Palestine conflict follows Ban to his vacation here

Ban Ki-moon may be coming to Costa Rica today, but he cannot leave the world’s troubles behind.

Supporters of Palestine said they would protest this morning starting at the Fuente de Hispanidad in San Pedro to make Ban, the secretary general of the United Nations, know that “Costa Rica repudiates the massacre that Israel brought against the people of Gaza Palestine.”

The announcement came in the name of the Red de Solidaridad con Palestina, described as comprised of different organizations.

Afterwards the protesters will go east to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights where Ban is expected to meet with judges.

The group also said it would protest outside the state dinner tonight that is being offered in Ban’s honor by the central government. Organizations involved include Juvenil Socialista CR and the Partido Obrero Socialista, according to the announcement, which went out via the email system of the Centro Amigos para la Paz.

In the past, protests by the various socialist factions have not mustered many participants.

This does seem an unusual time for Ban and his wife to vacation in Costa Rica. His exact agenda here after today is not known.

The U.N. Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

In New York Tuesday, Ban was quoted by the international press as deploring what he said was a lack of resolve among all parties.

“It’s a matter of their political will. They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian,” he told reporters, the news services said.

Israel’s military stepped up its bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country should be prepared for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave, quashing any hopes of a swift end to the conflict.

Palestinian health officials say Israeli warplanes and tanks killed at least 100 people Tuesday in the most widespread attacks since fighting began three weeks ago. The Palestinian death toll has climbed to more than 1,100, mainly civilians.

Israel has lost 53 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker since launching its offensive July 8 in response to continued rocket attacks from Hamas and its allies.

Israeli tank fire hit the fuel depot of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant Tuesday, witnesses said, cutting electricity to Gaza City and many other parts of the Palestinian enclave of 1.8 million people. Electricity already had been limited to several hours a day.

Ominously, the reclusive Hamas military commander, Mohammad Deif appeared on Palestinian media Tuesday to reject any cease-fire with Israel until the group’s demands are met. Hamas wants Israel to end its blockade of Gaza.

The pro-Tel Aviv Israel Project was more descriptive. It said the pre-recorded segment, broadcast over Hamas’s official television station, had Deif bragging that Hamas had defeated the Israeli Defense Forces, and more specifically that “the balance of power has changed. We have beaten the military. It is defeated.” Deif also boasted that fighters organized by Hamas were ready to continue attacking Israeli positions, boasting that “the IDF stands before united factions and soldiers who yearn for death.”

The Israelis for their part have emphasized that they will continue operating inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip until they have successfully neutralized the organization’s offensive tunnels, which snake from Gaza Strip civilian infrastructure to within a few dozen meters of Israeli border communities, the Israel Project said.

Israel also is targeting the Hamas rocket arsenal. Any effort to erode those assets will be complicated by the degree to which Hamas has embedded them in civilian infrastructure, including schools, it said.

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