Posts Tagged ‘Israeli invasion’

Rights group: Most Gazans killed in war were civilians

September 9, 2009

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and AP  Haaretz/Israel, Sep 9, 2009

The vast majority of the Palestinians killed in Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip last winter were innocent civilians rather than combatants, according to a new report to be published by the B’Tselem organization Wednesday morning. This is the opposite of what the Israel Defense Forces has said.

According to B’Tselem, 1,387 Palestinians were killed during the three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, of whom 773 were noncombatants and only 330 were combatants.

Continues >>

Breaking the Silence on Gaza

July 21, 2009
by César Chelala |, July 20, 2009

A new set of revelations by soldiers who participated in the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation in Gaza offers a disturbing picture of the actions carried out in that territory. Testimony regarding their conduct in Gaza by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli soldiers, confirms previous denunciations by human rights organizations and signals that urgent attention must be paid to the economic and medical needs of a repeatedly abused civilian population.

Operation “Cast Lead” was initiated December 27, 2008 and ended January 18, 2009. Over 1400 Palestinians were killed, 900 of them civilians (65%), including 300 hundred children (22%). Extensive areas of Gaza were razed to the ground and thousands of people were left homeless, even months after the operation ended. The economy of Gaza was all but destroyed.

Full article

Gaza: When Drones Become Indiscriminate

July 1, 2009

By Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler | Inter Press Service

JERUSALEM, Jun 30 (IPS) – The concerted effort of international human rights activists to rein in violations of laws of war was given a major impetus when Human Rights Watch researchers presented a report Tuesday on the unbridled use by the Israeli military of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCLAV), commonly known as drones, during Israel’s 22-day assault on Hamas in Gaza at the beginning of the year.

Entitled ‘Precisely Wrong’, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report focuses on six cases of Israeli drone-launched missile attacks in which 29 Palestinian civilians, eight of them children, were killed. Based on cross-referenced eyewitness accounts corroborated by doctors, as well as ballistics and forensic evidence collected on the attack sites, the report asserts that “in none of the cases did HRW find evidence that Palestinian fighters were present in the immediate area of the attack at the time.

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Palestinians in Gaza struggle to survive: ICRC

June 29, 2009

Khaleej Times Online, June 29, 2009

GENEVA – Six months after the Israeli offensive and two years of a blockade the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are struggling to survive and sliding into despair, the Red Cross said Monday.

“The people living there find themselves unable to rebuild their lives and are sliding ever deeper into despair,” a new report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The report said that seriously ill patients were not getting the treatment they needed and thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Israel’s 22-day military operation at the turn of the new year were still without shelter.

“The poorest residents in particular have exhausted their coping mechanisms and often have to sell off their belongings to be able to buy enough to eat,” said Antoine Grand, head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza.

“Worst affected are the children, who make up more than half of Gaza’s population,” he added.

Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza in June 2007 when the Islamist movement Hamas, which is pledged to the Jewish state’s destruction, took control of the Palestinian territory.

In late December last year, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza to stop Hamas from firing rockets into southern Israel, which claimed 12 Israeli lives. Israeli air raids and tanks destroyed swathes of the coastal enclave and 1,400 Palestinians were killed, according to Palestinian emergency services.

The ICRC report said in the wake of the Israeli offensive essential water and sanitation infrastructure remain largely insufficient and that the equivalent of 28 Olympic-size swimming pools of basically untreated sewage is daily pumped into the Mediterranean Sea.

Some 4.5 billion dollars pledged by donor countries to rebuild Gaza is of little use if building supplies cannot get past the Israeli blockade, the ICRC said, calling for the lifting of restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

“Israel has the right to protect its population against attacks,” said Grand. “But does that mean that 1.5 million people in Gaza do not have the right to live a normal life?”

The Geneva-based humanitarian organisation said Gaza urgently needed to import medical equipment and building supplies including cement and steel, and its farmers needed access to their land in the buffer zone and its fishermen should be allowed back into deeper waters.

The ICRC also called for political authorities and the armed groups in Gaza to take the necessary steps to help the civilians.

“Humanitarian action can be no substitute for the credible political steps that are needed to bring about the changes the population of Gaza needs,” the ICRC said.

The ruins of Gaza

June 22, 2009

Laura Durkay describes what she witnessed as part of a Code Pink delegation that visited Gaza earlier in June.

Socialist Worker, June 22, 2009

The American School in Gaza was destroyed during Israel's onslaught (Laura Durkay | SW)The American School in Gaza was destroyed during Israel’s onslaught (Laura Durkay | SW)

“PEOPLE ARE being kept alive.” It was one of the first things that John Ging, the director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza told us.

It’s a pretty accurate description of the conditions in Gaza, four months after the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which left 1,400 dead, over 5,000 wounded and at least 40,000 homeless. People are being kept alive–and that’s about all.

Four months after the ceasefire, not a brick has been rebuilt in Gaza. Thousands of buildings–from the Palestinian parliament building (heavily damaged) and presidential residence (obliterated), to the Islamic University, the American School, Al Quds Hospital (hit with white phosphorus) and thousands of homes, shops, factories and police stations–stand exactly as they were on January 18, the last day of the war.

Continued >>

Apartheid in my name

February 15, 2009

Kyle Matzpen (not his real name) describes what it was like to be in Israel during the slaughter of Gaza.

Palestinians wait behind barbed wire at the checkpoint at Rafah

JUDAISM EQUALS Zionism–so I have been taught since my early days in Hebrew school. To be against one is to be against both, so if you disagree with the tenets of Zionism or the actions of Israel in the slightest, then you’re an anti-Semite–or in my case, a self-hating Jew.

But underneath this name-calling by Zionists lies a demand for unquestioning conformity from Jews in support of Israel in perpetuity, despite whatever that means for others. Otherwise, you’re not a Jew.

At least that’s what my family told me after they found out my “Free Palestine” political beliefs. I wouldn’t say what happened next was necessarily “forced” on me–“coerced” is probably a closer term–but before I knew it, I was signed up to Taglit-Birthright Israel to connect to my “people’s roots,” and maybe get some sense knocked into me.

To give a fuller idea what Birthright is exactly, I’ll quote one of its founders, a South African and current president of Hillel (a national college-level Jewish youth group), Avraham Infeld, who spoke to a crowd of us Birthrighteers on my last night in Israel. He said he had aimed through Birthright to “create a world where every Jewish child is born with a ticket to Israel tied to his umbilical cord.”

Despite the fact that I’ve never been there, and have no immediate family in Israel, I get a free 10-day, all-expenses-paid trip there, and could even emigrate there with little fuss if I so wished. All because I am Jewish. At the same time, Palestinians whose families up to 1947 had hundreds of years of roots in this land are forever barred from returning. This sense of racial nationalism and entitlement highlighted just about everything I saw and heard in Israel.

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BEFORE THE in-flight movies started on the flight from JFK to Tel Aviv, they played a 30-minute video intro to Israeli tourist attractions. It was a roaring epic of music and montage shots of deserts, wildlife, mountains. And, overall, the theme of the land, the importance of the land, who should get the land, making the land bloom.

A shot of Jerusalem cuts to a clip of two Ibexes fighting over a chunk of cliff rock, then a cut to a pan-shot of acres of irrigated farm. The subliminal symbolism was unnerving.

We landed in Tel-Aviv on January 2. On January 3, our bus of about 40 college kids was on its way for some sightseeing in Jerusalem when a person next to me asked one of the American tour guides about the chances of the ground invasion of Gaza happening while we were in Israel. The tour guide smiled and said, “I think the chances are pretty good.” He sounded pumped.

That night, we came to a place in East Jerusalem called Ammunition Hill. Ammunition Hill is the site of a major battle in what is called by the tour guides the “Reunification of Jerusalem”–in other words, when Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, liberating the land from its inhabitants.

Today, it’s a memorial with the Jordanian trench works from the battle fully restored. This came in handy, as one of the Israeli tour guides had us reenact in the trenches, step by step, the entire battle of Ammunition Hill.

This is where you came under heavy fire from a Jordanian pillbox. Three of us played dead. This is where you throw your grenades into the Jordanian pillbox.

When we arrived back at our hotel that night, we learned that while we were playing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) make-believe and shooting at invisible Jordanians, the ground invasion in the slaughter of Gaza had begun.

Suffice it to say, we were purposely kept out of the loop about what was happening at every step of the way. News about the IDF attacking UN-run shelters and food aid hubs, or the widespread use of the white phosphorus chemical weapons, I only heard after coming back. But information about Israeli casualties–they made sure that sunk in.

On the day after the ground invasion began, they took us for a tour of the Israel Defense Forces national cemetery, proving once again that the trip organizers had a morbid sense of irony. The constant noise of F-16s going supersonic and Blackhawk helicopters flying low overhead made an oddly poignant background noise as we viewed the graves of the likes of Levi Eshkol and Theodore Herzl.

I looked at the rows upon rows of graves of children my age, and thought about what life was like for them. They pump these children up to their eyes with nationalism, religious pride and a contrived Israeli-origin history, written by the victors, and they send them off to kill Muslims.

And if, God forbid, they die in battle against other children, they will be buried in a cemetery among heroes and prime ministers, so that even smaller children can come here on class field trips, put stones on their graves and think of how glorious it must be to die in battle. And if for some reason an Israeli child wants no part of this cycle, there must be something wrong with them.

The mandatory draft has created an Israeli society that is entirely militarized. Newspapers had full-page articles just on the type of gear that the Special Ops were using in Gaza. Everywhere, there were IDF T-shirts, T-shirts proclaiming that “Masada Will Never Fall Again” and Israeli flags. People seemed naturally more aggressive on every level. Just imagine it’s like living in the movie 300, minus the slow motion, and with an uber-emphasis on the “stronghold of civilization against the dirty barbarian hordes” concept.

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THE AMOUNT of racism I heard on the trip, from both my fellow Birthrighteers and the actual American and Israeli tour guides, was mind-boggling.

For example, a tour guide informed us as our bus was driving on a Jewish-only access highway through the West Bank that Palestinians “went to the bathroom in the street and bred like rabbits.”

One afternoon, they took us to the Israeli-Lebanese border to get a better view of “the enemy.” From our vantage point next to a rather plush Israeli suburban town–which wouldn’t look out of place in Orange County–we were assured by our tour guide that somewhere in those bombed-out buildings in Lebanon, Hezbollah was waiting to kill us. The tour guide then taught us about the dangers of Islam. He said, “To me, ‘radical Islam’ is a misnomer since 80 percent of imams preach Jihad. Just saying.”

I would find out after returning that, oddly enough, at the same time that this lecture was happening, a UN-controlled school in Gaza that was being used to distribute aid was being shelled, killing 40 civilians.

The next day, they took us on a lovely Jeep tour through the Golan Heights to learn about its strategic importance for Israel. Over here are bombed-out Syrian pillboxes, bunkers and rusted-out Syrian tanks. Here is an abandoned Syrian town, now in Israeli territory, and right over there, just over the border and less than a mile away, is the new Syrian town, so the people there can actually see every day where they used to live.

As the slaughter in Gaza was intensifying, and bits of information began floating in to us by rumor, the trip organizers found it necessary to intensify our propaganda education with “structured discussions” and a lecture from an IDF lieutenant colonel. We were told candidly that the siege was not, at its core, a response to the rocket attacks, but was an attempt to wipe out Hamas–to “squash out the cockroaches.”

To quote the lieutenant colonel, “We gave them [the Gazans] democracy, and the land, and opened up the borders to goods and services, and what do they do to repay us? They voted for Hamas. They failed our test…I don’t understand what they mean by ‘innocent bystanders’ in Gaza, because they all voted for Hamas.”

On the charge that the 100-to-1 Palestinian-Israeli casualty ratio in the Gazan slaughter might be ever-so-slightly asymmetric, the lieutenant colonel gave what was possibly the most interesting statement of the entire trip. He reversed the David and Goliath analogy, saying:

Look at Goliath, he’s well trained, well armored, huge, nothing can beat him, you’d think. But then along comes this tiny religious fanatic, David, with a slingshot. Goliath thinks nothing of him, so all David has to do is stay just out of Goliath’s reach and hit him in his weak spot, and Goliath comes tumbling down.

This is a lesson for Israel–no matter how better armed we may think we are, we must never underestimate out foes and never let them out of our reach, or else we’ll go the way of Goliath.


While we were bobbing in the Dead Sea, a fellow Birthrighteer told me–in the language of racism, accentuated by curses–that Palestinians and Muslims in general would “kill me twice, once for being Jewish, a second time for being an American.”

Which was kind of weird since not a week earlier, I was at a protest in New York City against the bombing of Gaza among 2,000 people, 80 percent of them Muslim or Arab, holding up a sign saying “Jew for a Free Palestine”–and nobody stabbed me. In fact, I was well welcomed. Go figure.

While I was climbing Masada and touring Tel Aviv, protests all over the world were erupting against Israel’s barbarism in Gaza. I was privileged to witness one particular news broadcast while in Tiberius. I couldn’t understand a word that was said, but it was clearly a protest of the attack on Gaza put on by maybe 30 Israeli college kids.

They were being heckled, pushed and spat upon by passersby, and I realized two things: Firstly, that if they were in college, that would mean they were all veterans of the IDF, and secondly, that they had every ounce of my respect.

Zionism attempts to portray itself as the sole political representative of the Jewish people, for it is only then that it can whitewash the genocidal crimes of Israel by saying they are what’s required to protect all Jews everywhere. This claim of hegemony is a lie.

Though still a minority, the numbers of fellow Jewish Anti-Zionists are growing. They are people who wish to epitomize the best in Jewish history, and stay on the side of the oppressed. They deny the racist concept that the life of an Israeli is somehow more precious than the life of a Palestinian.

Israel is a sort of utopia–modern towns defended by young men and women with Uzis, all held together by a strong sense of community. I can understand why it is tempting to some Jews. But it is a utopia for some, not for all, built on the oppression of others, and those groups are defined in purely racial terms. Israel is the world’s largest and most aggressive gated community.

When speaking to the socialists of the Jewish Bund, the Russian revolutionary Lenin said that is was wrong to “legitimize Jewish isolation by propagating the idea of a Jewish ‘nation.'” The task was “not to segregate nations, but unite the workers of all nations. Our banner does not carry the slogan ‘national culture,’ but ‘international culture.'”

Peace is simply impossible as long as Israel defines itself at its core as a Jewish exclusive state, and the chauvinistic and racist tenets of Zionism remain its guiding philosophy. Only one state–one secular state, with equal rights for all and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees–can solve this. Nothing more, nothing less.

War on Gaza: Israeli Action, Not Reaction

February 5, 2009

Nicola Nasser| PEJ News, Feb 4, 2009

Stubbornly insisting on getting the carriage before the horse as the approach to a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire in Gaza Strip, U.S. and European diplomacy in particular is building on an Israeli misleading premise that the 22 – day military operation, dubbed “Cast Lead,” against the Palestinian Gaza Strip was a reaction and not a premeditated long planned scheme that found in the change of guards in Washington D.C. an excellent timing. It was “not simply a reaction,” but “a calculation,” Daniel Klaidman wrote in Newsweek on January 10.

U.S. and European diplomats are reiterating the Israeli propaganda justification: “What would any normal country do if they were threatened by rocket fire? They would act.” U.S. President Barack Obama was the last western leader to uphold this Israeli claim. “But Israel is not a normal country, it is an occupying country,” former Palestinian – Israeli member of Knesset Azmi Bishara said. Moreover what country would tolerate an eight–year siege and not consider it an act of war without any national reaction? Why should western diplomacy judge Palestinians in Gaza as universally abnormal?

Western diplomacy is building on the Palestinian reaction in self–defense as the igniting cause of violence and on the Israeli aggressive action as the resulting effect. It is a non starter. It could win EU high representative Javier Solana, the international middle East quartet of peace mediators’ envoy Tony Blair, who are regular visitors to the region, and U.S. newly appointed Middle East envoy George Mitchell some audience among their Arab and Palestinian peace partners who might still hope that the United States and the European Union may yet be able to deliver on their two–state promise, but this audience was not and is still not the key player in Gaza. Israeli and Hamas’ non–abiding reaction to the UN Security Council resolution 1860 proved British Foreign Secretary David Miliband right when he said immediately thereafter that “peace is made on the ground while resolutions are written in the United Nations.”

Hamas has survived the Israeli “Operation Cast Lead,” which failed to remove it as a key player, to remain the only player on the ground in Gaza and not only as a key player there as well as a major much stronger player among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Diaspora. To build their diplomacy for a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire on the recognition only of the Israeli player while bypassing or sidelining the other protagonist is a dead end approach that could only encourage more Israeli aggressive actions and would for sure invoke more Palestinian violent reaction.

Unfortunately this has been the focus of UN resolution 1860, the so–called Egyptian initiative, the recent European summit meetings with Arab and Israeli leaders, the Israeli–US memorandum of understanding of January 19, George Mitchell’s Middle East eight–day tour, a focus that President Obama had subscribed to two days after his inauguration. It might not be too long before western diplomacy regrets this approach. Hamas should be “engaged … as there could be no solution to the issue” by keeping it out in the cold, Nathan J Brown, an expert from Carnegie Endowment, was quoted as saying by Indian “The Hindu” on January 25, a view shared also by former US president Jimmy Carter.

In historical perspective, nothing proves the Israeli action and the Palestinian reaction more than the very existence of Hamas. While founding the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the reaction of the Palestinian refugees in exile to the Israeli action of forcing them out of their homeland in 1948, the founding of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Gaza was the Palestinian reaction to the Israeli military expansion in 1967, which led to the occupation of the rest of historic Palestine.

More recently, the Palestinian reaction managed to develop some locally–made primitive rockets in self–defense, and to smuggle in some “Grad” systems, which Israel used in addition to the tunnels under the Gaza–Egypt borders as justification for military action, while imposing a media blackout to hide the horrible humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza as the result of its eight year blockade of the territory, which left the besieged Palestinians with one of two choices: Either to starve slowly to death or die instantly en masse in “Operation Cast Lead.” Israel imposed siege, in itself an act of war, as a collective punishment against Gaza civilians. US and European strong advocates of Humanitarian Intervention, led by French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who call now for such interventions in Darfur, Myanmar and Zimbabwe and who did intervene militarily for humanitarian reasons in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo, have kept mum on Gaza.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt hit directly at the root cause of the Gaza conflict. “They will dig tunnels out of desperation and there will be no way of stopping all these tunnels if you don’t open up the border,” he said. Bildt was joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who urged ending, “Gaza’s economic isolation by reopening the crossings that link it to the outside world.” European leaders seem to have finally awakened to the real equation of cause and effect in the conflict. However they are calling for opening Gaza border crossings as a sideshow, as the effect and not as the root cause of Palestinian reaction, as a prerequisite for a “durable and sustainable” ceasefire and not as an obligation that Israel must abide by in its capacity as the occupying power under international law, as merely a humanitarian outlet for the besieged civilian population and not as a national right of the Palestinians in Gaza Strip in the context of the Israeli unilateral military redeployment from the coastal strip in 2005.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit of the Israeli –occupied Palestinian Territories.
He can be reached at

Jimmy Carter: An Unnecessary War

January 10, 2009

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

Knowing that we would soon be seeing Hamas leaders from Gaza and also in Damascus, we promised to assess prospects for a cease-fire. From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

We knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved, as the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the same scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel’s unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

On another visit to Syria in mid-December, I made an effort for the impending six-month deadline to be extended. It was clear that the preeminent issue was opening the crossings into Gaza. Representatives from the Carter Center visited Jerusalem, met with Israeli officials and asked if this was possible in exchange for a cessation of rocket fire. The Israeli government informally proposed that 15 percent of normal supplies might be possible if Hamas first stopped all rocket fire for 48 hours. This was unacceptable to Hamas, and hostilities erupted.

After 12 days of “combat,” the Israeli Defense Forces reported that more than 1,000 targets were shelled or bombed. During that time, Israel rejected international efforts to obtain a cease-fire, with full support from Washington. Seventeen mosques, the American International School, many private homes and much of the basic infrastructure of the small but heavily populated area have been destroyed. This includes the systems that provide water, electricity and sanitation. Heavy civilian casualties are being reported by courageous medical volunteers from many nations, as the fortunate ones operate on the wounded by light from diesel-powered generators.

The hope is that when further hostilities are no longer productive, Israel, Hamas and the United States will accept another cease-fire, at which time the rockets will again stop and an adequate level of humanitarian supplies will be permitted to the surviving Palestinians, with the publicized agreement monitored by the international community. The next possible step: a permanent and comprehensive peace.

The writer was president from 1977 to 1981. He founded the Carter Center, a nongovernmental organization advancing peace and health worldwide, in 1982.

Israel Outraged as Vatican Calls Gaza a ‘Big Concentration Camp’

January 8, 2009

Foreign Ministry Says Cardinal’s Comments ‘Based on Hamas Propaganda’,

Posted January 7, 2009

Echoing Pope Benedict XVI’s repeated calls to end the ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, Vatican Justice and Peace Minister Cardinal Renato Martino urged both the Israeli government and Hamas to show more willingness toward peace talks and for the world to help them come an agreement that would end the ongoing Israeli invasion.

He also expressed concerns about the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, saying “let’s look at the conditions in Gaza: these increasingly resemble a big concentration camp.”

Israel, as has been so often the case as the international community condemns the situation in Gaza, is outraged. The Foreign Ministry accused the Cardinal of making comments “based on Hamas propaganda” and likewise slammed him for “ignoring its numerous crimes,” even though he explicitly called for both sides to end their attacks. He said the Cardinal’s comments would not “bring the people closer to truth and peace.”

Related Stories

compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]

And there lie the bodies

January 5, 2009

By Gideon Levy | ZNet, Jan 5, 2008

Source: Haaretz

The legend, lest it be a true story, tells of how the late mathematician, Professor Haim Hanani, asked his students at the Technion to draw up a plan for constructing a pipe to transport blood from Haifa to Eilat. The obedient students did as they were told. Using logarithmic rulers, they sketched the design for a sophisticated pipeline. They meticulously planned its route, taking into account the landscape’s topography, the possibility of corrosion, the pipe’s diameter and the flow calibration. When they presented their final product, the professor rendered his judgment: You failed. None of you asked why we need such a pipe, whose blood will fill it, and why it is flowing in the first place.

Regardless of whether this story is legend or true, Israel is now failing its own blood pipeline test. As Israel has been preoccupied with Gaza throughout the entire week, nobody has asked whose blood is being spilled and why. Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. Even if Israel wiped Gaza off the face of the earth, killing tens of thousands in the process, as a Chechnyan laborer working in Sderot proposed to me, one can assume that there would be no protest.

They liquidated Nizar Ghayan? Nobody counts the 20 women and children who lost their lives in the same attack. There was a massacre of dozens of officers during their graduation ceremony from the police academy? Acceptable. Five little sisters? Allowed. Palestinians are dying in hospitals that lack medical equipment? Peanuts. Whatever happened to the not-so-good old days of Salah Shahadeh? When we liquidated him in July 2002, we also killed 15 women and children. At least back then, moral qualms were raised for a moment.

Here lie their bodies, row upon row, some of them tiny. Our hearts have turned hard and our eyes have become dull. All of Israel has worn military fatigues, uniforms that are opaque and stained with blood and which enable us to carry out any crime. Even our leading intellectuals fail to speak out on what havoc we have wreaked. Amos Oz urges: “Cease-fire now.” David Grossman writes: “Hold your fire. Stop.” Meir Shalev wants “a punitive operation.” And not one word about our moral image, which has been horribly distorted.

The suffering in the south renders everything kosher, as if the horrible suffering in Gaza pales in comparison. Everyone is hungry for revenge, and that hunger is excused by the need for “deterrence,” after it was already proved that the killing and the destruction in Lebanon did not achieve it.

Yes, I know, war is war. After all, they brought this on themselves. They are a terrorist organization and we are not. They want to destroy us and we seek peace. Still, is there nothing here that will stop this blood pipeline? Even those whose hearts are hardened by “moral righteousness” will have to momentarily halt the bombing machine and ask: Which Israel do we have before us? What will become of its standing in the world, which is now watching the events in Gaza? What are we inflicting on the moderate Arab regimes? And what of the simmering popular hatred we are sowing throughout the world? What good will emerge from this killing and destruction?

It is doubtful whether Hamas will be cut down to size as a result of this wretched war. Yet, the face of the state has been cut down to size, as have civilian elites who are apathetic and scared. The “peace camp,” if it ever existed, has been cut down to size. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz authorized the Ghayan killing, regardless of the cost. Haim Oron, the leader of the “new left-wing movement,” supported the launch of this foolish war.

Nobody is coming to the rescue – of Gaza or even of the remnants of humanity and Israeli democracy. The statesmen, the jurists, the poets, the authors, academe, and the news media – pitch black over the abyss. When the time comes for reckoning, we will need to remember the damage this war did to Israel: The blood pipeline it laid has been completed.

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