The Gaza death toll stands at 390, including nearly 80 civilians, most of them women and children.
Israel rejected a French proposal for a 48 hour ceasefire which would’ve paused the military assault and allowed Gazans to tend to their dead and wounded and replenished food supplies and other necessities. With no support for the ceasefire from the U.S. government, little pressure had been exerted on Israel to accept it. Haaretz reports that Ehud Barak viewed the proposal favorably but Olmert and Livni did not. Considering that Livni’s political campaign hinges on the success of the Gaza operation it is unfortunately not surprising that she would want to continue to the bitter end.
Contrast this Tzipi Livni with the Livni who rejected the rush to war in Lebanon in 2006 and essentially refused to cheerlead for the war, much to the chagrin of Ehud Olmert. Then there was no prime ministership on the line and no campaign to win. Israeli politics and especially election campaigns bring out the worst in Israeli politicians.
Desperate to avoid looking like a warmonger in rejecting the ceasefire, Israel has attempted to placate the world’s conscience by announcing it would permit humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. It claims a handful of wounded have been evacuated and 100 trucks of supplies have been admitted. Will this make up for the 400 dead or the hundreds of thousands of Gaza children who have not had a square meal or decent night’s sleep in days, let alone those who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes?
The “humanitarian gesture” is an abjectly cynical ploy on Israel’s part as this story by Ethan Bronner in the Times makes clear:
A senior Israeli official said the country was seeking ways to increase humanitarian aid so that its military endeavor could continue without further pressure to stop. It permitted a dozen wounded and ill Gazans into Israel on Wednesday for treatment at hospitals here and allowed in some 100 trucks of food and medicine.
I use this blog to display the feeblemindedness of Israeli strategic thinking as presented to the world media. Today, there is much to report on that front. Here is a government spokesperson floating into cloud cuckoo land about Israel’s goal in the operation:
The government said it would push ahead with its air, sea and ultimately ground operation, which one senior military official described as “making Hamas lose their will or lose their weapons.”
Clearly, Hamas will never lose their will. So that leaves losing their weapons. How can Israel ever think it can rid Hamas of weapons unless it is willing to reoccupy the place and accept responsibility once again for administering it? Short of that, the Israel delusion of ridding Gaza of Hamas weapons is a pipedream thereby rendering Israel’s purpose in the assault as hopelessly unattainable.
And here is a description of the deft tactical operations of the Israeli Air Force, whose crack pilots encounter unbelievable danger with every sortie:
During the five days of combat, Israeli warplanes have been destroying buildings once considered off limits, including mosques and government and university compounds, with officials asserting that rocket launchers and ammunition were made, stored and even operated from there. They were also hitting the homes of militants, smuggler tunnels and even money exchange shops to choke off Hamas from its suppliers.
They’ve even assigned those brave flyboys to bomb flimsy moneychanger shops. And they think that this will prevent Hamas from pursuing whatever financial transactions are necessary for it to maintain itself?
Consider the following passage in light of the Israeli practice during the Lebanon war of warning villagers that they would be targets if they did not abandon their villages. Upon doing so, the terrified residents were promptly marked as Israeli targets when they fled to safety in car caravans and killed by their dozens:
Tens of thousands of Gazans have received recorded phone calls from the Israeli Army warning them that their houses have been marked as targets because they harbored either militants or weapons facilities like rocket workshops. Noncombatants were urged to clear out. Hundreds of thousands of leaflets gave the same message.
Where do the Israelis think these Gazans can go if they abandon the shelter of their homes? To all those air raid shelters that don’t exist? Or the shelter of other public buildings which likely have been bombed to smithereens? Of course, Israel doesn’t care about where these people go. It only wants to be able to claim if there’s a public relations disaster in the offing in which scores of civilians are killed by an Israeli attack, that they warned them to flee and they chose not to–hence the victims fault. Naturally.
Ehud Olmert has drawn the Bush Administration into the role of willing enabler of this disaster:
…White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said Mr. Olmert had “assured President Bush that Israel is taking appropriate steps to avoid civilian casualties” in Gaza. In addition, he said, the Israeli leader told Mr. Bush that Israel was “targeting only Hamas operatives and those affiliated with Hamas.”
They discussed prospects for a cease-fire — “what steps could lead to a cessation of violence,” Mr. Johndroe said — but did not “get into specific timetables.”
“It all begins with Hamas agreeing to stop firing rockets” into Israel, Mr. Johndroe added. “The onus is on Hamas.”
In one of the densest urban environments on earth how do you distinguish between targets that are Hamas and targets that are not? Clearly, Israel cannot do so which is why scores of innocent women and children have died.
The idea that the “onus is on Hamas” is a further indication of the cynical collusion between Washington and Tel Aviv that will never bring a halt to this madness until it is eliminated from their political lexicon. The onus is on both sides, but especially on Israel since it is disproportionately the aggressor. Instead of making demands of the other side and forgetting their own responsibilities, both should accept the reasonable demands of their opponents and compromise so that the rockets cease flying and the Gaza siege is ended for once and for all. This is the ONLY solution. Everything else is wasted breath.