As I write this, the latest reports from Gaza by the AP say that over 350 Gazans, many of them women and children, have now been killed and over 1400 wounded in the latest Israeli assault on the Palestinians trapped in the tiny strip of land named Gaza. More accurate descriptions label Gaza the largest open-air prison in the world, home to 1.5 million Palestinian refugees, all of whom have become civilian targets in Israel’s relentless war again the Palestinian people and its democratically-elected leaders in Hamas.
Israel, of course, contends that it is only acting in “self-defense,” seeking to end the rocket attacks launched by Hamas militants in Gazan territory. It contends that the people it has killed have been the very terrorists who have been launching the rockets, by implication, soldiers in what has now become an all-out, if one-sided war. But aside from the innocent Gazan civilians who have been slaughtered by bombs and rockets and drones that do not distinguish between active terrorists and unfortunate bystanders, even the so-called “security forces” Israel claims to be killing are in many cases police officers and civil servants who have had the misfortune to be housed or working in government buildings. Even more outrageously, Israel’s Tzipi Livni blames Hamas for not conforming to “the requirements of the international community.” But if there is a consistent, repeat violator of international rules and regulations, it is Israel. It has thumbed its nose at countless UN resolutions, including 242. It has built an illegal apartheid wall in Palestinian territory. More generally, as an occupying power, Israel is required by international law to care for the people under its 60-year occupation. Instead, it has increasingly tightened its stranglehold on the Palestinians trapped in their shrinking territory, destroying every vestige of livelihood that could allow Palestinians to survive, including food and fuel and even basic medicines like insulin. In this sense, as Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada points out, Israel’s latest assault, said to have been launched in response to the “collapse” of the truce that had been in place for 6 months, is different only in degree from the prior “truce,” a word the media never questions:
“It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.
As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November: ‘there was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food.’”
In other words, Israel has been silently killing Gazans for two years by denying its people the most fundamental necessities of life. Its siege has prevented these people from escaping either by land, by sea, or by air. It has prevailed on a quisling Egyptian government to keep the only crossing enabling the transport of precious supplies into Gaza, the Rafah crossing, mostly closed. Its bombs have now destroyed the underground tunnels which Gazans have dug to allow at least some of these supplies to enter. And now it is bombing a terrorized civilian population, including a five-story women’s dormitory at Islamic University, to send them a message: ‘We are your masters here. You have no recourse, no safety, no life to live unless you willingly place yourselves under our heel.’ And it, seconded by the likes of President Bush, expects Gazans to comply. Complying, of course, ultimately means that sooner rather than later, all Palestinians will agree to leave their own lands so that Zionist Israel can finally complete its long-range plan, an Eretz Israel cleansed of its original inhabitants completely.
What Americans, including the new Obama administration, must decide is whether, and for how long, they can keep sending American treasure, American airplanes, American rockets, American ‘moral’ support to implement such a policy—a policy that is like nothing so much as the one that the Nazis once enforced against their own subject population, the European Jews; a policy which, absent that American aid and support, could not continue for even a single day.