Israel determined to flatten Gaza
JERUSALEM: Israel insisted Monday there will be no end to its bloody military campaign in Gaza, shunning increasingly vocal world demands for a truce.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no end without first securing a long-term period of calm for his people.
“The campaign in Gaza is continuing,” he said at the end of a seven-hour humanitarian lull which saw violence subside in the battered Palestinian enclave.
The army said on Monday that it still has many missions to carry out in Gaza despite destroying all of the known tunnels militants use to attack its territory.
“We will not leave; we will stay in Gaza; there are many more missions to complete,” army spokesman Moti Almoz said, adding Israeli forces had destroyed all of the tunnels they had identified so far in the besieged strip.
Violence also erupted in Jerusalem, with police saying they had foiled a “terror attack” after a Palestinian rammed an earthmover into a bus, killing one and wounding five before being shot dead himself.
Later, a soldier was shot and badly wounded near a bus stop not far from the site of the earlier attack by a gunman who fled, with police combing the area to find him.
The humanitarian window got off to a shaky start with an air strike leveling a house in a beachfront refugee camp in Gaza City, killing three people, among them a nine-year-old girl, the emergency services said.
French President Francois Hollande urged action against bloodshed in Gaza. “Europe must be ready… to take the initiative on the international scene and not think simply that others will do the job for them,” he said.
Separately, Britain is reviewing licenses to sell arms and military goods to Israel in the light of ongoing operations in Gaza, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said Monday. The UK government has approved licenses for the sale of military goods to Israel worth at least $71 million since 2010, according to government figures obtained by the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
“We are currently reviewing all export licenses to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate,” said a Downing Street spokeswoman.
Human Rights Watch accused Israel of killing civilians as they attempted to flee, in what it said would amount to a war crime.
HRW said the attacks on the town near the southern city of Khan Yunis occurred at the end of July. “Israeli forces in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a fired on and killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war in several incidents between July 23 and 25,” said the New York-based watchdog. HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson said: “Warning families to flee fighting doesn’t make them fair targets just because they’re unable to do so, and deliberately attacking them is a war crime.”