5 times Israel ‘had no choice’ and went to war

Israel has no other option but to launch a "war" against Hamas, the Israeli defense minister has recently claimed, calling it the last resort. Modern history shows, however, that Israel has resorted to force quite frequently.

"Wars are only conducted when there is no choice, and now there is no choice," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Israeli Parliament on Tuesday. But it looks like Israel believed many times that it severely lacked options throughout the last two decades, as it has launched more than half a dozen major military operations since the beginning of the 21st century.

Largest incursion into West Bank since the Six-Day War

In 2002, a suicide bombing carried out by the Hamas militant group over the course of the Second Intifada, which resulted in the deaths of 30 Israelis, provoked an IDF operation called 'Defensive Shield'. It's the largest one in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Between March and May 2002, tens of thousands of Israeli troops invaded the six largest cities of the West Bank and imposed strict curfews and restrictions on locals as well as foreigners working in the area.

The Israeli measures resulted in a partial ban on humanitarian aid and medical personnel entering the West Bank. Thirty Israelis and almost 500 Palestinians were killed, while 7,000 Palestinians were detained, according to the UN.

2004 invasions of Gaza

In 2004, the Israeli forces conducted two major operations in Gaza. The first, called 'Operation Rainbow', was carried out in May and was in response to Palestinian attacks in which 11 IDF soldiers were killed. Israel invaded Gaza's southern city of Rafah, razed around 300 homes and expanded the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt in what it called a push to destroy Palestinian smuggling tunnels. Almost 60 Palestinians, including 11 minors, were killed in less than two weeks of the military campaign, according to Human Rights Watch.

Four months later, Israel invaded Gaza again after two children were killed as a Palestinian-launched rocket hit the Israeli town of Sderot. The Israeli operation, called 'Days of Penitence', targeted northern Gaza to prevent further rocket launches and claimed 129 Palestinian lives, including between 50 and 87 militants, and one Israeli soldier, according to the Israeli media.

2006 Lebanon War

In 2006, a cross-border raid by the Hezbollah militants has led to a 34-day war between Israel and its neighbor, Lebanon. Hezbollah launched rocket strikes against Israeli border towns and ambushed a military patrol, killing three soldiers. Two more were abducted, as militants sought to exchange them for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. Tel Aviv responded with air strikes and artillery fire, targeting Hezbollah positions and Lebanese civilian infrastructure alike.

Israel imposed an air and naval blockade and invaded southern Lebanon. The conflict led to the deaths of more than 1,100 Lebanese people and 165 Israelis, including soldiers. It also displaced about a million Lebanese and over 300,000 Israelis.

Operation Cast Lead

In December 2008, Israel once again invaded Gaza with the stated goal of stopping indiscriminate rocket fire into Israeli territory. The Palestinian Hamas group said at the time that the rocket launches were a response to Israel's violation of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire reached six months earlier.

During the operation, called 'Cast Lead', the IDF struck the densely populated cities of Gaza, Khan Yunis, and Rafah. The military campaign, which lasted until January 18, 2009, claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, according to Palestinian sources. An Israeli NGO put the number of civilian deaths at 759, while the IDF put it at 295.

The operation became known as the Gaza War, and is sometimes even referred to as the Gaza Massacre. Israel lost 10 soldiers and three civilians during the campaign. 

Operation Protective Edge

The latest large-scale IDF military campaign in Gaza – 'Operation Protective Edge' – took place in 2014. It was carried out in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by alleged members of Hamas' military wing.

READ MORE: We come in peace, really: ‘Operation Olive Branch’ and other ridiculously named military campaigns

After Israel conducted an operation to arrest Hamas military leaders, Hamas responded with rocket attacks. The Israeli airstrikes and ground campaign to put an end to Palestinian rocket attacks resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the vast majority of them Gazans. During the 51-day assault, over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, with another 10,000 injured. The Israeli actions provoked worldwide protests and were slammed by human rights groups over the disproportionate use of force.

Israel lost 66 of its soldiers and five civilians from Hamas rocket fire. Another 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.

Even though Israel has not conducted any major military operations against Palestinians since 2014, its violent crackdown on Palestinian protesters in Gaza continues to take its toll. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed, including medics and journalists, and more than 22,000 injured since border protests – the Great March of Return – began in March.

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US John Bolton: Palestine Not a State

Bolton referred to Palestine a "so-called state,” adding that denying Palestine’s statehood does not undermine the Trump Administration’s plans for peace in the Middle East.

United States National Security Adviser John Bolton, on Wednesday, reiterated that Palestine was “not a state,” during an address at the White House.

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"It's not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood," he said. "It doesn't control defined boundaries. It doesn't fulfill normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it's not a state," the security adviser said.

Bolton was resolute in referring to Palestine a "so-called state,” also adding that refusing to acknowledge Palestine’s statehood does not undermine U.S. President Donald Trump Administration’s plans for peace in the Middle East. Last week, the U.S. president said his administration will offer a Mideast peace plan within the next two to four months.

"It could become a state, as the president said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others," Bolton added, doubling down on his remarks, saying there was nothing historically remarkable about U.S. officials denying that Palestine is a state.

"Calling it the so-called state of Palestine defines exactly what it has been, a position that the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian authority declared itself to be the State of Palestine," he continued. "We don't recognize it as the State of Palestine, we have consistently across Democratic and Republican administrations opposed the admission of Palestine to the United Nations as a state because it's not a state."

The Trump administration, in a controversial decision, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem - Palestine’s capital - from Tel-Aviv in May.

The Palestinian Authority filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a United Nations tribunal, to contest the United States’ action.

The Palestine Liberation Organization declared independence in 1988 and 137 United Nations member states recognizes the declaration.

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Gaza: Scores of Palestinians Injured During Protest Against Israeli Naval Blockade

The surge of protests in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border, which is known as the “March of Return.”

Over a hundred Palestinians were injured near Gaza's northern border Monday during a protest against Israel's 12-year naval blockade. 93 protestors suffered injuries and 37 people were shot with live ammunition by Israeli occupational forces. the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed Tuesday.

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Israeli forces also opened fire on medical crews and ambulances that attempted to reach the area to provide medical aid to the injured.

Ma’an News Agency reports the tensions escalated during the march when protesters began to set tires on fire to obstruct Israeli snipers deployed at the northern Gaza border. Israeli forces then started to open fire with rubber-coated steel bullets on the crowd.

The northern border of Gaza has seen various attempts over the course of the last few months to draw attention to, and break the siege of, the Gaza strip, sometimes via ships attempting to sail into Gaza or from the Strip itself. Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after Hamas gained a majority in the Palestinian parliamentary election.

Since March, over 170 people have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli occupation forces during a series of protest in the region, which has sought to highlight the naval blockades destruction of the territories' economies and other acts by the Israeli government that have denied the population basic commodities.

There were other protests Monday including in Khan al-Ahmar where thousands of Palestinians converged to thwart Israel’s demolition of the Bedouin village of the Jahalin tribe in the occupied West Bank. Israel temporally postponed plans to begin demolition due to the holiday of Simchat Torah Tuesday.

Gaza saw another protest Monday by UNRWA employees in front of a hotel where agency officials were conducting a meeting. This prompted the agency, which aids almost three million Palestinian refugees to take most of their foreign staff out of Gaza over “security concerns.” Only six out of 19 foreign officials have remained in Gaza.

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Palestine Sues United States Over Embassy Move to Jerusalem

The International Court of Justice said it received a complaint from Palestine of violation of international law.

Palestine has filed a complaint against the United States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague over Washington’s illegal decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reports the Ramallah-based foreign ministry.

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The ICJ reported in a statement on Friday that Palestine was appealing on the grounds of the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, which states that a host country must locate foreign embassies in their territory.

Even though Israel controls Jerusalem militarily, after occupying the eastern part of the city during the 1967 war, it officially enjoys international special status and ownership is disputed.

Palestine requested the court declare the move illegal and “order the United States of America to withdraw (its) diplomatic mission from the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki told news agency Wafa the complaint aims to preserve the holy city character of Jerusalem, with its spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions, in line with foreign policy.

“We defend our rights and our people,” said Malki, “and reject all forms of political and financial extortion.”

In order to proceed, the ICJ first has to rule if Palestine is considered a nation-state, even though it’s been recognized by the UN General Assembly as a non-member state since 2012.

Rulings by the ICJ are legally binding, but it has no means to enforce its decisions. Countries such as the United States, for example, are known for ignoring it.

In a controversial decision that sparked international rejection, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. Guatemala and Paraguay followed the decision shortly after, but the latter then moved back to Tel Aviv after a change of government.

Trials at the ICJ can last for years and no hearing has yet been scheduled.

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Jeremy Corbyn Promises to ‘Recognize Palestinian State as Soon as We Take Office’

"In order to help make the two-state settlement a reality we will recognize a Palestinian state as soon as we take office," Corbyn said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn received a long standing ovation Wednesday after pledging to officially recognize a Palestinian state once he takes office as prime minister.

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"In order to help make the two-state settlement a reality we will recognize a Palestinian state as soon as we take office," Corbyn said.

Labour party supporters waved Palestinian flags as the announcement was well received by the audience at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

@ShrewsLabour Standing ovation in the hall for recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution ??✊?

Corbyn announcement, however, wouldn't come as a shock to many close followers of Labour party policy. In June, during a visit to Jordan, Corbyn said: "I think there has to be a recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to their own state which we as a Labour Party said we would recognize in government as a full state as part of the United Nations."

Today’s comments make it clear to many the policy is a priority for labor and would be enacted shortly after Corbyn takes office if elected.

Corbyn comments come after delegates of the Labour Party voted Tuesday to ban arms sales to Israel over its abuses against the Palestinians. A policy, which could also be translated into official government policy if the party is elected.

The unprecedented resolution noted that “the majority of Palestinian people were forcibly displaced from their homes” during the Nakba and condemned the “aggressive attempt to rewrite history and erase the victims of the 1948 war.”

It called for an “independent international investigation into Israel’s use of force against Palestinian demonstrators,” an “immediate and unconditional end to the illegal blockade and closure of Gaza,” and “a freeze of UK Government arms sales to Israel.”

The motion also highlighted that amongst those killed during the Palestinian protests of recent months are paramedics, journalists, women and children, while than half of the injured were hit with live fire by snipers as they approached the border with Israel.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Chair Hugh Lanning said: “We have witnessed extraordinary scenes of solidarity today and the Labour Party has done the right thing by recognizing the longstanding injustice of Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

PSC handed out more than a thousand Palestinian flags at the conference. In remarkable scenes, many hundreds of delegates stood and waved their flags inside the conference hall when the motion was debated and chants of “Free Palestine!” were clearly heard.

PSC director Ben Jamal said: “This incredible show of support and this historic motion demonstrate the strength of feeling at the grassroots of the party. Labour members want to show real solidarity with Palestinians

The issue was in the top four of all issues discussed Tuesday in Liverpool. The vote to debate Palestine was fourth after housing, school systems, and justice for the Windrush generation. It gained more votes than the issues of Brexit, and the National Health System (NHS).

During the debate on Palestine, the party deliberated on U.K. arms sales to Israel, voting to end them until an independent investigation into the killing of more than 180 protesters in Gaza since Mar. 30 can be carried out.

Though conference votes are not binding on leaders, Jeremy Corbyn, a supporter of the Palestinian cause, has promised to recognize Palestine as a state if his party comes to power. 

The anti-Semitism charges against Corbyn were rejected by him, his supporters, and Palestinians citing Israel's attempt to shut down any criticism of its policies and abuse against Palestinians and its occupation of their land. 

But not all Palestinians are overjoyed with the new policies. Some are critical of the U.K.’s stand on the Oslo agreement which supports the creation of two states. For U.K.-based Palestinian author and academic, Ghada Karmi said during a Palestine Solidarity meeting that Labour cannot go on supporting a “defunct idea”. She also asked the party to stop being apologetic about Israel’s atrocities and to confront Israel and call out its actions against Palestinians.

According to Hazem Jamjoum, a Palestinian-American academic, the British empire helped create the state of Israel; hence, it has a greater responsibility to support Palestine. He also warned that Israel’s impunity regarding apartheid, racist laws and ethnonationalism is creating precedents all over the globe, which is witnessing an increasing identity-based nationalism in many countries.

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Ahed Tamimi Finally Travels to France Despite Israeli Obstacles

Ahed Tamimi, the resistance teen icon from Palestine traveled to France Friday for an event where she asked people to support the Palestinian cause and to boycott Israel.

Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian resistance icon, traveled to France for a debate on Friday. The young resistance leader was invited by L'Humanité and the French Communist party, or PCF, to participate in an event organized by Association France Palestine Solidarite.

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Ahed spoke Sunday at the Festival of Humanity which is organized annually by the PCF, at La Courneuve in Seine-Saint-Denis. "I want to say to Trump that Jerusalem will remain the capital of Palestine”, Ahed Tamimi said in reference to the decision of the U.S. president to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, addressing thousands of people who attended the last day of the event.

“The Palestinian refugees, we do not need the money of the Americans, but to return to our land” and find “our dignity”, she added. “We must be united in the face of the occupation.”

She went on to describe her own experience as a young Palestinian under Israeli brutal occupation. “When you’re a young Palestinian who is 17 years old today, you suffer on a daily basis the practices of the Israeli occupation ... even Palestinian children are arrested at checkpoints and Israeli-controlled”.

The Palestinian people, Ahed concluded, "we are not victims, we are fighters for freedom.” 

The 17-year-old teenager from Nabi Saleh village in the occupied West Bank was jailed for eight months for slapping two Israeli occupation soldiers who were harassing her family at their home's yard. Her action in December last year was recorded and went viral on social media. attracting applause from the supporters of Palestinian resistance globally, while also infuriating Israelis some of whom asked for her to be shot and killed.

Ahed and her mother Nariman, both had been jailed in an Israeli prison since December 2017 before receiving a few weeks early release in late July.

Ahed received a warm welcome from the people gathered at the event in France where she talked about how her life has changed during her imprisonment. The young resistance icon doesn't regret her actions and said that prison helped her to be more mature. Immediately after her release, while speaking to media, she said she and her other inmates studied international law in the prison.

Speaking to RT during her trip in France, the young Palestinian activist said that despite being released she does not think that she is out of trouble as each of her words can be used against her and land her in prison again.

She further called for boycotting Israel and asked people to spread the truth about the suffering of Palestinians due to Israeli occupation.

The news of her France visit comes just a week after she was informed by Palestinian authorities that she was not allowed to leave the country due to an Israeli ban on her and her family from doing so. Her father had said that they were not given any definite reason for the ban.

Ahed is now expected to travel through Europe to talk about Palestine’s resistance and her time in Israeli prison. Her next stop will be in Spain to participate in more solidarity events.

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'US Bullying': Trump To Close Palestinian Mission in Washington

The administration will also threaten the International Criminal Court with sanctions if it goes forward with an investigation on alleged war crimes by the U.S.

The United States government announced the closure of the Palestinian leadership’s de facto embassy in Washington as a "punishment" for not engaging in one-sided talks with Israel, and for attempting to sue the Israeli government at the International Criminal Court despite warnings from Washington. 

RELATED: Palestinian Hospitals, Patients Latest Victims of US Fund Cuts

In a statement on Monday, the U.S. State Department said the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office "has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017," the statement said.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Monday that this move by the Trump administration is to “protect Israeli crimes”.

He also said that the leadership will not be deterred from seeking action in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague against Israel. "We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to US threats and bullying."

Interestingly, the Trump administration will also announce on Monday that it will adopt an offensive posture against ICC, threatening sanctions against the institution if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes by the U.S in Afghanistan.

U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton confirmed on Monday that the Trump administration had closed the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's office as "punishment" for calling on Israel to be investigated by the ICC.

According to a draft of the speech, published by Reuters, Bolton will say, “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel.”

“We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system,” he is expected to say, as reported by the Independent. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

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As Israel Approves 'Apartheid' Law, Trump Spends $21M on US Embassy Move to Jerusalem

The Palestinians described the closure of PLO mission as the latest pressure tactic by the Trump administration that has slashed funding to a U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and to hospitals in East Jerusalem, all in one week.

“It is also extremely cruel and spiteful to persist in deliberately bashing the Palestinian people by denying them their rights, giving away their lands and rightful capital of Jerusalem, and defunding UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and Palestinian institutions, including East Jerusalem hospitals,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO.

Ashrawi also said the U.S. closing the General Delegation of the PLO office in Washington D.C. is an irresponsible move. “This is yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education,” said Erekat.

Commenting on the U.S. threatening sanctions against ICC, Erekat said, “this dangerous escalation shows that the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine, as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region. …  It symbolizes the U.S. attacks against the international system as a whole, including the Paris Convention, UNESCO, and the Human Rights Council among others.”

The official also said the PLO will take necessary measures to protect the rights of Palestinians living in the U.S. to access their consular services.

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Trump Cuts US$25 Million Aid For Palestinians in Hospitals

Trump called for a review of U.S. assistance to Palestinians earlier this year to ensure the funds were being spent in accordance with 'national interests.'

U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered that US$25 million earmarked for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals be directed elsewhere as part of a review of aid, a State Department official said on Saturday.

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Trump called for a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinians earlier this year to ensure that the funds were being spent in accordance with national interests and were providing value to taxpayers.

"As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will be redirecting approximately US$25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network," the State Department official said. "Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere."

The aid cut is the latest in a number of actions by the Trump administration that have alienated the Palestinians, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

That move reversed longtime U.S. policy and led Palestinian leadership to boycott Washington peace efforts led by Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law.

Last month, the Trump administration said it would redirect US$200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

And at the end of August, the Trump administration halted all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a decision that further heightened tensions with the Palestinian leadership.

Palestinian refugees have reacted with dismay to the funding cuts, warning they would lead to more poverty, anger and instability in the Middle East.

A statement from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the latest aid cut was part of a U.S. attempt "to liquidate the Palestinian cause" and said it would threaten the lives of thousands of Palestinians and the livelihoods of thousands of hospital employees. 

"This dangerous and unjustified American escalation has crossed all red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people," it said.

At the gates of two of the East Jerusalem hospitals affected, medical staff were aware of the decision but refused to comment, Reuters reports.

One of the centers, Al Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital, said in statement the U.S. aid cuts come as the "hospital is going through a suffocating crisis as a result of the lack of flow of financial aid, and the piling up of debts and funds held back by the Palestinian government."

It said it had received US$12.5 million of the U.S. money to treat patients from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In the statement hospital CEO Dr. Bassam Abu Libdeh "questioned the justification behind mixing political issues with medical and humanitarian issues."

The last round of U.S.-brokered Palestinian-Israeli peace talks collapsed in 2014. 

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