After a massive Israeli bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning killed a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter, Israel’s vicious assault on the occupied Palestinian territory continued throughout the day on Thursday as the nation’s air force leveled a major civilian cultural center in Gaza City and slammed more than a 150 other targets.
Israel’s latest attack on Gaza was characterized as the largest escalation since 2014, when Israel killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in a seven-week military operation. Videos and images of Thursday’s wave of bombings spread quickly across social media, revealing the intensity and scope of the airstrikes as they pounded buildings and densely populated areas.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) intentionally targeted civilians “with the goal of causing the residents to understand the price of escalation and placing Hamas in a problematic situation.”
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While Israeli officials insisted that their large-scale attack on Gaza was in response to Hamas rocket fire, Haaretz reports that it was in fact the Israeli army that sparked the escalation by killing two Palestinians with tank fire, after they allegedly mistook a training exercise for an actual attack.
As Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, put it, the “current Israeli bombardment sequence in Gaza started when the Israeli military killed two Palestinians, lied about why, and later admitted to doing so just as a high level Palestinian delegation was on its way to Cairo to discuss longer term cease-fire.”
Angry that major media outlets are highlighting the fact that its latest wave of bombings killed a pregnant woman and her young child, the Israeli government has begun openly pressuring news outlets that dare to report its war crimes accurately.
After the BBC published a headline that read, “Israeli air strikes ‘kill woman and a toddler,'” the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint to the British outlet, and it ultimately changed the headline to, “Gaza air strikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel.”
“This is a disgrace,” the anti-occupation Jewish advocacy group IfNotNow tweeted in response to the BBC‘s decision to cave to the demands of the Israeli government. “Even the most respected news sources bow Israeli pressure to present Israel’s war crimes as passively as possible.”
Israel’s latest bombing campaign in Gaza comes just weeks after Israeli F-16s carried out “wide-scale” airstrikes throughout the occupied territory. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned last month that Israel is preparing to launch a “large and painful military operation,” and Thursday’s bombardment appeared to be a step in that direction.
“We don’t see the end of the escalation. We are closing in on operation in Gaza,” a senior IDF official told Haaretz on Thursday.
As Israel continues to attack Gaza and strangle its economy with measures that have been denounced as “genocidal policies of collective punishment,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) noted that “Palestinians in Gaza are on the brink of a full-blown humanitarian crisis due to Israel’s 10-year siege.”
“Everyday life in besieged Gaza is shaped by Israeli policy,” IMEU added, posting a video compilation that captures the living conditions of millions of the nearly two million people living in the occupied Gaza Strip.
“The U.N. says Gaza will be unlivable by 2020,” IMEU observes. “But can you imagine living like this today?”