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It has to be stated bluntly: Israel’s land and air attacks on Gaza, which began July 8 ostensibly in “self-defense” against Hamas rocket launches into Israel, have clearly gone too far.  Israel’s lopsided advantage in military firepower used against the tiny, densely-populated, overwhelmingly civilian Palestinian enclave of Gaza, accompanied with an also lopsided number of Palestinian civilian casualties compared to the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rocket fire, make a mockery of any Israeli pretense of acting solely in self-defense, operating solely because it was provoked by Hamas.  Numbers do not lie, and the numbers tell quite another story.  According to the New York Times Daily Tally of attacks and death attributable to both sides, as of July 25, 2014, Israel had attacked 3,209 targets in Gaza and killed 856 Palestinians, most of them civilians; by contrast, Hamas had fired 2,233 rockets into Israel, many of them crude, inaccurate and easily intercepted by Israel’s Iron Shield missile intercept system.  As a result, only 40 Israeli civilians had been killed by such rockets, and the total number launched as of the 25th were nearly 1,000 fewer than the number of Gaza targets attacked by Israeli forces.  Such is not “self-defense” by any reasonable definition of the term.

Nor is the Israeli claim that Hamas is holding the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza essentially hostage and using them as “human shields” any more credible than that of “self-defense.”  In the one election held to determine the Palestinian government of Gaza, Hamas won, although it was not allowed to govern.  Hamas holds Gaza “hostage” because members of Hamas themselves are Gazans, they also live there, same as the non-Hamas population.  Essentially they are akin to a guerilla force—and moreover, a guerilla force whose predecessors were financed and encouraged by Israel itself as a religious foil against the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO, and Israel’s then arch-terrorist of the day, Yasser Arafat.  Now the PLO’s successor, the Palestinian Authority, or PA, are the “good guys” to the Israelis, while Hamas has become the arch-terrorist of the current day.  As Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery mentioned recently in CounterPunch, “If Hamas did not exist, Israel would have to invent it.”

An update on Palestinian casualties a little before 5:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time July 26 from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation put the number dead as at least 1,030, mostly civilians.  A hundred bodies alone had been pulled from rubble.  By contrast, the number of Israeli military deaths was only 42.

Such disparities in number of dead, such disparities in number of actual civilians killed on both sides, is not “self-defense;” it is deliberate overkill, the deliberate targeting of Gaza’s civilian population in a callous attempt to deliberately destroy the haystack in which the Hamas needles are buried.

It was exactly this that caused an exasperated Secretary of State John Kerry to make the unguarded comment caught on microphone June 20, “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.  It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.” And that was when Palestinian civilian casualties were far fewer.  We may recall Israel’s “pinpoint” accuracy from two days before Kerry’s remarks, when three Palestinian boys playing ball on the beach were “unintentionally” killed by Israeli gunships, which were supposedly mounted with weaponry so precisely accurate that such was not supposed to be even possible, let alone happen!  No wonder so much of the world is outraged at Israel’s latest military assault on Palestinians.  No wonder there is so much world outcry this time—the sense being that this time Israel crossed the line. As well as outcry even within Israel itself, where peace demonstrators in Tel Aviv were beset upon by thugs.  A very sizeable minority of the U.S. population, 34%, disapproves of this Israeli military action, and even though the U.S. Senate voted unanimously in support of a resolution written at the behest of AIPAC supporting the “self-defense” rationale, garnering support even from leading progressive senators such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken and Sherrod Brown, in view of public opinion, these Senators are likely to find their vote was cast on the wrong side of history, and their progressive credentials tarnished in the eyes of grassroots activists.

For reaction worldwide was massive protest demonstrations across the globe against Israel’s incursion.  And though the Israeli government would like to paint such displays of solidarity with the beleaguered Palestinians as pro-Hamas, and even though there was some scattered anti-Semitic violence arising out of some of the demonstrations, notably in Paris, the simple fact is, this worldwide outpouring of solidarity has little or nothing to do with support for Hamas.  For the vast majority of protestors, Hamas is as much anathema to them as the Israeli government, and many of those drawn to the streets in protest are quite aware of Hamas’ Holocaust denial and how Hamas’ charter lifts directly from the hoary anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  No, it was not anti-Semitism that draws opprobrium on Israel for the Gaza attack; it is simple humanity, a desire for a truly equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that allows both peoples to live in peace—but where Israel has made it clear it is the intransigent party, not the Palestinians or any of the Palestinian groups claiming to speak on behalf of the population.  But this time Israel is not getting the automatic green light it used to get; and that is an important change.

At this moment, Israel has said it would honor an additional 24 hours’ cease-fire, and would limit its military actions only to seeking out Hamas tunnels to Israel. Hamas has stated it would not honor the cease-fire, but may anyway, as it is on the eve of the holy day that ends the month of Ramadan.  We can only hope that a more permanent cease-fire can be achieved, and that the carnage against the peoples of Gaza will stop.      

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Comment Preferences

  •  Basic Premise is Nuts (10+ / 0-)

    So, to make this a fair fight under your premise all the Israelis need to do is to turn off their Iron Dome Missile defense and expose their population to more casualties.

    Hamas is firing rockets at civilian targets intentionally. Israel is firing at civilian targets because that is where Hamas is intentionally placing their arms depots and command centers based on the premise that casualties gain them public support.

    Despite being impoverished - not primarily due to Israel - but because of their own corrupt leadership (the head of Hamas is a billionaire living in Qatar) they have poured funds and concrete in building a vast complex of tunnels that were going to be used in a massive attack on civilian targets in Israel over the Rosh Hashanah (New Year) holiday in September.  And why did Hamas have access to the materials to build these tunnels?  Because, Israel under UN and international pressure allowed more concrete to be imported for use in HUMANITARIAN projects.  What a scam.

    If these rockets were being shot down over Minneapolis or St. Louis and tunnels were being found going so raids on pre-schools could be carried out in Seattle - we would demand that those insane Canadians be disarmed and tunnels destroyed, but when the Israelis do what is necessary to defang a murderous enemy they are the aggressors.

    Idiot.

  •  So much propaganda so little time. (4+ / 0-)
  •  ONLY 40 Israeli civilians have been killed (3+ / 0-)

    The Talmud says:  

    He who kills a single person is as if he has killed the whole world.  And he who saves a single life is as if he has saved the whole world.
    Every human life is precious, and it doesn't matter if the human life is Arab or Israeli, Muslim or Jew.  This is a tragedy and a horror, not a numbers game.  One life lost to Hamas missiles or to Israeli airstrikes is one life too many.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 08:12:08 PM PDT

    •  And if one dies, that justifies killing 1030+? n/t (3+ / 0-)

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 08:51:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: ONLY 40 Israeli civilians have been killed (4+ / 0-)

      This statement is not correct.  3 Israeli civilians have been killed by rocket fire, and 37 Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting on the ground in Gaza...to date.

      Palestinian deaths, almost all incurred due to shelling and air strikes by Israel, now number over 1,000.  The vast majority of these casualties are civilians, in many cases children.

      Let's also talk about context.  The American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) has published an article on their web site, Gaza Under Seige, which gives a good overview of the history of the conflict.  Among other things, the article makes clear that Gaza has been under a crippling blockade by Israel for over seven years now, and that cross-border attacks by Israel, by snipers, by rocket fire, by shelling, and often by invasion of ground troops, has been virtually a daily occurence for years.  It seems that Israel can have a right of self defense, but the Palestinians in Gaza  cannot.

  •  I have a question about your casualties by Hamas (8+ / 0-)

    rockets:  the last I read, the number actually killed by rockets prior to the Israeli ground incursion was only one. There may have been a handful since, but I haven't seen anything specific on that. The 36 to 42 Israelis killed since the ground incursion have been Israeli soldiers killed in combat, not by Israeli rockets.

    Under international law, resistance to an occupying force  is legal. Under international law, self defence is permitted when under attack by an occupying force.

    However, indiscriminate attacks on civilians is a war crime, as is collective punishment, let alone collective killing.

    Within Gaza, Hamas is acting according to international law. Israel is not.

    The rockets which Hamas fires into Israel are indiscriminate attacks on civilians, which is also a war crime.

    Small, unguided, usually ineffectual rockets are no comparison to the massive firepower of the Israeli military. Instead of 5kg warheads in Hamas rockets, Israeli are using 1000 lb bombs (~450kg) in civilian neighborhoods. They are using Hellfire missiles shot from drones and helicopter gunships. They are shelling with high explosive tank shells and from highly accurate naval gunships. Naval gunfire is some of the most accurate artillery that exists. Oh, yeah, they are also shelling with high explosive artillery shells.

    Israel has some of the most sophisticated imaging equipment and surveillance in the world, and have thoroughly mapped all of Gaza, as well as maintains constant and close monitoring of activity there.

    The Israelis know where civilians are located and on what density. They know where hospitals are, schools, mosques, apartments, etc. They know.

    So when Israel uses their sophisticated military to destroy block after block of civilian areas, hospitals, UN schools full of shelter-seeking civilians, they know exactly what they are doing.

    In every way, what Israel is doing is unethical, immoral, inexcusable, and to top it off, their actions consist of specific and named war crimes. Israel should be condemned for these actions, but they are sheltered by their protector.

    Revolting.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 08:44:29 PM PDT

    •  Slight correction (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Says
      So when Israel uses their sophisticated military to destroy block after block of civilian areas, hospitals, UN schools full of shelter-seeking civilians, they know exactly what they are doing.
      Allow me to rewrite it for accuracy:
      So when Israel uses their sophisticated military to destroy block after block of booby trapped houses, hospital/command bases/sniper nest/missile launchpads, UN schools full of shelter-seeking Hamas missiles, they know exactly what they are doing.</</p>
      •  After years of compaction into concrete-walled (5+ / 0-)

        ...'Bantustans' by relentless Israeli military pressure and repeated rounds of new seizures and settlement of Palestinian land, all of Gaza and the West Bank are now nothing more than prisons with some of the highest population densities in the world.

        There is virtually no way for Gazans or West Bank Palestinians to house weapons of any kind without them being near a school or a hospital, because all of Palestinian territory has been compressed into...well, a giant concentration camp.

        When Israel obliterates a densely populated apartment block with 1,000 lb bombs, killing scores or hundreds of civilians, they're acting no differently from a wife beater who punches his spouse into a bloody mess and screams "Now look what you made me do!"

        •  Nobody squeezed Gaza (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DeeDee001, Jon Says

          Gaza's boundaries have been pretty much set in stone since 1948, when Egypt annexed it.  Israel completely withdrew to those borders in 2005. The fact that the Palestinian Arabs decided to "use their wombs as weapons" (direct quote from Yasser Arafat) and experience out of control population growth (2x since 2000) is nobody's fault but their own. Israel certainly isn't going to let them "expand" into Israel proper, that would be insane.

          And actually, take a look at satellite imagery of Gaza. There is a significant amount of open space, but, of course, Israel would just blow the crap out of any missiles, rockets, offensive weapons stored in the open. That's why they hide them in civilian areas, because they know Israel is kind enough to "knock" and warn them first before they attack, and they can rush people in to use as human shields, while keeping their terror weapons safe.

        •  Nonsense.. (0+ / 0-)

          Gaza's borders were set back in 1948, when it was annexed by Egypt, and haven't changed since. Israel completely withdrew in 2005. The reason Gaza is so  overcrowded is Arafat's call for Palestinian women to "use their wombs as weapons" (his words, not mine). They've DOUBLED their population in just over a decade, and that's why they're so overcrowded.

          Looking at a satellite map of Gaza, there is plenty of open space for them to store their missiles and terror tunnel entrances, but  they'd be immediately destroyed by Israel of course. The correct solution is not to pick a fight with someone who could do that, but instead, Hamas finds it easier to store and fire their  missiles in civilian areas like hospitals and schools, since every collateral civilian casualty plays well for them politically, and they know Israel will warn them of any attacks, allowing them time to rush human shields into the area, and evacuate their weapons to safety.

          •  But isn't Gazan public opinion still (0+ / 0-)

            approving of Hamas? Are the people captive of an unwanted regime or do they support Hamas, despite all this?

          •  Let's be accurate (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            capelza

            The modern  borders of Gaza were set in the 1947 UN partition plan.  see the map.  

            http://www.veteranstoday.com/...

            Gazan overpopulation is an effect of the movement of refugees, over 80% of current residents are from somewhere else.  FAr exceeding the carrying capacity.

            •  So...that map is wrong (0+ / 0-)

              The map on the left isn't accurate. In 1946, it should be showing the mandate of Transjordan. The leftmost map is ci pletely wrong as the Jewish settlement blocks were far larger by then. Nice wishful thinking though. Of course, Jews were also concentrated in urban areas, so like those red/blue congressional maps here, it's highly misleading.

              But, to the original issue and some hard facts,
              The birthrate in Gaza, at 5.57, is THE Reason it's so overcrowded.

              In 1970, after Israel took over, the population was 340,000.  By 1990, it had almost doubled, to 650,000. By 2000, it doubled again to 1,130,000 and now it's 1.7m ( all UNRWA numbers. So no, it has nothing to do with refugee movement, but rather that for some reason, the Palestinians are the ONLY refugee group ever accorded multi-generational status (since refugees are expected to settle in neighboring countries normally, or migrate). Oh...and don't forget,,there were a good chunk of Egyptian Arabs moved there between 1948 and 67. Just some hard facts for ya...

              •  No jobs, no resources, no economic activity... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                barleystraw, capelza

                so what else is left for people to do?

                Birth rates are traditionally high in 'co-ed' prisons. Go figure.

                But keep blaming the victims for what happens to them.

              •  I invite your attention (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                capelza

                to the UNGA partition plan map, showing that part of the Palestinian state that incorporated the Gaza district.  Is that map incorrect?   Remember these lines were negotiated with Zionists leaders.  

                In 1948 the Population of Gaza was about 80,000.  That grew 4 fold with the influx of refugees.  
                Do you dispute that?

                Oh, and refugees have a right to return home when possible.  It is a right.   Israel acknowledged that right and accepted their responsibility to implement that right by accepting UNSC 194 as a condition of UN membership.  Repatriation was to be  "At the earliest possible date".  
                Do you dispute that?

                That's why UNRWA exists, because of Israel's comittment to the resolution.

                •  No, no, and yes. (0+ / 0-)

                  Yes, the 1948 partition map was correct. Unfortunately for the Palestinian Arabs, they made the grave mistake of REJECTING the plan, in an attempt to get it all. Instead, they got nothing, when the majority of the land allocated for them was stolen by their fellow Arab nations, Egypt (Gaza) and the West Bank and East Jerusalem (Jordan). Israel got the rest, per the recognized armistice agreement of 1949.

                  No, I don't dispute the original 80k. Of course, there was a significant effort by Egypt to lay claim to their newly conjured land, which contribute dramatically to those numbers. Still has little to do with my original point on the insanely high, unsustainable birthrate leading to horrific overcrowding in Gaza. Tell me though, if Egypt and Israel opened the borders, do you think Gazans would just leave? Where would they go?

                  And yes..read here for a breakdown of the supposed "right of return". The Arab nations never met the conditions for this to even be considered, and now, quite frankly, it's a non-starter. The original 700,000 refugees were more than balanced out by 750,000 incoming Jewish refugees from Arab lands in any case.Resolution 194

                  •  I support (0+ / 0-)

                    the return of the Jewish refugees currently in refugee camps to their homelands with full compensation, should they wish to do so.

                    We should also support the return of those who wish to return, regardless of their current status.   And they might just might, if peace breaks out.

                    •  Too late (0+ / 0-)

                      Israel already absorbed their fellow Jews, just as the Arab nations were supposed to do for their fellow Muslim brothers.

                      That being said,  Israel could certainly absorb or compensate  the ORIGINAL refugees, and likely would in the event of real peace. What will never happen is absorption of multiple generations of refugees, which has never happened before in history. Those descendants have no right of return, even under international law.

      •  Please feel free to post videos and photos (4+ / 0-)

        of the secondary explosions - the Israeli bomb exploding, then all the rockets exploding - after Israeli destruction of homes, schools, and hospitals. Feel free to post drone photos and other proof of the piles of rockets, rocket parts, crushed rocket launchers in buildings bombed by Israel.  Aside from drones, the IDF is there in tanks and on foot.  Certainly they have such proof.

        And yet, even though it would provide backing for the claims of Israel's vast propaganda machine, where is the proof?  It should be everywhere shouldn't it?

        The UN attempted to return to their shelled school, accompanied by international weapons experts to inspect and search for rockets and launchers as claimed by Israel. However, Israeli gunfire drive them away before they could enter the destroyed building. Huh...

        If that is really happening, shouldn't the IDF welcome the UN and international arms inspectors?

        Nice talking points... but..... lacking.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 09:38:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You were saying? They have been posting the video (0+ / 0-)

          UNRWA release:

          UNRWA condemns placement of rockets, for a second time, in one of its schools.

          http://www.unrwa.org/...

          IDF Video - secondary explosions from Gaza arms depot in neighorhood

          http://www.youtube.com/...

          IDF Video - secondary from munitions in tunnel

          http://www.youtube.com/...

          •  *Vacant* school. Arms. Munitions. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barleystraw, capelza

            No rockets. No photos of rockets, "UN disputes videos of rocket launches from their schools", from Meet The Press just this morning.

            Again, an occupied people are legally entitled to self defence and to resistance. Thus, arms and munitions.

            Over one thousand are dead. Many thousands wounded while Israel blockades all aid. Tens of thousands homeless.  Over one to four Israeli civilians possibly killed by "rockets."

            IDF deaths within Gaza are legitimate self defence.

            It isn't a war. It isn't anything other than an organized slaughter of civilians by a modern, mechanized, armored, high tech military having control of all borders, air, land, and sea.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 08:05:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  No one wants peace more than Gaza Palestinians (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeeDee001

    The question is, does Hamas want peace?  I think we know the answer to that.  

    Interesting how there was little public uproar after Allied firebombing of Dresden in 1945 where there were few if any military or industrial targets.

    Con los pobres de la tierra, Quiero yo mi suerte echar

    by mojave mike on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 09:39:12 PM PDT

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