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Israeli aircraft hit two Gaza media buildings on Sunday, wounding eight journalists and drawing concern from press covering the fighting between Palestinian militants and the Jewish state.The Israeli military said the attacks were pinpoint strikes on Hamas communication devices located on the buildings’ roofs, and accused the Islamist group of using reporters as human shields to try and protect their operations.

Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich denied that journalists were the target of the strike. «Hamas took a civilian building and used it for its own needs. So the journalists … were serving as human shields for Hamas,» she said.

Death toll mounts

The attack came on the fifth day of heavy air strikes on the coastal enclave on Gaza, which Israel says are needed to halt repeated militant rocket launches into its territory.

The latest flare-up of fighting on the Gaza-Israel front has generated the usual round of statements and bravado on both sides.

Since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence, more than 650 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards Israel, while Israel had struck almost 1000 targets in the Gaza Strip, with 300 air strikes on Saturday alone.

Some 55 Palestinians, including at least 17 civilians, have been killed and more than 400 civilians wounded, including more than 100 children, according to medical officials. Three Israeli civilians have been killed and more than 50 wounded.

As the Israeli air strikes continued into Sunday, two children were killed in raids on homes in northern Gaza and a raid in central Gaza killed an 18-month-old boy, wounding his two young brothers. Amnesty International has condemned both sides for their “utterly disregard” for the life of children.

The rekindled killing illustrates the sheer futility and waste of the conflict. Neither side has the ability to completely wipe out the other, for that is what that seems to be required to end this conflict for good. That will not happen, as both sides have proven over the past 35 years or so, since Hamas’ emergence in Palestine.

Yet they are willing and able to keep fighting, despite the tremendous cost to their people.

Crossing lines

Without going back 2,000 years to the origins of the dispute, the roots of the latest high-explosive crisis can be traced in a series of “red lines” that have been crossed. Specifically: firing a Russian Kornet missile on November 10 against Israeli soldiers; Israel’s assassination of top Hamas commander Ahmed al Jaabari on November 14 after both sides appeared to have agreed to a tacit ceasefire deal, and then Hamas firing long-range rockets at Tel Aviv on November 15.

For a while, there was quiet, then the round of retaliations resumed. Missiles were fired, Israel struck back, sometimes targetting empty smuggling tunnels, sometimes targetting rocket crews. Palestinian civilians were also getting killed. Both sides speak of “the rules of the game”. These steps have wrecked a fragile status quo. And now both sides accuse the other of “stepping over the red line”.

However, only a fair, negotiated, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and wider Arab-Israeli conflicts can serve the legitimate rights of all concerned, in a way that rockets in Gaza and Tel Aviv never will.


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Dette innlegget ble postet den november 18, 2012 av i MIDTØSTEN.