Tag Archives: CAIRO

Suicide bomber strikes at Karnak temple in southern Egypt

Egypt's Karnak Temple is a popular destination for tourists
Egypt’s Karnak Temple is a popular destination for tourists

A suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of Karnak temple in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor on Wednesday, security sources and witnesses said, in an escalation of recent attacks on tourist sites.

No group immediately claimed responsibility but Islamist militants bent on toppling the Cairo government have killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the past, usually at checkpoints and barracks or police stations.

The health ministry said four Egyptians were wounded. Security sources said casualties included bazaar shop owners and police.

They said three armed men tried to storm a barricade that leads to the Karnak temple site. Two men left the car and engaged in gunfire with police, who killed them. The third man in the car managed to overcome the barricade and blew himself up.

Tourism is one of the top sources of income and foreign currency earnings for the Arab world’s most populous country.

Gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead two members of Egypt’s tourism and antiquities police force on a road near the Giza pyramids last week.

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At least 18 killed as protesters clash with police in anniversary of Egypt’s revolution

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At least 18 people, including three policeman, have died at protests around the country on the fourth anniversary of the 2011 revolution, the health ministry announced Sunday.

Ten people, including a police conscript, were killed in Cairo’s Matariya district in the north of the capital, where the day’s most intense and sustained clashes took place.

Matariya is a hotbed for clashes between pro-Mohamed Morsi protesters and police, with weekly confrontations typical and deaths regularly reported.

11 dead in unrest on Egypt uprising anniversary: state media  

By early evening, clashes in Cairo had subsided, with the exception of Matariya.

Another person was killed elsewhere in Cairo and two more in Giza, where the municipality headquarters of the Haram district were torched.

Another two police conscripts were killed by unknown assailants in Giza who fled in a car on the ring road through the Moneib district, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.

One person was also killed in the coastal city of Alexandria, health ministry officials said.

Egypt

A further two people died when a bomb they were planting detonated in the Nile Delta’s Beheira governorate, health ministry official Khaled El-Khateeb told Reuters’ Aswat Masriya.

The ministry also said that at least 38 people were injured in clashes in Cairo, Giza, the Nile Delta’s Kafr El-Sheikh and Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate; the interior ministry said 11 policemen were injured.

The interior ministry said in a statement that close to 150 “rioters” were apprehended on Sunday across the country.

© Mohamed Shokry Algarnoussi / Alm, EPA

Downtown clashes 

Clashes also erupted on Sunday in downtown Cairo between protesters and a number of supporters of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during a protest at the Journalists Syndicate.

The protest was organised to demand retribution for those injured in the 2011 revolution. Demonstrators had chanted for retribution, as well as chanting against military rule and against El-Sisi.

© Str, EPA

Clashes started when a group of El-Sisi supporters began to hurl rocks at the protesters. Security forces dispersed the clashes, firing teargas. No deaths were reported.

Security forces also dispersed a protest of about 100 supporters of El-Sisi in downtown Cairo’s Abdel-Moneim Riyad Square, Aswat Masriya reported. No one was arrested at the protest.

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Earlier in the day, 15 people Morsi supporters were arrested in the same square.

A number of youth groups affiliated with the pro-Mohamed Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy had earlier called for protests in downtown Cairo.

© Khaled Elfiqi, EPA

The secular group the April 6 Youth Movement, which was outlawed last April, had also called for protests in a number of downtown squares, including Abdel-Moneim Riyad, Abdeen, Opera, Bab Al-Louk and Talaat Harb, after the killing of socialist activist Shaimaa El-Sabagh at a march on Saturday.

El-Sabagh, 33, was marching with a dozen Socialist Popular Alliance Party members to lay flowers in Tahrir Square in memory of protesters who died in the January 2011 uprising when she was shot. The party said her death was “premeditated murder.”

AP Photo

Security forces have dispersed other small protests nationwide.

More than 60 people were killed in last year’s revolution anniversary, around six months after the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule.

Western Muslims and Egypt – Telling (all) hard truths

IN AN ideal world, Muslims in the Western world should be able to watch events in their faith’s heartland with a critical, dispassionate eye, and exercise a benign influence. After all, Western Muslims are freer to gather information from all sides, and to speak their mind, than their co-religionists in Muslim-majority lands. And that sort of thing does occasionally happen.

I once attended a conference in Kuala Lumpur where many speakers drearily defended the idea of criminalising blasphemy, until a soft-spoken Dutch Muslim woman, of Turkish origin, argued brilliantly in favour of freedom of speech as the best way for each religion to defend its corner. She was the star of the show.

But according to one well-placed commentator on the world of Islam, developments in Egypthave created some sharp divisions within Muslim communities in the West, especially inNorth America; and neither side in an increasingly polarised debate has distinguished itself.

With my apologies for over-simplifying an elaborate argument, H.A. Hellyer, a British analyst and fellow of the Brookings Institution think-tank, identifies one camp which is highly sensitive to the misdeeds of the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore condones bad behaviour, including terrible human-rights abuses, by the present regime in Cairo, which overthrew a Brotherhood-minded government last year.

Another camp, he writes in the United States-based Islamic Monthly, is rightly appalled by the present rulers’ massive human-rights violations and plays down those perpetrated by the Brotherhood when it held power.

In the first camp, according to Mr Hellyer, who is also a research associate at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, are the many Muslims in North America and elsewhere who take their cue from an eminent Egyptian scholar who shows quite an emollient face to the Western world.

The scholar is Ali Gomaa (pictured), a former grand mufti of Egypt who has been sharply critical of the Brotherhood and correspondingly supportive of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. That distinguished greybeard also has some standing in the Christian world, as an inter-faith dialogue partner and one of the few senior Muslims who has said people should be free to leave Islam if they choose.

Mr Hellyer, who divides his time between Britain, America and the Arab world, also looks at the different position taken Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic Studies at OxfordUniversity who enjoys a lot of prestige among Muslims in the West, especially the young and politically engaged.

Mr Ramadan is certainly no friend of the present regime in Egypt. Back in the summer, he made waves in the Western Islamic scene by pointedly declining to attend two important annual gatherings: one held in Detroit in August by the Islamic Society of North America, and one in Toronto called Renewing the Islamic Spirit, which has just ended.

Mr Ramadan eschewed the first gathering on grounds that his hosts were too compliant with the American government, and the second because its politically quietist ethos amounted, in his view, to condoning Arab autocrats in Egypt and elsewhere.

Does all that imply Mr Ramadan is less critical of the Brotherhood, which his grandfather Hassan al-Banna founded, than an objective observer would be? He would indignantly deny any such bias and he is especially irritated by critics who assume that his ideas flow automatically from those of his forebear. Today he angrily told his 1.2m Facebook admirers that Mr Hellyer had distorted his position over the two conferences.

Anyway, it is Mr Hellyer’s view that the Swiss-born professor has been relatively lenient in his attitude to the Brotherhood, focusing mainly on the movement’s tactics and strategy. (Given that people are entitled to disagree on what an appropriate level of criticism would be, the leniency or otherwise of Mr Ramadan’s stance must also, surely, be a matter of open and reasonable debate.)

Whatever view one takes of Mr Ramadan, the article laments that the majority of onlookers outside as well as inside Egypt have a favourite side in that country, whose misdeeds they are prepared, at least partially, to airbrush away.

What Mr Hellyer longs to see is the emergence, at least in the wider world, of rigorously independent voices who are willing to denounce human-rights abuses by all sides. As he sees things, those who aspire to tell hard truths, especially in the name of morality and religion, should call all manner of despots or faults to account.

One figure he admires is Emad Effat, an Egyptian Muslim jurist who was critical in equal measure of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, of the military council which took over, and of the Muslim Brotherhood. But that outspoken mufti paid a heavy price; he was killed in clashes with the army in November 2011.

Cairo’s Gate Residence Features Lovely Green Living… Inspired By The Structure of Coral Reefs

gate

Paris-based firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures (VCA) has just unveiled a new multi-use complex in Cairo, Egypt. The complex, named Gate Residence, is inspired by the structure of coral reefs.

The Gate project will ensure a fine balance between high quality of life and respect of the environment.

The complex is a hyper-connected ecosystem designed to raise awareness about sustainable architecture to combat global warming and maintain an eco-friendly global environment.

gate-residence1

Cairo’s Gate Residence complex features a solar roof, green rooftop terraces, sky villas, health club and spa, a fitness center, business center, restaurants, and medical and retail centers. Designed to obtain LEED Gold Plus standing, this 1000 apartment complex will also have a vertical system of gardens and solar heating tubes.

energy-saving-concept

Green architectural features integrated within the project:

  • Nine Windcatchers stand as huge trees in the middle of each green patio. These windcatchers are inspired by the technology of wind catching towers or ‘Malqaf’ originally developed in Ancient Egypt.
  • Passive geothermal cooling and heating system integrated with the vertical shafts provide an efficient and eco-friendly method for heating and cooling internal space.
  • The new solar photovoltaic cells will cover the entire roof… Window glass will take advantage of the combined functions of power generation, lighting and temperature control.
  • Solar water heating tubes are integrated within the design to deliver hot water to all the apartments throughout the year.
  • The roof transforms into a big community garden covering the entire complex to improve the thermal inertia of the roof.
  • Multi-sensors are used to detect the number of people in each room of each apartment to control temperature and light level. Residents can also control different zones within their living spaces with the help of a user interface.

gate-residence7

The construction of this complex is expected to begin by March 2015 with completion slated for 2019.

The Arab spring idealist who died for Isis – Egyptian’s radicalisation a story of despair say friends

Ahmed al-Darawy was a pro-democracy activist who ran for parliament, but became disillusioned after Egypt's 2013 military coup. He died fighting for Isis

Ahmed al-Darawy was a pro-democracy activist who ran for parliament, but became disillusioned after Egypt’s 2013 military coup. He died fighting for Isis

He had held on for months. But when the Islamists and leftists, who had united in the 2011 revolution he had championed, began fighting each other on the streets of Cairo in late 2012, something inside him snapped.

Ahmed al-Darawy, a one-time police officer turned revolutionary, had been a mainstay of Egypt’s uprising in Tahrir Square.

“He told me, ‘That’s it! That’s the beginning of the end’,” recalls his brother, Haytham, younger by two years. “He told me, ‘Did you see what happened? The revolution is coming to an end, and the counter-revolution will rise. There is blood now between them, they will never reunite. And this means they are both going to be wiped out.’”

Once gregarious and outspoken, he became reclusive, shying away from public life. After the July 2013 coup d’état felled the country’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and led to the installation of a military-backed regime, Darawy left the country, telling relatives he was seeking medical care.

The call came on May 29, 2014. Darawy, a 38-year-old father of three, had died on the battlefields of Iraq, the man said. The one-time democracy activist, who had run for the Egyptian parliament in 2012 as an independent, had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda offshoot known as Isis, and died in battle.

“The Darawy matter actually horrifies me,” says Yasser al-Hawary, 36, a liberal Egyptian activist. “He adopted the same demands and ideas as all of us and he was just like anybody else. This means other people, that don’t show violence , could join Isis as well.”

Darawy’s path from non-violent democracy activist to fighter for a group so extreme it has been disowned by al-Qaeda reflects the unsettling course of the Arab revolts of 2011.

A heady season of hope and optimism that stirred longings for democracy and citizenship rights also unleashed demons many observers did not expect: political repression, internecine and sectarian fighting, and chaos in what had been authoritarian societies.

With the possible exception of Tunisia, all the nations that have risen up are now mired in intensified repression or armed conflict. A moment of hope that the Arab world was emerging from authoritarianism has been eclipsed by Isis and its efforts to draw men and women like Darawy into its orbit.

“This story is very important,” says Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics and the author of a book on jihadis. “Not only does it tell us about Egypt’s past, present and future, but also it tells us how the great aspirations and hopes of the so-called Arab spring have turned into despair, and how some of these men have turned to jihadism.”

Darawy belies the stereotype of jihadis as misfits. He was born to university educated parents in 1976, and grew up in Cairo’s upscale Maadi suburb. Those who knew him and his family describe them as well-to-do. Darawy’s sister studied at the expensive American University of Cairo. Darawy received a prestigious spot to study law enforcement at the police academy.

”We were not just middle-class, we are a rich family,” says Haytham, who now lives in Qatar.

After years as a cop, Darawy became disillusioned with the police, under the interior ministry, known for its brutality and corruption. “He saw what the regime was doing,” says Mr Hawary.

He left the police to join Etisalat, the country’s UAE-operated mobile phone carrier, as a marketing manager setting up sponsorship arrangements with local sports clubs for the company. His brother says Darawy and his wife earned the equivalent of $7,000 a month in a country where monthly income averages $500.

Activists recall meeting him first in late 2010, at the offices of the Socialist Renewal Current, among the liberal and leftist groups that spearheaded the drive into the streets the following January. “He was very expressive and outspoken and was very balanced in his ideas,” says Mr Hawary. “He was in harmony with us.”

He became a leading figure in the tent community that sprang up on Tahrir Square in the days before longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February 2011.

“He had indescribable hope and energy,” says his brother. “I once told him, ‘Ahmed, I think your activism is affecting your work and your home.’ So he told me something very important; that the future of the country is being formed now, we are making history.”

But Darawy was no starry-eyed idealist dreaming of transformation. Not only had he been a police officer but he had worked in the private sector and was by the time of the revolution a parent.

He knew how institutions operated and understood the slow pace of reform, so when he came forward to call for reform of the interior ministry, his proposal was full of concrete steps to improve an organisation whose abuses lay at the heart of the 2011 rebellion.

He urged a reduction in work hours, paperwork and administrative tasks to encourage the police to provide proper security, as well as salary reforms and training programmes to reduce brutality. “He wanted police resources to be focused on the security of the citizen,” says his brother.

He told friends he was even willing to take a salary cut to rejoin the police if it would help bring about change. But despite pitching his reform package to a succession of interim governments, including that of Mr Morsi, his ideas were never embraced.

“All his efforts failed,” says Mohamed Qassas, a fellow activist. “His reforms were mentioned in the media but never got anywhere.”

As Egypt’s transition moved toward electoral politics, Darawy made a spirited parliamentary run for a seat in his home district, declining an offer to run on the Muslim Brotherhood list and instead winning the backing of the leftist Revolution Continues coalition as well as the Salafist Nour party.

Provisional figures compiled by campaign volunteers showed that he and another candidate had received the most votes and were headed for a run-off, but the election committee declared that Mostafa Bakri, a pro-regime journalist, had won outright.

“There was no evidence but there were suspicions that the election was forged against him,” says Mr Hawary. “Of course he was angry and sad. Most of the revolutionary youth ran for this election and almost none of us made it.”

Presidential elections, too, proved frustrating. Darawy was among those who supported Abdul-Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the ex-Muslim Brotherhood leader who had reinvented himself as a liberal embracing the spirit of the Tahrir revolution. But the candidate lost in the first round of voting.

Though described by some as a moderate Islamist , Darawy maintained friendships with fellow revolutionaries including leftists and liberals.

The end of that solidarity between Islamists and secular revolutionaries marked the beginning of Darawy’s transformation. The violent December 2012 confrontations at the Ittihadiya presidential palace, in which liberal and leftist activists clashed with Morsi supporters, marked the first time the two cornerstones of the Tahrir uprising fought each other.

Such confrontations between Islamists and their opponents also undermined the Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad, turned Libya’s factions against each other and marred Tunisia’s transition.

“The unity of the masses, the unity of the poor, the middle class, the professionals and the human rights activists was one of the main features of the revolutions,” says Mr Gerges. “But beyond the unity against dictators there was no unity of purpose, no vision and no blueprint of the future. The idea was that the revolution was going to take care of itself, which is a very silly thing.”

Darawy was ill-prepared for the blow. To him, the revolution was quickly careening toward disaster. To associates, he appeared to side with the Islamists, accusing the secular activists of instigating the Ittihadiya violence. Facing a choice between his liberal ideas and Islamist identity, he chose the latter.

After the clashes, Darawy drifted away from Egyptian politics and became more and more obsessed with the unfolding tragedy in Syria, where the Assad government had turned a peaceful uprising into a civil war pitting a regime dominated by members of his heterodox Shia sect against an armed Sunni rebellion drawing fighters from as far away as North America.

“He was always talking about the Arab revolutions, about Syria and how we must rescue the people there,” said Mohamed Abbas, an Islamist-leaning fellow activist now working at a think-tank in the Gulf. “He was in deep grief that the revolutions ended up this way.”

Across the Arab world television broadcasts of cheering pro-democracy protesters waving flags gave way to images of Syrian children killed by the Assad regime’s barrel bombs. Mr Abbas says he fears the dreary course of the Arab revolutions has discredited a budding belief in the democratic process among Arab youth.

“They try out new methods to force the world to hear their voice and to change the [political] reality they reject by their own hands,” he says.

Darawy is thought to have joined protests in favour of Mr Morsi in the summer of 2013, as an outpouring of anger against the Islamist government began to swell. Army officer Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mr Morsi in a popularly backed July 2013 coup. The crushing of Morsi supporters weeks later in a violent crackdown at Rabaa Adawiya Square has become a rallying cry for Islamist-leaning youth.

While both hardcore Islamists in the Arab world and disaffected Muslims in the west have made the journey to Isis, very few of those who took part in the uprisings in Tahrir Square or along Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis have ended up joining the group.

Darawy disappeared shortly after the violence at Rabaa Adawiya Square. During one conversation with Mr Abbas around that time he spoke emotionally about the failures of the Arab uprisings. “He was very sad and angry,” says Mr Abbas. “He was always using the language of complete despair. ‘We’re going down the toilet,’ he would say.”

At some point in the autumn of 2013 he was dismissed from his job. A telephone number his brother managed to locate for him has never worked. “Even his wife, her information about him was very poor,” his brother recalls. “She would go for a long time not able to communicate with him.”

Then suddenly, in February, Darawy contacted his younger brother via the internet. “He said take care of mum and dad; we wore them out when we were children,” recalls his brother. “And it didn’t occur to me that he was saying goodbye.” It was the last time the two men communicated.

Haytham, who has been struggling to reconstruct the last few months of his brother’s life, says he believes he first joined the jihadi group, Jabhat al-Nusra, before becoming an Isis commander once it began to dominate the Syrian rebellion in late 2013. He has yet to locate his brother’s body or discover the exact circumstances of his death. One Syrian rebel leader alleges Darawy died at the hands of Iraqi forces in Tikrit.

An Isis supporter claims he died in a suicide operation, while another says he was leader of a unit of Egyptian jihadis fighting in Syria’s northeast. Months after his family learned of his death, pictures of him holding an assault rifle began appearing on the internet.

The story of Darawy’s path from police officer to revolutionary to Isis fighter has, for some, become a cautionary tale of infiltration of the security forces as well as a way to paint the Arab uprisings as a cover for extremist Islam.

Such caricatures do not adequately describe Isis recruits such as Darawy. “People are joining Isis simply because there is no other game in town and until very recently it has been very successful,” says James Dorsey, a writer and researcher who has written about Nidhal Selmi, a Tunisian footballer who died as an Isis fighter.

“You have people who join who don’t share in great detail its ideology but see very little alternative to effecting change and therefore see it as a vehicle.”

In interviews with those who knew him, the word used repeatedly to explain Darawy’s transformation is “despair” over the course of events in the Arab world. “We had huge ambitions,” says Mr Qassas, pondering his coffee at a café in central Cairo.

“Everybody had visions of change and transformation and democracy and citizenship rights. When none of these ambitions was realised the disappointment was as high as the ambition.”

The same despair has driven some of the revolutionaries in Egypt into exile or depression, self-destruction and suicide, including Zainab al-Mahdi, a well-regarded activist who hanged herself in her Cairo flat in November.

The loosely organised, spontaneous uprisings that felled longtime dictatorships ill-prepared their partisans for the long, fierce battles needed to bring about fundamental social change.

“Historically, what’s happening is very normal; the upheavals, the tensions and the counter-revolution,” says Mr Gerges. “What’s happening in Egypt and the Arab world is not unique. It is the aftershock of the social earthquake. It could take many years for things to calm down and subside.”

Haytham has taken custody of his brother’s children, moving them to Qatar.

“My feelings towards Ahmed will never be altered. I have been proud of him since I was a kid. He is my big brother,” he says. “I will never question why he did this or that. God bless him and reward him for his actions during his life. I will never be ashamed, and I will always be proud of him.”

 

Egypt Agrees to $3.5bn Arms Deal With Russia

Putin Sisi

Egypt has agreed to a $3.5bn (£2.1bn, €2.7bn) arms deal with Russia, Interfax news agency reported, citing the head of a Russian state arms agency.

Alexander Fomin, chief of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation, said without elaborating that a preliminary deal had been reached at a South African arms trade fair, according to Interfax.

A multibillion dollar deal with Egypt would provide a boost to the world’s second-largest arms exporter as its relations with Western economies have deteriorated over the Ukraine crisis.

The United States and the European Union have imposed tough restrictions on dealing with Russian defence, accusing Russia of fuelling the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Moscow for bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in August, as the two sides sought to strengthen ties, having both fallen out with the United States over the past year.

Washington and Cairo fell out after the Egyptian military backed regime change in the country in July 2013. The US froze its annual military aid to Egypt as relations between the allies soured.

Meanwhile, Anatoly Isaikin, the chief of Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said the agency was enjoying a period of high demand.

“Today our orders portfolio stands at $38.7bn. This is one of the strongest figures Rosoboronexport has had in recent years,” Isaikin told journalists at the same arms trade exhibition.

Israeli airstrike kills 3 senior Hamas commanders

Israeli airstrike kills 3 senior Hamas commanders

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed three senior commanders of the Hamas military wing Thursday, delivering a likely blow to the organization’s morale and highlighting the long reach of Israel’s intelligence services.

The pre-dawn strike leveled a four-story house in a densely populated neighborhood of the southern town of Rafah, killing six people, including the three senior Hamas commanders.

The trio had played a key role in expanding Hamas’ military capabilities in recent years, including digging attack tunnels leading to Israel, training of fighters and smuggling of weapons to Gaza, Israel said.

(L-R) Raed al-Attar, Mohammed Abu Shammala and Osama Abu Atah from Hamas, stand before a Palestinian Authority court in Gaza in this February 27, 1999 file photo.

It was not immediately clear if their assassination would prompt a change in Hamas strategy in the current round of fighting with Israel or diminish the group’s ability to fire rockets at Israel. The military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is a secretive organization.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a statement that Israel “will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weaken the resistance,” and that Israel “will pay the price.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “superior intelligence” of the domestic Shin Bet security service and the “precise execution” of the attack by the military.

The targeted killing of the three top Hamas commanders will likely buy Netanyahu some time as the Israeli public is getting increasingly impatient with the government’s inability to halt the rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel and Hamas identified the three as Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Raed Attar and Mohammed Barhoum.

Thursday’s airstrike was carried out shortly before 3 a.m. in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah. Gaza police and witnesses said several missiles hit the four-story building.

Hamza Khalifa, an area resident said the house was struck without warning. “We only heard multiple F-16 (warplane) missiles, one after the other, six or seven missiles,” he said.

Several hours later, a large earth mover was still clearing large mounds of debris and wreckage as dozens of area residents watched.

Mohammed Abu Shamala (L) with Hamas official Ismail Haniya in an image from 26 February
Mohammed Abu Shamala (L) with Hamas official Ismail Haniya in February

The Rafah attack came a day after an apparent Israeli attempt to kill the top Hamas military leader, Mohammed Deif, in an airstrike on a house in Gaza City.

Deif’s wife and an infant son were killed in that strike, but the Hamas military wing said Deif was not in the targeted home at the time.

The back-to-back targeting of top Hamas military leaders came after indirect Israel-Hamas negotiations in Cairo on a sustainable truce broke down. As talks ran aground on Tuesday, Gaza militants resumed rocket fire on Israel, even before the formal end of a six-day truce at midnight that day.

The grandfather of three children killed by an Israeli air strike weeps outside a morgue in Gaza City, 21 August

Since then, Hamas and other groups have fired dozens more rockets, and Israeli aircraft have struck dozens of targets in Gaza, a sign that prospects for a resumption of the Cairo talks are slim.

Despite the crisis, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was holding talks in Qatar on Thursday with the top political leader of Hamas in exile, Khaled Mashaal, and the emir of Qatar. Before the collapse of the truce talks, Abbas had planned to use the meetings in Qatar to urge Mashaal and his Qatari backers to support an Egyptian cease-fire plan.

A Palestinian man reacts as rescue workers search for victims under the rubble of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike that killed three senior Hamas military commanders, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 21, 2014. REUTERS-Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Hamas has rejected the Egyptian proposal, saying it contained no commitments by Israel to ease the border blockade of Gaza. The blockade was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007.

Hamas leaders said they could not accept a deal they feared would restore the closure regime that was in place before the start of the latest round of fighting on July 8. The border restrictions prevent most Gazans from traveling outside the crowded coastal strip and bar most exports.

Over the past six weeks of the Gaza war, more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in the strip and about 100,000 left homeless, according to figures by the U.N. and Palestinian officials. Israel lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.

Relatives of three Palestinian children from Al-Rifi who medics said were killed in an Israeli air strike, react outside a hospital morgue in Gaza City August 21, 2014.  REUTERS-Suhaib Salem

It was not clear if the killing of the three Hamas leaders will diminish the group’s ability to fire rockets. Israel estimated that Hamas had 10,000 rockets before the war and that it lost about two-thirds of its arsenal.

In a joint statement, the Israeli military and Shin Bet security service emphasized the importance of Abu Shamaleh, Attar and Barhoum to the Hamas military operation.

Abu Shamaleh had been the top Hamas commander in southern Gaza, it said. Attar was in charge of weapons smuggling into Gaza, the construction of attack tunnels and had played a role in the capture of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, in 2006. Barhoum was a senior Hamas operative in Rafah, the statement said.

A Palestinian policeman reacts as rescue workers search for victims under the rubble of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike that killed three senior Hamas military commanders, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 21, 2014. REUTERS-Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Abu Shamaleh was a confederate of Deif’s who was involved in planning and carrying out at least four major attacks on Israeli soldiers since the 1990s, including one in 2004 that killed four and wounded 10, the statement said.

Attar, it said, was responsible for orchestrating a series of complex attacks on Israeli targets, including through the Sinai Peninsula in neighboring Egypt.

“This morning’s strike sends a clear message to those responsible for planning attacks, we will strike those that have terrorized our communities, towns and cities, we will pursue the perpetrators of abduction of our soldiers and teenagers, and we will succeed in restoring security to the State of Israel,” said an Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

Palestinians inspect a house that witnesses said was destroyed during an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip August 21, 2014. REUTERS-Mohammed Salem

In addition to the Hamas operatives, three others were killed in the Rafah strike, including a resident of the house and two neighbors, according to Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

The neighbors were identified as Hassan and Amal Younis, the parents of Issam Younis, the director of Al Mezan, a leading human rights organization in Gaza.

Israeli tanks near the Gaza Strip, 21 August

Elsewhere in Gaza, at least six people, including four children and a 27-year-old man, were killed in three other airstrikes, according to al-Kidra.

Israel also hit at smuggling tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt and at agricultural lands west of Rafah in Thursday’s airstrikes.

The military said 18 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza since midnight Wednesday, compared to more than 210 over the previous 30 hours.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the press Wednesday, August 20, 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

An Israeli was seriously wounded when a mortar hit south of the southern city of Ashkelon on Thursday, it said.

In a nationally televised address Wednesday, Netanyahu showed little willingness to return to the negotiating table after six weeks of war with Hamas.

“We are determined to continue the campaign with all means and as is needed,” he said, his defense minister by his side. “We will not stop until we guarantee full security and quiet for the residents of the south and all citizens of Israel.”

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The Seeds 4 Life

Seeds of Inspiration, Wisdom, and Positivity

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