Since the end of the Lebanon war last summer, things have been relatively quiet between Israel and the Palestinians. It allowed some of us to hope that perhaps this lull would allow both sides to make progress toward final status negotiations. But as usual, the pessimists have been borne out. It only takes a week, a hail of Qassams and Hamas trouncing Fatah forces in the streets of Gaza for the entire delicate facade of the ceasefire to come tumbling down.
A few days ago the Cabinet gave the green light to the IDF to resume targeted assassinations (don’t you just love the “precision” in that term, as if the IDF always hits its “target” and never kills innocent civilians in the process) against Palestinian militants. But publicly at least, those to be attacked were supposed to be members of Hamas’ military wing:
The security cabinet on Sunday authorized the IDF to intensify air attacks on the Gaza Strip and targeted assassinations of senior Hamas activists. Government sources in Jerusalem said the cabinet decision called for assassinations of leaders of the military wing of Hamas, not the political wing.
With today’s results of the first serious strike we can see how laughable that claim was. The home of the leader of Hamas’ parliamentary faction, not a member of the military wing, was attacked by air and eight members of his family were killed:
The Israel Air Forces last night bombed the house of Hamas parliamentarian Khalil al-Haya in Gaza. He was slightly injured in the attack, but eight others including seven members of his family were killed, and 13 people were wounded.
He had just finished discussing a ceasefire proposal with Egyptian officials when his home was bombed:
Several family members and Hamas activists had apparently gathered in the yard of the home when the IAF struck, a little after 9 A.M. Al-Haya, who was lightly injured in attack, had just finished discussing a cease-fire with a Fatah leader at the Egyptian Embassy in the Gaza Strip…
Al-Haya, a former spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary faction in Gaza, is responsible for negotiations with Fatah and Hamas’ future membership in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Haaretz mentions that its cabinet source declared that al-Haya’s name was not on any list of those targeted for assassination. So how did he get attacked? Is it any wonder that no one with any sense of balance can believe a word coming from the IDF and intelligence agencies?
The toll of the dead:
Seven of the dead are members of the al-Haya family: Nimr al-Haya, 60; Abd al-Hamid al-Haya, 35; Bakhr al-Haya, 26; Ibrahim al-Haya, 23; Ala al-Haya, 22; Jihad al-Haya, 17; and Mohammed al-Haya, 16. The eighth man is Samakj Farauna, 27, a Hamas activist.
The IAF is killing old men and teenagers. Bravo! This is just more of that superb IDF execution which brought you last summer’s Lebanon war in which the IAF seemed better at hitting civilians than hitting actual Hezbollah fighters.
Here is the IDF’s “justification” for the bombing:
An Israeli Army spokeswoman, Capt. Noa Meir, said that according to the army’s initial findings, the army “identified and hit a five-member terrorist cell based on prior intelligence — they were the target of the attack.”
Does this sound like a “terror cell” to you?
Officials at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said that the dead included seven members of Mr. Hayya’s family, including three of his brothers, and a neighbor. Mr. Hayya, 44, who arrived at the hospital surrounded by supporters shortly after the attack, said his brothers were “part of the Palestinian people” and had nothing to do with politics.
What was this? It was the Shin Bet and IDF saying (and pardon my langugage but I’m pissed) fuck the military wing–we’re going after you guys where you live and we’ll kill all of you if we have to. They deliberately picked a senior legislative leader to say: “we don’t make any distinction between military or political. You’re all scum in our book.” This is yet another example of an Israeli war crime. You don’t deliberately target civilian political leaders. Did this man have “blood on his hands?” Had he participated in a terrorist bombing? I don’t hear the IDF making that claim. Nor can they reasonably do so. Unfortunately, the killing of innocent civilians who happen to be al-Haya’s sons and other relatives is the price to be paid for the IDF sending a message to Hamas that there will be hell to pay unless they call off the current bloodbath in which they are devastating Fatah forces in Gaza. Why do the innocent have to die to make such a point??
And here is the much vaunted “brilliance” of Israeli military intelligence at work (here quoting from Jonathan Fighel, an Israeli intelligence analyst):
Israel should “hit the Palestinians in a different dimension, to restore deterrence.” Israel, he said, had other options such as cutting off electricity and water supplies to Gaza and killing high-ranking Hamas members, “including ministers,”…said Fighel, a colonel in the reserves who follows Palestinian movements at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.
“Restore deterrence?” How would killing al-Haya have done that? More likely it would’ve speeded up the process of getting IDF officers into the dock at the Hague. And how will cutting off water to a million Palestinians “restore deterence?” I swear, sometimes I think these people are living on another planet than the one the rest of us inhabit. Are they for real? Do they really find these bankrupt ideas in the least credible? Woe unto Israel if this is the best its best minds can produce.
Why Do Babies Have to Die?
Gideon Levy writes another one of his heartbreaking profiles of Gaza suffering in today’s Haaretz. This story concerns an IDF patrol that nightly invades a Palestinian refugee camp to shoot up the place. Snipers on a roof targeted the home of a Palestinian family when the mother arose to comfort her sleeping babies in the next room who were frightened by the firing:
Last Wednesday was an ordinary day in the Katouni household. The father [Rifat] went to work, the kids went to school, and in the evening everyone went to bed – the parents in their bedroom and the three children in their room in the third-floor apartment. Shortly after two in the morning, Maha [Katouni, the mother] was startled awake by the loud sounds of gunfire from the street. She didn’t even manage to turn on the light when she got up to run to the kids’ room next door, to reassure her three little boys and keep them from getting scared. The gunfire was very heavy. The window of her room was open and her bed was close to the window.
Maha got out of bed, took one step, and then the bullet struck her in the lower back. She fell onto the nightstand…Soldiers from the Nahal patrol battalion were standing on the roofs of the surrounding buildings. “Wherever we are sent – to there we go,” the poet Yaakov Orland once wrote in “The Nahal Anthem,” sung by the Nahal entertainment troupe, which also sang “The Song of Peace.”
Rifat rushed to call an ambulance. The children, who had awakened, were hysterical, especially the youngest, 3-year-old Jad, at the sight of the blood trickling from the front and back of their pregnant mother, who lay wounded on the floor. The bullet had struck her from behind, passed through the fetus’ head and the mother’s intestines and exited through the abdomen…
One of her brothers somehow managed to cross the line of fire and get to her house; he tried to stanch the gaping wound in her stomach with a towel. Her husband, Rifat, was paralyzed with shock. Umm Ibrahim says that her son, who tended to Maha, could see through the hole in her abdomen that the fetus had been wounded in the head and was dead…
The hospital staff, so inured to suffering by all the previous deaths and wounds it has tended to, still manages to stir a sense of outrage at this latest travesty brought to you by the Israeli Occupation:
Memorial posters decorate the walls of the Rafidiya government hospital in Nablus, covering earlier posters of countless young people who have been killed. But this poster is like nothing we have seen before: a fetus covered in its own blood, its tiny head blown up by the bullet that struck its mother, and the caption – “Who gave you the right to steal his life?”
…The anesthesiologist, Dr. Iyad Salim, a resident of nearby Hawara, roams the hospital corridors. On his cell phone camera is a video of the operation and the removal of the fetus. So close to being a fully developed baby, with a bullet wound to the head. The memorial poster shows the fetus bleeding from the head. The image is unbearable.
We always tend to lose sight of the real people who suffer in conflicts such as this. What were their hopes and dreams? Lest we forget, this family had similar emotions for the new life they were about to bring into the world:
They were going to call him Daoud, after an uncle, and also after a resident of the camp who was killed. At home they had everything ready: new clothes, diapers and a crib passed down from his older brothers. Daoud was buried in the camp cemetery. Only a few close family members attended the funeral of the unborn baby.
At press time, no response had been received from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.
And what could they say that would mean anything and not make an even greater travesty??