An Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the besieged Gaza Strip was declared March 26 following two days of Israeli air-strikes and Palestinian rocket fire. Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of strikes across the Strip, while at least 50 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. Residential and commercial buildings were struck by Israeli warplanes, with at least seven Palestinians reported injured. The escalation came after a Gaza rocket struck an house north of Tel Aviv, injuring seven Israelis. (Ma’an) With the air-strikes underway, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Donald Trump in Washington for the signing of a presidential proclamation officially recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory. At the joint press conference, Trump said, “We do not want to see another attack like the one suffered this morning north of Tel Aviv,” adding, “We will confront the poison of anti-Semitism.” Netanyahu called Trump’s recognition a “diplomatic victory,” adding that “Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of defense.” (Ma’an)
We hope it is unnecessary to point out the perversity of Trump exploiting the threat of anti-Semitism to justify US recognition of an illegal Israeli annexation of Syrian territory.
The move comes as United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet protested Israel’s “immediate dismissal” of a UN report on its security forces killing protesters in Gaza “without addressing any of the very serious issues raised.” (Haaretz)
Meanwhile, amid all this there appears to be a wave of protest against Hamas rule underway within the Gaza Strip. Amnesty International called upon Hamas security forces to end their “violent crackdown against peaceful Palestinian protesters, activists, human rights workers.” The rights groups said hundreds of protesters have been subjected to beatings, arbitrary arrest and detentions, and torture and other forms of ill-treatment since March 14, when Palestinians took to the streets across the Gaza Strip to protest against the rising cost of living and deteriorating economic conditions under the Hamas de facto administration. (AI)