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Ear to the Ground

Celebration and Exasperation on Deadliest Day of Gaza Fighting

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Posted on Jul 20, 2014

    Smoke rises after an Israeli missile hit a neighborhood in Gaza City on Sunday. Photo by AP/Adel Hana

As reports appear of some Israelis gathering on hillsides to watch and cheer the military strikes on Gaza, Secretary of State John Kerry is said to have expressed frustration with the operation in comments intended only for an aide.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported that 87 Palestinians were killed Sunday. The Israeli military said 13 soldiers were dead.

The Guardian said of the reveling Israelis:

Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. On one hilltop, a swing has been attached to the branches of a pine tree, allowing its occupant to sway gently in the breeze. Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks.

On Saturday, a group of men huddle around a shisha pipe. Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.

Despite reports that millions of Israelis are living in terror of Hamas rockets, they don’t deter these hilltop war watchers whose proximity to Gaza puts them within range of the most rudimentary missiles. Some bring their children.

Kerry apparently criticized Israel’s claims about the precision of its attacks on Gaza. The frustrated remark was caught by an open microphone ahead of an interview with Fox News:

“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry, who was appearing on Fox News Sunday as part of a tour of all five main US talkshows, said to an aide on the phone, in a frustrated tone.

Israel has launched air strikes, artillery fire and a ground operation in Gaza. According to health officials in the Palestinian territory, 340 people have been killed, nearly 2,400 wounded and tens of thousands displaced in 12 days of fighting.

Ahead of his interview with Fox News Sunday, Kerry said: “We’ve got to get over there. Thank you, John. I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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