In a Nov. 17 statement the leaders of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), a trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay (suspended), Uruguay and Venezuela, expressed their "strongest condemnation of the violence unleashed between Israel and Palestine" and their "concern with the disproportionate use of force" since Israel began a military offensive against Gaza on Nov. 14. Mercosur also expressed "its support to the request from the state of Palestine to obtain the status of [United Nations] observer member."
Israel launched new air-strikes across the Gaza Strip late Nov. 21, even as Egypt's foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced a ceasefire to end eight days of violence. Missiles fired by an unmanned drone slammed into Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip around 7:30 PM local time, killing a youth and critically injuring another. Another air-strike killed a Palestinian in Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, with six more wounded elsewhere in the city. The ceasefire, announced at a Cairo press conference with the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was to take effect at 9 PM. The Palestinian death toll in the eight days of bombing stands at some 170, with another 1,000 wounded. Five Israelis have been killed, including one soldier. (Maa'n News Agency, Nov. 21)
Mourners clashed with Israeli troops at two funerals Nov. 21 as Palestinians across the West Bank continued to protest the Israeli assault on Gaza. In Hebron, hundreds attended the funeral for Hamdi Mohammad Jawwad al-Falah, shot by Israeli troops at a protest in the city's Bir al-Mahjar neighborhood. After the burial, hundreds of young men began marching towards a Jewish settlement, to be set upon by Israeli forces with tear gas and rubber bullets. In Ramallah, thousands attended the funeral for Rushdi Tamimi, a police officer who died Nov. 19, two days after he was shot by Israeli forces at a protest in Nabi Saleh. A video of that protest shows Israeli forces threatening demonstrators who tried to administer first aid. At Nabi Saleh, where he was buried. mourners chanted "Martyr, rest, we will pick up the fight." After the procession, masked youths hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers lined up at the village entrance, who again responded with tear-gas and rubber bullets.
In news that shocked the world Nov. 18, an Israeli bomb destroyed a Gaza City home, killing 11 people, including nine from three generations of a single family—from a grandmother to a two-year-old child. Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, called the attack a "massacre" that "exceeded all expectations." Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, chief spokesman for the Israeli military, said it was "examining the event." He added: "The wanted target in this case was responsible for firing dozens of rockets into Israel. I do not know what happened to him, but I do know that we are committed to the safety of the citizens of Israel." The following day, Israeli air-strikes killed five Palestinians at the Gaza refugee camps of Nuseirat and al-Bureij. Israeli forces have now killed over 100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Cloud six days ago.
Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi announced Nov. 17 that peace talks are progressing toward a ceasefire in the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel. Mursi invited Qatar's Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Cairo for ceasefire discussions after the recent violence broke the informal truce brokered by Egypt between Israel and Hamas in October. After rocket attacks by Palestinian militants into Israel this week, violence began to escalate on Nov. 14 with the killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari in a targeted air strike by the Israel Defense Forces. The next day Palestinian forces responded with rocket fire aimed at multiple Israeli cities and towns. Thus far, 45 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed and hundreds more have been injured.
Dozens of Palestinians were injured as protests were held across the West Bank in support of Gaza under its third day of Israeli bombardment Nov. 16. At Kafr Kaddum village, a youth was hospitalized after a tear gas canister hit him in the back of the head. Hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and foreign activists joined a march in the village, holding banners saying "Relief of Gaza." In Bethlehem, Israeli forces fired tear gas and a foul-smelling chemical liquid as protesters gathered outside Aida refugee camp to support Gaza—and another youth was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. In Jenin, a youth was wounded by rubber bullets in clashes with Israeli forces near the Jalama crossing into Israel. Protesters who gathered at the Enav checkpoint east of Tulkarem after Friday prayers were also met with rubber bullets and tear gas. Near Ramallah, four were arrested at a demonstration in Nabi Saleh and two Palestinians were injured in a protest in Bilin village condemning the assault on Gaza. Near Hebron, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians at a weekly demonstration in Beit Ummar, dedicated in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. In Hebron city, political and religious figures led a march to the main square, demanding the Arab world do more to stop the bombardment of Gaza. Marches were also held in Ramallah and Nablus. (Ma'an News Agency, Nov. 16)
Israel's armed forces launched multiple air-strikes across the Gaza Strip Nov. 14, after killing Ahmad al-Jaabari, the head of Hamas' military wing the Qassam Brigades, in a missile strike on his vehicle in Gaza City. Palestinian officials said at least six people have been killed in the airstrikes, including a 7-year-old child in the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City, and an infant in home in the city's Shujaiyya neighborhood. Medics identified two of the casualties as Hamas fighters. Another 50 are reported injured. The strikes were aimed at Hamas police and security forces headquarters across the Strip. "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead," the Israel Defense Forces said in a Twitter message.
Noam Chomksy is held in such God-like reverence by the leftoid legions we get a kick out of calling him out on the things he gets egregiously wrong. Now he has just visited the Gaza Strip, and his screed about it on In These Times, "Gaza, The World's Largest Open-Air Prison," is of course getting gobs of attention. And it would serve as a basic primer on Israel's official choking of Gaza—if it weren't for some sloppy corner-cutting where the facts are concerned. Chomsky sets the background for the discussion in his usual terms: