TRNN Middle East correspondent Yousef al-Helou says that Israel is punishing Gaza despite no evidence that shows Hamas was responsible for the deaths of the Israeli teenagers.
ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore. And here to give us an update on the situation in Gaza is Yousef al-Helou.
Yousef al-Helou is a Palestinian journalist and Middle East correspondent for The Real News Network.
Thanks for joining us, Yousef.
YOUSEF AL-HELOU, TRNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.
WORONCZUK: So, Yousef, can you give us an update on the latest events in Gaza right now after Israel launched about 34 airstrikes?
AL-HELOU: Well, Israel’s continued assault on Gaza, whether it’s in the West Bank or in the besieged Gaza Strip, is a prelude that could lead to a large military assault on Gaza. This is what people say here. People each night prepare themselves for more airstrikes. This has become the norm for the past three weeks, and it has an intensified last night with more than 30 air raids throughout the besieged territory.
And we were hearing threats made by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Gaza should bear the consequences, meaning, Hamas, which has been in control of Gaza for the past several years. We have been witnessing a rise in the threats against the Hamas-ruled Gaza, who actually struck a deal with the Palestinian Authority, and they started implementing the national unity deal. Obviously Israel is not happy with that unity deal, because Palestinian nationality is unity is Israel’s greatest fear. So we could witness more escalation on the part of Israel against Gaza, against the West Bank, and, of course, the resistance movements in Gaza. They say that they will not stay idle and all options are on the table. And, of course, they take Israel’s threats seriously. And they have [incompr.] to coordinate their response in case Israel decided to launch an assault on Gaza, whether it’s a ground invasion or to expand its military assault from the air or from the sea.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And it’s been about a day since Israel lifted the gag order on the press regarding the deaths of the three Israeli teenagers. And since then, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have been saying that Hamas is responsible for their deaths. What evidence is there for this thus far, and how has Hamas responded?
AL-HELOU: So far, none of the Palestinian groups have claimed responsibility, including Hamas. They said that they—I mean, they have denied responsibility, and they said that Israel does not need an excuse to attack the Palestinians. But, of course, this incident, after the discovery of the three bodies of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank near Hebron, of course is going to give a justification for the Israelis to attack Gaza or the West Bank.
But, I mean, according to analysts, they say that just this shows that Israel is trying to export its failure, it’s trying to export its internal problems by attacking Gaza. Gaza has no connection to the incident in the West Bank. I mean, the Palestinians of Gaza, they cannot go to the West Bank. And yet Israel blames Hamas in Gaza, and they arrested a number of Hamas lawmakers, they arrested a number of [incompr.] who were released in the prisoner exchange deal. And also they arrested journalists in the West Bank. They demolished houses. And they continued to, you know, gather and send armored vehicles along the border with Gaza. Gunships are battering the Mediterranean Sea of the seashores of Gaza. Drones do not leave the skies of Gaza. And, obviously, Israel is collectively punishing the Palestinians for this incident.
Now, ironically, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, more than 1,500 Palestinian children have been killed between the year 2000 and 2014. This means Israel is killing a Palestinian child each three days. And this is contradictory. I mean, Israel worried about its citizens, but about the Palestinian citizens? I mean, Israel is killing Palestinians every day imposing the siege and practicing all means of collective punishment. So this is the question that should be addressed. The Palestinian blood is not cheap.
WORONCZUK: Okay. Yousef al-Helou, TRNN correspondent for the Middle East. Thank you so much for that update.
AL-HELOU: Thank you.
WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.