electronic intifada

Is EU anti-Semitism chief motivated by Christian Zionism?
David Cronin, Electronic Intifada, Jun 11 2021

Christian Zionism is repugnant. Its adherents seek to excuse the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by claiming that is permitted by the Bible. As an ideology that excuses colonization is at odds with basic decency, there can be little surprise that some of its subscribers are unable or unwilling to defend their stance when challenged. Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Union’s coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, has dropped strong hints that she is a Christian Zionist. On occasions, she has spoken about how her support for Israel stems from her Protestant upbringing in a largely Catholic Bavaria. The church to which she belonged established contacts with Israel during the 1980s, she has stated.

Von Schnurbein is quite public about her support for Israel. Her support was evident on Friday 14 May. That evening, von Schnurbein tweeted:

There was no ambiguity about the position von Schnurbein was taking. She was clearly endorsing Israeli aggression. Israel had begun that week by opening fire on Palestinians in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque. Soon afterwards Israel launched its latest major attack on Gaza, an attack that was at full throttle when von Schnurbein sent her tweet. Despite how she is not shy in supporting Israel, von Schnurbein seems averse to critical scrutiny about what motivates that support. I emailed her a few days ago, asking simple questions:

Do you regard yourself as a Christian Zionist? And, if so, has your commitment to Christian Zionism influenced your work as the EU’s coordinator against anti-Semitism?

Von Schnurbein did not reply. But I did get a response from Christian Wigand, a spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive. Wigand said:

We will not accept the targeting of any Commission officials, including with allegations such as yours. The European Commission’s policies are not about personal opinions of any of our individual officials, but about political decisions and their implementation.

Von Schnurbein is not some defenseless civil servant subject to unfounded accusations, as Wigand implied. She has a much higher profile than most Brussels officials of similar rank. As a public figure with a salary paid out of the public purse, von Schnurbein’s activities are fair game for journalists. While von Schnurbein may not answer questions about her apparent commitment to Christian Zionism, it is a demonstrable fact that she cooperates with Christian Zionists. Earlier this year, she took part in an online conference hosted by the European Coalition for Israel. During it, von Schnurbein stressed that she had a “very long-standing relationship” with that group.

The European Coalition for Israel is the main Christian Zionist outifit lobbying the Brussels institutions. It frequently seeks to deceive. On 11 May, the group issued a statement praising Israel for its “moderation and self-restraint.” Palestinians may have struggled to find evidence of that “moderation and self-restraint.” Israel’s aforementioned attack on al-Aqsa mosque had taken place one day earlier. That was a blatant violation of Muslims’ right to worship during Ramadan. The European Coalition for Israel omitted that salient fact. Bizarrely, the group argued:

Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is the best guarantee for religious freedom.

The European Coalition for Israel is actually quite a small coalition. The EU’s register of lobbyists indicates that its membership consists of just two organizations. One of them, Christians for Israel International, aids settlement activities in the occupied West Bank. The building of settlements on territories Israel captured in 1967 are war crimes under international law. That means at least one of the member groups in the European Coalition for Israel abets war crimes. A document filed with the US revenue authorities shows that the European Coalition for Israel has itself received money from the Christian Broadcasting Network. That network is synonymous with its founder Pat Robertson, a promoter of anti-Muslim bigotry. The Christian Broadcasting Network funds young people from various countries who join Israel’s military, the same military that subjects Palestinians to a brutal occupation.

Given its murky connections, the European Coalition for Israel ought to be shunned by Brussels officials. Yet Katharina von Schnurbein seems happy to have a “very long-standing relationship” with this outfit. Since her appointment as the EU’s coordinator against anti-Semitism, von Schnurbein has repeatedly smeared Palestine solidarity campaigners by falsely alleging that they incite hatred against Jews. The first example of her resorting to such smears that I have found was during a speech she made to a 2016 conference organized by the European Coalition for Israel. Christian Zionism is a perversion of Christianity. Jesus of Nazareth championed the downtrodden. There is nothing in his teachings that provides any justification whatsoever for the oppression of Palestinians. Just as Israel does not represent all Jews, Christian Zionists do not represent all Christians. Nor do European Union officials represent the views of all Europeans. Katharina von Schnurbein has no mandate to act as a pro-Israel lobbyist within the Brussels bureaucracy. It is past time that she should be removed from her post.

Israel’s newly elected “centrist” president Isaac Herzog is a racist
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Jun 11 2021

Israeli parliamentarians last week elected a new president for the country: failed Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. The Israeli presidency is largely a ceremonial post. Herzog takes office in July. But it is significant that the new head of state has a record of violence and racism and has supported all of Israel’s wars against the Palestinian people. He is an anti-Arab racist, a proud former officer in a notorious Israeli spy agency and has spoken forcefully against Jews marrying non-Jews. Israel’s incoming far, right prime minister Naftali Bennett welcomed Herzog’s appointment, calling him “a Zionist with a big heart.” During his failed 2015 campaign to be prime minister, Herzog’s electoral list ran an ad in which Palestinians and Arabs are dehumanized, stereotyped and viewed as valid targets for killing. As the ad explains, Herzog is a veteran of Israel’s notorious Unit 8200 spy agency. Part of Israel’s military intelligence, Unit 8200 is known for mass surveillance, blackmail and violence targeting the entire Palestinian population. You can watch the full Herzog ad, with English subtitles, in the video above. Herzog’s 2015 election ad consisted of a series of short interviews with his former accomplices from Unit 8200 heaping praise on him. Yuval Albashan, one of his former comrades, says of Herzog:

He understands the Arab mentality. He saw the Arabs in many different circumstances. He saw them through the sight of a rifle, and he saw them behind the sight of a rifle.

As Albashan speaks, the ad cuts to footage of nonviolent Arab protesters. The crosshairs of a gunsight appears over a visibly Muslim man at the center of the crowd, implying that he’s a valid target for killing. These images do not even appear to be from Palestine or of Palestinians at all. From a protest banner visible in the video, the footage appears to be of a demonstration, possibly in Egypt or Tunisia, in the context of the Arab Spring. Herzog’s use of these images reinforces the racist message that all Arabs and Muslims are indistinguishable and equally worthy of killing. This is reminiscent of how incoming prime minister Bennett recently used an image from Pakistan in a video justifying Israel’s killing of civilians in Gaza. The imagery and claims about an “Arab mentality” in Herzog’s ad reflect classical racist and colonialist thinking, as if hundreds of millions of Arabs can be reduced to a stereotype that can be decoded by a supposed expert such as Herzog.

Anyone unwilling to see just how racist that terminology is should consider what the response would be to a politician anywhere claiming to “understand the Jewish mentality” or boasting of seeing “the Jews” through “the sight of a rifle.” In 2014, whistleblowers from Unit 8200 revealed new details on its all-encompassing snooping operation, which intrudes on every aspect of life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. One of the details revealed by several of the whistleblowers was that it was common practice in the unit to mark an X on their headsets every time intelligence they provided was successfully used to kill a Palestinian. This was known as “blood on the headset.” How much Palestinian blood does Israel’s new president have on his headset? As appalling as this sounds, such violent behavior is judged to be a vote winner in Israel.

The ad was produced by the Zionist Union, an electoral alliance between Herzog’s Labor Party and former Likud minister and Israeli war-crimes fugitive Tzipi Livni. After Herzog lost that election to right-wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the conclusion the Labor leader reached was that his party had not been racist or violent enough. The following year he told a meeting of the dwindling Labor Party faithful his view: The problem was that Israeli voters had seen them as “Arab lovers,” something they should avoid, he argued. In the lead up to the 2015 election Herzog had also tried to appeal to the right by changing his previous position and voting to expel Eritrean asylum seekers. Calling them “infiltrators from Africa,” after the election Herzog even tried to outflank Netanyahu from the right, claiming his government was “only good at talking” about sending them back. But for Israel’s supporters in the West, Herzog’s racist record poses no problem. British pro-Israel lobby group the Jewish Labour Movement wished Herzog an enthusiastic congratulations:

Right-wing former UK Labour MP Mike Gapes claimed Herzog was “a man of experience, moderation and integrity” and reminisced about the time in 2017 when Herzog led him and other British Labour lawmakers in a tour around Israel’s parliament. Around this time, when Jeremy Corbyn led the UK Labour Party, Herzog’s Israeli Labor Party was involved in constant efforts to overthrow and smear the British leader as “anti-Semitic.” Douglas Alexander, a former Labour minister under Tony Blair, similarly gushed about Herzog’s “experience, integrity and authority.” While Michael Dugher, another prominent right-wing Labour ex-lawmaker, was even more fawning about Herzog’s “big political brain.” To these people, it seems, Arabs are less than human.

Herzog’s bigoted hatreds are not confined to Palestinians and other Arabs. In 2018, soon after he was replaced as Labor leader and was appointed head of Israel’s Jewish Agency, Herzog stated in Hebrew on national TV that there was “an actual plague” of Jewish people in the US who were “married or coupled with non-Jewish partners” and that this situation needs “a campaign, a solution” to combat. Journalist David Sheen, who first exposed Herzog’s comments in English, responded that this was more evidence showing how Israel’s so-called “centrist” parties are just as racist as its far-right ones.

Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz commented that Herzog was spreading “the exact same message” as Israel’s Jewish extremist far-right, but doing so with a different presentation style, “in a much calmer manner.” Herzog’s initial response to David Sheen’s exposure of his hateful rhetoric was to claim that the initial report in a Hebrew newspaper was “a misquote.” But footage soon emerged of the actual TV clip, which showed the initial report had quoted him correctly. Herzog later defended his comments in English to The Forward. He euphemistically stated that “the discourse on interfaith relations is different in Israel.” True enough, though besides the point. His Irish father Chaim Herzog chose to settle in British-occupied Palestine in 1935. Joining the leading Zionist militia, he helped British imperial forces put down the Palestinian uprising between 1936 and 1939, known as the Arab revolt. In 1967 when Israel invaded and occupied the remainder of historic Palestine, Chaim Herzog was appointed Israel’s first military governor of the West Bank. Herzog senior was later appointed head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, the same spy agency his son would ultimately join as an officer in its signals branch, Unit 8200. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Chaim Herzog served as Israel’s sixth president. Allegedly left-wing Zionist organizations in the West today have criticized modern-day right-wing Israeli groups like Lehava, which violently campaign against mixed marriages. But the same groups seem to have nothing to say when supposedly left-wing Israeli leaders like Isaac Herzog promote the exact same racist ideas.

Al-Wihda street massacre
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Jun 12 2021

Palestinians in the rubble of al-Wihda street, 16 May.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills

Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Gaza in May left the coastal enclave in ruins … once again. More than 250 Palestinians were killed, including at least 67 children. About half of those killed were civilians, according to UN OCHA, and 245 of them were killed by Israeli fire. Some were killed as a result of rockets fired from Gaza that fell short. Multiple generations of multiple Palestinian families were in some cases almost completely wiped out. Fourteen families lost three or more members in a single attack, while 19 families lost two or more members. In some instances, only one member of a nuclear family survived. In one case, 21 members of the same family were killed. On 16 May, Israel’s offensive on Gaza had entered its seventh day. Just after midnight, Israeli warplanes began bombing two residential buildings and the surrounding area on two parallel roads, al-Wihda street and the Egyptian Embassy street, in central Gaza City. For about an hour, bombs rained down on the area. The homes eventually collapsed on the families living there. With surrounding streets severely damaged, it was difficult for ambulances from the nearby al-Shifa hospital to reach the site of the bombing. Palestinian rescue teams spent days pulling bodies from under the rubble, dead and alive. It was “one of the most horrific crimes” of Israel’s 11-day massacre in Gaza during May, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said at the time. At least 44 Palestinians, including 18 children, were killed in the 16 May massacre on al-Wihda street. Multiple generations of multiple families were obliterated. Here are some of their stories.

Ishkintna family, five members killed

Riyad and Suzie

Riyad Ishkintna survived against all odds. He was stuck for hours under a slab of concrete of what used to be his home, but which had been reduced completely to rubble. Riyad was watching television in his living room and his wife was tucking their children into bed when Israeli warplanes began to fire missiles at their neighborhood. The family had moved to the building because its inhabitants were “doctors, respectable people and educated people” who “don’t have any weapons,” he told Turkish satellite channel TRT World. His home, which he described as a place of “comfort” and “safety,” was targeted by Israeli missiles, killing almost every single member of his nuclear family. He was rescued from the rubble by a team of medics and volunteers hours after the blast and emerged covered in bloodstains and dust and missing a finger. Still, he emerged holding a victory sign. In the following hours, he slowly learned that all but one member of his nuclear family had been killed in the Israeli air raid. Doctors tried to withhold the truth as long as possible to ease the shock. His wife, 29-year-old Abir Ishkintna and their children Dana, 9, Lana, 5, Yahya, 4 and 2-year-old Zein, had all been killed. He told the AP:

I was listening to their voices beneath the rubble. I heard Dana and Zein calling, ‘Dad! Dad!’ before their voices faded and then I realized they had died. I learned about their deaths one after another.

Riyad’s 7-year-old daughter Suzie Ishkintna was pulled out of the rubble alive. Riyad told TRT World’s camera, with Suzie sitting quietly next to him before the rubble of their destroyed home:

This daughter is the only survivor. The only one of my children rescued alive from under the rubble. I buried my children and my wife here.

The four Ishkintna children who were killed in the 16 May massacre. From the left, Dana, 9, Lana, 4, Yahya, 4, and their 2-year-old brother Zein.

Dana, his 9-year-old daughter killed in the strike, was one of 11 children killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza in May who received care for past trauma they’ve endured as part of a psychological health program run by the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian body. The group’s secretary general Jan Egeland said:

They are now gone, killed with their families, buried with their dreams and the nightmares that haunted them.

AP reported that Suzie “hardly speaks or eats.” Doctors said she is severely traumatized and shocked, and has entered into a deep depression. Riyad told TRT World:

I pray that I will live a good life with my only daughter, create a happy future for her, help her pursue the dreams of her brothers and sisters who are buried beneath the ground. I will do my best to help her with even the simplest things, because she is the only person left for me in this world.

Al-Qawlaq family, 21 members killed

Multiple generations of the al-Qawlaq family, at least 21 people, were also killed in the same attack early that fateful 16 May morning. The youngest, Qusay Sameh al-Qawlaq, was just 6 months old. The oldest was 90-year-old Amin Muhammad al-Qawlaq. Eight children of the al-Qawlaq family were killed in the strikes. Four of them were also receiving psychological treatment for trauma they’ve experienced in the past. Rula Muhammad al-Qawlaq, 5, and her older sisters, Yara, 9, and Hala, 12, were in the program, as well as their 14-year-old relative Hana Shukri al-Qawlaq. The kindergarten in Gaza City that Rula al-Qawlaq and her neighbor Lana Ishkintna attended mourned the girls in a Facebook post. Three-year-old Adam Izzat al-Qawlaq, Zeid Izzat al-Qawlaq, 8 and Ahmad Shukri al-Qawlaq, 15, were the other children killed in the attack. Other members of the family who perished:

  • Ayat Ibrahim al-Qawlaq, 19
  • Abd al-Hamid Fawaz al-Qawlaq, 22
  • Taher Shukri al-Qawlaq, 23
  • Sameh Fawaz al-Qawlaq, 28
  • Riham Fawaz al-Qawlaq, 32
  • Doa Omar al-Qawlaq, 38
  • Muhammad Muin al-Qawlaq, 41
  • Amal Jamil al-Qawlaq, 42
  • Izzat Muin al-Qawlaq, 44
  • Baha Amin al-Qawlaq, 48
  • Fawaz Amin al-Qawlaq, 62
  • Saadiya Yusef al-Qawlaq, 84

al-Ifranji family, five members killed

Four al-Ifranji siblings were killed in the al-Wihda street massacre. The children were Dima Rami al-Ifranji, 15, and her three siblings 13-year-old Yazan, 11-year-old Mira and Amir, aged 9.

The al-Ifranji children killed in the 16 May massacre. From left to right, Dima, 15, Yazan, 13, Mira, 11 and 9-year-old Amir.

Dima and Mira were also receiving therapy for trauma endured in the past. Forty-one-year-old Raja Subhi al-Ifranji also died in the same attack.

Abu al-Ouf family, ten members killed

The al-Wihda street massacre claimed several generations of the Abu al-Ouf family. Dr Ayman Tawfiq Abu al-Ouf, head of internal medicine at al-Shifa hospital, died along with his wife Reem Ahmad Abu al-Ouf, 40, and their children Tala, 13, and Tawfiq, 17. Dr Ayman had left the al-Shifa hospital that night after a long shift of overseeing COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit. He returned to his workplace as another casualty of Israel’s violence just hours later, his colleague told The Electronic Intifada. Subhiya Ismail Abu al-Ouf, 73, and her brother 79-year-old Tawfiq Ismail Abu al-Ouf were also killed in the blast, along with 82-year-old Majdiya Khalil Abu al-Ouf. Sisters Shayma Alaa Abu al-Ouf, 21 and Rawan Alaa Abu al-Ouf, 19 were also killed in the blast. Their mother, Diana Ziyad al-Yaziji, succumbed to her wounds weeks later. Haya Abu al-Ouf, who lost ten relatives in the massacre, told local media:

What we’re feeling is indescribable. Words do not suffice. Gather us in one spot and bomb us all at once. But this, what you’re doing to us is torture. It’s inhuman. The psychological war we are experiencing won’t be resolved with a lifetime of therapy.

Muin Ahmad al-Alul, 66, another doctor and a colleague of Dr Ayman, also died in the same attack. His wife and daughter survived the bombing. Two other men, Luay Muhammad Odeh, 54 and Hazim Adel al-Qame, 48, were killed as well.

Families obliterated, lives destroyed
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Jun 12 2021

A girl walks among the ruins of Israel’s destruction in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, on 21 May.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills

Israel obliterated whole families in their homes during its 11-day attack on Gaza in May, some removed entirely from the population registry. Parents and children, cousins and siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles were killed together when Israeli warplanes bombed residential buildings and private homes without warning the families inside. Killing multiple members of multiple families has become a hallmark of Israeli wars on Gaza and has led to Palestinians there resurrecting some grizzly traditions. Twitter user Muhammad Qudaih wrote amidst the assault:

People in Gaza have been reviving an old tradition in which some families exchange their kids, so that in case some get bombed, the others would live. My family is spread out over three houses in three different locations as if they’re trying to avert a massacre.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, more than 140 Palestinian families lost at least three members in a single attack. Amira Hass of Haaretz wrote in May:

The numerous incidents then and today attest that these were not mistakes. The Palestinian population registry, including that of Gaza, is in the hands of the Israeli interior ministry, which includes the names, ages and addresses of Palestinians living in Gaza. The fact that the Israeli army and Israel’s domestic spy agency call some Palestinian building owners before they bomb them shows that the army knows the number and names of children, women and elderly who live in every residential building it bombs for any reason, and that it has current phone numbers for people in each structure slated for destruction. But they only call some owners.

Abu Hatab family, five members killed, and al-Hadidi family, five members killed

Mourners attend the funeral of the al-Hatab and al-Hadidi families at Beach refugee camp on 15 May.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills

Maha Muhammad Abu Hatab was visiting her brother Alaa Muhammad Abu Hatab’s house for Eid on 15 May when it was hit with three Israeli missiles, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza. There was no warning. Muhammad al-Hadidi said of his wife Maha and their children:

My wife and kids went to share the Eid blessings with her brother. They got dressed and went to her brother’s house, innocent children.

The attack, at 1:30 in the morning, killed Maha and her children, as well as Alaa’s wife and children. Maha was 34. Her children Suhayb al-Hadidi was 12, Abd al-Rahman, 7, and their brother Osama was 5. Their 10-year-old brother Yahya was later also confirmed killed in the attack. Their cousins Yousif Abu Hatab, 10, and his siblings 9-year-old Bilal, 7-year-old Mariam and 5-year-old Yamen were all killed in the strike. Their mother, Yasmine Muhammad Abu Hatab, 30, was also killed. Only Muhammad al-Hadidi’s 5-month old son Omar survived the blast.

Muhammad al-Hadidi comforts his infant child Omar at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital on 15 May.
Photo: Atia Darwish/APA images

Al-Tanani family, six members killed, al-Madhoun family, two members killed

In the early hours of 13 May, Israeli warplanes dropped 20 missiles on a densely populated neighborhood in Beit Lahiya. The blast killed six members of the al-Tanani family. Rafat Muhammad Ismail al-Tanani and his wife Rawiya Fathi al-Tanani were killed along with four of their children. Ismail, 7, Amir, 6, Adham 4 and their 2-year-old brother Ahmad were all killed in the attack, according to Defense for Children International Palestine. A seventh member of the family is still missing, DCIP reported. The same blast killed the wife and husband who owned the building where the al-Tanani family was renting their home: Abd al-Rahim Muhammad al-Madhoun, 63, and his wife, Halima Ali Abu Sharakh, 66. Stores, lawyers offices, an education center and nine houses were completely destroyed in the strikes. Nearby streets were also destroyed, along with water pipes and sewer systems, as well as telephone lines and electricity.

Al-Sharir family, four members killed

An Israeli missile hit a two-story residential building in al-Manara neighborhood in Gaza City on the second day of Israel’s onslaught, killing Iyad Fathi Sharir, 44, and his 40-year-old wife Layali Taha Sharir. Their 15-year-old daughter Lina Iyad Sharir was also killed in the blast. After being hospitalized with severe burns after the strike, their 2-year-old daughter Mina Iyad Sharir nearly survived the strikes on 11 May. But the toddler died from her wounds a week later on 18 May, joining her parents and sister in death.

Mina Sharir succumbed to her wounds on 18 May. (DCIP)

Al-Attar family, four members killed

On 14 May, Israeli warplanes dropped two missiles on agricultural land near a home in Beit Lahiya, killing three children and their mother. Islam Muhammad al-Attar, 8, his 6-year-old sister Amira Muhammad al-Attar and their infant brother Muhammad Zain al-Din Muhammad al-Attar were all killed in the attack. Their 26-year-old mother Lamia was also killed. The family was on the ground floor of their home, according to DCIP, and a concrete pillar fell on them. Their bodies were pulled from under the rubble hours after the attack.

Lamia al-Attar and her three children. (Amnesty International)

Lamia’s father, a civil defense officer, told Amnesty International that he arrived at the scene with an ambulance and a rescue team after a relative called and told him of the attack. Hasan al-Attar told Amnesty:

I went to the three-story house, where 20 people live, and I tried to find someone, but I couldn’t. Then the rescue team came to help and eventually found my daughter, a mother of three, with her children, one of them a baby, under one of the pillars of the house. They were all dead. It seems the rest of the residents managed to escape the bombing and reached the hospital. I was shocked.

Al-Talbani family, three members killed

In the early hours of 12 May, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at a five-story apartment building in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City, killing at least five Palestinians. Reem Saad Kamel Saad, 31, a pregnant mother, was killed alongside her 5-year-old son Zaid Muhammad al-Talbani. Her toddler Mariam Muhammad al-Talbani’s remains were only found the day a ceasefire was declared. Miranda Cleland of DCIP wrote on Twitter:

The Israeli attack on Mariam’s home was so huge and violent, and she was so tiny, that it took nine full days to find her body under the rubble.

The children’s father, Muhammad Odeh al-Talbani, was reportedly injured. Three others were killed in the same attack: Wael Abd al-Karim Issi, 40, Muhammad Hasan al-Qahwaji, 43, and Hala Hussein al-Rifi, who was 13 years old.

Salha family, three members killed

Iyad Abd’ul-Fattah Salha was home with his wife and toddler one afternoon when an Israeli missile struck on 19 May, killing them all. Salha was disabled and used a wheelchair. His wife Amany Yusef Imhawish was eight-months pregnant. Their toddler daughter Nagham Iyad Salha was killed along with them. It remains unclear “whether the missile was fired by an Israeli warplane or a weaponized aerial drone,” according to DCIP.

Iyad Abd’ul-Fattah Salha with his daughter Nagham.

Gaza father tried to console his children, then Israel killed him
Tamara Nassar, Electronic Intifada, Jun 12 2021

When Israel began bombing Gaza earlier this month, Ahmad al-Mansi struggled to console his fearful children. Hala, Sarah and Malek featured regularly on a YouTube channel run by their father, titled “Sarah and Hala the stars,” which currently has over 280,000 subscribers. The children create all kinds of videos with their father, such as filming a family barbecue, hanging Ramadan decorations, playing pranks on each other or completing challenges. In the last days of Ramadan, the three children bought clothes for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday and modeled them for their online following. al-Mansi says in another video he posted on 12 May:

On Eid day, we usually dress up in the morning, pray and then visit our relatives to share the blessings of the holiday. This won’t happen in Gaza. Why? Because there is fear in the streets.

This marked the third day of Israel’s offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Malek, Sarah and Hala lost their father Ahmad al-Mansi to Israeli airstrikes.

In the video, al-Mansi goes to the market and buys candy, toys and snacks for his children to try to comfort them and distract them from the sound of Israel’s shelling. He gets each of them their favorite pack of chips and a fishing toy for the girls. Even as they play with their new toys, they seem anxious and distracted by the sounds of warplanes flying above and missiles falling around them. The video ends with the children running for cover under pillows and into their father’s arms after the sound of a warplane is heard close by. That video would be his last. Two days later, just before midnight, Israeli warplanes dropped missiles at their neighborhood in Qalibo Hill, east of Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza. A missile dropped in the family house’s garden, killing Ahmad al-Mansi and his brother Yousif al-Mansi. Their neighbor, Ahmad Muhammad Sabbah, 28, was also killed. Ahmad al-Mansi was reportedly a member with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Two days before he was killed, he had asked his wife, Nesma, to move to her father’s house with their three children to be safer, Hamza Abu Eltarabesh reported to The Electronic Intifada. His brother, Palestinian photojournalist Muhammad al-Mansi, said he was “documenting Israel’s crimes” at the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza when he recognized his brothers among the dead. Muhammad al-Mansi’s wife had miscarried some days earlier because of anxiety caused by Israel’s bombing, he wrote in a prior post on Instagram. Hala, Sarah and Malek, now paternal orphans, posted a video on their channel mourning their father and saying he loved Jerusalem and had always wanted to visit it. Another video posted by their uncle last month shows Hala and Malek trying to smile and pray for their father. Sarah, a little older and more aware than her siblings, is clearly struggling to conceal her grief.

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