Israel has used Gazan radio and television to broadcast messages to warn civilians in the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas government buildings as Israeli airstrikes continue in Gaza. Hamas and other groups continue to fire missiles into southern Israel.
“Israel have hijacked the television and radio in Gaza,” said Dr. Hani Al-Basoos, “they were even on the Hamas radio station.” According to Al-Basoos the Israeli broadcast announced the beginning of the second stage of what the Israeli Defence Force have named Operation Pillar of Defence. Al-Basoos said, “the Israelis asked the people of Gaza to stay away from important infrastructure and Hamas buildings.”
Paul Hirschson, a media spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that Israel has broadcast messages to the citizens of Gaza as part of a campaign to prevent civilian casualties. Hirschson said “We have taken a number of steps. We have broadcast on [Hamas’] frequencies, we have made thousands of phone calls and SMS messages, and we have dropped leaflets from aircrafts.” He added “We are exclusively targeting military targets. We would be happy to have no civilian casualties.”
Al-Basoos, assistant professor of political sciences at Islamic University in Gaza and a resident of Gaza City described the situation as “very tense.” He said bombs land every few minutes and “the most intensive bombing is in Gaza City but missiles are coming from the north and south and hitting all areas of the Gaza strip.” During the telephone conversation a bomb landed 500 metres from Al-Basoos’ home, which he believed to be targeting a local Hamas leader.
“The bombs are targeting Palestinian Authority and Hamas government buildings. There have also been bombs landing on empty ground where the Israelis think missiles are being launched from. Civilian houses have been hit and one or two police stations too.”
Hirschson said “There have been 825 missiles over five days fired from the Gaza strip. Of these missiles 98 failed to launch or landed in Gaza and 275 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system which is calibrated to ignore missiles heading for open land.”
“Today [Sunday] there has been a constant trickle of missiles fired, not all of them hit their target though,” said Hirschson.
Al-Basoos believes that the Israeli operation will continue for the next few days at least. He is not hopeful that a ceasefire will be reached; he said “Israel will not agree to ceasefire because if [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu agrees to ceasefire he will lose the next election.” Al-Basoos thinks the Israelis have two options “firstly they could invade Gaza, this would lead to a bloody conflict and they will not succeed. Hamas and other factions will use all the power they can to fight. Civilians here with no training will fight; everybody is willing to defend their home, street and city. The second option is for them to escalate their operation which I believe they have started today.”
Hirschson said that he is aware of three Israeli civilians that were killed a few days ago, he said “many others have been injured and treated for shock.” He reported that the Israeli figures for casualties in the Gaza strip stand at 48. “30 of the people who have died in Gaza were involved with Hamas or other militant groups and there have been 18 civilian casualties.”
Al-Basoos said “the international community has to take responsibility and pressure the [UN] Security Council to take action. We have seen only two delegations from Egypt and Tunisia.”
An emergency ministerial meeting at the Arab League was held on Saturday night; Al-Basoos said “the Palestinian people were hopeful and expected more to come out of the meeting. We wanted them to put pressure on the United States who currently is giving Israel the green light to attack the Gaza Strip.”
World leaders have urged Egypt to use its leverage to broker a ceasefire over the last few days. Prime Minister Hesham Qandil visited the Gaza Strip on Friday. “Egypt has been leading the efforts to stop the attacks but really nothing has been done.” Said Al-Basoos.
President Mohamed Morsy discussed the Gaza situation with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in separate meetings on Saturday. Al-Thani announced that Qatar will send urgent aid to Gaza with cooperation from Egypt.
On the possibility of a ceasefire Hirschson said “there are conversations in the background to ensure the safety of the residents of southern Israel.” He declined to comment on any Egyptian contact with the Israeli government regarding a ceasefire.
United States President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would prefer the crisis to end without an escalation of Israeli military action, but he also placed the blame for the current situation on militants, according to AFP.
Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday “The first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza.” He added, “we want a long term arrangement.”
In an interview with Sky News, Israeli President Shimon Peres said “what we are doing is in self defence.” On Egypt’s efforts to resolve the crisis he said “We appreciate the efforts of the president of Egypt to introduce a ceasefire. But until now, as you know, Hamas has rejected the proposal of the Egyptian president as well. Basically, our purpose is peace. Their purpose is to destroy Israel.”