Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2013, Pages 20-21

Gaza on the Ground

Gaza, October 2012: The "Calm" Before The Storm

By Mohammed Omer

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, asked Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer to keep a diary of a typical month in Gaza under Israel's nearly seven-year-long siege:

Oct. 1, 2012: One person is killed and four injured in a traffic accident in Khan Younis, just north of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. A 3-year-old child dies from burns in a fire caused by a candle during a power outage in Bureij camp; another child dies of an electric shock from a generator.

Oct. 2: Israeli soldiers positioned northwest of Erez, in the northern Gaza Strip, open fire on workers collecting rubble from demolished houses. A Rafah smuggling tunnel into Egypt collapses, killing one person and injuring another. Egypt announces it will not create a free-trade zone on its border with Gaza.

Oct. 3: Hamas police fire injures two boys during a police eviction of houses located on government land.

Oct. 4: Gaza tunnel owners are angry about the Egyptian army's aggressive campaign to demolish the smuggling tunnels, "Gaza's Lifeline."

Oct. 5: A young man sets himself on fire, made desperate by the deteriorating economy.

Oct. 6: Israeli warships positioned off the Al-Waha coast northeast of Beit Lahia open fire on Palestinian fishing boats. The Rafah crossing is closed as Egyptian authorities observe the anniversary of the 1973 October War.

Oct. 7: In a single incident, an Israeli F-16 missile kills one civilian and wounds eight more, including four children and their mother. Israeli jets fire two missiles at children going home from school. Another fires two missiles at two people on a motorcycle passing by the Taha Hussein Secondary School in the Al-Brazil neighborhood south of Rafah. Israeli warships open fire on, and arrest, four fishermen, taking them to an unknown destination and confiscating their fishing boat.

Oct. 8: Israeli troops on the border near Khan Younis fire missiles and shoot at villagers for two hours, injuring five people, four of them, including two children, from the same family. Israeli tank fire damages the minarets of the Ammar Ben Yasser mosque in Abasan village and Al-Hidaya mosque in Khuza'a village. Across the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes fire missiles at farmland in the Al-Farahin area ('Abasan, Khuza'a, Al-Qarara and New 'Abasan villages), injuring four civilians, including twin brothers. Israeli air strikes cause five schools, holding approximately 1,500 students, to evacuate. In Rafah, Israeli troops fire artillery shells at the abandoned Gaza International Airport in southeast Rafah. Other Israeli soldiers at the eastern Gaza City border fire three artillery shells at the Al-Amal Tar Factory, located half a mile from the border, causing structural damage. Israeli warplanes fire a missile at open land in Al-Nasser village, north of Rafah. Late in the evening, Israeli troops fire shells at a group of resistance fighters east of Al-Qarara, northeast of Khan Younis, injuring one member of the group.

Oct. 9: Israeli troops on Gaza's northern border fire three artillery shells at open farmland near the Al-Ghoul northeast of Beit Lahia. Israeli snipers in watchtowers northeast of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip fire heavily on open areas (casualties and damage not reported), resuming their heavy fire just before midnight.

Oct. 10: Israeli snipers fire heavily from watchtowers at Al-Ghoul on agricultural land in Al-Sayafa, while Israeli warplanes target a warehouse on farmland in Beit Lahia, destroying much of the structure, and damaging the Dar Al Tofola kindergarten, holding 130 children and 12 teachers. Israeli warships fire on Gazan fishermen.

Oct. 11: Israeli warplanes fire a missile at a training site for the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, north of Gaza City. The missile exploded inside the site.

Oct. 12: Israeli warships fire on fishermen near the Gaza Strip's Al-Waha Beach, causing the fishermen to flee to shore.

Oct. 13: An Israeli warplane fires a missile at an olive grove north of Al-Bureij refugee camp, blowing up 17 trees, damaging five homes, and injuring a 12-year-old boy, whose right leg was struck by flying rubble as he slept in the early afternoon. An hour later another Israeli missile lands northeast of Nussirat, in the central Gaza Strip, leaving a bomb crater and terrorizing residents. Israeli gunboats attack more fishermen in their boats. Israeli warplanes fire a missile an hour later at the Al-Qassam Brigades training site near the Al-Zaitoun neighborhood.

Oct. 14: In an early morning air strike on the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli fire kills one Palestinian civilian and seriously injures another. Later, two Israeli missiles score a direct hit on two resistance fighters riding a motorbike in Al-Fakhari, southeast of Khan Younis, killing one and seriously injuring the other. In central Gaza, an Israeli warplane assassinates two Palestinians. Later, an Israeli warplane fires a missile at a group of Palestinian resistance members in agricultural fields in Al-Salqa valley village, southeast of Deir Al-Balah. One man dies instantly, his body dismembered. Another dies of his injuries 30 minutes later. On the border near Khan Younis, Israeli troops open fire on farmland near the Kissufim military site, next to a highly populated area.

Oct. 15: De facto Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh calls on Egyptian Intelligence to intervene and halt Israeli air strikes.

Oct. 16: Israeli soldiers at the Erez crossing open fire on farmers harvesting olives in Beit Hanoun.

Oct. 17: Israeli warplanes fire five missiles at an Al-Qassam Brigades military training site near the Bedouin village of Um al-Nasser Bedouin village in northern Gaza, damaging the home of a 73-year-old man and his 18 family members. Also damaged were the headquarters of the International Federation of Association Football's (FIFA) "Goal" project and a religious institution belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf serving 850 undergraduates, both located less than a mile from the target area. Shelling also damaged the Bisan Entertainment City, and five more explosions were heard later on.

Oct. 18: In two early morning air strikes, two Israeli missiles are fired at agricultural land in eastern Gaza City.

Oct. 19: An Israeli warship opens fire on Palestinian fishermen at Al-Waha Beach. Around noon, Israeli soldiers at the Gaza/Israel border east of Al-Burej refugee camp shoot at farm volunteers from the Local Initiative and a number of Popular Resistance activists harvesting olives.

Oct. 20: Warships fire at Palestinian fishermen in their boats late at night, and Israeli troops shouting through loudspeakers order the fishermen to leave.

Oct. 21: The Ministry of Finance in Ramallah announces that the balance of the salaries owed to Palestinian Authority civil servants for September has been delivered.

Oct. 22: In the pre-dawn darkness, Israeli snipers in watchtowers on the Israel/Erez crossing open heavy fire on agricultural areas and civilian homes until sunrise. Forty minutes later, Israeli warplanes began firing randomly at empty land and greenhouses. Later, another Israeli missile is fired at members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, injuring three, one of whom dies three hours later. Israeli tanks and bulldozers move 500 meters into Beit Lahia and began firing. Warplanes continue targeting empty fields, resulting in the evacuation of local high school students. Late in the afternoon, the tanks and bulldozers withdraw. An Israeli warplane fires a missile at a resistance group from Al-Naser Salah Al-Deen Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, while they were carrying out military activities. Later in the evening, the Israeli navy arrests four fishermen from the same family, just 1.2 miles off Al-Soudania beach, confiscating their boat and equipment. That night, Israeli warplanes fire a missile at members of Al-Qassam Brigades firing home-made rockets back. One fighter is killed immediately and two others are seriously injured.

Oct. 23: Israeli troops move into Khan Younis in the late afternoon. Bulldozers level some land and tanks fire randomly. Israeli troops fire a ground-to-ground missile at retaliating members of Al-Qassam Brigades, killing one fighter and injuring four.

Oct. 24: An Israeli air strike targets Gaza's Al Tuffah area, killing three Palestinians. A Palestinian resistance fighter dies of injuries sustained the previous day. A missile fired from an Israeli drone above Rafah kills one resident and injures three others. Israeli troops again fire at the Gaza International Airport, and destroy the minaret of the mosque in Khan Younis. Israel closes the Erez crossing, stranding Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment at Israeli, Jordanian and West Bank hospitals. An F16 missile fired from an Israeli warplane lands near Ali Ben Abu Talib mosque. Israeli warplanes constantly occupy Gaza air space.

Oct. 25: A Palestinian dies of injuries sustained in Israel's drone attack on Rafah the previous day. A young man is found dead in Rafah after a smuggling tunnel collapses on him.

Oct. 26: Palestinians visit family graves on the first day of the Eid holiday.

Oct. 27: The bodies of two more young men are found in the tunnel which collapsed two days ago.

Oct. 28: Israeli drones kill one man and injure another in Khan Younis. Israeli bulldozers demolish land northeast of Khan Younis. An Israeli F16 missile hits a newly built house in Al-Bureij, another hits abandoned Jewish settlements outside Gaza City, and a third hits Khan Younis.

Oct. 29: One person is injured in an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip.

Oct. 30: An Israeli helicopter fires missiles east of Khan Younis. Later, a number of Israeli troops invade the Shijaia'a neighborhood east of Gaza City.

Oct. 31: Israeli soldiers stationed in watch towers on Na'ayma Street in Beit Hanoun target agricultural areas with heavy fire.


Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports on the Gaza Strip, and maintains the Web site <www.rafahtoday.org>. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

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