AP Releases Comprehensive Report on Fatalities in Gaza Home Strikes

By Ford Fischer, Special Report College Associate

A new report released by the Associated Press details the outcome of this summer’s conflict between Israelis and Palestinians along the Gaza strip.

At least 844 Palestinians were killed as a result of the airstrikes on homes this summer. Of those, only 92 were confirmed or suspected militants. The AP report explained that these airstrikes made up only 247 of the 5,000 airstrikes launched by Israel during the conflict.

The report found that approximately one third of the dead were children, and 60% were women, children, or older men. The other 240 were males aged 18-59 with no known connection to militant groups.

Gaza militants fired 4,300 rockets at Israel, who conducted a total of 5,000 airstrikes. While the number of rockets fired is relatively equal, only five Israeli civilians were killed, along with 67 soldiers.

Palestinians largely feel that Israel is specifically targeting citizens. "Either they have the worst army in the world that constantly misses targets and hits civilians, or they are deliberately killing civilians," said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian spokeswoman said to the AP. If most of those killed are civilians, "you cannot call them collateral damage."

In January, Palestinians joined the International Criminal Court. While it seemed unlikely before, this creates the possibility of Israel being investigated for war crimes.

Israeli leaders maintain that the strikes, even when citizens were killed, were justified. They explain that Hamas has strategically placed weapons and fighters in civilian areas. "Our position is very clear. Israel did not commit war crimes," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

Palestinian leaders feel that this doesn’t hold up, given that only 89% of those killed in strikes on civilian areas were not suspected or confirm militants.

U.N. investigators do note, however, that Hamas is not entirely faultless either. While their tactics have been mostly ineffective, they are also under suspicion of war crimes for indiscriminately firing rockets over the border, which could hit civilians.

Overall, 1,483 Palestinian civilians were killed in the war -- 66 percent of the overall death toll of 2,205. Only 6% of the Israeli death toll (which totals 72) has been civilians. Both sides have been in a ceasefire since August.

Special Report Panel: Mideast Conflict

Innocent civilians seek shelter from Israeli-Hamas violence

By: Bridget Creel, Special Report Summer Associate

Right in between the surge of rockets from Islamic extremist group Hamas and ground offensives from Israeli forces, innocent inhabitants of Gaza City turn to other options for shelter and safety. The Gazans run into one problem: they are literally trapped.

The rectangular geography of the Gaza Strip poses implications for those wishing to relocate. The Gaza Strip, which is 25 miles long and between three and seven miles wide, has concrete walls and fences along the perimeter of the eastern and northern boundaries. Israel and Egypt can be found at the southern end of the strip and the western side of the strip borders the Mediterranean Sea, leaving the Gazans immovable.

Due to the travel restrictions on Gazans from Egypt and Israel, Gazans are forced to seek out new living situations within the unsafe area. Those along the border have fled to relatives’ homes and those with nowhere else to turn have looked to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) emergency shelters for accommodation.

Beginning on July 7, UNRWA issued a state of emergency in all areas within the Gaza Strip.

Early this morning, UNRWA tweeted, “More than 83,000 people are now taking refuge in UNRWA schools in #Gaza. Numbers are growing.”

Despite consistent efforts to keep up with the rising number of inhabitants, the UNRWA has run into several difficulties, some more unexpected than others. Last week, 20 rockets were found in one of the agency’s abandoned schools. Following the discovery, the agency issued a statement that prohibited the storage of the Gaza militants’ harmful rockets in their facilities.

UNRWA continues to distribute food and water to the shelters but the combat has disrupted the delivery of the supplies. The agency runs into numerous other problems, such as the destruction of schools, as the conflict escalates.

In the past 24 hours, numbers released by the UNRWA revealed a devastating loss for both sides. Innocent Palestinian and Israeli citizens are facing the repercussions of the battle.

This morning, President Obama said Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas but that the United States has “serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”

He went on to say that the focus should be “a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.” 

Inside United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on July 18, 2014 in Gaza City. Israel launched a Gaza ground campaign after 10 days of bombardments from the air and sea failed to stop militants' rocket attacks, stepping up an offensive that already has taken a heavy toll in civilian lives.(Photo by Momen Faiz/NurPhoto/Sipa USA) (Sipa via AP Images)

Bret interviews Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Bret Baier will interview Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today to discuss the stalled effort by the Obama administration to broker a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority as well as the implications from Iran’s nuclear program, the ongoing civil war in Syria as well as the overall security outlook for the region. Please join us tonight at 6pmET for Special Report on Fox News Channel.

 

Chuck Hagel: Can the past come back to haunt you?

 

The possible nomination of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense is causing quite the uproar. Many are opposed to Hagel becoming the next defense secretary due to comments he made many years ago.

Earlier this month Hagel apologized for a comment he made in 1998 regarding the nomination of the former U.S. Ambassador of Luxemburg James Hormel. Hagel called Hormel "aggressively gay" during an interview in which he was expressing his opposition to the nomination.

Senator Hagel has also drawn the attention and criticism of pro-Israel groups for having made comments regarding Israel and the Jewish lobby and has been labeled as an anti-Semite and anti-Israel.

President Obama has come out recently defending Hagel, saying he did not see anything that would disqualify him as a potential nominee. A Hagel nomination could be a reality as early as Monday and many critics are prepared to put up a fight.

What do you think? Are you opposed to a Hagel nomination or do you believe he is the best candidate for the job? Let us know here and on Twitter @BretBaier and @SpecialReport!

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