Sunday, January 11, 2009

Welcome to Hell: Gaza's unending misery.

Considering the fact that Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth - and is a prison from which the Israelis have made sure there is no escape by sealing off the borders, - one has to wonder what is behind this message sent from the IDF to the occupied population?

The tens of thousands of leaflets, dropped on parts of Gaza City, the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya and the south of the territory, warned residents: "The Israeli Defence Force will soon escalate its operations against tunnels, weapons warehouses, terrorist infrastructure and terrorists all over the Gaza Strip. To keep yourself and your families safe, you are ordered not to be close to terrorists, weapons warehouses and the places where the terrorists operate."

The implication of this is that, should the Israelis kill innocents, please remember that it is your own fault as you were warned "not to be close to terrorists".
The Palestinian death toll rose above 820, including about 235 children and young people.
No doubt those 235 children were hanging around "close to terrorists". But, of course, we know that some of them were actually sheltering in UN compounds in schools when they were killed.

And the reason for all this death and destruction?
Support for his Labour party has risen dramatically ahead of next month's general election because of Barak's handling of the conflict, but it could slump again if there are a significant number of Israeli casualties or the army pulls out without having stopped Hamas rockets.
A family of nine people were amongst the latest casualties.
In the day's bloodiest incident, an Israeli tank shell landed outside a home in the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya, killing nine people as they sat in their garden. They were all from the same clan, and, said health administrator Adham Hakim, their bodies were so mangled they were brought to hospital in the boot of a civilian car. Two were women and two were children.
I know that Israel's supporters reject "the numbers game", and they do so with very good cause:
In the perversely disproportionate mathematics of this conflict, 13 Israelis have been killed – four of them by militant rockets. According to the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry, the overall death toll now exceeds 800, more than a third of them children. The United Nations corroborates this, a report two days ago from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs putting the number of children killed at 265. The Israelis respond that Hamas often uses schools and homes, and therefore are the ones bringing down fire on Gaza's children. Last week, an Israeli attack outside a UN school killed nearly 40 people. Israel and Palestinian witnesses said militants carried out an attack from the area moments earlier. But it is Israeli fire, Israeli weapons and Israeli military that do the aiming – and Palestinian women and children being killed at a rate that is sickening world opinion, if not yet world leaders.
The notion that Israel can portray the civilian death toll as the fault of Hamas is an obscenity. Dropping silly offensive notes which attempt to blame people for their own deaths because they might be "close to terrorists" - in one of the most densely populated regions on the globe - does not remove Israel's responsibility for the gross civilian death count.

Nor are people only in danger from Israeli firepower:

Death from the skies is not the only threat facing Gaza's children. Medical facilities are stretched almost to breaking point, and no one can vouch for this better than Dr Al-Jarou. He is at the Shifa, Gaza's biggest hospital, where about 70 patients are in intensive care, among them his daughter Yasmine. They cling to life through four generators working round the clock at a hospital which has been without power for the past seven days because Gaza's sole power plant has stopped working due to lack of fuel. "How terrible it would be," Dr Hassan Khalaf, the hospital's director, said, "if our patients survive attacks – and then die because of a lack of electricity."

And all of this is occurring after a UN resolution demanding a ceasefire. But Hamas are insisting that the Israelis stop their attempt to starve the Palestinians into submission, which the Israelis are loathe to do.

Israel says any ceasefire must include assurances that Hamas will halt attacks and end the smuggling of weapons into Gaza through the porous Egyptian border. Hamas has said it won't accept any ceasefire deal that does not include the full opening of Gaza's border crossings. The UN resolution emphasised the need to open all crossings, which Israel and Egypt have kept sealed since Hamas militants seized control of the territory 18 months ago. Israeli leaders oppose that step because it would allow Hamas to strengthen its hold on Gaza.

I hardly need remind anyone that Hamas were the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people.

At a time when Bush is telling us of the need to support the exportation of democracy to the Middle East, we are witnessing this carnage because the US, Europe and Israel refused to accept the decision which the Palestinians made in free and fair elections.

It's enough to make you weep.

Click title for full article.

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