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What you need to know about the bombings in Gaza

News & Commentary  |  By Mike Merryman-Lotze, Mar 25, 2019

Israel has begun bombing targets in Gaza and has issued call-up orders for thousands of reserve troops, signaling that a new large-scale attack on Gaza may be in its early phases. Political action is needed now in the U.S. to push for a halt to violence that could result in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

Here’s what you need to know about the bombings:

Israel’s actions follow the firing of one rocket from Gaza on March 25.

That rocket hit a home in Israel and injured seven people. This is the sixth rocket fired from Gaza this year and the first to cause any damage or injuries. No faction in Gaza has claimed responsibility for the firing of the rocket. It may have been fired by an individual without formal authorization from any political group in Gaza.

The bombings follow months of violence against Palestinians in Gaza.

This rocket comes after Israeli tanks shelled Gaza on Sunday, Israeli aircraft bombed two targets on Saturday, and two Palestinian civilians were killed on Friday during protests near the Gaza fence. 

Since the start of 2019, the Israeli military has shelled or opened fire on targets in Gaza on more than 170 occasions outside of the context of protests. Israel has also carried out numerous airstrikes during the same period. So far this year at least 17 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and over 3,500 injured by the Israeli military.

Next week will also mark one year since Palestinians in Gaza began protesting in what has come to be known as the Great March of Return. Since the start of those protests, Israel has killed more than 260 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded over 20,000 more.

This violence is largely absent from the narratives that are already developing about this latest attack on Gaza, but it is important that both these actions -- and Israel’s ongoing blockade on Gaza -- be placed front and center when considering developments  over the coming days or weeks.

Israel has indicated that new military actions in Gaza could last days or event weeks. 

Gaza still hasn't recovered from the devastating 2014 attack. Photo: Lucy Duncan/AFSC 

The last large Israeli attack on Gaza was in 2014. During that attack, more than 2,250 Palestinians, including over 500 children, were killed and over 11,000 people were injured. More than 160,000 were displaced during that attack. Gaza has yet to recover from the destruction and damage of homes, schools, and infrastructure. 

If another large attack is allowed to move forward, these numbers could be surpassed. 

Even without an attack, Gaza is on the verge of complete collapse. 

Over 80 percent of the population in Gaza relies on international assistance to survive, and cases of disease and malnutrition are on the rise. More than 40 percent of the population is unemployed, and 90 percent of businesses closed as a result of the blockade. Hospitals are out of up to 40 percent of needed supplies and medicine. Approximately 96 percent of water is undrinkable. And electricity is only available for approximately four hours per day. 

The U.S. and the rest of the international community must take action to stop Israel from escalating the violence against Gaza. 

However, simply stopping a new attack on Gaza is not enough. 

The 2014 attack on Gaza ended with a promise by Israel that it would ease restrictions on Gaza. That never happened. To bring change in Gaza, there must be significant change in policy. Israel’s blockade on Gaza must end, and Gaza must be allowed to reconnect to the West Bank. 

AFSC stands with Palestinians in Gaza in calling for action to stop the violence against Gaza and to change other policies that have led to this crisis. 

About the Author

Mike Merryman-Lotze is the American Friends Service Committee’s Palestine-Israel Program Director.  He coordinates AFSC’s Israel and Palestine focused advocacy and policy programming, working closely with AFSC’s offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and throughout the US. 

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