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A Pause in the Bombing by Israeli Forces — and the Ruins of Gaza Are Laid Bare

July 26, 2014 in Blogs

By Peter Beaumont, The Guardian

Repeated shelling has inflicted a terrible reality on Palestinians as they try to salvage something from shattered homes and lives.


n the dangerous streets around the hospital in Beit Hanoun, the buildings were, by and large, still standing on Friday afternoon. By Saturday morning, after a day of intense Israeli bombing and shellfire, the hospital in the northern Gaza town was standing in a sea of rubble, its walls pockmarked with gunfire and torn by shrapnel.

The skyline, until so recently regular and neat, had been transformed into something torn and ragged. The tops of a pair of minarets had been blown off, and the graves in a cemetery smashed to pieces. Houses, offices, apartment blocks and shops were collapsed or collapsing.

The bombs that hit these streets in the time between the Observer's two visits were visible, and sometimes audible, across the city as huge explosions sent up eruptions of grey smoke into the sky.

What happened here in Beit Hanoun, and in other neighbourhoods of Gaza hardest hit by the Israeli assault, will inevitably demand an explanation: whether the extremity of violence unleashed in these residential areas in recent days was proportionate, or if the destruction amounts to a war crime.

Those are questions for the days ahead. On Saturday, however, in the midst of a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire, the concerns were more immediate ones, as thousands of Palestinian residents flocked back to their ruined neighbourhoods to see what remained.

As they came on foot and in cars, they were accompanied by fire engines, bulldozers and ambulances of the Red Crescent, whose crews by mid-afternoon had recovered 85 bodies, many of them partially decomposed, buried under the rubble of Gaza's most damaged neighbourhoods. Medical officials said yesterday that the death toll among Palestinians has passed 1,000.

If evidence were needed of the failure of diplomacy to end this war, the truce that allowed them to return safely for the first time in days was the only apparent outcome from the high-level mediation mission by US secretary of state John Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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