In 1996, Israeli jets bombed a UN building where civilians had taken refuge at Cana/ Qana in south Lebanon, killing 102 persons; in the place where Jesus is said to have made water into wine, Israeli bombs wrought a different sort of transformation. In the distant, picturesque port of Hamburg, a young graduate student studying traditional architecture of Aleppo saw footage like this on the news [graphic]. He was consumed with anguish and the desire for revenge. As soon as operation Grapes of Wrath had begun the week before, he had written out a martyrdom will, indicating his willingness to die avenging the victims, killed in that operation–with airplanes and bombs that were a free gift from the United States. His name was Muhammad Atta. Five years later he piloted American Airlines 11 into the World Trade Center. (Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, p. 307: “On April 11, 1996, when Atta was twenty-seven years old, he signed a standardized will he got from the al-Quds mosque.l It was the day Israel attacked Lebanon in Operation grapes of Wrath. According to one of his friends, Atta was enraged,and by filling out his last testamentd during the attack he was offering his life in response.” ).
On Tuesday, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations school to which terrified Gazans had fled for refuge, killing at least 42 persons and wounding 55, virtually all of them civilians, and many of them children. The Palestinian death toll rose to 660.
You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today.
In fact, you know that the Israeli leaders know that likely their atrocities against civilians in Gaza will produce further terrorism, both against the United States and Israel. They are obviously entirely willing to take that risk. Why? The Israeli far right thrives on ethnic conflict. It may be worried that Obama will try to curb it. What is the worst that could happen, from their point of view? That Obama’s presidency would be destroyed by an alleged failure to prevent such an attack, and that the US public would be shifted to the Right and rededicate itself to its flagging crusade against Islam– oops, I mean “war on terror”?
Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA Bin Laden desk for some years and knows something about radical fundamentalism, concludes, “What is likely to become known across the Islamic world as the “Gaza slaughter” will ensure the continued growth of the Sunni insurgency al-Qaeda leads and inspires.”
And as though on cue, Ayman al-Zawahiri came out with a video Tuesday, saying, “”We will never stop until we avenge the death of all who are killed, injured, widowed and orphaned in Palestine and throughout the Islamic world . . .” He then attacked Barack Obama, saying “These air strikes are a gift from Obama before he takes office, and from Hosni Mubarak, the traitor who is the primary partner in your siege and murder.”
What I am saying is that Israeli leaders like Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and the Israeli high command and intelligence all knew this danger very well when they launched this bloodbath. They subjected you and me to it anyway, because it is immaterial to them what happens to the United States as a result of their bloody-mindedness. They want theirs. They are no different in that regard from American hawks. Bush knew he was endangering Madrid and Glasgow when he attacked Iraq. He didn’t care about his allies, either. In the Hawk Business, provoking terrorism is all to the good. Nor are they different in this regard from the leadership of Hamas, which also acted provocatively without regard to the wider consequences.
‘ Hundreds of Palestinians had fled their homes for the refuge of the al-Fakhoura school, hoping the blue and white flag of the UN flying over the impromptu shelter would protect them from the Israeli onslaught. The UN had even given the Israeli army the co-ordinates for the building to spare it from the shells and air strikes raining down on the Gaza strip. But yesterday afternoon tank shells exploded outside the school, sending shrapnel into the crowds, killing at least 42 and wounding another 55. ‘
Let us just repeat that. It was a school. It was flying a UN flag. The UN had given the Israeli military the coordinates. People were seeking refuge there from Israeli air strikes and military operations. If it were true, as the Israelis now charge after the fact, that the building was being used for mortar attacks on the Israeli army, the why in the world would anyone in their right minds stay there. It would be like playing golf in a lightning storm, and Gazans are not stupid about war. Second, how come dead soldiers didn’t come out of the building? The United Nations has denied this far-fetched Israeli claim.
Aljazeera English reports on the school bombing: warning, graphic.
For footage of an earlier, gruesome attack that killed a whole family, including children, watch this if you have the stomach for it:
If it is a heck of a note to be ten years old and dead, it isn’t that much fun to be alive, either, under near-famine conditions. Thirteen thousand Gazans have fled their homes but have no where to go, since they are blockaded in Gaza, as though they were not human beings but rather roaches in a jar. Ofira Koopmans and Saud Abu Ramadan of Deutsche Press Agentur report,
‘ Residents of Gaza City, who have been without electricity for days, say they have only small amounts of drinking water. With even candles now a scarce commodity, Gaza City residents sit in the dark – many of them in winter coats as they keep windows open to avoid glass shards flying inside their homes from a possible nearby blast. . with the large influx of casualties – unprecedented in at least five decades of the conflict – . . . hospitals are in urgent need of blood units, anaesthetics, strong painkillers, tetanus vaccines and even body bags and sheets, according to the Red Cross. Only two bakeries remain open in Gaza City, with queues stretching all the way down the street. After venturing outdoors and waiting in line for hours on end, each customer can get one plastic bag with 50 small pita breads. Prices have nearly doubled since the offensive began. Large parts of the strip also have no tap water, as power blackout mean pumps are not working.’
Nancy Kanwisher of MIT can count and therefore so does her article. She demonstrates that after the Israel-Hamas truce was concluded in mid-June, 2008, for four months there were virtually no rockets fired at Israel. The rockets began again after two Israeli attacks that killed several Palestinians. Kaminer analyzes periods of mutual violence and relative calm in the past few years and finds that in 80% of the cases, it is Israel that has re-initiated the violence. Her well-grounded analysis demonstrates the falsehood of the allegations that it is impossible to deal with Hamas or that it has always been Hamas that has started the fighting.
Kaminer’s findings make perfect sense if it is remembered that Israel is by far the stronger party and dominates the scene.
Avi Shlaim of Oxford University gives an overview of the Gaza struggle. He explains that he believes the big mistake was for Israel to occupy the Palestinian territories in 1967 and to colonize them.
‘ Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence. . .’
‘ Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era . . . In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion’s share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. . .’
‘ To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace . . .’
‘Israel’s settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs . . . ‘