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Gaza Death Toll: 375 Palestinians, 4 Israelis

Injured Gazan brought to hospital (AFP-Getty)

Injured Gazan brought to hospital (AFP-Getty)

The death toll continues to mount on this the third day of Operation Solid Lead intended by Israel to break the back of Hamas and uproot its capability to rain missiles on southern Israel.  CNN reports 375 Gazans are dead.  The UN estimates that 60 are civilians.

I find it extraordinary that considering the firepower the IAF is using against Gaza that not only is Hamas able to continue its barrage, but that some of the rockets have proven lethal.  In the entire several week period leading up to the end of the ceasefire, several hundred militant rockets didn’t kill a single Israeli.  It seems that now the Palestinians are out for blood and intend to make every missile count, which may be why there are now Israeli dead.

Against Gaza war

I too am against war in Gaza

Israeli politicians continue to labor under delusions that this military operation can “clean up” their “problem” once and for all:

“The government is determined to remove the threat of fire on the south,” he [Interior minister Meir Sheetrit] said, referring to rocket attacks on southern Israel by Hamas forces. “Therefore the Israeli army must not stop the operation before breaking the will of Palestinians, of Hamas, to continue to fire at Israel.”

And here is Barak:

Mr. Barak said that Israel would widen and deepen the attack if necessary and told Israeli lawmakers that it would continue until Hamas no longer had the ability to fire rockets into Israel.

…Mr. Barak had told lawmakers that Israel had nothing against the citizens of Gaza and that it had more than once offered its hand in peace to the Palestinian nation.  “But we have an all-out war with Hamas and its offshoots,” he said.

If Israel has nothing against the citizens of Gaza then why has it killed at least 60 of them who are civilians?  Did it offer Gaza the hand of peace by ending the siege which it was required to do under the terms of the last ceasefire?  How does Barak distinguish between the “citizens of Gaza” and Hamas?  As far as Gazans are now concerned, even if they were not supporters before they are all Hamas.  Hamas resists.  How can any Palestinian who loves his nation not fall into line?  This is the tragedy of Israel’s assault.  It has cemented Hamas’ standing for years to come in the consciousness of not only Gazans and Palestinians in general, but the entire Arab world.

It may be that Barak really believes the rhetoric he’s using, but does he really expect anyone else to?  Perhaps Israelis and their Diaspora supporters, but this type of hogwash has got to fall on deaf ears everywhere else.

Meanwhile in Crawford, the Bushites are fiddling while Gaza burns:

In Crawford, Tex., a spokesman for President Bush renewed calls for the parties to reach a cease-fire, but said Israel was justified in retaliating against Hamas’s attacks. “Let’s just take this one day at a time,” said the spokesman, Gordon Johndroe.

Good advice for those Gazans too as they hear the thumping of the Apache helicopters hunting down wanted Hamasniks: just ‘take it one day at a time.’

What is the role of the glorious IAF besides raining terror down on Gazans?  You can see video on Israeli TV of the pilot’s gunsights as they take out 60 Gaza tunnels used not only to smuggle weapons, but also food and medicine (one of the few sources of it) for the population under siege.  If you are Israeli, this is how your tax dollars are put to work–your air force takes target practice on tunnels.  Oh and it has destroyed five mosques and the entire Islamic University, a hotbed of Hamas activity.  And finally, the air force undertook the heroic task of destroying the main prison, which mainly housed Fatah prisoners–who are ostensibly Israel’s ally–and accused collaborators awaiting trial.  The Times reports that the prison was the sole source of protection for the alleged collaborators.  Without it, many of them have been hunted down and killed.  This is how Israel supports Palestinians who do its bidding.

This night also brings chilling news that the Israeli navy has attacked a Free Gaza ship in international waters as it was making its way to Gaza, bringing doctors and medical supplies (see this CNN video report).  The boat also carried former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney.  Six navy ships surrounded the Destiny firing live ammunition and rammed it causing severe damage.  Israeli personnel accused the boat of harboring terrorists.  Not only was the Israeli action a violation of international law, but how can you justify engaging in violence against a civilian ship with unarmed passengers whose only intent is to engage in humanitarian work?

Considering that Free Gaza notified the Israelis of the ship’s intent, how can the Israelis possibly expect anyone to believe their claim that they only engaged in hostile action because they didn’t know the boat’s purpose?  Couldn’t they have used their radio equipment to ask before ramming.

The ship is now headed for Lebanon where it should be able to undergo repairs and hopefully return to make another attempt to enter Gaza.

This is the snarling, mad dog Israel which I find so detestable under these circumstances.  And to be clear to those who would deliberately misconstrue this statement–I do not see Israel this way in an absolute sense.  But in the context of this military operation, Israel is baring its fangs for all the world to see how ugly it can be.  And it makes me angry and ashamed as a Jew and critical Zionist.

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  • Richard Witty December 30, 2008, 4:51 AM

    In “Munich” there was a line in which one of the Israeli assassins noted the tit for tat of mutual assassinations as “we are now talking to each other”.

    The same can be said of the preamble to the Gaza operation.

    Hamas “said” by shelling either, “We are shooting into the desert intentionally as a warning to avoid further hostilities.” In which, Israel responded “We hear that you reasonably want the checkpoints opened, and we are doing that.”

    To which Hamas lost control over its communication and returned to habit, and “stated” with its missiles, “We want to escalate this further. We are both facing elections and need a conflict in which we both can present ourselves as heroes so that we will win our campaigns.”

    To which Israel responded “We agree.”

    The net result is a measure of one’s person being the extent that one can exact harm for opportunistic purposes.

  • Neil December 30, 2008, 6:38 AM

    RIP Gaza
    IDF will continue their slaughterhouse operations until Gaza is reduced to dust and rubble.There is no rationality left in Israel.Who in the knesset is speaking out against these horrors?
    What will happen in the end game?
    40 year occupation,60 year occupation?

    NY times have a picture of Ashkelon, people hiding from rockets.I am sure it must be hard for those people as well living in fear.1 Israeli suffering from shock equals 20 dead Arabs.
    Latest scorecard as summed up by you Richard.
    IDF 375 – 4 Hamas.

    Where is the people crying out over Darfur?.They are all silent.Obama is silent still.My hopes and dreams of the evening of November 4 are fading very quickly.
    The sophisticated ,rich west are silent.
    Arab leaders are more interested in their bank accounts.
    Only the wretched of the earth is with the Palestinians.
    Sorry for the tone but I just cannot understand the world.

  • Marc Silverstein December 30, 2008, 8:01 AM

    Well, I do think you have to consider that it isn’t just Hamas you are dealing with here, it is Iran, too. Any peace that can be brokered must first include coming to an accommodation with them. That is simply isn’t possible in three weeks, three months or even three years. From a Middle East perspective, if Obama could somehow make
    peace with Iran and reach something approaching normal diplomatic relations during his two terms in office, I’d call that a major foreign policy victory. Making peace with Iran means peace in the Middle East over a broad spectrum of issues, including Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as the security of the oil supply in the region. There is no quick fix. The only real solution for the immediate term is to get Israel to pull back from the brink and that ain’t going to
    happen for a while. It is also something that Bush could do just as well as Obama. Obama will not start off on a good footing with the Israelis; but will have to earn their respect. And that too will take time. He benefits little by sticking his foot in before 1/20/09 and the chances of accomplishing anything substantive are minute. Israel
    is acting with the tacit approval of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They can’t control Hamas, either. And the one nation (Iran) that holds sway has no incentive to put the brakes on.

    And like I said before, pursuing a foreign policy agenda now, prior to
    taking office sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations.

  • Neil December 30, 2008, 8:56 AM

    @Mark Silverstein

    The regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have blood of the woman and children of Gaza on they hearts and minds.

  • fiddler December 30, 2008, 10:25 AM

    Al Jazeera’s video of the Dignity in port in Tyre is here: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRghMmgQ1kA
    The damage on the port side is clearly visible.

    Israeli spokeswoman Avital Leibovitch, after disingeniously claiming the boat had refused to identify itself: “The boat actually nearly crashed into one of our navy boats, which was damaged as well”.
    That’s a new trick worthy of Uri Geller, to nearly crash and yet be damaged. Perhaps Ms. Leibovitch’s car insurance company should hear about that one.

    I don’t know how the UN arrived at the figure of 60 civilians among the dead, but assuming it’s true, what are the other 315? Qassam launching crews and builders, all of them? Traffic cops? High-ranking or rank-and-file Hamas members? What are the UN’s criteria for assigning civilian or combatant status to individual Gazans?
    For Israel clearly any affiliation with Hamas, even of a purely civilian nature, is reason enough to bomb them (and everyone who happens to be near). By the same token, every member of almost any Israeli political party would now be a legitimate target for Palestinian retaliation.

  • Ezra December 30, 2008, 10:37 AM

    @Richard:
    “What is the role of the glorious IAF besides raining terror down on Gazans?”
    Ah..protecting Israel’s? Israelis who are living inside “The Green Line.” You sound bitter! Does it bother you to see Jews protecting themselves?

  • nedoo December 30, 2008, 12:30 PM

    To HELL Israel & ALL Arab goverments ,,,
    the number now is 385 ,, & just 60 civilians ,,hahahah what a kidding , if anyone had eyes in his head only on TV he can count at least 80 children !!
    I dont understand how does the world stay silent according to that . Maybe they wait until the numbers reachs THOUSANDS ?? or untill NO one still alive in GAZA, ?
    personally , i dont belive in peace any more, u can call me terrorist but if i am, what i must call whats happining in GAZA now, ?? Human rights?? , its another HOLOCAUST in GAZA ,,

    I have a RIGHT on this land and i want it , or i prefer to DIE ..

    Shame on Arab of whats happining to thier brothers in GAZA

  • Zhu Bajie December 30, 2008, 3:07 PM

    I’ve sometimes wondered what Israelis would do if they really could make the Palestinians disappear; deport them to North Dakota or Birobidzhan or some place. Where would they get their olives and white cheese, the cucumbers and tomatoes? It’s been quite a while since I last visited, but it always seemed the people actually raising the food wore keffiyehs.

    Zhu Bajie

  • Evildoer December 30, 2008, 7:46 PM

    And to be clear to those who would deliberately misconstrue this statement–I do not see Israel this way in an absolute sense.

    How many drunken binges an alcoholic make?

    If Israel has nothing against the citizens of Gaza then why has it killed at least 60 of them who are civilians?

    As opposed to the traffic cops, the social workers, the government clerks and all the other “militants”?

    This is the tragedy of Israel’s assault. It has cemented Hamas’ standing for years to come in the consciousness of not only Gazans and Palestinians in general, but the entire Arab world.

    This is insensitive and smug. This is the “tragedy”? When hundreds of people are shredded?

    Besides, Hamas is the choice of the Palestinian people to lead them in their liberation struggle. as a citizen of a country who elected G.W. Bush twice, without being under occupation, you could be more respectful of other people’s democratic choices.

  • B.BarNavi December 30, 2008, 8:57 PM

    “And finally, the air force undertook the heroic task of destroying the main prison, which mainly housed Fatah prisoners–who are ostensibly Israel’s ally–and accused collaborators awaiting trial.”

    Will Israel finally realize the folly of its actions if Gilad Shalit ends up being killed by an Israeli bomb?

    (They’ll probably blame Hamas for using him as a human shield anyway. Responsibility avoided!)

  • Elizabeth (Liz) Berney, Esq. December 30, 2008, 11:07 PM

    It is simply incredible to read the unwarranted comments here condemning Israel for finally defending herself, after Israeli citizens suffered seven years of continual deadly rocket attacks from Gaza.

    Prior to the recent attacks, from 2001 – 2008, over 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2500 morters were fired from Gaza at Israeli targets, mainly against Sderot and surrounding areas, killing 23 Israelis, and injuring 433 Israelis (many of them extremely seriously) and causing destruction of homes, shopping centers, schools and other facilities. Each week, the terrorist regime in Gaza rained more horror on Israel. There was the Grad rocket attack from Gaza last May on the Ashkelon shopping mall, which injured 15 Israelis, many of them very seriously. One of the seriously injured was a 3 year old girl. There was the massive Qassam rocket attack from Gaza last February on Sderot, which amputated the leg of an 8-year-old Israeli boy and wounded his 19-year-old brother. And the rocket attack from Gaza on a busy street in Sderot in November 2006 which killed a 57-year-old Israeli woman and severely wounded a 24-year-old man (the bodyguard to an Israeli cabinet minister), who lost both his legs. And the mortar attack from Gaza this past November which injured eight Israelis, including a 21-year-old man who lost his right leg and barely had his other leg saved at the hospital. The Israeli casualties go on and on. Almost every child in Sderot suffers from post traumatic stress disorder due to the constant rocket attacks.

    It is surprising that the Israeli government waited so long to finally take action against the source of such terror against Israel’s innocent citizens. No other country in the world would have tolerated such horrible attacks on its citizenry for so many years.

  • Noah December 31, 2008, 3:25 AM

    @B.BarNavi
    It seems obvious that Hamas doesn’t plan to release Shalit. They want to torture everyone by keeping his fate ambiguous-like Ron Arad. What about the Israelis who are being attacked in the South? Is it folly to defend them? Also, Israel has a right to blame Hamas. Kidnapping a Jew is a violation of one of the Ten Commandments. The reference to stealing in actuality means kidnapping.

  • ellen December 31, 2008, 5:22 AM

    Regarding Obama,
    I asked a member of the Obama group here in central Jersey if she would circulate to the mailing list “An Open Letter to Obama”. http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1771

    The letter asks Obama to reconsider US policy in the Middle East.

    I didn’t ask her to endorse the letter, just to send it, let people make their own decision.
    She refused. Her answer. She “wants peace” but is “torn by” the situation in Gaza and so won’t send the letter.
    ?
    It seems to me this attitude of ‘I’ll just put my head in the sand even tho my conscience is hurting’ is typical of most liberal Jews.
    It’s a cop-out. It appears that the discomfort of being “torn” is more easily borne than the discomfort of confronting certain political realities and contradictions.

  • Richard Silverstein January 2, 2009, 11:59 PM

    @Elizabeth (Liz) Berney, Esq.:

    seven years of continual deadly rocket attacks from Gaza

    More lies from the pro-Israel extreme right. There were rocket attacks, yes. They were not “continual.”

    over 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2500 morters were fired from Gaza at Israeli targets, mainly against Sderot and surrounding areas, killing 23 Israelis, and injuring 433 Israelis

    You naturally provide no documentation of your casualty claim. I heard the figure of 18 dead from such attacks. But no matter…let’s compare, shall we, the number of Palestinian civilians killed by the IDF in the same period. The number fluctuates from yr to yr & I don’t have the exact figures in front of me but a conservative estimate would be 300 per yr. which would mean that over 2,000 Palestinian civilians were killed by the IDF in the same period. That’s roughly 2,000 compared to 18 (or 23 if we accept yr figure). That’s roughly 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. What’s wrong with this picture??

    All yr anecdotal accounts of the tragedy inflicted by terrorists against Israelis are tragic. But why no sympathy or list of any Palestinians killed? COuld it be that Palestinians aren’t worthy of Jewish sympathy? Or are their deaths their own fault? That’s nice work if you can get it: Israeli terror deaths are Hamas’ fault and Palestinian deaths at the hands of the IDF are Hamas’ fault as well. You’ve got everything tied up in nice bow don’t you?

    You’re a pathetic, heartless apologist. And a chum of Mort Klein no less.

  • Richard Silverstein January 3, 2009, 12:04 AM

    @Ezra:

    protecting Israel’s

    You’ll have to forgive me for asking “what protection?” YOu think the missiles will end and that this operation will make Israel safer? Who are you kidding? Where there is a will to fight Israel there will be a way to fight. That means they could wipe out every able-bodied male in Gaza and some Palestinian somewhere in the world would raise his head to take revenge. THe IDF cannot protect Israel in the end. ONly neogiations & a peace agreement can protect Israel.

    Bitter? Me bitter? That Israel is defiling the progressive Zionist vision advanced by Ahad Ha Am, Martin Buber & others? Why should I be bitter that Jews are killing Palestinian civilians en masse. If I were you I’d be proud, right?