2014 Israel–Gaza conflict

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Operation Protective Edge 2014
Part of the Gaza–Israel conflict
The home of the Kware' family, after it was bombed by the military.jpgIron Dome in Operation Protective Edge.jpg
(left) A home in Gaza bombed by Israel
(right) Iron Dome missile defense system in operation
Date 8 July 2014 (2014-07-08) – 26 August 2014
(50 days)
Location Gaza Strip
Israel
Result Both sides claim victory[9]
  • According to Israel and Palestinian president Abbas,[10][11][12][13] Hamas was severely weakened and achieved none of its demands[14]
  • According to Hamas, Israel was repelled from Gaza[15]
Belligerents
 Israel
Armament support:
 United States[1][2]
Gazan militant groups Armament support:
 Iran[7][8]
Commanders and leaders
Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister
Moshe Ya'alon
Defense Minister
Benny Gantz
Chief of General Staff
Amir Eshel
Air Force Commander
Ram Rothberg
Naval Commander
Sami Turgeman
Southern Commander
Mickey Edelstein
Gaza Division
Yoram Cohen
Chief of Shin Bet
Khaled Mashal
Leader of Hamas
Ismail Haniyeh
Deputy chief of Hamas
Mohammed Deif
Head of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Ramadan Shalah
Leader of PIJ
Units involved
Israeli Army (Land Arm) Flag.svg Israeli Army
Israel Air Force Flag.svg Israeli Air Force
Naval Ensign of Israel.svg Israeli Navy
ShabakLogo.png Shin Bet
Alqassam.jpg Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades Flag al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
Abualimustafa.png Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades
Emblem of the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades.jpeg Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades
Al-Quds Brigades
Strength
176,500 active personnel
565,000 reservists[16]
Al-Qassam Brigades: 10,000[17]–40,000[18]
Al-Quds Brigades: ≈5,000[19]
Casualties and losses
66 soldiers and 6 civilians (1 Thai) killed,[20][21] 469 soldiers and 87 civilians wounded[22][23] UN OCHA: 2,192 killed (1,523 civilians, 557 militants and 146 unknown)[24]

Gaza Health Ministry: 2,143 killed (70% civilians),[25] 11,100 wounded[26]

PCHR: 2,191 killed (1,660 civilians), 10,895 wounded[27]

ITIC: 2,157 killed (48% civilians, 52% militants)[28]

IDF: 2,127 killed (55% civilians, 45% militants),[29] 250 captured (159 identified as militants)[30]

On 8 July 2014, Israel launched a military operation which it designated Operation Protective Edge (Hebrew: מִבְצָע צוּק אֵיתָן, Miv'tza Tzuk Eitan, lit. "Operation Strong Cliff")[note 1] in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Thereafter, seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority of them Gazans.[21][26][34][35]

The stated aim of the Israeli operation was to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, which increased after an Israeli crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank was launched following the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teenagers[36] by two Hamas members.[37][38][39][40] On 7 July, after seven Hamas militants died in a tunnel explosion in Khan Yunis which was caused by an Israeli airstrike (per Hamas) or an accidental explosion of their own munitions (per the IDF), Hamas assumed responsibility for rockets fired from Gaza and launched 40 rockets towards Israel.[36][41][42][43][44][45]

The operation officially began the following day, and on 17 July, the operation was expanded to an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza with the stated aim of destroying Gaza's tunnel system;[46] Israeli ground forces withdrew on 5 August.[47] On 26 August, an open-ended ceasefire was announced.[35] By this time, the IDF reported that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups had fired 4,564 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel,[48][49] while the IDF attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza; at least 34 known tunnels were destroyed[48] and two-thirds of Hamas's 10,000-rocket arsenal was used up or destroyed.[50][51] A bomb disposal expert in the Palestinian Interior Ministry said that by 22 August, 20,000 tons of explosives had been dropped on Gaza.[52][53]

Between 2,127[29] and 2,192[24] Gazans were killed (including 519 children) [26][54] and between 10,895[27] and 11,100[26] were wounded. 66 Israeli soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians (including one child)[55] and one Thai civilian were killed[21] and 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.[23] The Gaza Health Ministry, UN and some human rights groups reported that 69–75% of the Palestinian casualties were civilians;[21][25][27] Israeli officials estimated that around 50% of those killed were civilians.[28][56] On 5 August, OCHA stated that 520,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (approximately 30% of its population) might have been displaced, of whom 485,000 needed emergency food assistance[57] and 273,000 were taking shelter in 90 UN-run schools.[58] 17,200 Gazan homes were totally destroyed or severely damaged, and 37,650 homes suffered damage but were still inhabitable.[21] In Israel, an estimated 5,000[59] to 8,000[60] citizens temporarily fled their homes due to the threat of rocket and mortar attacks.[59]

Background[edit]

In 2005, then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew Israeli forces and settlements from the Gaza Strip.[61] Nonetheless, the ICRC,[62] the UN[63] and various human rights organizations[64][65][66] consider Israel to still be the de facto occupying power due to its control of Gaza's borders, air space and territorial waters.[67][68] The following year, Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislative elections. The outcome disconcerted Israel, the United States and the Quartet, and they demanded Hamas accept all previous agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist, and renounce violence; when Hamas refused,[69] they cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority. In mid-2006 an Israeli soldier was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid. The United States, in response to Fatah moves in October 2006 to form a unity government with Hamas, allegedly tried to undo the elections by arming Fatah to overthrow Hamas in Gaza.[70] Hamas preempted the alleged coup and took complete power by force.[71][72][73][74] Israel then defined Gaza as a "hostile territory" forming no part of a sovereign state and put Gaza under a comprehensive economic and political blockade,[75] which also denied access to a third of its arable land and 85% of its fishing areas. It has led to considerable economic damage and humanitarian problems in Gaza.[76][77][78][79] The overwhelming consensus of international institutions is that the blockade is a form of collective punishment and illegal.[80][81][82][83][84] Israel maintains that the blockade is legal and necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on its cities and to prevent Hamas from obtaining other weapons.[85][86][87][88][89] Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 with the stated aim of stopping rocket attacks from Hamas militants.[90] It lead to a decrease in Palestinian rocket attacks.[91] The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict concluded that the operation was "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability".[92] The Israeli government's analysis concludes that the report perverts international law to serve a political agenda and sends a "legally unfounded message to states everywhere confronting terrorism that international law has no effective response to offer them".[93]

First Hamas–Fatah reconciliation (2011)[edit]

Influenced in the Arab Spring and by demonstrations in Ramallah and Gaza, the gap between Hamas and Fatah was bridged in 2011. After the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas declared his willingness to travel to Gaza and sign an agreement, the IDF killed two Hamas activists in Gaza; the IDF stated the killings were in response to the launching of a single Qassam rocket, which hit no one, but Yedioth Ahronoth's Alex Fishman argued they were a "premeditated escalation" by Israel.[94][better source needed] In an interview with CNN, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the reconciliation talks were calls for Israel's destruction, and strongly opposed the idea of a unity government.[95]

The November 2012 ceasefire and its violations[edit]

On 14 November 2012, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense with the assassination of the commander of Hamas's military wing, Ahmed Jabari, following hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli shelling and airstrikes on Gaza.[96] A week later, on 21 November, Egypt brokered a ceasefire to the conflict which contained the following agreements:[96][97]

  1. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air, including incursions and targeting of individuals.
  2. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.
  3. The crossings should be opened, facilitating the movement of people and goods; Israel should refrain from restricting residents' movements and from targeting residents in border areas; procedures of implementation should be dealt with 24 hours after the start of the ceasefire.
Gaza Strip: access and closure
A sculpture in Sderot made from rocket debris

Violations[edit]

Both Israel and Hamas argue that the other violated the 2012 ceasefire agreement, resulting in 1 Israeli and 8 Gazan deaths and 5 Israeli and 66 Gazan injuries. According to the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) there was a sharp decrease in attacks from Gaza in 2013.[98] Nevertheless, 63 rockets (average 5 per month) were launched in 36 rocket attacks in addition to various mortar attacks, all prohibited by the November 2012 ceasefire. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)[99] reported monthly Israeli attacks involving drones, missiles, small arms fire and airstrikes. Six of the deaths in Gaza occurred in the border area's Access Restricted Areas (ARAs, non-demarcated zones within Gazan territory unilaterally defined by Israel as being of restricted access), despite the ceasefire's prohibition on Israeli attacks on these areas.[36][99] OCHAO, more broadly sourced data, reported 11 deaths in Gaza and 81 injuries for 2013.[100]

In the first three months after the IDF Operation Pillar of Defense, according to Ben White, two mortar shells struck Israeli territory, while four Gazans were shot dead and 91 were wounded by Israeli forces who fired inside Gazan territory on 63 occasions, made 13 incursions into the Strip, and attacked the Gazan fishing fleet 30 times.[101] Israeli attacks on Gaza steadily increased during the second half of 2013, notwithstanding the decrease in attacks from Gaza.[102][not in citation given]

From December 2012 to late June/early July 2014, Hamas did not fire rockets into Israel, and tried to police other groups doing so.[103] These efforts were largely successful; Netanyahu stated in March 2014 that the rocket fire in the past year was the "lowest in a decade."[36][103][104] According to Shabak, in the first half of 2014 there were 181 rocket attacks[105] compared to 55 rocket attacks in whole 2013.[98]

However, while the ceasefire generally held[dubious ], the blockade of Gaza continued in direct violation of the ceasefire agreement.[106] "Crossings were repeatedly shut and buffer zones were reinstated. Imports declined, exports were blocked, and fewer Gazans were given exit permits to Israel and the West Bank."[36]

Israel halted construction material going to Gaza after it stated that it had discovered a tunnel leading into Israel, some 300 m from a kibbutz. The IDF said it was the third tunnel discovered that year and that the previous two were packed with explosives.[107]

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were 85 rocket attacks in the first five months of 2014.[108] Most of the 85 rockets were fired in March, after the IDF killed 3 members of Islamic Jihad. The members of the PIJ say they were firing rockets in response to an incursion by Israeli tanks and bulldozers into Gazan territory east of the Khan Yunis area.[109][110][111] The IDF said they were conducting routine military patrols near the Gaza border when they came under fire, and thus responded with airstrikes.[112][113]

Second Hamas–Fatah reconciliation[edit]

Following the collapse of the 2013–14 Israeli–Palestinian peace talks, in the face of Netanyahu's perceived reluctance to make necessary concessions, Mahmoud Abbas decided to forge a deal with Hamas.[114] With its alliance with Syria and Iran weakened, the loss of power by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after a coup d’ètat in Egypt, and the economic impact of the closure of its Rafah tunnels by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,[114] on 23 April 2014, ending seven divisive years, Hamas agreed to reconciliation under a unity government with the other main Palestinian faction, Fatah.[115][116] The government accepted by Hamas was to be run exclusively by PNA technocrats.[114] This Palestinian unity government was sworn in by 2 June 2014[117][118] and Israel announced it would not negotiate any peace deal with the new government and would push punitive measures.[119] Netanyahu took Palestinian unity as a threat rather than an opportunity.[114][120] On the eve of the agreement he stated that the proposed reconciliation would "strengthen terrorism", and called on the international community to avoid embracing it.[121] Most of the outside world, including the European Union, Russia, China, India, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom, proved cautiously optimistic, and subsequently expressed their support for new arrangement. The United States, more skeptical, announced it would continue to work with the PNA-directed unity government.[122] Israel itself suspended negotiations with the PNA [123] and, just after[124] the announcement, launched an airstrike, which missed its target and wounded a family of three bystanders.[118][125] Netanyahu had warned before the deal that it would be incompatible with Israeli–Palestinian peace and that Abbas had to choose between peace with Hamas and peace with Israel. When a reconciliation deal was signed, opening the way to the appointment of the new government, Netanyahu chaired a security cabinet which voted to authorise Netanyahu to impose unspecified sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.[118] On 4 June, the day before Naksa Day, the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry published tenders for 1,500 settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a move Minister Uri Ariel said was an "appropriate Zionist response to the Palestinian terror government."[126][127] Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst at Al Jazeera, alleged that Israel had hoped to disrupt the Palestinian national unity government between Fatah and Hamas by its operation.[128]

Immediate events[edit]

Street in Ramallah after an IDF raid during Operation Brother's Keeper, June 2014[citation needed]
Factory bursts in flames after rocket attack in Sderot, Israel, 28 June 2014[129]

On 12 June 2014, three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the West Bank: Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah. Israel blamed Hamas, with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he had "unequivocal proof" that Hamas was involved and that the abduction was linked to Palestinian reconciliation,[114] and the IDF stated that the two men Israel suspected of having kidnapped the teenagers were known members of Hamas.[130][131] No evidence of Hamas involvement was offered by the Israeli authorities.[36][114][132] High-ranking members of Hamas denied the group had any involvement in the incident,[133] and ex-Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin doubted Hamas had any involvement.[120] The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank attributed the abductions to the Qawasameh clan, notorious for acting against Hamas's policies and any attempts to reach an entente with Israel.[134] Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal said he could neither confirm nor deny the kidnapping of the three Israelis, but congratulated the abductors.[135] The kidnappings were condemned by human rights organizations.[136][137] Documents released by Israel suggest that Hamas member Hussam Qawasmeh organized the kidnappings with $60,000 provided by his brother Mahmoud through a Hamas association in Gaza, after requesting support for a "military operation".[138] On 20 August, Saleh al-Arouri, an exiled Hamas leader based in Turkey, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens: "Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as within the 1948 borders... Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers, who were on a hunger strike... The mujahideen captured these settlers in order to have a swap deal."[139] Palestinian security forces said the kidnappings were organized by Saleh al-Arouri.[140] Khalid Meshaal, head in exile of Hamas's political wing since 2004, acknowledged that Hamas members were responsible, but stated that its political leaders had no prior knowledge of the abduction, were not involved in military details and learnt of it through the ensuing Israeli investigations. He also said that while Hamas was opposed to targeting civilians, he understood that Palestinians "frustrated with oppression" were exercising a "legitimate right of resistance" against the occupation by undertaking such operations.[141][142][143][144] Israel states that the IDF and the Shin Bet have foiled between 54[145] and 64 kidnapping plots since 2013. The PA said it had foiled 43 of them.[146]

Withholding evidence in its possession suggesting that the teens had been killed immediately until 1 July,[114][147][148] Israel launched Operation Brother's Keeper, a large-scale crackdown of what it called Hamas's terrorist infrastructure and personnel in the West Bank,[149] ostensibly aimed at securing the release of the kidnapped teenagers. 10 Palestinians were killed in numerous raids and clashes,[150][151][152][153][154] and between 350 and 600 Palestinians,[133][150][155][156] including nearly all of Hamas's West Bank leaders,[157][158][159] were arrested.[160][161][162] Among those arrested were many people who had only recently been freed under the terms of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.[163] Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner defended the arrests, stating that Hamas members had carried out 60 abduction attempts on Israelis in the West Bank "in the last year and a half", and that "Hamas does not need to give a direct order."[164] The arrests yielded no information about the abduction.[114] Amnesty International has stated that certain aspects of the operation amounted to collective punishment,[165] and B'tselem said in a press release that the actions have caused "disproportionate harm to the basic rights of Palestinians".[166] During the course of the operation, Israel said it had uncovered a Hamas plot to launch a massive wave of violence throughout the West Bank, with the goal of overthrowing the Palestinian Authority. The alleged coup plotters were arrested and their weapons stockpiles were seized[167][168]

On 30 June, search teams found the bodies of the three missing teenagers near Hebron.[169][170][171] After their burial, an anti-Arab riot broke out, and a Palestinian teenager was killed in revenge. His killing sparked Arab rioting.[172][173] Israel police arrested six suspects belonging to the Beitar Jerusalem F.C. supporters' group La Familia[174][175] and charged three of them with murder.[176][177]

As part of its crackdown, Israel conducted air strikes against Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip, while Hamas apparently refrained from retaliating, though it did not impede other factions from firing rockets towards Israel.[114] From 1 May to 11 June, six rockets and three mortar shells were launched from Gaza towards Israel. From 12 to 30 June 44 rockets and 3 mortar shells were launched from Gaza. On 29 June, an Israeli airstrike on a rocket crew killed a Hamas operative, while at least 18 rockets were launched from Gaza through the next day by Hamas according to both J.J. Goldberg and Assaf Sharon,[114] with Goldberg stating that it was the first time Hamas directly launched rockets since the conflict in 2012.[147] Overnight, on 30 June – 1 July, Israeli airstrikes struck 34 Gaza targets in what officials stated was a response to the Sunday rocketry,[178] while Stuart Greer reported the strikes were revenge for the deaths of the three youths.[179] From the day of the abductions on 12 June through 5 July 117 rockets were launched from Gaza and there were approximately 80 Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.[180][181]

Israel sought a ceasefire but refused to accept Hamas's condition that Palestinians arrested in the West Bank crackdown be released.[114] In a meeting held on 2 July to discuss the crisis, Hamas reportedly tried but failed to persuade armed factions in Gaza to uphold the truce with Israel.[182] Following escalating rocket fire from Gaza, Israel issued a warning on 4 July that it "would only be able to sustain militant rocket fire for another 24, or maximum 48, hours before undertaking a major military offensive."[183] Hamas declared it was prepared to halt the rocket fire in exchange for an agreement by Israel to stop airstrikes. Netanyahu said Israel would only act against further rocket attacks.[184] On 5 July, Hamas official Osama Hamdan said rocket fire would continue until Israel lifted its import restrictions on Gaza and the Palestinian Authority transferred money to pay Hamas civil servants.[185] Between 4 and 6 July, a total of 62 rockets where fired from Gaza and the IAF attacked several targets in Gaza.[186][187][188] The following day, Hamas assumed formal responsibility for launching rocket attacks on Israel.[36] Hamas increased rocket attacks on Israel,[106] and by 7 July had fired 100 rockets from Gaza at Israeli territory; at the same time, the Israeli Air Force had bombed several sites in Gaza.[189][190][191] Early on 8 July, the IAF bombed 50 targets in the Gaza Strip.[192] Israel's military also stopped a militant infiltration from the sea.[192] Brigadier General Moti Almoz, the chief spokesman of the Israeli military, said: "We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard."[103] Hamas insisted that Israel end all attacks on Gaza, release those re-arrested during the crackdown in the West Bank, lift the blockade on Gaza and return to the cease-fire conditions of 2012 as conditions for a ceasefire.[193]

Operation timeline[edit]

Snapshot taken in the Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, 20 July 2014[citation needed]
Israeli residents of Ashkelon run for shelter during a rocket alert.
A snapshot of Shuja'iyya, 20 July 2014
UNOSAT picture of Gaza, 1 August 2014
IDF-released map of rocket launch sites in Gaza


Phase 1: Air strikes

As the Israeli operation began, Hamas continued to fire rockets and mortar shells into Israel, and the IDF bombarded targets in the Gaza Strip with artillery and airstrikes in response. A cease-fire proposal was announced by the Egyptian government on 14 July, backed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas;[194] the Israeli government accepted it and temporarily stopped hostilities on the morning of 15 July, but Hamas rejected it in "its current form", citing the fact Hamas has not been consulted in the formation of the ceasefire and it omitted many of their demands.[195][196] By 16 July, the death toll within Gaza had surpassed 200 people.[197]

Phase 2: Ground invasion

On 16 July, Hamas and Islamic Jihad offered the Israeli government a 10-year truce with ten conditions centred on the lifting of the blockade and the release of prisoners who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap and were re-arrested; it was not accepted.[198][199] On 17 July, a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire, proposed by the UN, took place. Approximately five and a half hours prior to the ceasefire's effect, the IDF sighted 13 armed Hamas militants emerging from a Gazan tunnel on the Israeli side of the Gaza border. IDF destroyed the tunnel's exit, ending the incursion.[200][201] After the ceasefire, IDF began a ground offensive on the Gaza Strip focused on destroying tunnels crossing the Israel border. On 20 July, the Israeli military entered Shuja'iyya, a populous neighborhood of Gaza City, resulting in heavy fighting.

On 24 July, over 10,000 Palestinians in the West Bank protested against the Israeli operation; 2 Palestinian protesters died.[202] 150 Hamas militants who surrendered to the IDF were being questioned about Hamas operations.[203] On 25 July, an Israeli airstrike killed Salah Abu Hassanein, the leader of Islamic Jihad's military wing.[204] On 26 July, another humanitarian ceasefire took place for twelve hours,[205] followed by a unilateral extension by Israel for another twenty-four hours, which was rejected by Hamas.[206] The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip topped 1,000.[207]

On 1 August, the US and UN announced that Israel and Palestine had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire starting at 08:00. There was dispute about the terms of the ceasefire: Israel and the US stated that they allowed Israel to "continue to do operations to destroy tunnels that pose a threat to Israeli territory that lead from the Gaza Strip into Israel proper as long as those tunnels exist on the Israel side of their lines"; Hamas said that it would not accept such a condition.[208][209] The ceasefire broke down almost immediately after it started. Israel blamed Hamas for violating the ceasefire, saying a group of Israeli soldiers were attacked by Palestinian militants emerging from a tunnel.[210] Palestinians said the IDF was the first to breach the ceasefire when at 08:30 it destroyed 19 buildings while undertaking work to demolish tunnels.[209] According to the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and Gazan sources, Hamas attacked an Israeli unit, killing an Israeli officer (Hadar Goldin, who was initially thought to have been captured) while Israeli forces were still engaged in military activities in Rafah on Gaza's territory before the truce came into effect. Tweets reported the battle in Rafah before the deadline for the cease-fire.[209] Hamas also killed two soldiers in a suicide bombing attack.[211] Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk accused Israel of creating pretexts to undermine the Gaza ceasefire and said that Palestinian fighters abducted the officer and killed the two soldiers before the start of the humanitarian truce,[212] while Israel said the event took place at 09:20, after the 08:00 start of the ceasefire.[213][214][215]

Phase 3: Withdrawal of Israeli troops

On 3 August, IDF pulled most of its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip after completing the destruction of 32 tunnels built by Hamas and other militants.[47][216][217] On 5 August Israel announced that it had arrested Hossam Kawasmeh on 11 July, and suspected him of having organized the killing of the three teenagers. According to court documents, Kawasmeh stated that Hamas members in Gaza financed the recruitment and arming of the killers.[218][219]

On 10 August, another Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire was negotiated and agreed upon Israeli and Palestinian officials, and on 13 August it was extended for another 120 hours to allow both sides to continue negotiations for a long-term solution to end the month-long fighting.[220] On 19 August, a 24 hour ceasefire extension renewal was violated just hours after agreement with 29 Hamas rockets fired in 20 minutes, with IAF airstrikes in response, killing 9 Gazans. The Israeli delegation was ordered home from Cairo.[221]

On 21 August, an Israeli airstrike in Rafah killed three of Hamas's top commanders: Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al Atar and Mohammed Barhoum.[222] During the period from 22 to 26 August, over than 700 rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel, killing 3 Israelis. On 26 August, Israel and Hamas accepted another cease-fire at 19:00.[223]

Result and post-conflict events

On 16 September, Mortar shell fired to Israel for the first time since the cease-fire. Citizens worried that the fighting would resume with the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the new year (Rosh Hashanah). Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon estimated that fighting would not resume with the Gaza Strip at the end of this month.[224] Abbas call for UNSC resolution to end Mideast conflict. Hollande, French president show supported in his effort.[225] On Tuesday, 20 September, negotiations between Israel and Gaza will begin in Cairo.[226]

According to Palestinians on 1 October, Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip and fired upon Palestinian farmers and farms. No injuries were reported.[227][228][229]

IDF reported that on 31 October a rocket or a mortar shell was launched from Gaza into southern Israel without causing harm.[230]

On 23 November, a Palestinian farmer was shot dead in Gaza, marking the first time a Palestinian from Gaza had been killed by Israeli fire since a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas militants ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on August 26. The Israeli army said two Palestinians had approached the border fence and had ignored calls to halt, prompting troops to fire warning shots in the air. "Once they didn't comply, they fired towards their lower extremities. There was one hit," a spokeswoman said.[231]

Impact[edit]

On Gaza residents[edit]

A map showing the location of damage in Gaza[232]
Ruins of buildings in Beit Hanoun, August 2014

As of 20 July 2014, hospitals in Gaza were ill-equipped and faced severe shortages of various kinds of medicine, medical supplies, and fuel.[233] Egypt temporarily reopened the Rafah crossing with Gaza to allow medical supplies to enter and injured Palestinians to receive treatment in Egypt.[234] Due to the operation, prices of food, including fish and produce, rose dramatically.[235] A 21 July news report stated that over 83,000 Palestinians had taken shelter in UN facilities.[236] Fatah officials accused Hamas of mishandling humanitarian aid meant for civilians. According to them, Hamas took the aid, which included clothing, mattresses, medicine, water, and food, and distributed it among Hamas members or sold it on the black market for profit.[237][238]

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 273,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had been displaced as of 31 July 2014, of whom 236,375 (over eleven percent of the Gazan population) were taking shelter in 88 UNRWA schools. UNRWA exhausted its capacity to absorb displaced persons, and overcrowding in shelters risked the outbreak of epidemics. 1.8 million people were affected by a halt or reduction of the water supply, 138 schools and 26 health facilities[57][239][240] were damaged, 872 homes were totally destroyed or severely damaged, and the homes of 5,005 families were damaged but still inhabitable. Throughout the Gaza Strip, people received only 2 hours of electricity per day. Power outage had an immediate effect on the public health situation and reduced water and sanitation services, with hospitals becoming dependent on generators. On 2 September, UNRWA reported that 58,217 people were sheltering in 31 of their school buildings, a fifth of their buildings.[241]

OCHA estimated that at least 373,000 children required psychosocial support.[21] "Intense overcrowding, compounded by the limited access of humanitarian staff to certain areas, is increasingly undermining the living conditions at many shelters and raising protection concerns. Water supply has been particularly challenging..."[242] More than 485,000 internally displaced persons were in need of emergency food assistance.[57]

Gaza City, home to 500,000, suffered damage to 20-25% of its housing. Beit Hanoun, with 70% of its housing stock damaged, is considered uninhabitable, with 30,000 residents there in need of accommodation. The only power station in the Strip was damaged on 29 July, and the infrastructure of power transmission lines and sewage pumps was severely damaged, with a major sewage pipe catering to 500,000 badly damaged. Among the infrastructure targeted and destroyed by Israel's bombing campaign were 220 factories in various industrial zones, including a major carpentry enterprise, construction companies, a major biscuit factory, dairy farms and livestock, a candy manufacturer, the orange groves of Beit Hanoun, Gaza's largest mosques, and several TV stations. Farms, as a consequence of damage or the presence of unexploded ordnance dropped during the conflict, are often inaccessible, and the damage to agriculture was estimated at over $200 million. 10 out of 26 hospitals closed.[243][244][245]

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, 203 mosques were damaged during the war, with 73 being destroyed completely.[246] Two of Gaza's three Christian churches were also damaged, with the third suffering some damage to peripheral buildings owned by the parish.[246] In the light of the damage to mosques, Manuel Musallam informed Muslims they could call their prayers from Christian churches.[247] In contrast to Operation Pillar of Defensive, which did not damage a single mosque, Israel maintained that Hamas had a routine military use of mosques and that made them legitimate military targets. According to the IDF, 160 rockets were launched from mosques during the war.[248][249] It also stated that mosques were used for weapon storage, tunnel entrances, training and gathering of militants.[250][251] In one Associated Press report, residents denied that mosques damaged by Israeli forces had been used for military purposes.[252]

On Israeli residents[edit]

A kindergarten in central Israel during a rocket attack.[253]
One of the shelter signs that were placed in the Ben Gurion Airport because of the rocket attacks on Israel.[48]

Hamas and other Islamist groups in Gaza fired rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and villages. Despite Israel's use of the Iron Dome missile defense systems, six civilians were killed, including an Arab Israeli and a Thai civilian worker.[254] An Israeli teen was seriously injured in a rocket strike in the city of Ashkelon.[255] Medical health professionals have noted that Israeli teens prone to mental health problems suffer increasingly during both short-term and long-term conflicts. Experts have identified a number of mental health symptoms which rise during conflict, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, interpersonal sensitivity, phobias, and paranoia. There is some doubt whether these issues will dissipate after the conflict is resolved.[256]

Rocket attacks from Gaza caused damage to Israeli civilian infrastructure, including factories, gas stations, and homes.[257]

At the onset of the operation, the Israeli government canceled all programs within 40 km (24 miles) of Gaza, and requested all people stay at home or near shelter. All summer camps were closed and universities canceled their final exams.[258] Additionally, all gatherings of 300 or more people were banned.[259] Due to the trajectory of rocket fire from Gaza, many flights in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport were delayed or rerouted.[260] and flights to Ben-Gurion airport were interrupted for some days after a Hamas rocket struck an area in its vicinity.[261] Hamas called the FAA flight ban a "great victory".[262] Michael Ross wrote that the decision was driven by anxiety and caused considerably more damage than the potential danger it prevented.[263]

Nearly 3,000 claims of damage were submitted to Israel's Tax Authority, which paid $20 million for direct damage and $21 million for indirect damage such as missed work days as of[when?].[48]

The Bedouin communities in the Negev, many unrecognised by the Israeli government, were classified as "open areas" and so their 200,000 residents did not have warning sirens or anti-rocket protection.[264]

Casualties and losses[edit]

Palestinian[edit]

Reports of casualties in the conflict have been made available by a variety of sources. Most media accounts have used figures provided by the government in Gaza or non-governmental organizations.[265]

Current reports of the proportion of those killed who were civilians/militants are incomplete, and real-time errors, intentional data manipulation, and diverse methodologies produce notable variations in various sides' figures.[266][267][268] For example, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry has issued instructions for activists to always refer to casualties as "innocent civilians" or "innocent citizens" in internet posts.[269][270] However, B'Tselem has stated that after the various groups finish their investigations, their figures are likely to end up about the same.[56] UNICEF and the Gaza Health Ministry reported that from 8 July to 2 August, 296–315 Palestinian children died due to Israeli action, and 30% of civilian casualties were children;[271][272] by 27 August, the total number of children killed had risen to 495[21]–578,[26] according to OCHA and the Gaza Health Ministry.

Human rights groups and the UN use the Gaza Health Ministry's number of Palestinians killed in Gaza as preliminary and add to or subtract from it after conducting their own investigations. For example, human rights groups say that the casualty count provided by the Health Ministry most likely includes victims of Hamas executions, domestic violence, and natural deaths,[267] but they (the human rights groups) remove the accused collaborators (who were shot as close range) from their own counts.[273] Israel contends that the Health Ministry's casualty count also includes deaths caused by rocket or mortar malfunctions.[267]


Gaza Health Ministry (GHM) OCHA Al Mezan PCHR ITIC IDF
Total killed 2,143[25] 2,192[24] 2,142 2,191[27] 2,157[28] 2,127[29]
Civilians ≈1,500 1,523[24] 1,646 1,660[27] ≈1,035[28] ≈1,170[29]
Militants ≈643 557[24] 496 506 ≈1,122[28] ≈957[29]
Unidentified 146[24] 157 unknown,
≈992 unchecked
805 unknown/unchecked[29]
Percent civilians 70%[25][274] 69.1%[275] 76.9% 76.6%[27] 48%[28] 55%[29]
Last updated 26 August[25] 10 November[24] 25 August[276] 27 August[27] 1 December[28] 5 September[277]
Notes Defines as a civilian anyone who isn't claimed by an armed group as a member. Cross-references figures with different sources.[note 2] Requires ≥2 sources, counts on local ties to determine if someone was a combatant or civilian. Counts militants who were not effectively participating in combat when killed as civilians.[56] Removes from GHM's report names it considers duplicates and adds missing militants.[28] Uses its own intelligence reports to determine combatant deaths.[56]

According to data provided by the Palestinian International Middle East Media Center, 79.7% of the Palestinians killed in Gaza were male, with the majority between 16 and 35 (fighting-age). In contrast, a New York Times analysis states that males of ages that are most likely to be militants form 9% of the population but 34% of the casualties, while women and children under 15, who are least likely to be legitimate targets, form 71% of the general population and 33% of the casualties.[267][278] Israel has pointed to the relatively small numbers of fatalities among women, children and men over 60, and to instances of Hamas fighters being counted as civilians (perhaps due to the broad definition of "civilian" used by the Gaza Health Ministry), to support its view that the number of the dead who were militants is 40–50%.[56] The IDF calculates that 5% of Gaza's military forces were killed in the war.[29] Jana Krause, from the war studies department at Kings College London, stated that "a potential explanation other than combatant roles" for the tendency of the dead to be young men "could be that families expect them to be the first ones to leave shelters in order to care for hurt relatives, gather information, look after abandoned family homes or arrange food and water."[268] ITIC reported instances in which children and teenagers served as militants, as well as cases where the ages of casualties reported by GHM were allegedly falsified, with child militants listed as adults and adults listed as children.[279]

Abbas said that "more than 120 youths were killed for violating the curfew and house arrest orders issued against them" by Hamas, referring to reports that Hamas targeted Fatah activists in Gaza during the conflict. Abbas said that Hamas also executed more than 30 suspected collaborators without trial.[280] He said that "over 850 Hamas members and their families" were killed by Israel during the operation.[281][282][283] During the fighting between Israel and Gaza, solidarity protests occurred in the West Bank, during which several Palestinians died; see Reactions.

Israeli[edit]

During the conflict, 66 IDF soldiers were killed, as were 5 Israeli civilians and 1 Thai civilian.[21][284] One other person died due to natural causes brought on by the conflict.[285] According to Magen David Adom, 837 civilians were treated for shock (581) or injuries (256): 36 were injured by shrapnel, 33 by debris from shattered glass and building debris, 18 in traffic accidents which occurred when warning sirens sounded, 159 from falling or trauma while on the way to shelters, and 9 in violence in Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.[286][287] 469 IDF soldiers were injured.[23]

The first Israeli civilian death occurred at the Erez border crossing with Gaza when a Chabad rabbi, delivering food and drinks on the front line,[288] was hit by mortar fire.[289] The second Israeli civilian killed was a 32-year-old Bedouin who was hit by a rocket in the Negev Desert.[290] A Thai migrant worker was also killed by mortar fire while working at a greenhouse in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council.[291] In addition, an elderly woman in Wadi Nisnas collapsed and died of heart failure during an air-raid siren.[285] On 22 August, a 4-year-old Israeli child was killed by a mortar fired from Gaza.[292] A barrage of mortar fire killed two Israeli civilians in the Eshkol region, an hour before a ceasefire went into effect.[293]

Economic impact[edit]

Palestinian officials estimated on 4 September that, with 17,000 homes destroyed (and as of early August at least 30,000 partially destroyed)[294] by Israeli bombing, the reconstruction would cost $7.8 billion, which is about 3 times Gaza's GDP for 2011.[295][296] Gaza City suffered damage to 20–25% of its housing and Beit Hanoun with 70% of its housing uninhabitable.[244] The New York Times noted that damage in this third war was more severe than in the two preceding wars, where in the aftermath of the earlier Operation Cast Lead the damage inflicted was $4 billion, 3 times the then GDP of Gaza's economy.[297] Strikes on Gaza's few industries will take years to repair. Gaza's main power plant on Salaheddin Road was damaged. Two sewage pumping stations in Zeitoun were damaged. The biggest private company in Gaza, the Alawda biscuit and ice cream factory, employing 400, was destroyed by a shelling barrage on 31 July, a few days after undertaking to supply its Choco Sandwich biscuits to 250,000 refugees in response to a request from the World Food Programme; other strikes targeted a plastics factory, a sponge-making plant, the offices of Gaza's main fruit distribution network, the El Majd Industrial and Trading Corporation's factory for cardboard box, carton and plastic bag production, Gaza's biggest dairy product importer and distributor, Roward International. Trond Husby, chief of the UN's Gaza development programme in Gaza, commented that the level of destruction now is worse than in Somalia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.[245]

A number of tunnels leading into both Israel and Egypt were destroyed throughout the operation. There were reports that the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt were bringing an estimated $700 million into Gaza's economy through goods or services. Several Palestinians argued that the tunnels had been critical to supporting the residents of Gaza, either through the employment they provided or through the goods that they allowed in—goods which were otherwise not available unless shipped through Egypt.[298] However, tunnels along the Israeli border serve a purely military purpose.[299]

During the ground invasion, Israeli forces destroyed livestock in Gaza. In Beit Hanoun, 370 cows were killed by tank shelling and airstrikes. In Beit Lahiya, 20 camels were shot by ground forces.[300] Israel's Minister of Finance estimated that the operation would cost Israel NIS 8.5 billion (approximately 2.5 billion USD), which is similar to Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and higher than Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. The forecast included military and non-military costs, including military expenditure and property damage. The calculation indicated that if the operation lasted 20 days, the loss in GDP would be 0.4%.[301]

Reactions[edit]

International[edit]

Quds Day 2014 pro-Palestinian protest in Berlin, 25 July 2014

International reactions to the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict came from many countries and international organizations around the world.

U.S. President Obama acknowledged Israel's right to defend itself, but urged restraint by both sides, while Canada was supportive of Israel[302] and critical of Hamas. The BRICS countries called for restraint on both sides and a return to peace talks based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The European Union condemned the violations of the laws of war by both sides, while stressing the "unsustainable nature of the status quo", and calling for a settlement based on the two-state solution. The Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League, and most Latin American countries were critical of Israel, with some countries in the latter group withdrawing their ambassadors from Israel in protest. South Africa called for restraint by both sides and an end to "collective punishment of Palestinians".[citation needed]

There were many pro-Palestine and pro-Israel demonstrations worldwide, including inside Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to OCHA, 23 Palestinians were killed and 2,218 were wounded by the IDF (38% of the latter by live fire) during these demonstrations.[303][304][305]

Concerns were raised regarding rising anti-Semitism and related violence[where?] deemed related to the conflict.[306]

Gaza[edit]

On 6 August 2014, thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza in support of Hamas, they demanded an end to the blockade of Gaza.[307][308] After the 26 August ceasefire, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted a poll in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: 79% of respondents said that Hamas had won the war and 61% said that they would pick Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as the Palestinian president, up from 41% before the war.[309]

According to The Washington Post, a percentage of Gazans held Hamas responsible for the humanitarian crisis and wanted the militants to stop firing rockets from their neighborhoods to avoid Israeli reaction.[310] Some of the Gazans have attempted to protest against Hamas, which routinely accuses protesters of being Israeli spies and has killed more than 50 such protesters.[311][312][unreliable source?] Around 6 August, Palestinian protesters reportedly attacked and beat up Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri because they blamed Hamas for inciting Operation Protective Edge.[313][314]

An unknown number of Palestinians, estimated in the hundreds or thousands, have tried to flee to Europe due to the conflict. The Palestinian rights group Adamir collected the names of 400 missing persons. In what was described[by whom?] as the "worst shipwreck in years", a boat carrying refugees was rammed by smugglers and capsized off the coast of Malta, resulting in the deaths of about 400 people. According to interviews with survivors, they paid smugglers between $2,000-$5,000 or used legal travel permits, to get to Egypt. One refugee who died had considered the boat to be rickety but told his father "I have no life in Gaza anyway".[315][316]

Israel and the West Bank[edit]

Banner on a kindergarten in Kiryat Ono saying "Dear soldiers! Take care of yourselves! You are our heroes!"
Demonstration against Operation Protective Edge in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A majority of the Israeli public supported Operation Protective Edge.[317][318] Nonetheless, there were protests throughout Israel, after which nearly 700 people were arrested,[why?] including 224 people from East Jerusalem. Most were subsequently released, but some face charges.[319][needs update]

There were continuous protests and clashes in the West Bank. The funeral of Mohammed Abu Khdeir on 4 July was joined by thousands of mourners, and was accompanied by clashes across east Jerusalem throughout the weekend.[320][needs update] According to OCHA, 23 Palestinians were killed and 2,218 were wounded by the IDF, 38% of the latter by live fire.[303][305][321] According to the PLO, 32 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in the period 13 June–26 August, nearly 1400 were wounded by Israeli fire and 1,700 were detained in the largest offensive in the West Bank since the Second Intifada. The PLO also stated that 1,472 settlement homes had been approved over the summer.[322]

During the war there were over 360 attacks on Jews from the West Bank, a spate that was thought by the Jerusalem Post to have "peaked" on 4 August with a tractor attack in Jerusalem and the shooting of a uniformed soldier in the French Hill neighborhood, leading to an increase in security in the city.[323][324]

On 1 September, Israel announced a plan to expropriate 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank, reportedly as a "reaction to the deplorable murder in June of three Israeli teenagers", which Amnesty International denounced as the "largest land grab in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the 1980s".[325][326] The EU complained about the land expropriation and warned of renewed violence in Gaza; the US called it "counterproductive".[327][328]

Alleged violations of international humanitarian law[edit]

A number of legal issues concerning the conflict arose during course of the fighting. Various human rights groups have argued that both Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli targeted destruction of homes of Hamas and other militia members violated international humanitarian law and might constitute war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law.[329][330][331]

Five-year-old Shaymaa al-Masri was injured on 9 July 2014.[332]
A children health clinic in Ashkelon severely damaged by a rocket fired from Gaza on 16 July

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, accused Hamas militants of violating international humanitarian law by "locating rockets within schools and hospitals, or even launching these rockets from densely populated areas."[333] She also criticized Israel's military operation, stating that there was "a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes", and specifically criticizing Israel's actions in Gaza as disproportionate.[334]

Amnesty International found evidence that "[d]uring the current hostilities, Hamas spokespeople reportedly urged residents in some areas of the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes after the Israeli military dropped leaflets and made phone calls warning people in the area to evacuate", and that international humanitarian law was clear in that "even if officials or fighters from Hamas or Palestinian armed groups associated with other factions did in fact direct civilians to remain in a specific location in order to shield military objectives from attacks, all of Israel's obligations to protect these civilians would still apply."[335]

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urged the Palestinian Authority to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC);[336] the fact that the PA has not done so yet has prevented the ICC from launching a formal investigation. [clarification needed] ICC prosecutor Geoffrey Nice said that a "decision to do nothing clearly emerges from the meeting" with the PA foreign minister Riad Malki.[337][338] The UNHRC has appointed a panel led by William Schabas to investigate war crimes allegations by both sides. Israel criticized Schabas as biased because he repeatedly made statements against Israel and in support of Hamas, and has announced its own investigations of both military and civilian leadership and the conduct during the war. Schabas denies any bias.[339][340] According to the New York Times, "Of 44 cases initially referred to army fact-finding teams for preliminary examination, seven have been closed, including one involving the death of eight members of a family when their home was struck on 8 July, the first day of the Israeli air campaign, and others are pending."[341] Human rights organizations have expressed little confidence in Israel's measures, citing past experience.[342] Moreover, several human rights organizations were denied access to Gaza by Israel, rendering it impossible for them to carry out on-site investigations.[343][344] B'Tselem has refused to participate in the army investigation.[341]

Alleged violations by Israel[edit]

According to Assaf Sharon of Tel Aviv University, the IDF was pressured by politicians to unleash unnecessary violence whose basic purpose was 'to satisfy a need for vengeance,' which the politicians themselves tried to whip up in Israel's population.[114] Asa Kasher wrote that the IDF was pulled into fighting "that is both strategically and morally asymmetric" and that like any other army it made mistakes, but the charges it faces are "grossly unfair".[345]

Civilian deaths[edit]

Many of those killed were civilians, prompting concern from many humanitarian organisations. An investigation by Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel had probably committed war crimes on three specific incidents involving strikes on UNWRA schools.[346] Amnesty International stated that: "Israeli forces have carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, including through the use of precision weaponry such as drone-fired missiles, and attacks using munitions such as artillery, which cannot be precisely targeted, on very densely populated residential areas, such as Shuja'iyya. They have also directly attacked civilian objects."[335] B'tselem has compiled an infogram listing families killed at home in 72 incidents of bombing or shelling, comprising 547 people killed, of whom 125 were women under 60, 250 were minors, and 29 were over 60.[347] On 24 August, Palestinian health officials said that 89 families had been killed.[348][349]

Nine people were killed while watching the World Cup in a cafe,[350] and 8 members of a family died that Israel has said were inadvertently killed.[351] A Golani soldier interviewed about his operations inside Gaza said they often could not distinguish between civilians and Hamas fighters because some Hamas operatives dressed in plainclothes and the night vision goggles made everything look green. One soldier interviewed stated that if preserving IDF lives meant civilians were killed, that was acceptable. An IDF spokesperson said that Hamas "deploys in residential areas, creating rocket launch sites, command and control centers, and other positions deep in the heart of urban areas. By doing so, Hamas chooses the battleground where the IDF is forced to operate."[352] The highest-ranking U.S. military officer, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that "Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties". Later in his speech he said, "the Pentagon three months ago sent a 'lessons-learned team' of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation, to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling."[353]

Warnings prior to attacks[edit]

In many cases the IDF warned civilians prior to targeting militants in highly populated areas in order to comply with international law.[331][354][355][356] Human rights organizations including Amnesty International,[357][358] confirmed that in many cases, Palestinians received warnings prior to evacuation, including flyers, phone calls and roof knocking. However, the IDF was criticized for not giving civilians enough time to evacuate.[359] In one case, the warning came less than one minute before the bombing.[360] Hamas has told civilians to return to their homes or stay put following Israeli warnings to leave.[361] In many cases, Palestinians evacuated; in others, they have stayed in their homes. Israel condemned Hamas's encouragement of Palestinians to remain in their homes despite warnings in advance of airstrikes.[236] Hamas stated that the warnings were a form of psychological warfare and that people would be equally or more unsafe in the rest of Gaza.[236][362]

Amnesty International said that "although the Israeli authorities claim to be warning civilians in Gaza, a consistent pattern has emerged that their actions do not constitute an "effective warning" under international humanitarian law."[335] Human Rights Watch concurred.[363] Many Gazans, when asked, told journalists that they remained in their houses simply because they had nowhere else to go.[362] OCHA's spokesman has said "there is literally no safe place for civilians" in Gaza.[364] Roof knocking has been condemned as unlawful by Amnesty International[358] and Human Rights Watch[331] as well as the United Nations Fact Finding Mission in the 2008 war.

Destruction of homes[edit]

Ruins of a residential area in Beit Hanoun.

Israel has targeted many homes in this conflict. This has led to many members of the same family being killed. B'Tselem documented 59 incidents of bombing and shelling, in which 458 people were killed.[347] In some cases, Israel has stated that these homes were of suspected militants and were used for military purposes. The New York Times noted that the damage in this operation was higher than in the previous two wars and stated that 60,000 people had been left homeless as a result.[297] The destruction of homes has been condemned by B'Tselem,[329] Human Rights Watch[330][365] and Amnesty International[357] as unlawful, amounting to collective punishment and war crimes.

Israel destroyed the homes of two suspects in the case of the abduction and killing of the three teenagers.[366] The house demolition has been condemned by B'Tselem as unlawful.[367]

Palestinians returning to their homes during the ceasefire reported that IDF soldiers had trashed their homes, destroyed home electronics such as TV sets, spread feces in their homes, and carved slogans such as "Burn Gaza down" and "Good Arab = dead Arab" in walls and furniture. The IDF did not respond to a request by The Guardian for comment.[368]

On 5 November 2014, Amnesty International published a report examining eight cases where the IDF targeted homes, resulting in the deaths of 111 people, of whom 104 were civilians. Barred from access to Gaza by Israel since 2012, it conducted its research remotely, supported by two contracted Gaza-based fieldworkers who conducted multiple visits of each site to interview survivors, and consulted with military experts to evaluate photographic and video material. It concludes, in every case, that "there was a failure to take necessary precautions to avoid excessive harm to civilians and civilian property, as required by international humanitarian law" and "no prior warning was given to the civilian residents to allow them to escape." As Israel did not disclose any information regarding the incidents, the report said it was not possible for Amnesty International to be certain of what Israel was targeting; it also said that if there were no valid military objectives, international humanitarian law may have been violated, as attacks directed at civilians and civilian objects, or attacks which are otherwise disproportionate relative to the anticipated military advantage of carrying them out, constitute war crimes.[24][369]

The report was dismissed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as "narrow", "decontextualized", and disattentive of alleged war crimes perpetrated by Hamas. Amnesty, it asserted, was serving as "a propaganda tool for Hamas and other terror groups.”[370][371] Anne Herzberg, legal adviser for NGO Monitor, questioned the accuracy of the UN numbers used in the report, saying that they “essentially come from Hamas.”[372]

Shelling of UNRWA schools[edit]

There were seven shellings at UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip which took place between 21 July and 3 August 2014 during the Israeli-Gaza conflict. At the time of the shellings the UNRWA facilities were being used as shelters for Palestinians and as a result of the shellings at least 46 civilians, including 10 UN staff died. All of the incidents were the result of artillery, mortar or aerial missile fire which struck on or near the UNRWA schools. During the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, many Palestinians fled their homes after warnings by Israel or due to air strikes or fighting in the area. During the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict an estimated 200,000 people (10% of Gaza's population) took shelter in UNRWA schools.[citation needed]

On 16 July,[373] 22 July[374] and on 29 July, UNRWA announced that rockets had been found in their schools.[375] UNRWA denounced the groups responsible for "flagrant violations of the neutrality of its premises". All of these schools were vacant at the time when rockets were discovered; no rockets were found in any shelters which were shelled. The IDF stated that "Hamas chooses where these battles are conducted and, despite Israel’s best efforts to prevent civilian casualties, Hamas is ultimately responsible for the tragic loss of civilian life. Specifically in the case of UN facilities, it is important to note the repeated abuse of UN facilities by Hamas, namely with at least three cases of munitions storage within such facilities."[376]

The attacks were condemned by members of the UN (UNRWA's parent organization) and other governments, such as the U.S., have expressed "extreme concern" over the safety of Palestinian civilians who "are not safe in UN-designated shelters."[376] The Rafah shelling in particular was widely criticized, with Ban-Ki Moon calling it a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and US State Department calling it "appalling" and "disgraceful". UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that both Hamas militants and Israel might have committed war crimes. A Human Rights Watch investigation into three of the incidents concluded that Israel committed war crimes.[377]

Infrastructure[edit]

On 23 July, twelve human rights organizations in Israel released a letter to Israeli government warning that "Gaza Strip's civilian infrastructure is collapsing".[378][379] They wrote that "due to Israel's ongoing control over significant aspects of life in Gaza, Israel has a legal obligation to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza are met and that they have access to adequate supplies of water and electricity." They note that many water and electricity systems were damaged during the conflict, which has led to a "pending humanitarian and environmental catastrophe". The Sydney Morning Herald reported that "almost every piece of critical infrastructure, from electricity to water to sewage, has been seriously compromised by either direct hits from Israeli air strikes and shelling or collateral damage."[380]

Between five and eight of the 10 power lines that bring electricity from Israel were disabled, many of them by Hamas's rockets.[381][382] On 29 July, Israel bombed Gaza's only power plant, which was estimated to take a year to repair. Amnesty International said the crippling of the power station amounted to "collective punishment of Palestinians".[383][384] Human Rights Watch has stated that "[d]amaging or destroying a power plant, even if it also served a military purpose, would be an unlawful disproportionate attack under the laws of war".[385] Israel immediately denied damaging the power plant, stating there was "no indication that [IDF] were involved in the strike … The area surrounding the plant was also not struck in recent days."[386] Contradicting initial reports that it would take a year to repair, the power plant resumed operation on 27 October.[387][388]

Attacks on journalists[edit]

13 journalists were killed in the conflict, of which five were off-duty and two (from Associated Press) were covering a bomb disposal team's efforts to defuse an unexploded Israeli artillery shell when it exploded.[389][390][better source needed] In several cases, the journalists were killed while having markings distinguishing them as press on their vehicles or clothing.[391][392] IDF stated that in one case it had precise information that a vehicle marked "TV" that was hit killing one alleged journalist was in military use.[393][394] Several media outlets, including the offices of Al-Jazeera, were hit. The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the attacks as "appalling murders and attacks".[395] Journalists are considered civilians and should not be targeted under international humanitarian law.[396] The Israeli army said it does not target journalists, and that it contacts news media "in order to advise them which areas to avoid during the conflict".[390] Israel has made foreign journalists sign a waiver stating that it is not responsible for their safety in Gaza, which Reporters Without Borders calls contrary to international law.[397][398][399] The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, who in August 2014 condemned the killing of Al Aqsa TV journalist Abdullah Murtaja, withdrew her comments after it was revealed that Murtaja was also a combatant in Hamas's Al Qassam Brigade, and said she "deplore[d] attempts to instrumentalize the profession of journalists by combatants"[400][401]

Israel bombed Hamas's Al-Aqsa radio and TV stations because of their "propaganda dissemination capabilities used to broadcast the messages of (Hamas's) military wing."[402] Reporters Without Borders and Al-Haq condemned the attacks, saying "an expert committee formed by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, to assess the NATO bombing campaign of 1999, specified that a journalist or media organization is not a legitimate target merely because it broadcasts or disseminates propaganda."[396][403] The U.S. government classifies Al-Aqsa TV as being controlled by Hamas, a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," and states that it "will not distinguish between a business financed and controlled by a terrorist group, such as Al-Aqsa Television, and the terrorist group itself."[404][405][406][original research?]

Human shields[edit]

Defense for Children International-Palestine reported that 17 year-old Ahmad Abu Raida was kidnapped by Israeli soldiers who, after beating him up, used him as a human shield for five days, forcing him to walk in front of them with police dogs at gunpoint, search houses and dig in places soldiers suspected there might be tunnels.[407][408] Several of the key claims could not be verified because his Hamas-employed father said he forgot to take photographs of the alleged abuse marks and discarded all the clothing IDF soldiers supposedly provided Abu Raida when he was freed.[409]

The IDF confirmed that the troops suspected Ahmad of being a militant based on the affiliation of his father (a senior official in Gaza's Tourism Ministry) with Hamas and so detained him during the ground operation. The IDF and Israeli authorities challenged the credibility of DCI-P noting their "scant regard for truth".[409] The IDF Military Advocate General opened criminal investigation into the event.[393]

Alleged violations by Hamas[edit]

Killing and shooting of Gazan civilians[edit]

The IDF stated on 31 July that more than 280 Hamas rockets[410] malfunctioned and fell inside the Gaza strip, hitting sites including Al-Shifa Hospital and the Al-Shati refugee camp, killing at least 10 and wounding dozens.[411] Hamas has denied that any of its rockets hit the Gaza Strip.[410][412][413] While the incident is disputed, early news reports have suggested that the strike was from an Israeli drone missile.[411][414][415]

Twenty civilians from Shuja'iyya were killed while protesting against Hamas.[416] A few days later, Hamas reportedly killed two Gazans and wounded ten after a scuffle broke out over food handouts.[417][undue weight? ]

Killing of suspected collaborators[edit]

During the conflict, Hamas executed Gazan civilians it accused of having collaborated with Israel; thirty on 30 July;[418] forty-six on 21/22 August,[419][420] including twenty-five as part of a campaign codenamed "Strangling Necks"; four on 23 August;[421] and eighteen more at other times. Overall, Hamas executed between 30-40 suspected collaborators during Operation Protective Edge alone, according to Abbas.[280][283] Abbas condemned the executions, calling them murders and a crime.[422][423]

Abbas' Secretary-General, Al-Tayyib Abd al-Rahim, condemned the "random executions of those who Hamas called collaborators", adding that some of those killed had been detained for more than three years.[424][425] Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Palestinian human rights groups condemned the executions.[426][427][428] Bodies of the victims were brought to hospitals to be added to the number of civilian casualties of Israeli operation.[273] According to a Shin Bet official, "not even one" of the alleged collaborators executed by Hamas provided any intelligence to Israel, while the Shin Bet officially "confirmed that those executed during Operation Protective Edge had all been held in prison in Gaza in the course of the hostilities."[429]

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk confirmed that some victims were kept under arrest before the conflict began and were executed to satisfy the public without due legal procedure.[430]

Shurat HaDin filed a suit with the ICC charging Khaled Mashaal with war crimes for the executions of 38 civilians.[430][431] Hamas co-founder Ayman Taha was found dead; Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported he had been shot by Hamas for maintaining contact with the intelligence services of several Arab countries; Hamas stated he was targeted by an Israeli airstrike.[432]

Human shields[edit]

Israel has stated that many civilian casualties were the result of Hamas using the Gazan population as human shields at rocket launch targets.[433] However, according to Harriet Sherwood in The Guardian, this is their justification for targeting such places, despite the legal requirement to ensure its attacks are proportional, distinguish between military and civilian objects, and avoid civilian casualties.[434]

The statements fall into two categories: using civilian structures like homes, mosques and hospitals to store munitions in or launch rockets from,[435] and urging or forcing civilian population to stay in their homes, to shield militants.[436][437] Israeli soldiers have also said Hamas operatives directly employed women and children as involuntary human shields to evade pursuit,[438][439] while Hamas and others have said such accusations are false.[434] Asa Kasher wrote that "Israel cannot forfeit its ability to protect its citizens against attacks simply because terrorists hide behind non-combatants. If it did so, it would be giving up any right to self-defense."[345]

Use of civilian structures for military purposes[edit]

Israel has stated that many mosques, schools and hospitals were used to store weapons. The IDF spokesman said that mortar shells were fired from a boys' school that served as a shelter for refugees.[440] There were reports of the use of mosques to store weapons,[441] and having launch sites very close to civilian structures.[435] Gaza's Greek Orthodox archbishop has said that Hamas used the church compound, which sheltered 2000 Muslim civilians, to launch rockets into Israel.[249][442] France 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick reported that a Hamas rocket-launching pad was placed in densely populated neighborhood of Gaza City, about 50 meters from the hotel where the majority of international media were staying and 100 meters from a UN building. Fenwick claimed that "children can be seen playing on and near the rocket launcher".[443]

Israel released footage of Palestinian militants launching rockets from a school and a cemetery.[444] In at least one case a cemetery was targeted by an Israeli airstrike.[445]

According to Shabak, the Israeli internal security service, some militants, when interrogated, admitted using civilian buildings for military purposes. The admissions included more than ten mosques that were used for gatherings, training, storage of weapons, tunnel activities and military observations. During interrogations, one militant said that he was instructed in case of successful abduction using a tunnel to take the victim to a kindergarten located near its opening.[446][447][448]

On 24 August, Israel released part of what it says is a Hamas training manual on urban warfare, which states "the process of hiding ammunition inside buildings is intended for ambushes in residential areas and to move the campaign from open areas into built up and closed areas" and "residents of the area should be used to bring in the equipment...take advantage of this to avoid [Israeli] spy planes and attack drones." The manual also explains how fighting from within civilian population makes IDF operations difficult and what the benefits of civilian deaths are.[449] Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed the document as a "forgery...aimed at justifying the mass killings of Palestinian civilians."[450]

On 12 September, Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, acknowledged for the first time that Hamas did fire rockets from civilian areas and said "some mistakes were made".[451]

In Israel[edit]

Israeli and Jewish critics of the war, including Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy and Richard Silverstein wrote that in its own war of independence and earlier Jews hid weapons in synagogues, kindergartens and schools.[452][453][454] Correctness of such comparison is denied by Ross Singer,[who?] who notes that "the legacy of both the Irgun and Lehi was and to a large degree still is a matter of public debate", while Zionist paramilitary groups "rarely if ever" fired weapons "from within civilian population centers" and routinely evacuated civilians from areas of conflict.[455]

Some commentators noted the high population density of Gaza in conjunction with Palestinian military activities and installations being in or near civilian structures.[434][456] Some critics note that the headquarters of the IDF and Shin Bet, as well as an Israeli military training facility, are located near civilian centers.[434][457]

Legality[edit]

Using civilian structures to store munitions and launch attacks from is unlawful, and the Fourth Geneva Convention states that "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations."[458] On the other hand, another convention says that "Any violation of these prohibitions shall not release the parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians, including the obligation to take the precautionary measures."[459]

According to Harriet Sherwood, even if Hamas were violating the law on this matter, it would not legally justify Israel's bombing of areas where civilians are known to be.[434] Amnesty International stated that "Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks (where the likely number of civilian casualties or damage to civilian property outweighs the anticipated military advantage to be gained) are … prohibited."[335] It said that "Israel's relentless air assault on Gaza has seen its forces flagrantly disregard civilian life and property".[460] Human Rights Watch has said that in many cases "the Israeli military has presented no information to show that it was attacking lawful military objectives or acted to minimize civilian casualties."[363] An investigation by Human Rights Watch found that "in most of the sites we investigated so far (in this conflict) we found no valid military targets".[365]

Medical facilities and personnel[edit]
Photo taken during the 72-hour ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on 6 August 2014. A destroyed ambulance in Shuja'iyya in the Gaza Strip.

Medical units including hospitals and medical personnel have special protections under international humanitarian law. They lose their protection only if they commit, outside their humanitarian function, "acts harmful to the enemy."[461] More than 25 medical facilities were damaged in the conflict; one attack on Al-Aqsa hospital killed 5 people.[462] In many cases, ambulances and other medical personnel were hit.[463] Amnesty International has condemned the attacks and said that there is "mounting evidence" that Israel deliberately targeted hospitals and medical personnel; Israel said it had not.[464][465]

A Finnish reporter from Helsingin Sanomat reported seeing rockets fired from near the Gaza Al-Shifa hospital.[466] The IDF said that in several cases Hamas used Wafa hospital as a military base and used ambulances to transport its fighters.[467][468] According to the Israeli Shabak, many of the militants it interrogated said that "everyone knew" that Hamas leaders were using hospitals for hiding. Hamas security reportedly wore police uniforms and blocked access to certain parts of the hospitals. One of the interrogated militants reportedly said that civilians seeking medical attention usually were thrown out by the security.[446][447][448]

French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga[469] reported that Hamas militants interrogated him in Gaza's main hospital (Al-Shifa); his report was later removed from his paper's website at his request.[470][471]

Urging or forcing civilians to stay in their homes[edit]

The IDF has released photographs which it says show civilians on rooftops, and a video of Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri saying "the fact that people are willing to sacrifice themselves against Israeli warplanes in order to protect their homes […] is proving itself".[365][456][472][473] The EU has strongly condemned "calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields"[474][475] and US Congress-members introduced bills condemning Hamas for using human shields.[476][477][undue weight? ] Civilians and activists in Gaza used themselves as 'human shields' in attempts to prevent Israeli attacks.[478][479][480][481]

Hamas officials said human shields were not used.[482] One Gazan stated that "nobody is safe and nobody can flee anywhere because everywhere is targeted."[236] Many reporters, including from the BBC,[483] the Independent[484] and the Guardian[434] said that they found no evidence of Hamas forcing Palestinians to stay and become unwilling human shields.

Fatah officials said that Hamas placed over 250 Fatah members under house arrest or in jail, putting them under threat of being killed by Israeli strikes and shooting them in the legs or breaking their limbs if they tried to leave.[238][485][486] According to Abbas, more than 300 Fatah members were placed under house arrest and 120 were executed for fleeing.[283]

Amnesty International reported that it did "not have evidence at this point" that Palestinian civilians were intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to "shield" specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks". It additionally said that "public statements referring to entire areas are not the same as directing specific civilians to remain in their homes as "human shields" for fighters, munitions, or military equipment" and that "even if officials or fighters from Hamas or Palestinian armed groups … did in fact direct civilians to remain in a specific location in order to shield military objectives …, all of Israel's obligations to protect these civilians would still apply."[335] Human Rights Watch said many of the attacks on targets appeared to be "disproportionate" and "indiscriminate".[363]

Human Rights Watch attributed many civilian deaths to the lack of safe places to flee to, and accused Israel of firing at fleeing civilians. It stated that there are many reasons that prevent civilians from abiding by warnings, and that the failure to abide by warnings does not make civilians lawful targets.[487]

A survey of Gazan residents by the Gatestone Institute addressed the subject of human shields, with respondents issuing statements such as "People received warnings from the Israelis and tried to evacuate... Hamas shot some of those people... The rest were forced to return to their homes and get bombed"; "Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot without being asked any questions. That way Hamas made sure people had to stay in their homes even if they were about to get bombed"; and "My father received a text-message from the Israeli army warning him that our area was going to be bombed, and Hamas prevented us from leaving."[437]

Rocket attacks on Israeli civilians[edit]

House destroyed by a rocket in Yehud.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, pointed to Hamas's rocket attacks on Israeli cities as violations of international law and war crimes.[330] Palestinian ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khraishi stated in an 9 July interview on PA TV that the "missiles that are now being launched against Israel – each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets".[488][489]

Hamas political figure Khaled Mashaal has defended the firing of rockets into Israel, saying that "our victims are civilians and theirs are soldiers".[490] According to one report, "nearly all the 2,500–3,000 rockets and mortars Hamas has fired at Israel since the start of the war seem to have been aimed at towns", including an attack on "a kibbutz collective farm close to the Gaza border", in which an Israeli child was killed.[450] Former Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi stated that "Hamas has expressed pride in aiming long-range rockets at strategic targets in Israel including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion Airport", which "could have caused thousands" of Israeli casualties "if successful".[491]

According to Israel, Hamas continued to fire rockets at the Erez border crossing while sick and wounded Gazans tried to enter Israel for treatment. The Erez border crossing is the only legal border crossing between Gaza and Israel. Other people affected by this included journalists, UN workers, and volunteers.[492][493]

Military use of UN facilities[edit]

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has a number of institutions and schools in the Gaza region, and, as of 24 July 23 had been closed. Hamas took advantage of the closures to employ some of these vacant UNRWA buildings as weapon storage sites.[494] UNRWA officials, on discovering that three[495][496] such vacated schools had been employed for storing rockets, condemned Hamas's actions, calling it a "flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises."[497][498][499]

Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that UNRWA had turned over some discovered rockets to Hamas.[500] Israel Democracy Institute Vice President, Mordechai Kremnitzer, accused the UNRWA of war crimes for handing over the rockets, while Hebrew University Professor Robbie Sabel stated that the UNRWA "had no legal obligation to hand the rockets over to Israel" and had little other choice in the matter.[501] UNRWA states the armouries had been transferred to local police authorities under the Ramallah national unity government's authority, in accordance with "longstanding UN practice in UN humanitarian operations worldwide".[494][502][503] UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon ordered an investigation.[504]

On 30 July, the IDF said that they had discovered the entrance to a tunnel concealed inside a UNRWA medical clinic in Khan Yunis. The clinic was rigged with explosives, which then exploded and killed three Israeli soldiers.[505] This report was later corrected by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the military unit that implements government policies in the Palestinian areas, who later that day stated that despite its UNRWA sign, the site was not registered as belonging to UNRWA.[505]

Intimidation of journalists[edit]

Israeli officials said Hamas intimidates journalists in Gaza. A French reporter said that he was "detained and interrogated by members of Hamas's al-Qassam Brigade" in Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital, and forced to leave Gaza; he later asked the newspaper to remove his article from their site.[471][506][507] Some journalists reported threats on social media against those who tweet about rocket launch sites. John Reed of The Financial Times was threatened after he tweeted about rockets being fired from near Al-Shifa Hospital, and RT correspondent Harry Fear was told to leave Gaza after he tweeted that Hamas fired rockets from near his hotel.[471] Isra al-Modallal, head of foreign relations for the Hamas Information Ministry, said Hamas did deport foreign journalists who filmed Hamas rocket launches, stating that by filming the launch sites the journalists were collaborating with Israel.[508][509] The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel and the Palestinian territories protested what it called "blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities … against visiting international journalists in Gaza", saying several had been harassed or questioned over information they reported. It also claimed Hamas was trying to "put in place a 'vetting' procedure" that would allow the blacklisting of specific journalists.[510][511] The Jerusalem Post said UNRWA workers were threatened by Hamas at gun-point during the war, but Christopher Gunness, UNRWA spokesman, said "I have checked and double checked with sources in Gaza and there is no evidence of death threats made to UNRWA personnel."[512]

Some FPA members disputed the FPA's comments, including New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, who wrote "every reporter I've met who was in Gaza during [the] war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense."[513] Haaretz interviewed many foreign journalists and found "all but a few of the journalists deny any such pressure". They said Hamas's intimidation was no worse than what they got from the IDF, and said no armed forces would permit reporters to broadcast militarily sensitive information. Furthermore, most reporters seldom saw Hamas fighters, because they fought from concealed locations and in places that were too dangerous to approach.[514]

Military operations, weaponry and techniques[edit]

Gaza[edit]

Range of rockets launched from Gaza Strip

Rockets[edit]

The rockets used by Gazan militias vary in range, size and lethality. They include the Syrian-made (Chinese-designed) M-302[515] and the locally-made M-75, which have the range to target Tel-Aviv.[516][517][518][519] Other rockets include the Soviet Katyushas and Qassams.[520]

According to the Fars News Agency, Fajr-5 (long range Iranian) rockets have a warhead of 150–200 kg.[521] According to Theodore Postol, the vast majority of Gazan artillery rocket warheads contain 10- to 20-pound explosive loads. Postol states that this fact makes bomb shelters more effective for protection.[522] Mark Perry states that the "vast majority of the rockets are unsophisticated Qassams, with a 10-20 kg warhead and no guidance system". He also stated that "Hamas’ arsenal is considerably weaker today than it was in 2012". Regarding the Fajr-5, he stated that Iran had not transferred full-fledged rockets to Hamas, it only transferred technology to manufacture them. He also stated that "its guidance system was crude, at best, and its warhead nearly non-existent."[523]

According to the IDF, of all the 4,564 projectiles fired at Israel, 224 hit built-up areas, 735 were intercepted by the Iron Dome, 875 fell inside Gaza[29] and the rest fell in open territory or failed to launch.[23]

According to OCHA, Palestinian militants fired 4,844 rockets and 1,734 mortar shells towards Israel.[54] 25% of Gazan rockets had sufficient effectiveness to threaten to reach populated areas.[524]

Gazan tunnels[edit]

IDF soldier overlooking an uncovered tunnel in the Gaza Strip

In the Gaza Strip, the governing authority Hamas developed a sophisticated network of military tunnels. The internal tunnels, running some dozens of kilometres within the Gaza Strip,[29] have several functions. Hamas uses the tunnels to hide its arsenal of rocketry underground, to facilitate communication, to permit munition stocks to be hidden and to conceal militants, making detection from the air difficult.[525] By means of these tunnels, rockets could be launched by remote control.[29] One IDF expert said the low-tech network was effective in enabling Hamas "to move, conceal, surprise and disappear."[29] Additional, cross-border tunnels penetrated into Israel for the purpose of making cross-border raids with goals that include mass-casualty attacks and hostage-taking.[526][527][528][529][530]

The tunnel system branches beneath many Gazan towns and cities, such as Khan Yunis and Jabalia and the Shati refugee camp.[531] Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[532] The number of tunnels going into Israel has been reported between 9[533] and 31.[534]

According to Eado Hecht, an Israeli defence analyst specialising in underground warfare, "Three different kinds of tunnels existed beneath Gaza, smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt; defensive tunnels inside Gaza, used for command centres and weapons storage; and –connected to the defensive tunnels –offensive tunnels used for cross-border attacks on Israel", including the capture of Israeli soldiers.[535][536] Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry, describes the tunnels as an exercise of Gaza's "right to protect itself."[537] According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the tunnels have been constructed by the military wing of Hamas under the Israel-Gaza border for the purpose of "terrorist attacks" on Israel.[538] The Israeli government refers to cross-border tunnels as "attack tunnels" or "terror tunnels."[538][529] The cross-border tunnels were used in the capture of Gilad Shalit in 2006, and multiple times during the 2014 conflict; in practice only Israeli military targets have been attacked through them.[533][539] Tunnel warfare has a long history, and such routes had been 'mainstay of Jewish resistance for centuries', for defensive and offensive purposes.[540] Israel knew of the existence of at least 40 tunnels before Operation Protective Edge began, and only took them as an objective after Hamas rejected a ceasefire proposal on 15 July that failed to promise to lift the siege and open crossings.[114] Some intelligence sources suggest that the tunnels are primarily meant to be used for military purposes. According to them, "of the nine cross-border tunnels detected, none actually stretches into the grounds of a civilian community". An IDF military official has said that "All the tunnels were aimed at military targets".[541][542] However, Israel reportedly stopped an attempt to raid a kibbutz during the war, and says that it has uncovered evidence that the tunnels were being prepared for massive attacks against Israeli civilians.[543][544][545] On the basis of electronic intercepts, files seized from Hamas offices during the operation, interrogations of Hamas operatives, and information from informants, six Israeli intelligence officers outlined what was called a ‘nightmare scenario’. It was alleged that Hamas planned to use 14 tunnels to send hundreds of militants to kill or kidnap as many Israelis as possible. The putative plan failed, in this view, because the kidnapping of the 3 teenagers, the West Bank crackdown, and pressure from Egypt pre-empted its execution. Khaled Mashal has denied these allegations; he has insisted that killing civilians was never Hamas’s intention, and that his group only targets soldiers and those living on occupied territory.[540]

Other weaponry[edit]

Hamas has also used a "crude, tactical" drone, reported to be Iranian-made and named "Ababil-1".[546]

Palestinian militant groups have also used anti-tank rockets against armoured vehicles, as well as against groups of Israeli soldiers. Some armored personnel carriers were hit by missiles,[547][548] and the Israeli Trophy system reportedly intercepted at least 15 anti-tank missiles shot at Merkava IV tanks.[549] Anti-tank mines had also been used against armored vehicles.

Israel[edit]

IDF Artillery Corps fires a 155 mm M109 howitzer, 24 July 2014

Israel has used air, land and naval weaponry. The artillery includes Soltam M71 guns and US-manufactured Paladin M109s (155-mm howitzers).[547] The aerial weaponry includes drones and F-16 fighter jets. Drones are used to constantly monitor the Gaza strip.[550][551]

The IDF stated that it attacked 5,263 targets in Gaza, including:[48][446]

  • 1,814 rocket and mortar launch or otherwise related sites
  • 191 weapon factories and warehouses
  • 1,914 command and control centers
  • 237 government institutions supporting the militant activity
  • hundreds of military outposts inside buildings

According to OCHA figures, Israel fired 5,830 missiles in 4,028 IAF air raids, the IDF's ground forces shot off 16,507 artillery and tank projectiles, and the Israeli navy's off-shore fleet fired 3,494 naval shells, into the Gaza Strip.[54]

A bomb disposal expert in the Palestinian Interior Ministry said that by 22 August, 8,000 bombs and 70,000 artillery shells, or 20,000 tons of explosives (the equivalent of six nuclear bombs), had been dropped on Gaza;[53][552][553] Channel 4 said a bomb disposal expert had reported the same figures.[53][552][unreliable source?] The Sydney Morning Herald quoted an anonymous expert[unreliable source?] who estimated that 10,000 tonnes of explosives were dropped from the air alone, which does not include tank and artillery shells.[554]

Between 32 and 34[48] known tunnels were destroyed or neutralized, 13 of them destroyed completely.[446]

The performance of the Iron Dome defense system was considered effective, achieving an almost 90% success rate.[555] Israel's early warning sirens and extensive shelters have been an effective defense against Gazan rocketry.[522] They are less effective against short-range mortars because they have less time to react.[citation needed]

Media coverage[edit]

Portrayals of the conflict in different media outlets varied. U.S. news sources were often more sympathetic to Israel while British news sources featured more criticism of Israel.[556] Commentators on both sides claimed that the media was biased either for or against Israel.[557] According to an article by Subrata Ghoshroy published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, most United States media focused on Hamas rockets, of which only 3% actually strike populated areas (causing little damage), with less attention paid to Palestinian casualties, or to why Gazans back Hamas's rocket campaign.[558][dubious ] As the conflict progressed and Palestinian deaths increased, British media became somewhat more critical of Israel.[559] Within Israel, the newspaper Haaretz issued an editorial stating that the "soft Gaza sand... could turn into quicksand" for the Israeli military and also warned about the "wholesale killing" of Palestinian civilians; the article declared: "There can be no victory here".[560] The Sydney Morning Herald apologised for running an allegedly antisemitic cartoon after Australian Attorney-General George Brandis denounced it as "deplorable."[561] Israel was accused of waging a propaganda war,[562] and on both sides, sympathetic authors released video games relating to the conflict.[563] In Israel, according to Naomi Chazan, the Gaza war sparked "an equally momentous conflagration at the heart of Israeli society": attempts to question government policy were met with severe verbal and physical harassment, incidents of Arab-bashing occurred daily, and 90% of internet posts on the war were found to be racist or to constitute incitement.[564]

Diplomatic efforts[edit]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv, 23 July 2014

A number of diplomatic efforts were made to resolve the conflict. These attempts included efforts by United States Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, like the meeting in Paris with European G4 foreign ministers and his counterparts of Qatar and Turkey.[565][566] Egypt brokered a number of ceasefires between Hamas and Israel.[567][568][569][570]

On 17 September, a UN official said that the amount of building materials entering Gaza may quadruple under a reconstruction plan agreed to by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN. According to the deal, use of the building materials will be overseen by the UN.[571][572] An international conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is scheduled to begin in Cairo on 12 October 2014.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Turkish Anadolu Agency reported that an Israeli military spokesman had explained that the non-literal translation of the operation's name into English was to "give a more 'defensive' connotation".[31] The IDF's official Arabic name for the operation, translated into English, is "Operation Resolute Cliff".[32][33]
  2. ^ The UN stated: "in the compiling of these preliminary figures, we cross-verify between different sources, not only media and several different human rights organisations, but also use other sources, including, for example, names of alleged fighters released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and notices by armed groups in Gaza claiming someone as a member."[56]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition". The Guardian. 31 July 2014. 
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  4. ^ "Abu Jamal: Palestinian resistance continues to confront the occupier with rockets and missiles". PFLP. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Armed wing linked to Mahmoud Abbas's faction says it shot rockets at Ashkelon, Sderot and elsewhere Wednesday night". Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Ben Solomon, Ariel. "Videos show Lebanese jihadi group active in Gaza". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
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  9. ^ Prusher, Ilene (26 August 2014). "Israel and Palestinians Reach Open-Ended Cease-Fire Deal". Time. Retrieved 5 September 2014. ...broker a truce between the sides, both of whom were keen to emerge looking victorious, or at least successful... 
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  13. ^ PA official: Hamas should admit defeat, Khaled Abu Toameh, 28 August 2014: "Mahmoud al-Habbash, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, hinted on Thursday that Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip should admit their defeat in Operation Protective Edge."
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