Gazans mark anniversary of war

Hamas officials hold ceremony to remember victims of the 22-day Israeli offensive.

    Large parts of Gaza remain in ruins after the bombardments of the war [AFP]

    Other estimates put the Palestinian death toll closer to 1,400, the majority of whom were civilians, including around 400 children.

    Thirteen Israelis were also killed during the war - 10 soldiers and three civilians.

    A month of events are planned to commemorate the war in Gaza.

    Sombre mood

    Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, who was among one of the few international broadcasters to report on the war from inside the territory, was at the scene.

    in depth
    She said that "the message here isn't just one of sombreness and sadness to mark one of the darkest phases of Palestinian history, but also one of defiance by the Hamas government, who continue to maintain control, law and order here in the Gaza Strip".

    The stated aim behind Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" was to cripple the ability of Hamas and other Palestinian groups from launching rockets into southern Israel.

    Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokesperson, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that the operation had been successful.

    "This [goal] was achieved as, a year after the operation, we are seeing very little rocket fire. In that sense, it has been a success," she said.

    Palestinian armed groups have slowed, but not stopped, their indiscriminate rocket attacks, but the factions claim that is by choice.

    Hamas defiant

    Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin was granted exclusive access to a rocket-manufacturing site, where they demonstrated that their capabilities have not been diminished.

    The 22-day offensive heavily damaged the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip
    In a rare interview, the spokesperson for Hamas' military wing the al-Qassam Brigades, known as Abu Obeida, dismissed Israeli claims that his group had been weakened by the war.

    "We were affected by this war, but we were able to regroup even during the battle, before it finished and the impact on our military capabilities was marginal. We were capable of rearming and much more."

    Dr Ahmad Yousuf, a senior Hamas official and former advisor to Haniya, said that the political movement also remained strong despite the devastation caused by the Israeli offensive.

    "The Israelis failed their objectives on all accounts," he told Al Jazeera from Gaza City.

    "Hamas is still there and we try to help our people, but we are still under occupation and suffering from sanctions."

    Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy group, has accused both Israel and Hamas of failing to take punitive action against members of their own forces who are accused of rights violations during the war.

    Shattered infrastructure

    Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician and former minister of information, criticised Israel for refusing to allow in supplies to rebuild Gaza's shattered infrastructure.

    "Today 25,000 houses in Gaza remain unrepaired because Israel is not allowing a single sack of cement or a piece of glass into Gaza," he told Al Jazeera from the West bank town of Ramallah.

    Barghouti also criticised international governments for failing to put sufficient pressure on Israel.

    "My question is why does Europe and other donor countries not send ships with materials for construction. They can have Nato investigating these ships to make sure there is no security risk."

    Last week, 16 rights groups including Amnesty International and Oxfam issued a joint statement saying the world has "betrayed" civilians in the Gaza Strip by failing to end the Israeli blockade of the enclave.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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