SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Israel promised to step up its assault on Gaza. A spokesman for Netanyahu, Ofir Gendelman, made a statement on Twitter on last night which said that the PM “sends his condolences to the family of the four-year-old boy that was killed this afternoon by a mortar round fired by Hamas. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for this attack. Israel will intensify ops against Hamas until the goal of #ProtectiveEdge is achieved.
Gendelman then said that Hamas had launched the mortar round from adjacent to a shelter currently used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), but later retracted this and confirmed it was a shelter used by Hamas. The latest threat of further violence by the Israeli government comes as Hamas signs a pledge to back any Palestinian effort to join the International Criminal Court.
Confirmed by two senior Hamas officials, the move could expose Israel as well as Hamas to war crimes investigations. Israel also accuses Hamas of being no different to Isis: “Hamas is ISIS, ISIS is Hamas”, Netanyahu is quoted as saying. On his Twitter account, he posted graphic murder of the American journalist by ISIS – to equate it with Hamas. The tweet was later removed and replaced with one showing a different image.
Hamas spokesman Izzat al-Rishq criticised the move: “The attempt by Netanyahu and his spokesman Ofir Gendelman to link Hamas and compare us with other groups is a deception and disinformation campaign that will not fool anyone,”. “We strongly condemn and reject how Netanyahu, Gendelman and the Israeli media exploit the picture of the slain American journalist James Foley who was executed in a brutal manner. “We condemn the low and cheap use of this image without any respect for the sanctity of the dead.”
The latest bout of strikes follows the collapse of Egypt-brokered ceasefire talks, in which Hamas said it would only halt fire is both Israel and Egypt agree to lift the blockage and allow trade and travel through Gaza’s borders. Israel says it cannot agree to that unless Hamas agrees to disarm and stops trying to smuggle or manufacture weapons.
A spokesman for UNRWA, Chris Gunness, strongly denied that one of its facilities had been used in the attack. At least four people were killed in Gaza on Friday, Palestinians officials say, pushing the death toll further over the 2,000. Most of the Palestinian death toll has been civilian, including 320 under the age of 12, UN figures show. On the Israeli side, 68 have now been killed, most of whom were soldiers.
Source: The Independent