Mohammed Omer, Palestinian journalist based in Gaza who in 2008 won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, writes:
“Air strikes are bombing everything that moves. Everything that moves in the streets is being bombed and attacked. ... One thing that we ought to talk about here is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip. This is a situation of targeting a population of civilians, exactly like Israel is shooting in a fishbowl. And there is no shelter, and there is nowhere to run for the general population. Gaza is living in a very dire situation.”
Bill Van Aukenof wsws writes:
The relentless bombardment has resulted in widespread destruction and carnage, with the official death toll rising to 29 on Friday night and the number of wounded climbing to 300. Among the latest to be killed was a two-year-old Palestinian boy. The majority of the dead and wounded are civilians, including eight children and a pregnant woman.
The Israeli government and military have incessantly declared that the strikes on Gaza are aimed solely at “terrorists” and that any civilian casualties are the fault of Hamas for “hiding” among the people. The reality, however, is that the bombs and missiles are destroying homes, schools, workplaces, government office buildings and police stations.
The threat came after the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a request to call up 75,000 reservists. During the last ground invasion of Gaza, the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead, which claimed the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians, the government called up only 10,000.
In an indication of preparations for an invasion, Reuters reported that by Friday afternoon “Israel’s warplanes, drones and helicopters appeared to shift focus from suspected Palestinian rocket sites to the northern Gaza frontier, where their bombs created incursion corridors by clearing landmines or guerrilla gun nests.”
Even after just three days, the Israeli blitzkrieg has raised the specter of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, whose population of 1.7 million has been subjected to an unrelenting Israeli blockade. As recently released documents have exposed, the Israeli government has gone so far as to calculate the minimum number of calories needed to avoid chronic malnutrition to determine the amount of food supplies allowed into the territory.
Doctors in Gaza’s hospitals have warned that they are already overwhelmed by the number of casualties inflicted by the Israeli offensive, and that critical medicines and supplies are quickly running out. On Friday, the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, Hani Abdeen, reported that the Israeli military was refusing to allow access to Gaza by a 15-truck convoy carrying medicine and medical supplies sent by the Ramallah-based administration.
There is an element of extreme recklessness in the latest campaign of Israeli military aggression. The claim that it was compelled to launch the offensive by rocket attacks from Gaza is a patent lie. Israeli officials admitted that these attacks, which until Wednesday’s retaliatory strike had caused not a single death this year, had largely abated when Operation Pillar of Defense was launched with the assassination of the Hamas military leader, Ahmed Jabari.
Catherine Charrettdiscloses that she, too, has heard that the Israeli state has called up 75,000 reserves and is planning for a ground invasion.
“The constant buzzing of the Israeli drone has become part of the backdrop of this weapons battle. I heard that Hamas shot down two Israeli F-16s. I heard news that an Israeli drone was shot down late last [Thursday].”
Ms. Charrett reveals that as bombs rain down on Gaza, Hamas rockets continue to break the so-called “Iron Dome” into Israel. She also writes of a very “skewed understanding” on the use of violent weaponry in the dominant mainstream media.
Charrett discloses that on November 14, 2012, a ceasefire between Israel and resistant factions in Gaza strip was broken when Israel assassinated Ahmed al-Jabari. Everyone in Gaza knew at that point there would be Hamas retaliation for this Charrett declares. All Gazans knew THEY would be bombarded with shelling “from the sea, the sky, and potentially land as ground forces would approach Gaza’s eastern border”.
Charrett contends “through the eyes of Western government and mainstream media some of these killing apparatus are regarded as legitimate and others are not." The F-16, the Apache helicopter, the drone, the bomb are weapons that the US, the UK, the EU can understand and relate to. They should as they are large importers of Israeli military and intelligence technology Charret adds.
Charrett explains that the rocket, “homemade from donkey shit and sugar or fabricated using Iranian technology” is used “by the lesser military power in this asymmetrical bomb competiton between Israel and Gaza." The Gazans also don’t enjoy “the support of the largest military power around the globe to assist in make its attacks ‘surgical’.”
One other big difference Charrett emphasizes especially about the dominant mainstream media, an Israeli life is worth more than a Palestinian one.
This excerpt from Elizabeth Murrayoffers a prime example:
In early 2010, one of Washington DC’s most prestigious think tanks was holding a seminar on the Middle East which included a discussion of Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 assault on Gaza which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. When the death toll was mentioned, one expert on the panel smiled enigmatically and intoned: “It’s unfortunate, but every once in a while you have to mow the lawn.”
The remark, which likened killing hundreds of men, women and children – many of them noncombatants – with trimming the grass, was greeted with a light tittering around the room, which was filled with some of Washington’s most elite, highly educated and well-paid Middle East experts. Not a single one objected to the panelist’s black humor.
On the contrary, several analysts and experts were grinning at the reference to Israel’s strategy of mounting periodic attacks on the Palestinians to cull each new generation of militants. Such is the nonchalance of Washington’s policy-advising cognoscenti toward the ongoing and systematic genocide of Gaza’s oppressed population.
The cavalier language is symptomatic of the policymaking community’s increasingly pervasive tendency to disregard and disparage the humanity of Palestinian victims of Israeli attacks, which are often waged by Israel’s high-tech drones and U.S.-supplied F-16’s. There is also a tendency to ignore or downplay Israeli war crimes.
This dangerously sociopathic attitude is prevalent whether cloaked in a cheap joke or reflected in the failure by the State Department spokesman to condemn or even acknowledge the criminality of Israel’s latest aerial and sea-based bombardment of Palestinian civilians, at least 18 of whom have been killed in the past 48 hours. Three Israelis also have died in retaliatory rocket fire.”
We all know the concept of the chillingly phrased “collateral damage” and how civilian lives lost are more and more of little consequence to the “deciders” of war such as Israel or the US administrations -- particularly taking propaganda advantage of a media-branded or demonized set of people as the ominous “other”.
Gaza is a small 12km by 40km territory populated by 1.5 million Palestinians according to Charrett. Civilians die no matter how surgical or targeted Israeli war deciders claim they are being. The added benefit to the violence in Gaza is, obscenely, an unspoken goal of Netanyahu and the far right for “ethnic cleansing”. Something people of conscience ANYWHERE should not abide.
Charrett asserts that when Hamas rockets damage life in Israel, the Hamas militants are considered a “terrorist organization” and are even held responsible for the Israeli slaughter of Gazans because of their provocation. The Geneva Conventions forbid the slaughter or wounding of civilians but that is NO consideration in the eyes of Israel’s present forces.
Charrett contends that Hamas actually was not responsible for the rockets fired into Israel prior to the November 14th attempted ceasefire. But when its leader was assassinated by Israel -- from the Israeli "kill list" -- it was inevitable that it would militarily respond from such violent provocation. .
Palestine is a “non-state” sadistically occupied by Israel. The UN charter should be protecting it from VIOLENT and SADISTIC occupation but it does not since the UN members are either too weak or too lost to “might makes right” US-led amoral imperialism!
Israel, like the U.S., uses ILLEGITIMATE VIOLENCE against the terriroties it occupies. It brings death and destruction to innocent civilians living there.
This is Phyllis Bennis'take on the situation:
So why the escalation? Israeli military and political leaders have long made clear that regular military attacks to “cleanse” Palestinian territories (the term was used by Israeli soldiers to describe their role in the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza) is part of their long-term strategic plan. Earlier this year, on the third anniversary of the Gaza assault, Israeli army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Army Radio that Israel will need to attack Gaza again soon, to restore what he called its power of “deterrence.” He said the assault must be “swift and painful,” concluding, “we will act when the conditions are right.” Perhaps this was his chosen moment.
Bennis reminds us that it was close to four years ago that Operation Cast Lead left 1400 Gazans dead in 2008-2009. The last major assault on Gaza. Bennis believes the attack this time is political according to Netanyahu’s election calendar. In January he faces an unhappy struggling population and he needs to shore up the right with his aggressive militarism.
Bennis explores the supposed provocation of the Israeli offensive. The wounding by Hamas militants of four Israeli soldiers in a jeep. She writes:
For starters, the soldiers, part of an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) squad that included four tanks and a bulldozer, were inside the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF spokeswoman, Palestinians fired at “soldiers while they were performing routine activity adjacent to the security fence.” Really. What kind of activities inside the supposedly not-occupied Gaza Strip, by a group of armed soldiers, tanks and a bulldozer (almost certainly an armored Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer manufactured in the United States and paid for with US taxpayer military aid to Israel), could possibly be defined as anything close to “routine”? Unlike the illegal Palestinian rockets fired against civilian targets inside Israel, using force to resist an illegal military force in the context of a belligerent military occupation is lawful under international law.
Later that day, an 11-year-old child was killed. Israel was “investigating the boy’s death.” Not many US media outlets reported that within the next seventy-two hours the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights documented five more Palestinians killed, including three children, and fifty-two other civilians, including six women and twelve children, wounded in Israeli airstrikes. Four of the deaths and thirty-eight injuries resulted from a single Israeli attack on a football playground in a neighborhood east of Gaza city. Twelve Israelis, four of them soldiers, were injured by Palestinian rockets fired into Israel.
So the above all went down without being adequately covered in the mainstream media of course.
On Wednesday Egypt attempted to negotitate a ceasefire. Then Israel breached it by assassinating a Hamas leader and destroying key Gazan infrastructure.
Simon Tisdaleof the Guardian warns that Israel’s extreme violence will invite serious consequences not only obviously for Palestinian civilians but, for example, the chance that Gazan militants will resume suicide bombings from a decade ago.
Tisdale explains that Netanyahu and defense minister Barak have set in motion the Orwellianly named “Pillar of Defense” campaign to "defang Hamas" but the endangering consequences will be exponential. For one thing, like with US droning, it will have the opposite consequence of eliminating and controlling “the enemy”. Anti-Israel resistance will escalate everywhere -- especially in Gaza.
Rachel Shabiwrites of an Israeli documentary film, The Law in These Parts, awarded this year’s Sundance World Cinema Grand Prize, explaining how the oppressive military-legal system to control the Palestinians came about. It exposes the injustice to the daily life styles of Palestinians by framers -- judges -- of policy that disrespected them from the get go. Shabi writes:
The evidence against these Israeli judge slowly mounts as they try to justify an unjustifiable tangle of what they thought would be temporary laws, devised to control and subdue Palestinians in the occupied territories. One judge recounts how he told former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon of an obscure law from the Ottoman era, which Sharon swiftly deployed to seize Palestinian land.
Laws from the Ottoman era? The Jewish settlers taking over Palestinian territories more and more get to enjoy citizen-respecting Israeli law. The Palestinians endure “military law” in which Shabi contends 99.74% of the trials determine against the Palestinians.
The documentary film ends with a focus on one brave Palestinian man, Bassem Tamimi. The 45 year old father of four has endured harassment, intimidation, and arbitary detention.
During a trial last year, Tamimi, a schoolteacher, told the military court: "Your honour, I was born in the same year as the occupation, and ever since I've been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom. I have been imprisoned nine times for a sum of almost three years, though I was never convicted of any crime. During one of my detentions I was paralysed as a result of torture. My wife was detained, my children wounded, my land stolen by settlers and now my house is slated for demolition … You, who claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East, are trying me under laws written by authorities I have not elected, and which do not represent me". Shortly after this hearing, Tamimi was convicted of inciting protesters to throw stones at soldiers (he was cleared of more serious charges, including "perverting the course of justice", in May, after 11 months in military prison, because a judge decided that key evidence, obtained from a coerced 14-year-old Palestinian boy, was unreliable).
"What actually incited them," Tamimi told the courtroom, "was the occupation's bulldozers on our land, the guns, the smell of tear gas." And then he asked: "If the military judge releases me, will I be convinced that there is justice in your courts?"
A full overview of Netanyahu's willful and reckless militarism in Gaza must not exclude consideration of his regime's malice and promise of ultimate war against Iran. Elizabeth Murray writes:
The other factor underlying the assault on Gaza is the Israeli regime’s drive for a war against Iran. This was pointed to Friday in a column by the military affairs writer of the Israeli daily Haaretz, Amir Oren. Titled “For Netanyahu, Gaza escalation could pave the way to Iran strike,” the column warns that Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, “have not given up the dream of carrying out a major operation in Iran” and that the Gaza attack “might serve as…the preface to an Iran operation.”
“In theory,” Oren writes, “a force which is able to strike against Ahmed Jabari would be able to pinpoint the location of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And a force that destroyed Fajr rockets would be able to reach their bigger siblings, the Shihabs, as well as Iran’s nuclear installations.”
The operation, he continued, allows Israel’s military commanders to test out weapons and tactics that would be used in an attack on Iran. It also allows Israel to gauge international reaction.
Finally, this is what Glenn Greenwaldhas to say about the obscene passivity of the United States in the face of the present Israeli savagery:
Literally each day since the latest attacks began, the Obama administration has expressed its unqualified support for Israel's behavior. Just two days before the latest Israeli air attacks began, Obama told Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas "that his administration opposes a Palestinian bid for non-state membership of the UN". Both the US Senate and House have already passed resolutions unequivocally supporting Israel, thus earning the ultimate DC reward: the head-pat from AIPAC, which "praised the extraordinary show of support by the Senate for Israel's struggle against terrorist attacks on its citizens". More bipartisan Congressional cheerleading is certain to come as the attacks continue, no matter how much more brutal they become.
"No matter how much more brutal they become"?
Hearts of darkness reign in both Israel and America, clearly.
Will the citizens of both Israel and the United States once again choose denial and minimization of the morally un-ignorable?
[cross-posted at correntewire]