By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, January 25, 2009
” ‘Freedom or death’, is the popular Palestinian mantra,” wrote Palestine Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Ramzy Baroud in his January 22 article titled “Breaking Gaza’s Will: Israel’s Enduring Fantasy.”
Three weeks of Israeli terror caused about 1400 deaths, over 5500 injured (many seriously), vast destruction and throughout Gaza, and Physicians for Human Rights warning that large numbers of wounded may die because hospitals are overloaded and lack basic supplies. Yet Palestinians endure. Their spirit is unbowed and unbroken. Hamas is more popular than ever, and world outrage sustains them.
Middle East analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies believes Israel blundered badly. On January 9, he asked:
“The War in Gaza – Tactical Gains, Strategic Defeat?” In spite of all the IDF’s might “The fact remains that the growing human tragedy in Gaza is steadily raising more serious questions as to whether the kind of tactical gains that Israel now reports are worth the suffering involved.”
Cordesman reviewed the death, injury and destruction toll after 14 days of fighting, then added: “These direct costs are only part of the story.” He cited the siege’s crippling economic and humanitarian effects and wrote: “The current war has consequences more far-reaching than casualties. It involves a legacy of greatly increased suffering for the 1.5 million people who will survive this current conflict.”
“It is also far from clear that the tactical gains are worth the political and strategic cost to Israel. At least to date, (the war) increased popular support for Hamas and anger against Israel in Gaza. The same is true in the West Bank and the Islamic world….The US is seen as having done virtually nothing….and the President elect is getting as much blame as” George Bush.
He quotes former Saudi ambassador to Washington and London, Prince Turki al-Faisal saying: “The Bush administration has left you (with) a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza. Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians….”
According to Cordesman, Israel appears to be repeating “the same massive failures” as in the 2006 Lebanon war. “Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal or at least one it can credibly achieve? Will Israel end in empowering (Hamas) in political terms….? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope for peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To be blunt, the answer (appears) to be yes….If this is all that Olmert, Livni, and Barak have (to show for their efforts) then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends.”
Three Weeks of Israeli Terror Took Its Toll
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights compiles it daily and presents it in weekly reports. Its latest January 15 – 22 one includes whole families killed. More than 43% of deaths and injuries were women and children. The vast majority of casualties were civilians. “Entire features of many areas have disappeared, and civilian infrastructure services have completely collapsed.” Other destruction included:
– hospitals, ambulances, civil defense and private vehicles, and relief services damaged or destroyed;
– thousands of homes and whole neighborhoods damaged or destroyed as well as -
– roads, bridges, power installations, sewage facilities, water wells, and other infrastructure;
– 28 public civilian facilities;
– ministry, municipality and other government buildings; the parliament building;
– UN sanctuaries;
– commercial buildings;
– 121 industrial and commercial workshops destroyed; at least 200 others damaged;
– fishing boats and harbors;
– 21 private projects, including cafeterias, wedding halls, tourist resorts and hotels;
– 30 mosques completely destroyed; 15 others damaged;
– five concrete factories;
– 60 police stations;
– five media buildings and two health ones completely destroyed;
– 29 educational institutions completely or partly destroyed; and
– thousands of dunams of agricultural land razed.
After Israel declared a January 17 “ceasefire,” homes were bulldozed, agricultural land razed, civilians attacked and killed, homes invaded and searched, and arrests made. The war cost the al-Sammouni clan 36 of its men, women and children.
The West Bank wasn’t spared. The pattern repeats weekly, but from January 15 – 22 alone:
– Hebron and Beit ‘Awa village (southwest of the city) homes were raided and searched; four civilians were arrested;
– Jenin town and refugee camp homes were invaded, searched, and one civilian arrested;
– Bourqin village homes, west of Jenin, were raided, searched, and one civilian arrested;
– Qabtatya village homes, southwest of Jenin, were invaded and searched; no arrests were reported;
– Roujib village homes, east of Nablus, were raided, searched, and one arrest made;
– Dura village, southwest of Hebron, homes were invaded, searched, and four arrests made;
– Beit Sahour homes were raided and searched; one resident was arrested earlier;
– al-Lubban village, near Nablus, homes were invaded, searched, and three arrests made, including a child;
– at a January 16 Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, anti-war demonstration, the IDF fired live rounds at civilians wounding at least three;
– at another January 16 southern Hebron demonstration, the IDF shot and killed one man and wounded four others, including a child;
– at a same day East Jerusalem demonstration, the IDF fired sound bombs, tear gas, and violently beat protesters; journalists were also attacked and forced to leave;
– at another demonstration near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the IDF attacked and violently beat at least 10 women;
– at an al-’Eissawiya village, east of Jerusalem, demonstration, the IDF fired on and wounded four children, and arrested two others;
– homes were also raided and searched in Beita village, south of Nablus; Zabbouba village, west of Jenin; ‘Anza village, southeast of Jenin; Hawara village, south of Nablus; Taqqou’ village, southeast of Bethlehem; Bani Na’im, east of Hebron; ‘Arraba village, southwest of Jenin; Fahma village, southeast of Jenin; Sa’ir village, northeast of Hebron; Western Toura village, southwest of Jenin; ‘Assira village, north of Nablus; Beit Emrin village, northwest of Nablus; al-Zahiriya village, south of Hebron; Ya’bad village, southwest of Jenin; Bethlehem city; al-Duhaisha refugee camp, southwest of Bethlehem; ‘Aaida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem; and Qaryout village, southeast of Nablus — homes in all areas were raided and searched; numerous arrests were made;
– at a Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, demonstration, the IDF fired live rounds on protesters wounding at least one child and arresting another;
– two undercover IDF operations made arrests in Qabatya village, southeast of Jenin, and Qiffin village, north of Tulkarm.
PCHR reports that the Gaza siege continues. Border crossings remain closed. Collective punishment is enforced. Basic food, medicine and other essentials are unavailable or in scarce supply to the great majority of Gazans. Impoverishment now exceeds 80%. Mass human suffering affects everyone. The world community is complicit by its silence.