Did an Israeli Sniper Kill an Unarmed Man in Gaza?



Salem Shamaly was just one of the many who was killed during the recent conflict in Gaza.
But his death was captured on video and the images of him dying in the rubble of the bombed out neighborhood of Shujaya were posted online, sparking a heated debate about whether the unarmed man, looking for his relatives in the ruins, was shot by an Israeli sniper. If so, it could constitute a war crime.
Known to some as "the man in the green shirt," the 23-year-old Palestinian was killed on July 20.
I recently went back with a television crew from Channel 4 News to investigate his death.

Did an Israeli Sniper Kill an Unarmed Man in Gaza? by talkingpointsmemo
Shamaly had been with a group of people from the International Solidarity Movement at the time of his death and I sought out the activists so I could retrace his last steps.



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Destroyed houses in Shujayah
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Clambering over scattered concrete blocks strewn with discarded shoes, chunks of broken furniture and scraps of clothing we navigated our way cautiously through the wasteland. Mindful of the dangers of unexploded ordinance, we tiptoed through the ruins of pulverized homes, pushing aside tangles of electric cabling, slung across our path.
To reach the place where Shamaly was killed, we had to traverse several blocks where the entire facades of buildings had been sliced off. It was like peering inside giant dolls houses with exposed bathroom fittings and dust-filled front rooms where neatly arranged armchairs and televisions sets had been abandoned in an instant.



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Man sits in destroyed home, Shujayah
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Inside one crushed home, a disconsolate man was slumped, oblivious to a chunk of concrete dangling precariously above his head, his eyes scouring his ruined home in a daze. A few houses further up, a woman sat solemnly, staring out from a mountainous pile of rubble that was once a home.
During the fighting, bodies were buried in the rubble of Shujayah and although corpses had now been retrieved, a pungent stench of death still hung over the neighborhood.



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Destruction in Shujayah
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

We eventually stopped by another collapsed building where a tattered Palestinian flag fluttered from the roof. Pointing toward a layer of pulverized debris a few feet away from where we stood, we were told that this was where Shamaly was fatally shot dead.
It was a Gaza-based activist, Mohammed Abedullah, who captured Shamaly’s death on his phone.
He told me he had first met Shamaly during the ceasefire that day and had agreed to help him try to find his relatives in the Shajayah neighborhood, which had been pummeled by a heavy Israeli bombardment.



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Destruction in Shujayah

In the video Shamaly can be seen helping injured civilians while also trying to locate his own relatives, calling out their names but getting no response. The video shows no sign of anyone in the surrounding houses or the streets - nor is there any sign of any Israeli soldiers or military activity, except for the sounds of drones above them.
“So we thought [the Israelis] can see us and we are in the middle of a ceasefire so nothing should happen,” Mohammed told me as he recalled that day. “We’re coming here to help people — that was it.”

Did an Israeli Sniper Kill an Unarmed Man in Gaza by talkingpointsmemo
Surveying the scene, I wanted to recreate Shamaly’s last moments to understand what had happened.
The activists, who had been with Shamaly when he was shot, told me that they had been walking past an alleyway when the first of four shots suddenly rang out.
The group was immediately split in two, with Shamaly, Mohammed and a British activist named Rina Andolini on one side of the alleyway and two Swedish and an American activist on the other. In the video Rina can be heard saying: “I am now scared.”
The activists recalled how Shamaly went into a nearby building to search for injured relatives; when he stepped back into the alleyway again, he was shot.



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Mohamed pointing to place where Shamaly was shot
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

The activists say Shamaly was hit first in the left thigh by a shot fired from nearby. The moment is not caught on camera but they told me that Shamaly fell backwards, onto the ground.
When the video begins again, it is clear that he has been injured and is struggling to get up. “He tried to make movement to get up, basically, and then the third shot was fired,” Rina recalled.
In the video, another shot can be heard after which Shamaly slumps back, lifeless to the ground. “There was no need,” Rina told me. “He was on the ground. He was not a threat at all.”



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View from where Shamaly was shot to the house he may have been shot from
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Looking up from the position in the rubble where Shamaly was shot, we noticed a house that had a clear view of the alleyway. We could see that a spraypainted cross on the wall and were told by locals that Israeli soldiers had marked the house after occupying it.
We went over to have a look. A young man named Hatem showed me inside the house where rooms had been trashed and Hebrew graffiti covered the walls. Sandbags were still piled by the windows from which one had a clear view of the area.



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View of wide area neighbourhood from House occupied by Israeli soldiers - looking towards where
Salem Shamaly was shot
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Looking at where we had just been standing by the alleyway, it was immediately apparent that anyone shooting from this building would have had a clear line of fire to where Shamaly was shot.



sniper-position

Hole punched into a wall indicated what could have served as a sniper position.
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Hatem showed me what he believed to be a sniper's position: a hole had been punched through the wall, just above the floor. He lay down on the floor to show me how a soldier might have positioned himself. Peering through the hole in the wall, there was a clear view. Bullet casings were scattered all around the floor near the hole as well as by all the front windows.



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Bullet casings on floor near the window and hole in the wall.
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Hatem also showed me around the house next door. It, too, was badly damaged and around the rooms there was evidence of the presence of Israeli soldiers, including discarded uniforms.



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Stars of David graffitied on the wall of the house seemingly occupied by Israeli soldiers.

On one wall, the words "Long Live Israel!" were scrawled alongside a Star of David. There were also graffitied instructions to urinate in the stairwell. On other wall there were maps of the area, which designated the houses in the area and the house that the soldiers had been occupying.
After going through the house, we went to meet Mohammed al Qatawi, Shamaly’s cousin, who is trying to bring together evidence for a war crimes case.



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Map on wall of house occupied by Israeli soldiers
IMAGE: INIGO GILMORE

Qatawi showed me pictures he took of Shamaly’s badly decomposed body. The corpse couldn’t be retrieved from the rubble until six days after the shooting because of ongoing fighting. Qatawi sought to get access to his cousin’s body and took the pictures because he thought it would be important evidence.
Even though the body was in a very bad state, a bullet entry wound in the left thigh is clearly visible, conforming to what the activists told me about the first bullet hitting Shamaly in the thigh.
An Israeli activist has told Channel 4 News that he has gathered testimony from three Israeli soldiers who said they witnessed Shamaly's killing. “They were completely convinced that what they did was wrong,” the Israeli activist, Eran Efrati, said. “They were guilty. The man in the green shirt was not any threat to their lives.”
Qatawi has already met with an investigator from the United Nations and Shamaly’s family is keen to take the case forward. Officials from the United Nations and human rights groups say actions by both Israel and Hamas could be prosecuted as war crimes. But there have been few successful prosecutions since the International Criminal Court was founded in 2002, and neither Israel or the Palestinians are parties to the court.
Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, told Channel 4 news that anyone who has information about the shooting of Shamaly should come forward. “Obviously if there are allegations of misbehavior by Israeli soldiers, they must be investigated.”
Inigo Gilmore (@InigoGilmore) is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who has reported widely in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He first visited Gaza in 2001. He has won a Royal Television Society award and has twice been nominated for an Amnesty Award. He frequently reports for Channel 4 News. Watch his reportage from Gaza here.


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Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine; Kiev Calls It a 'Direct Invasion'



The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.
KIEV, Ukraine — Russia has sent scores of trucks carrying humanitarian aid through a rebel-controlled border crossing into war-torn eastern Ukraine in a move Kiev authorities have called “a direct invasion.”
“We call that a direct invasion. Under the cynical cover of the Red Cross these are military vehicles with cover documents,” the chief of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, told reporters on Friday.
Ukraine had said previously that the aid convoy entering the country without its consent would be considered an act of aggression.

Moscow made the decision after the trucks sat idle in a customs inspection zone at the Russian-Ukrainian border for more than a week while awaiting permission from Kiev to enter the country.
Ukrainian officials feared that the convoy, comprised of some 270 Kamaz military trucks covered in white tarpaulin, was a Trojan horse sent by Moscow to transport arms and reinforcements to Kremlin-backed rebels who have fought pitched battles against government forces for more than four months.
But there was no dispute that at least some of the trucks carried humanitarian aid. Ukrainian border guards and customs officers cleared 34 of the trucks on Thursday, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service said Friday.

“The total weight of the cargo is over 260,000 kilos. It’s composed of cereals, salt and water,” the border service reported. Two of the 34 trucks were carrying medication, it said.

But Russia on Friday grew tired of waiting for the final green light to move the trucks into Ukraine, with the foreign ministry saying in a strongly worded statement that it was weary of “intolerable” delays and an increasing amount of “new and artificial demands and pretexts, which is turning into a mockery.”

So it “decided to act,” sending in the trucks without permission from Ukraine or the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which had been tasked with inspecting and accompanying the convoy to the besieged city of Luhansk.
New York Times journalist on the scene, Andrew Roth, said the entire convoy had made its way into Ukraine shortly after 3 p.m. local time on Friday.

Ukrainian border guards were not present on the Ukraine side to receive the aid, "only rebels in front," Roth said.

The convoy is en route to the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. The separatist stronghold has been without power, telecommunications and running water for 20 days, after shells pounded the city and destroyed much of its infrastructure.

Food is also scarce in the city, as stores sell off the last of their goods. Some of the several hundreds of thousands of residents who managed to flee Luhansk, a city with a pre-war population of about 450,000, have given harrowing accounts of life amid constant fighting.

Residents wait for hours in line each day to fill their buckets at one of the few water trucks. Some, however, opt to fill their pails in local streams. Many spend a considerable amount of time in dank basements to protect themselves from exploding projectiles.

The ICRC said in a statement on Twitter that it is not escorting the convoy due to security concerns and, specifically, reports of “heavy shelling overnight.”

“The Russian Aid Convoy is moving into Ukraine, but we are not escorting it due to the volatile security situation,” said the ICRC. “We’ve not received sufficient security guarantees from the fighting parties.”

Shortly after entering Ukraine at the border town of Izvaryne, the convoy turned off the main road to Luhansk and cut north onto a country road and parked in the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, the AP reported. That route also leads to Luhansk, potentially bypassing areas controlled by Ukrainian troops.

The New York Times reporter also following the convoy reported it had turned back at Krasnodon, a city southeast of Luhansk.

With the trucks trundling toward Luhansk, and Ukraine calling the move an “invasion,” many fear provocations against the convoy, which could potentially spark an all-out war between Russia and Ukraine.

“We are warning against any attempts to sabotage this purely humanitarian mission, which was prepared a long time ago, in an atmosphere of full transparency and in cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Kiev, meanwhile, said that “all responsibility” rests with the Russian side. “Not with the terrorists, but specifically the Russian side, because this is their decision," Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry also accused the "terrorists" — its term for the pro-Russian separatists — of "shelling the convoy’s possible route with mortars." That could not be confirmed, but the belief in Kiev is that rebels could blame Ukrainian troops for any attack on the convoy in order to provoke a Russian military response.


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Sony May Be Releasing Perfume Bottle Selfie Camera



Taking a selfie is almost an art form nowadays — but one electronics company may make it a thing of beauty.
Images that surfaced on Asian social media site Weibo this week allegedly show a Sony camera shaped like a perfume bottle, sparking rumors that the company could launch it in Asian markets soon. Even stranger than the shape, it seems the camera is specifically for selfie-taking.
Below are two photos posted on Weibo that supposedly show the camera:


Girl taking selfie with perfume camera


Sony has not confirmed whether the images are real. A spokesperson told Mash that the company does not comment on speculation.


perfume bottle selfie


Also adding to the buzz is the fact that Sony released a new camera this week that's able to create the "perfect selfie," with the help of its 180-degree tilt feature.
Although the perfume-inspired move may sound strange, smartphone cases that shaped like perfume bottles are already popular in Asia, and perhaps Sony is looking to capitalize on the trend.


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Old Coders: When Programming Is a Second Career



"Sometimes writing software can be great fun -- like solving a super-complicated puzzle. Other times it is horrible," Tim Regan, a programmer and researcher at Microsoft's Cambridge lab, writes on his Flickr page.
Liz Beigle-Bryant took her first programming class, BASIC, in 1973. At the time, computers were part of the math departments instead of the engineering departments, she recalls. And because she had a background in family art, everyone at her high school discouraged her from doing so.
Beigle-Bryant, now 57, didn't revisit coding again until a couple of years ago, when she signed up for Codecademy's free online tutorials. Though there was no immediate payoff, she found learning the skill helped ease the inevitable discouragement that comes during a job hunt.
"I felt like I was accomplishing something instead of wasting time on Facebook or [playing] phone games," she says. "It helped me feel better about myself so I could project a better image."
In 2011, Beigle-Bryant was part of a round of layoffs at Microsoft, where she had worked as an administrative assistant. That career path was, by her estimate, her fourth one. Others included a job as a costume designer on the short-lived series Hypernauts in 1996, which at least got her a mention on IMBD.
In her mid-50s, Beigle-Bryant decided on a fifth career. During her unemployed period, she spent up to eight hours a day on Codecademy learning HTML and, later, Python. Eventually, she accrued the skills to land a job at the University of Washington (where she has held various roles, including migrating data), though she wound up falling back on her business administration background. Though it wasn't exactly what she had in mind, Beigle-Bryant says she's thankful. "As you get older, you're an expensive commodity [to an employer]."

Liz Beigle-Bryant

Liz Beigle-Bryant
IMAGE: LIZ BEIGLE-BRYANT

Faced with similar situations of unemployment, many bemoan their fates and even give up looking for work. Others, like Beigle-Bryant, learn new skills such as programming to make themselves more attractive job candidates.
Consider the stats: The U.S. unemployment rate in July was 6.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate for programmers, meanwhile, is 1.3%, and the segment is projected to grow 8% over the next decade or so. Some recruiters believe there are as many as five jobs open for every applicant. As a result, the median salary for a programmer is $76,140, versus a median of $46,440 for all jobs.

The shortage of qualified applicants has led employers to lower their standards. A computer science degree is now a bonus rather than a requirement. Oftentimes, successful hires aren't even college graduates.
"I would say [we're looking for] anybody that can program," says Nicole Tucker, a recruiter for iCIMS, a New Jersey-based SaaS provider. "It's definitely the ability to be a problem solver. They have to be intellectually curious." Tucker adds that iCIMS has hired people who have learned to program via Codecademy or Coursera, another tech company that offers open online courses.
Stephen Babineau opted for something a bit more rigorous. Earlier this year, Babineau, who is a comparatively young 27, was accepted into Code Fellows, a Seattle-based company that provides intense boot camp-like courses that promise programming proficiency — even if you've never coded in your life.
Babineau, a former production assistant on Breaking Bad, among other projects, grew tired of 14-hour workdays. He also envisioned himself having a hard time with the physical demands of the job as he got older, which led him to try out for Code Fellows. Despite a lack of any programming knowledge, he was accepted and moved to Seattle for an eight-week program in the spring.
It was hard work. Babineau says he studied at Code Fellows 12 hours a day, five days a week — and then did homework on nights and weekends. " In about the sixth week of the program, I got horrific eye strain," he says. "I talked to the teacher and he said take a night off, your sanity will much improve." Babineau took the advice and made it through the final leg of the program.

But it wasn't all drudgery. "I actually found that I enjoyed programming," he says.
Tucker says she looks for that passion in potential hires. The problem is, mid-career switchers aren't necessarily motivated — at least at first — by a love of coding. Inevitably, the lure of a higher salary and job stability have trumped their initial passion. That's why people are switching in the first place.
A recent study shows that switching careers solely for money and stability is a bad choice. Amy Wrzesniewski, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, and Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, who led the study, looked at 11,320 cadets in nine entering classes at the United States Military Academy at West Point. They found that those with strong internal motives for success did better than those who were highly internally motivated but also strongly influenced by "instrumental" motives like the ability to secure a job later in life.
"Remarkably, cadets with strong internal and strong instrumental motives for attending West Point performed worse on every measure than did those with strong internal motives but weak instrumental ones. They were less likely to graduate, less outstanding as military officers and less committed to staying in the military," the professors wrote in the New York Times.
In other words, if you like fixing things and solving puzzles, you'll probably be a better coder and enjoy work more than someone who is merely doing it for the paycheck. But that goes for many lines of work.

Programmers

The programming life isn't for everyone, but for those who have a passion for it, there are jobs galore — even if you're not as young as these guys.
IMAGE: JESSICA RINALDI FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE VIA GETTY IMAGES

It's not always clear, however, if you'll enjoy coding. So you might try Ryan Hanna's method.
Hanna, now 30, spent his first seven years in the workforce in IT. He had a very limited knowledge of coding, so he started teaching himself via Codecademy in 2012. Starting with HTML, he moved on to CSS and JavaScript. "I've been through every one of their things," he says. Eventually, he was putting in 16 hours a week. "Sometimes I forced myself to do 30 minutes. Other times, I picked my head up and three hours had gone by." After five months of this, Hanna began working on building an app called Sworkit, which generates random exercise routines to meet your schedule.
Hanna thought 100 downloads sounded like an exciting number. But after the website Lifehacker ran a story on Sworkit, he got 10,000 downloads in the first month. This year, Hanna sold Sworkit to Nexercise, which hired him as well. He now has a whole new career.
It doesn't always turn out that way. Zach Sims, cofounder of Codecademy, says a minority of students finish Codecademy course — which is what you might expect since anyone can start one. Either way, since the courses are free, it can't hurt to try. "There is this common misconception that programming involves deep math knowledge," Sims says. "But it's gotten easy and abstract enough for most people."
At the very least, spending a few hours on Codecademy will offer a better understanding of some of the technologies that largely pervade our lives in 2014. "It's never going to hurt to understand or demystify the technology," Tucker, the iCIMS recruiter, says. "Even if you don't ever land a programmer job."


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Ice Bucket Challenge Raises $8.6 Million in 24 Hours



The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $8.6 million in 24 hours, flooding the ALS Association with donations.
Barbara Newhouse, the nonprofit organization's president, said she hopes the gift will be a "game-changer" in the fight against the degenerative disease. However, it's not yet clear how the ALS Association plans to spend its windfall.
The charity revealed on Wednesday that it had received $31.5 million in total — an $8.6 million jump from Tuesday's total of $22.9 million. In comparison, during the same time last year (between July 29 and Aug. 19, 2013), the ALS Association only received $1.9 million.
“This amount of money … it opens up new opportunities that were previously unfathomable,” spokesperson Carrie Munk told Forbes.
However, the association has not yet defined those opportunities. "We need to be strategic in our decision-making, as to how the funds will be spent" in order for them to be a "real game-changer for ALS,” Newhouse said.
The ALS Association has already awarded $3.5 million in research grants to find treatments and a cure for ALS.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush, NBA legend Michael Jordan, and singers Katy Perry and Rita Ora have all recently uploaded Ice Bucket Challenge videos to YouTube.


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Israeli Airstrike Kills 3 Senior Hamas Leaders



Mourners chant angry slogans during the funeral of Widad Mustafa Deif, 27, who was killed along with her 8-month-old son Ali Mohammed Deif in Israeli strikes in Gaza City late Tuesday, during their funeral in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Widad was the wife of Mohammed Deif, the leader of the Hamas military wing.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed three senior leaders of the Hamas military wing on Thursday, the militant group said, in what is likely to be a major blow to the organization's morale and a significant scoop for Israeli intelligence.
The strike near Rafah, a town in the southern part of the coastal territory, was one of 20 the Israeli military said it carried out after midnight on Wednesday.
In a text message sent to media, Hamas said three of its senior military leaders — Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar — were killed, along with three other people.
Gaza police and medical officials said scores more people remained under the rubble of a four-story structure destroyed in the airstrike.
The three Hamas leaders are considered to be at the senior levels of its military leadership and were involved in a number of high profile attacks on Israeli targets.
The Israeli security agency Shin Bet confirmed the deaths of Shamaleh and al-Attar in an email, but did not mention Barhoum.
The strikes followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo aimed at producing a long-term truce and a future roadmap for Gaza after more than a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas-led Islamic militants.
The Gaza war has so far killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.
Palestinian health official Ashraf Al-Kidra put the number of those missing at the site of eh Rafah airstrike in the "dozens."
Elsewhere, another Israeli airstrike killed a 27-year-old man in central Gaza identified as Jomma Anwar Mayar, police said. Israel also hit at smuggling tunnels along the Gaza border with Egypt and at agricultural lands west of Rafah in the latest airstrikes.
Israel says the airstrikes are in response to a resumption of Hamas rocket fire that on Tuesday scuttled a six-day cease-fire. The military says that only one rocket launch was registered since midnight, compared to more than 210 over the previous 30 hours.
On Wednesday, in the most spectacular Israeli strike since the cease-fire was breached, Hamas' shadowy military chief, Mohammed Deifm, was the object of an apparent assassination attempt that killed his wife and infant son.
After remaining quiet for most of the day Wednesday, Hamas officials announced that Deif was not in the targeted home at the time and was still alive. Deif has survived multiple assassination attempts, lives in hiding and is believed to be paralyzed from previous attempts on his life.
In a nationally televised address Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 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."
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed "deep regret" over the breaking of the cease-fire. It said in a statement Wednesday that it "continues bilateral contacts" with both sides aimed at restoring calm and securing a lasting truce that "serves the interest of the Palestinian people, especially in relation to the opening of the crossings and reconstruction."
An Egyptian compromise proposal calls for easing the Gaza blockade but not lifting it altogether or opening the territory's air and seaports, as Hamas has demanded.
While the plan does not require Hamas to give up its weapons, it would give Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were ousted by Hamas, a foothold back in Gaza running border crossings and overseeing internationally backed reconstruction.
The Gaza blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.
Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas and other militant groups from getting weapons. Critics say the measures amount to collective punishment.


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