It is widely thought that the flare-up in Israel and the Occupied Territories began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank just more than a month ago. But our guests — author Norman Finkelstein and Palestinian political analyst Mouin Rabbani — argue that such a narrative ignores the broader context of decades of occupation and recent events highlighting the expansionist goals of the Israeli government in the Palestinian land under its control. "Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict — which the [Fatah-Hamas] unity government was — at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction, in this case from Hamas, break up the unity government, and then Israel has its pretext," Finkelstein says. Rabbani and Finkelstein are co-authors of the forthcoming book, "How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict."
The next phase of the violence that has killed nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza is in flux after a ceasefire proposal from Egypt. The Egyptian government proposed a temporary halt to violence and the reopening of Gaza’s border crossings, followed by talks in Cairo on a long-term truce. Israel’s Security Cabinet has endorsed the proposal, but Hamas has yet to officially respond. The Hamas military wing has rejected the pact as a "surrender," saying the ceasefire fails to meet any of its core demands. These include a lifting of the siege of Gaza, the release of prisoners recently detained in Israeli raids, an end to Israeli attacks on the Occupied Territories, and respect for the Palestinian unity government. But it is Hamas’ political wing that will have the final say. Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to widen the attack on Gaza if Hamas rejects the ceasefire and if rocket fire continues. The potential for a ceasefire follows a week that saw Israel kill at least 192 Palestinians in a massive bombing campaign on one of the world’s most densely populated areas. The United Nations estimates more than 80 percent of Gaza’s dead are civilians, including 36 children. More than 1,000 rockets from Gaza have hit Israel over the same period, with just a fraction landing in urban areas. Around a dozen Israelis have been wounded. No casualties have been reported. We are joined from Ramallah by Amira Hass, Ha’aretz correspondent for the occupied Palestinian territories, the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank.
- Gaza Death Toll Rises to 192; Israel Accepts Ceasefire Proposal
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On July 2, Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan was driven to Queens, New York, and dropped off on the side of the road, with only a MetroCard, after serving nearly two months in Rikers jail. McMillan’s sentence for allegedly assaulting a police officer was the most severe served for any of the thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested over the course of the movement. She was detained in March 2012 as protesters tried to re-occupy Zuccotti Park, six months after the Occupy Wall Street movement began. McMillan says she felt someone grab her breast from behind, and swung out instinctively, striking her assailant, who turned out to be police officer Grantley Bovell. Nine of the 12 jurors who convicted McMillan of second-degree assault asked the judge for leniency, saying they did not think she should serve any time in jail. McMillan served 59 days, and has now become an advocate for the women she met behind bars, many of whom she says were denied adequate medical care. "Your body is no longer your own," she says of life behind bars.
Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor, joins us from Gaza where he has been treating hundreds of victims wounded in Israel’s ongoing assault, including young children. Dr. Gilbert says hospitals are operating without electricity, water and proper medical supplies, but adds: "As a medical doctor, my appeal is don’t send bandages, don’t send syringes, don’t send medical teams. The most important medical thing you can do now is to force Israel to stop the bombing and lift the siege of Gaza." Gilbert recently recently submitted a report to the United Nations on the state of the Gaza health sector in 2014. "Where is the decency in the U.S. government allowing Israel this impunity to punish the whole civilian population in Gaza?" Gilbert asks.
Civilians are bearing the brunt of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip, with civilians accounting for more than 80 percent of the reported casualties. We go to Gaza for a medical update on the injured from Dr. Mona El-Farra, director of Gaza projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance and health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip. El-Farra describes treating severe burns, unexplained wounds that suggest Israel may be using banned weapons, and the trauma endured by Palestinian children. "We are not just numbers, we are human beings," El-Farra says.
Thousands of Gazans have fled their homes amidst a relentless Israeli bombing campaign that has now killed more than 170 people, most of them civilians, since it began a week ago. The United Nations estimates at least 80 percent of the dead are civilian, of whom 20 percent are children — at least 36 dead. More than 1,200 Palestinians have been wounded, nearly two-thirds women and children. Some 940 homes have reportedly been severely damaged or destroyed, 400,000 people are without electricity, and 17,000 people are displaced. Hamas has fired an estimated 700 rockets into Israel, causing no direct killings but leaving an Israeli teen critically wounded. We get reaction from Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu, who has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel and to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "When Israel talks about who it’s targeting and what it’s targeting, they’ve never proffered any proof or any evidence for what it is they’re trying to hit," Buttu says. "At the end of the day, as much as Israel tries to claim they are not targeting civilians, they are — and the casualties speak volumes."
- U.N.: 80% of Gaza Casualties are Civilian; Thousands Displaced
- Israeli Leaflets to Gazans: "Any Moving Body Will Be Struck"
- Bombings of Gaza Civilian Targets Include Center for Disabled
- U.N. Rights Chief: Israeli Bombings of Gaza Likely Violate International Law
- Hundreds of Rockets Fired on Israel from Gaza; Israeli Teen Critically Wounded
- U.N. Security Council Calls for Gaza Ceasefire
- Worldwide Protests Oppose Israeli Attack on Gaza
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Gaza Debate: As Palestinian Deaths Top 100, Who's to Blame for Escalating Violence? What Can Be Done?
The death toll in the Gaza Strip continues to rise in the fourth day of Israel’s aerial offensive. Medical officials in Gaza estimate that at least 22 people were killed Thursday, bringing the number of Palestinian fatalities to 101, about half of them reportedly women and children. No deaths have been reported on the Israeli side. The Israeli military says it has dropped hundreds of tonnes of bombs on 1,000 targets throughout Gaza, more than during its eight-day assault in late 2012. The intensification of Israeli airstrikes has been met with a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. We host a debate between Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat and Joshua Hantman, senior adviser to Israel’s ambassador to the United States. "Israel is currently under attack," Hantman says. "Since 2005, over 8,000 rockets, missiles and mortars have been indiscriminately fired at our civilians." But Erakat says Israel’s bombardment of Gaza "amounts to a massacre." "Israel has precise weaponry and is targeting homes," she says. "This is a disproportionate attack, by what we consider the only democracy in the Middle East, by the U.S.’s most unique ally, to whom we provide $3.1 billion a year."
As thousands of migrants continue to arrive in the United States seeking escape from violence in Central America, this week the Texas town of League City passed a resolution banning undocumented children from entering its municipality. The move echoes sentiments that flared up just before July 4 in Murrieta, California, when police blocked three buses of migrants from reaching a federal immigration facility there. The buses carrying dozens of children flown in from an overcrowded detention center in Texas were then surrounded by demonstrators who chanted anti-immigrant slogans. "A society is judged on how we treat our children, and what we witnessed that day was the worst of the American spirit," says Enrique Morones, director of the group Border Angels. This comes as reports show Honduran children are increasingly being targeted by gang violence and Border Patrol statistics indicate a strong correlation between Central American cities with high homicide rates and waves of children who come to the United States. “What we need to do is give them, as we would refugees anywhere else in the world, access to territory and access to procedures in order to establish their status and care for them as people who need international protection," says Shelly Pitterman, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Washington, D.C. He represents the office to the United States and Caribbean governments.
President Obama has called for close to $3.7 billion to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the United States-Mexico border where more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained since October. Part of the money will be used to speed up deportations as Republicans say they will only support the plan if it puts more emphasis on immediate repatriation. They want to change a 2008 immigration law — which originally passed with bipartisan support — that would let the United States deport children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as fast as it does those from Mexico. "I think it is shameful that in the Congress of the U.S. we see members of Congress engendering and creating fear of children," says Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, who supports Obama’s emergency supplemental bill. "We should be protecting children, not creating fear of them."
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