I normally begin these posts with the latest death toll in order to bring home the horror of Israel’s attack on Gaza. But the Palestinian health ministry, which compiles these figures, says it can no longer compile these statistics, since it is too dangerous to move around and communication is all but cut off.
Nor can media do what it usually does in similar situations by traveling through a war zone and interviewing officials and residents. Israel has completely sealed off Gaza to foreign journalists (except those like CNN reporters willing to embed themselves with IDF invaders). This is a clever strategy to reduce or eliminate the outrage the world would feel if their country’s reporters weren’t prevented from their job.
This AP News story recounts the deliberate extermination of six entire families in Gaza by Israeli missiles:
Entire generations of Palestinian families in the besieged Gaza Strip — from great-grandparents to infants only weeks old — have been killed in airstrikes in the Israel-Hamas war…
The deaths recounted in this story are not accidental. They are not collateral damage. They were targeted specifically in a form of terminal collective punishment. As if it wasn’t bad enough that nearly 250 members of these families died, the reason they died only amplifies the horror.
An Israeli security source tells me their “crime” was that at least one member of each of these six families (al-Naouq, al-Butta, al-Astal, Hassouna, Najjar and Saqallah) was a Hamas fighter who participated in the 10/7 attack on Israel. He claims that “hundreds” more such families are similarly marked for death.
This plan for mass extermination appears part of the Amalek Directive given by the security cabinet. It directed the IDF and Shin Bet to murder the six top Hamas leaders and their families. The order invoked the Biblical command to exterminate every living soul of the tribe of Amalek. Apparently, the Directive also called for the elimination of the families of Hamas fighters who participated in the 10/7 attack as well.
I do not have any way of verifying the accuracy of the source’s account. I cannot confirm the source’s claim that any family member was a Hamas fighter. I cannot guarantee that this is not an attempt to minimize the horror of these Israeli mass murders; or instill terror in the other families not yet wiped out.
21 members of the al-Naouq family were murdered, including a 75-year old father, two brothers, three sisters and their 13 children:
…Wala’a, the most accomplished of the al-Naouq children with a degree in engineering, and her four children; Alaa and her five children; Aya, known for her wry sense of humor, and her three children; older brother Muhammed; and younger brother Mahmoud, who was preparing to travel to Australia for graduate studies when the war broke out.
Nine of the 21 are still under the rubble; dire fuel shortages prevented civil defense crews from digging them out.
These are the death figures for the other families mentioned above:
The al-Astal family lost 89 relatives, 18 of them children under the age of 10, including three babies not yet a year old, according to an Oct. 26 ministry report. The Hassouna family had 74 killed, including 22 children ranging in age from 1 to 10 years old, it said. The Najjars lost 65 relatives: Nine were under 10 years old and 13 were under 4.
250 men, women, babies pay for the sins of a few of their relatives. Biblical vengeance is bad enough: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. This is a mass murder for an Israeli death. This is 250 dead Palestinians for every Israeli.
Even if the source’s claim is true–it means that the Israeli security apparatus has decided that instead of merely fighting Hamas, they are going to exact revenge on everyone even remotely connected to it. Civilian status, even a child or baby, no longer carries any meaning for Israel. The Bible says no child may be punished for the sins of the father. Israel’s new dictum is babies die for the sins of their father, mother, sister, brother, cousin, in-law.
Nor are we talking of punishment of a fighter’s direct family members. Israel is killing cousins, in-laws, friends–all of whom are sheltering together in a home. This is worse than collective punishment, which itself violates international law. This is collective mass murder. 20 or 30 or 40 dead for every family member who fights with the resistance.
If Israel’s security strategy is simply to mow down entire families with some Hamas affiliation, it will have to exterminate everyone in Gaza. Virtually every Gazan has a family member, friend, colleague who is a fighter. So why not eliminate them all and be done with it? I’m almost certain Israel would do so if it felt it could get away with it. Given the feeble opposition of the world to the Gaza slaughter, they might very well do so.
This is not a security policy. This is pure vengeance. Does anyone who planned, approved or exacted these murders think for a second that it will deter recruitment of Hamas fighters? Does anyone believe that any family would prevent a relative who sought to join Hamas, from doing so? If that is the level of Israeli security strategy, it’s no wonder it’s committing genocide.
They expect this brutish punishment will deter future fighters from doing what these did. But it will do just the opposite. It will launch a forever war. Much longer than the Hundred Years War. This could be a war till the end of time or history. Murder and death forever. Thanks to a country based on death and vengeance. A darkness unto the nations.
Whatever one says about the horrors of the Holocaust, the Nazis had a clear, diabolical goal: the systematic extermination of every Jew in Europe. Israel is also engaged in genocide. But it is a haphazard one with no clear goal or purpose, other than pure vengeance. Revenge is an emotion, it is not a policy. Emotions don’t achieve political or security goals.
Gaza: sleepwalking toward disaster
NBC News portrays increasing tension between Israel and the US about post-war plans for Gaza. I can’t tell which is more delusional: Netanyahu, who proposes wiping out all of northern Gaza, turning it into a no man’s land. This would eliminate over 20% of Gazan territory. He further intends to “disarm” Gaza, and stay until there is no longer any resistance to Israel. He proposes an indefinite occupation.
This is more or less what Israel attempted in southern Lebanon between 1982 and 2002, when it undertook a disastrous occupation along with its proxy ally, the South Lebanese Army. Hundreds of Israeli troops died until Israel finally withdrew, leaving behind a Hezbollah that gained strength the longer Israeli occupation lasted.
Now Netanyahu proposes to billet Israeli troops there indefinitely. It’s a plan with no clear goal or strategy. Who is to determine when Palestinian resistance has ended? What is the end game?
To me, it appears a plan that is more likely to see Gaza ethnically cleansed, as Israel has proposed to six of its Arab and western allies (including the US and UK).
The Biden administration has rightly objected to Netanyahu’s proposals. It opposes any ethnic cleansing of Gaza, including the no man’s land buffer zone. It opposes an Israeli occupation.
Though the US vision may be different, it is just as bad as the Israeli one. It says Gaza must be governed by Palestinians. It proposes that the Palestinian Authority take over Gaza. This is deja vu all over again.
Before 2005, the PA ruled the West Bank and Gaza. After Hamas won the 2006 legislative elections, Abbas and Elliot Abrams concocted a coup, which they believed would overthrow Hamas in Gaza. They brought in a Fatah strongman, Mohammed Dahlan, and gave him carte blanche to bring Gaza under PA control. But he failed and the coup plot failed as well. Hamas ruled Gaza and the PA ruled the West Bank. All further attempts at reconciliation, shared rule, or new elections failed. Mainly due to recognition by Abbas and his cronies that they would lose any election held.
So now the US wants to bring the PA back to Gaza. It’s not as if it’s doing so well governing the West Bank. It is corrupt, sclerotic and dysfunctional. To the extent that it does function, it serves as a Palestinian stooge to Israeli interests. No one except those on the Fatah gravy train believe in it. So the Biden plan is to take this failed entity and add Gaza to its portfolio?
The US has also talked of the importance of uniting Gaza and the West Bank and of renewing the efforts toward a two-state solution. Neither of which is feasible. There is a grave danger in proposing things which cannot happen. You pretend to do something that neither you nor anyone can do. Unless you are willing to bring every pressure to bear to achieve it. Failure drains hope and faith from everyone involved, especially Palestinians. Failure and loss of hope are precisely what triggered the Hamas 10/7 attack.
Finally, the Israelis will not agree to any of the US proposals. Certainly no Palestinian state. Probably no PA rule in Gaza. The question is how much pressure, if any, will Biden exert against Israel’s plans. So far the odds aren’t looking good. Which means we could be sleepwalking toward disaster. One that could last for years or even decades.