. Israeli forces have also killed 11 Palestinians in solidarity protests across the West Bank.
Some 7,000 gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square July 26 in the largest Israeli protest against the bombardment of Gaza thus far. Slogans included "Stop the war," "Bring the soldiers back home," and "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Several hours before the demonstration was slated to begin, police announced that it was canceled for fear of rocket fire, but it was given the green light when news broke that the ceasefire would be extended. The protest was called by the left-wing Hadash political party and the organizations Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle Families Forum. The more prominent Meretz left-wing party and Peace Now anti-war group opted not to take part in the rally.
The Israeli army on July 26 warned Palestinians who have fled their homes since the beginning of the ground assault not to return, stressing that the army would not hesitate to use force against them. The warning came as thousands returned to see the area and remove their possessions from destroyed homes, amid a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire set to expire at 8 PM. The Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee said in a statement that those who stayed on in the neighborhood past the end of the ceasefire would be "putting their lives in danger," as the army is expected to resume a heavy assault that has taken nearly 1,000 Palestinian lives so far.
Top Palestinian officials on July 25 filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza. Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem al-Saqqa and Gaza court public prosecutor Ismail Jabr started legal proceedings over the 18 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel that has killed over 800 Palestinians and 35 Israelis. The complaint accuses Israel of war crimes, including apartheid, attacks against civilians, excessive loss of human life and colonization. The ICC must next decide whether it has jurisdiction in the complaint. The Palestinian territory is not a member of the UN. However, the territory became an observer in 2012, a status which the ICC prosector said was required for Palestinians to sign up to the court.
Well, we don't think so either, actually. But Revolution News brings some interesting facts to light in a piece entitled "Bombing for Oil: Gaza, Israel and the Levant Basin." It seems that in 1999, British Gas Group (BG) and Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) signed a 25-year agreement with the Palestinian Authority for offshore rights on the Gaza coast. In 2000, as drilling began, BG and CCC found gas (not oil) fields, dubbed Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2. The companies were granted a 90% ownership of any reserves (60% and 30% respectively for BG and CCC), with a 10% share for the Palestinians. Gaza Marine 1 is entirely located in "Palestinian territorial waters," with reserves estimated at 28 billion cubic meters. Gaza Marine 2, or the "Gaza Border Field" straddles the maritime border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, with an estimated 3 billion cubic meters.
An estimated 40,000 marched through central Cape Town July 16 to protest the Gaza "massacre" at South Africa's parliament. The city came to a standstill at midday as marchers handed a memorandum to the chair of the parliament's international relations portfolio committee, Siphosezwe Masango. MP Magdalene Moonsamy of the Economic Freedom Fighters opposition party addressed protesters at the parliament's gates, saying, "We pledge solidarity with the people of Gaza." The march was organized by the Muslim Judicial Council and the COSATU trade union federation. Marches held Palestinian flags and banners with messages such as "Israel is a racist apartheid regime." (City Press, Johannesburg, July 16)
Fierce clashes broke out across the West Bank late Friday July 11 between Israeli troops and young Palestinian men protesting the ongoing military offensive against the Gaza Strip. In Ramallah in the central West Bank, Palestinian protestors on Saturday morning used rocks to block the road to an Israeli military base near the town of Sinjel in the north. The protestors then clashed with Israeli troops who showered them with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades. The young protestors responded with stones, gas bombs and fireworks. Also that day, dozens of angry young Palestinian men attacked an Israeli military post in Tal al-Asour in the village of Kafr Malik north of Ramallah. The protestors threw several Molotov cocktails and fireworks at the post, setting it ablaze. Israeli troops got out of their bunkers and started to extinguish the fire, while other soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas canisters at the protestors.