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.
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.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.