19 Nov 2012

"A further escalation would be dangerous and tragic for Palestinians and Israelis."

Israel has been dropping leaflets on the Gaza Strip, urging residents to leave their homes immediately if they want to stay safe. The flyers, dropped on Tuesday, came as a Hamas official said Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that will come into force later in the evening. But Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the announcement was premature and Israeli military operations in Gaza would continue in parallel with diplomacy. "We're not there yet," Regev told American broadcaster CNN. "The ball's still in play." The leaflets urged residents in northern Gaza to use specific routes when leaving their homes. "For your own safety, you are requested to evacuate your houses right away and to move towards Gaza City through Cairo Road, Arab League Road, al-Aqsa Road, al-Qadisiya Road, Em el-Leymoun, Salaheddine, al-Mansoura, Khalas, Baghdad," read the flyer in part. Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza City, said Gaza residents are living with uncertainty. "The leaflet doesn't mention any ground invasion. It talks about a limited deployment in parts of Gaza," she said. "But tens of thousands of people live in these, they're highly populated. They're around the border area of Gaza," said Johnston of the seven areas listed in the flyer. Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, also reporting from Gaza City, said schools have been designated as shelters for those evacuating their homes as per the instructions given in the flyers. But some of the locations are overcrowded and already turning people away. "People are terrified by scenes that they've seen on television of other homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, other families which have been wiped out...People really are terrified of that fate befalling their families which is why these leaflets have really set panic through the city," she said. Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip have continued for the seventh day, with missile striking several locations, reportedly killing 20 people. Two cameramen from Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV were among the latest victims, a Hamas spokesman said, adding that they were killed as a strike hit a car in Gaza City clearly marked as a press vehicle. In the last two days, Israeli raids have hit two buildings housing international and local media, including Al Aqsa TV. Defending the attacks, Regev told Al Jazeera on Monday that Israel does not consider Hamas-affiliated reporters "legitimate journalists". More than 120 people have been killed in the coastal enclave since Wednesday and 920 have been injured. Three people have been killed in Israel and dozens have been injured. In an Israeli air strike early on Tuesday, at least four people were injured when F-16 fighter jets hit the Islamic National Bank in Gaza City, which is located in a residential area. Later, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area near Jerusalem. It crashed into an olive grove near Jabba village, in an attack claimed by the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the second such attempt to hit Jerusalem in five days. Nobody was hurt, but air raid sirens sparked panic in the Jerusalem. Struggle for a diplomatic solution Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has arrived in Israel to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He will also meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the crisis. 'Regrettably, I'm back again in the region only nine months since my last visit, because of violence in Israel and Gaza...the world is extremely concerned at the rising loss of human lives," said Ban. "A further escalation would be dangerous and tragic for Palestinians and Israelis." The US on Tuesday blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the conflict in the Gaza Strip, because it "failed to address the root cause" - rocket attacks by Hamas - said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the UN. Earlier on Tuesday, Ban met the Arab League chief, Nabil el-Araby, in Cairo and called for support for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's efforts to mediate a truce in the conflict. Egypt has been trying to negotiate a ceasefire with the help of Qatar and Turkey. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also visit Israel, Egypt and the occupied West Bank, as the United States is pushing to avoid an escalation of the Gaza crisis. Clinton will meet Netanyahu and then discuss the crisis with Egyptian and Palestinian leaders, but she will not be meeting Hamas officials in Gaza and Cairo. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and various Arab foreign ministers are also expected to visit Gaza on Tuesday to show solidarity with the people of Gaza.. The Israeli military has struck more than 1,350 targets in Gaza since attacks began on Wednesday, Israel says it launched the operation to deter Palestinian fighters from launching rockets into its territory. Since then, 640 rockets have hit Israel while more than 300 others have been intercepted by Israel's anti-missile system, the Iron Dome, according to the Israeli army. Three Israeli civilians died on Thursday in a rocket strike. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA News displayed on this site and articles reproduced from other sites are not necessarily the views and opinions of the AL IMDAAD FOUNDATION, its trustees,staff, volunteers and team members globally.
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