Israel Bombs Gaza back to Stone Age: Razes only Power Plant & Plunges Strip into Darkness

By Juan Cole

Israel launched a 7-hour campaign of intensive bombing of Gaza on Tuesday, destroying its only power plant. Gaza can no longer generate its own electricity. Without electricity, the water purification plants cannot operate and the drinking water ends up being mixed with sewage or salt water. Without electricity, patients on life support in the hospitals just die, even if Israel does not bomb the hospital, as it has in some instances. The power plant will take the good part of a year to rebuild even after the war ends. Gaza gets some electricity from Israel and Egypt, but many of those lines have been damaged in the fighting.

AJ+ explains: “90% Of People In Gaza Now Have No Electricity

Many Palestinians in Gaza have been reduced to living by candlelight after sunset. This dearth of electricity also has implications for what the outside world can know about the condition of Palestinian families there:

Israel has completely reduced to rubble some 5,000 homes and damaged 26,000. If you figure that Palestinians in Gaza live on average 5 in a dwelling, there would be roughly 340,000 domiciles in Gaza. Israel has therefore destroyed or damaged about ten percent of the housing stock. This is on top of past campaigns of indiscriminate and wanton bombing campaigns. Since Israel keeps Gaza under blockade, it won’t receive the necessary materials to rebuild. The Israelis, having bald-facedly stolen the homes and farms of the people of Gaza, won’t be satisfied until they are forced to sleep in open fields.

Israel has forced some 200,000 Palestinians to flew their homes. But since the Gaza Strip is so small, they have no place to go. Israel won’t let them leave the Strip, but is intensively bombarding it. Some of the places they have taken shelter, including schools and UN refugee shelters, have themselves been bombed by the Israelis.

Channel 4 reports from inside Gaza on “shock and awe”

While one can argue about whether this mortar fire or or that aerial bombing was justified, the destruction of the power plant and therefore of civilian water-purification is certainly a war crime. Babies in particular are vulnerable to dirty water, and often take revenge on their parents for the inability to give them clean water by dying. Israel is, as Rashid Khalidi argues, collectively punishing the entire Palestinian population of Gaza to punish it for being insufficiently cowed and for refusing to accept being ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel.

43 Responses

  1. I can’t think of any rational explanation as to why Hamas continues to fire ineffective rockets into Israel, giving Netanyahu the cover of saying he is protecting Israel from rocket attacks. It’s almost as if Israel is behind the rockets in order to justify their brutality. Israel is blessed with a foe who has no knowledge of PR or military tactics.

    • Israel’s actions are neither rational nor justified. Why allow yourself to get twisted up in Netanyahu’s dishonest rationalizations and B-movie acting?

    • Yes, it does seem futile, but hopeless resistance against overwhelming and insurmountable force is a not uncommon human response to those who are trying to utterly destroy you. The resistance by those in the Warsaw Ghetto was also hopeless; as was the final resistance of native Americans against the destruction of their way of life and a large portion of their people by the European-Americans.

      As for knowledge of PR or military tactics, Hamas seems to be doing about as well as could be expected in terms of military tactics given their pitiful resources. On the PR front, they are fatally handicapped by the simple fact the fact that Israelis are westerners and they are not. The result is prejudice (usually unconscious and therefore doubly impossible to combat) by the dominant elements in the media and political circles, and much of the U.S. population, that simply sees the Palestinians as inherently inferior to the Israelis. Such prejudice is visceral and, unfortunately, all too often overwhelms basic instincts of human decency.

    • Yes. Why do they keep fighting back? Why don’t they just starve quietly and go without medicines, medical training, food, books, jobs and freedom to come and go and everything in the world’s largest outdoor prison..the nerve!

    • The “ineffective” rockets have the power to economically damage the Israeli economy via the vast expense of maintaining the Iron Dome system and initiating IDF reserve call-ups, causing further economic injury via siren drills that shut down normal activity, property damage and psychological injury upon the Israeli public.

      Sderot has been the target of Hamas missiles for years and has teetered on the brink of bankruptcy even with substantial charitable aid from Jewish-American donors. 70% of its children have post-traumatic stress disorder.

      The projected expense of Operation Defensive Edge to Israel is 2.5 billion dollars, not including other related costs.

      While Israel does inflict a painful price on Gazan civilians in this operation, there is a corresponding cost to Israel that in the long-run may not justify its actions. The Gazans have been content to continue backing Hamas just as Israelis in general are supportive of the IDF’s actions in Gaza thus far.

  2. This is a response to the deaths of those five Israeli soldiers.

    Think about that: Hamas launched an assault on an IDF army base – a military target, and no mistaking it – and in response the Israelis decided to take out their frustration and anger on the power station, which is indisputably a civilian target.

    If this isn’t a war crime then, honestly, that phrase has no meaning….

  3. This will come back to haunt the israelis.

    The massive destruction will lead to several things:

    – massive cost to the US, Europe, Saudi Arabia, and others to minimize the deaths from disease and starvation in Gaza. The long term costs are going to anger lots of people around the world causing Israel long term major problems.

    – Because of the destruction, even if the rest of the world tries to minimize it, there will be massive deaths in Gaza from disease and starvation. Depending on how quickly the disease spreads, the death counts could reach hundreds of thousands very quickly and could spread to Israel because dying diseased people will not care about armed fences.

    – Israel does not have the resources to handle hundreds of thousands dying a few kilometers away from their towns and the rest of the world is going to extract a very large price form Israel before they will help.

    – This is not going to end up like Israelis think.

  4. Sometimes I can’t help wondering.

    Is it members of Congress, other authorities and all these pundits that are really, really wicked people, no sense of proportions and without any emotional feeling, leave alone remorse?

    Or is it we that are just loitering around with much ado about nothing?

  5. Thank you for this report. It is disturbing, but good to know what my country is enabling. We are complicit. Obama could at least end our complicity, if not the killing. Without your report, I would know so much less. The U.S. media I mostly depend on didn’t say much about it when I was watching or listening. For example, yesterday (i.e., Tuesday), on PRI’s “The World” on NPR, Marco Werman opened the program by saying something to the effect that “the news from Gaza was more of the same, so we won’t talk about it.” (That’s a paraphrase from memory, but gives the gist.) On NBC I saw a few pictures, but (while I was watching) not much detail or context. No doubt there were more informative reports on some programs, but I’m sure nothing like the attention given to Ukraine. My TiVo yesterday, in the “popular on the web” suggested a news program about Gaza, but when I tried to view it, I was told that it was from Al Jazeera and “not available in my location.” So thanks again for what you do. I only wish more Americans knew more about what is happening.

    • Yah, as to “reporting” what’s going on, you have to be pretty diligent and persistent to pick up the pieces and nuances and connect the dots and resolve them into something more than a scattered uniform fog. Here is an interesting little video bit that you can find if you wander the electronic pages of the British rag, “The Independent:”

      “Here are far-right Israelis celebrating the death of children in Gaza,” a “demonstration” picketing what was reported as a much larger peace demonstration by other Israelis in Tel Aviv on 7/26 —–x1bRj8d7Mx It’s reported these brave young fellows were chanting, “there is no school tomorrow; there are no children left in Gaza” in Hebrew, also shouting “I hate all the Arabs” and “Gaza is a cemetery” per reports in the Times of Israel, along with all kinds of other good illustrative stuff. link to

  6. Is murder really ‘punishment’? It’s possible we should retire that designation. No schools, no hospitals, no shelter, no electricity, no water, no sewage treatment. No great analytical skill is required to connect the dots here.

  7. All the hopeful people who wish for an end to the current slaughter (how dare they call it a “war?” Oh, right– “Hasbara Speaks! and the dogs salivate!”) ought to inhale the heady vapors of Impunity, which currently inspire the military in Israel.

    And for more abandon-hope context, there’s some reporting on the reality of what Yahoo and the Likudnix are all about, really, in their secret hearts, that does not seem to have gotten all that much play before the “incident” reported in this post: “Netanyahu finally speaks his mind,” in Hebrew only and to cheer his tribe, link to

    Once again, the hypocrisy and arrrrrogance ought to be astounding, but… How, again, does this whole exercise, capped by destruction of the fundamentals of modern life, fit together with the vaunted basis for the IDF’s claim to be able to do what it wants because the guys who give the orders and the troops who carry them out are bound to practice טוהר הנשק‎, Tohar HaNeshek, “purity of arms,” which again as a core tenet of the ethical fundament of the IDF states:

    “Purity of Arms” (Morality in Warfare) – The soldier shall make use of his weaponry and power only for the fulfillment of the mission and solely to the extent required; he will maintain his humanity even in combat. The soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm non-combatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, body, honor and property. link to

    I wonder what the blowback will ultimately look like…

    • When (not “IF”) the blowback happens, it will be really ugly with lots of the Israelis that had not fled the ME, dying.

      100% of all military organizations in the last 10000 years have eventually suffered humiliating, sickening defeat and the IDF will suffer the same way leaving the Israelis civilians completely vulnerable.

      I wish that Israelis would come to their senses before that happens but the hubris and stupidity is huge in Israel.

      And before anyone says it can’t happen, review the human history of warfare – no group of humans can retain power and military superiority forever.

  8. i am hoping for some blowback, am i missing something or how is it that the tired old trope that israel has right to defend itself is still viable? their response has always been disproportionate, i’ve been fuming about this for years. no one has the courage within the halls of authority to change this and my mind is blown by this. i am so angry at this ridiculous charade of national defense. are they not making a mockery of themselves (israel?)

  9. I believe we are witnessing the true end days for Israel, the tide of world opinion CAN turn against Zionism. The right wing in Israel is too blinded by hubris to see that even with AIPAC, things can change, and ordinary people can wake up to the deaths of women and children in Gaza. Soon the IDF will hit the big hospital in Gaza City, and a giant tremor will race around the world. Thank you for keeping us focused on what’s really happening, few will risk speaking the truth. Godspeed. cdk

    • I believe we are witnessing the true end days for Israel, the tide of world opinion CAN turn against Zionism.

      Unfortunately, this and similar comments are more likely to be proved as wishful thinking. People with sufficient power can commit the worst of crimes against humanity and do so with impunity. Think Chile and Iraq’s estimated half million children who died because of the sanctions and the untold numbered who were slaughtered and maimed in the illegal war on that nation. Many of the promoters of those crimes are honored and admired by many people and remain in positions of influence.

      • Unfortunately, this and similar comments are more likely to be proved as wishful thinking.

        At least in the short term. The moral rot is already embedded in the governing powers in Israel and the United States so in the long term the decline and fall of both nations could be inevitable.

  10. It seems kind of obvious that all the bombing has almost nothing to do with the tunnels at this point. It’s more along the lines of collective punishment and/or “this is how much damage you’ll sustain (or we can get away with) until you cry uncle.” We’ll just call it “tunnels” though. As well, the idea seems to be, if enough devastation is rained on Gaza, the populace might turn against Hamas. Or, shock & awe might make Hamas rethink their approach, which might work in the short term, but as usual, for only about a couple of years.

    For Hamas, their strategy seems senseless – the only thing I can think of is that the objective might be to incite the Israelis into war crimes territory, which might actually be working. Pretty cynical and harsh though to sacrifice your own population for such vague aims.

    Also, it seems to fall into the general behavior in the Mideast of rage driving simple revenge – strategically shooting (bombing ?) oneself in the foot just to save some morsel of pride, or just appear to be indefatigable. The Israelis are doing the same thing.

    San Francisco

  11. This can only be judged to be a genocidal war against the disprotected poor (the U.N. is no protection). These are state massacres against concentrations of essentially stateless people under the cover of fighting terrorism and asymmetrical aggression. The existence of violent “defenders” of stateless camps and dispossessed ghettoes (e.g. Hamas) can of course only ultimately benefit an established nation-state bent on a pre-decided/opportunistic genocidal solution to extraneous populations on its borders (with the assumption that the reigning international climate is one of de facto permissibility/self-interested collusion or selective anarchy).

  12. So what do the masters of expanding the borders have to say about all this? John Hagee and friends, and the many enRaptured Messianics and C St. types in the US House?

  13. The Israelis claim Hamas is terrorist partly because they fire rockets indiscriminately into populated areas, then they themselves in the last 24hrs go and fire tank shells into Gazan heavily populated areas, heavily damage a UN school and kill many innocent civilians, and claim that mortars were being fired from”nearby” – as if there was any chance of hitting those locations with that method.

  14. This is not even a “war”, it is a vast siege — the Siege of Gaza, like the Siege of Lenningrad from 1941-44. An awful, brutal, cruel spectacle. I’m surprised that there isn’t already a new armed uprising in the West bank in reaction to the slaughter of fellow Palestinians, to say nothing of what was once a sense of pan-Arabism. If Jordan, Egypt, Syria, or Hezbollah threatened to enter the war, Israel might have to reconsider its actions. But this is not 1973. Syria is torn apart with internal strife, Egypt has been co-opted by the US and Israel (shrewd move on their part), Jordan is a prostrate state just glad to hang on to some stability; Iraq and Libya have been eliminated as active opponents of Israel, as they once were; only the West Bank and Hezbollah in Lebanon have any real capacity to make trouble for Israel in support of their suffering brethren. But they also have self-interested reasons for standing by. So the misery of friendless Gaza goes on and on.

    meanwhile, the US pushes for sanctions against Russia, because Russia, you know, is a threat to world peace. And also Iran.

    • Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are now more afraid of political Islam than they are concerned about Palestinians. They want Israel to destroy Hamas at all costs. Thus, Arab states are putting no pressure on Israel to stop this bombing.

  15. I read in the link posted by Pulano above that the Likudniks could have applied some pain in the form of reducing available electrical energy by having an Israeli corporate utility dial back the amount delivered to Gaza:

    Even if Israel reached the highly questionable conclusion that disrupting the supply of electricity in Gaza might provide the Israeli army with a “definite military advantage,” under the principal of proportionality, Israel was legally required to choose the action that would prove least harmful to the population. Accordingly, Israel could have reduced the supply of electricity that the Israel Electric Corporation – which is the primary provider of electricity for the Gaza Strip – sells to the Palestinian Authority. However, in the wake of the company’s objection to this alternative, which was likely to harm its commercial interests, the decision-makers within the Israeli government and army opted for the more harmful option.” link to .

    The choice of bombing the Gazan power plant to protect Israeli corporate profits reeks of the corporate cynicism that screws over ordinary people and turns them into manipulated partisans or mangled collateral damage, or both, a cynicism and greed that is broad and deep in all parts of the world, just most notably the current killing field of Gaza.

    My fave discourse on the behavior, secondary to the plaintive scoring of “corruption” by corporate players themselves demonstrably and joyfully corrupt all across the planet, compiled into the annual World Corruption Perception Index, is an older Atlantic Magazine article about the sick but so very profitable symbiotic-parasitic relationship between cynical tribal leaders on both sides of the Green Wall, “In a Ruined Country: How Yasir Arafat Destroyed Palestine,” link to It’s too complicated to parse here, but a good read for those who want to see why the ship christened “HUMANITY” is sinking from so many leaks…

  16. Juan, maybe you should rename your site “Beyond Comment.” It is really beyond comprehension that this is happening, and the USG actively supports it, despite the whines from the president and secretary of state to “stop please.” The majority leader of the Senate, a DEMOCRAT, announces that we are not giving Israel enough military aid and much more should be sent. All 100 Senators consent to a resolution supporting Israel. Sickening.

  17. There can be no justification for this criminal war against Gaza’s civilian population. Israel has become a criminal state, if the people of Israel cannot stop the government from continuing this madness then the UN must.

  18. I think we should cut off all aid to Israel, and declare the Likud to be a terrorist organization.

    Unfortunately, our political system does not care what I think about this, or much else. We have the pretense of democracy here. The people with all the money run the show.

  19. There is a ludicrous article on Haaretz that mulls the reason why the Israeli government insists on calling this an “operation” rather than a “war”. Apparently it has to do with property insurance claims.

    Maybe now is a time to come up with another name for this carnage. I vote for The Great And Glorious UN School Shoot-em-up.

    Or maybe that’s too subtle for the Zionists; how about The UNRWA Turkey Shoot?

  20. The U.S. is resupplying Israel with weapons to continue the assault on Gaza, as reported today by various news agencies. So the U.S. says stop the shelling, and then delivers more shells to continue the shelling. Meanwhile, bipartisan congressional support for emergency appropriations to Israel is also taking place right now.
    THIS IS a joint Israel-American campaign to raze (“mow the grass”) Gaza.

  21. It is one of the most tragic ironies of modern history that a people who were the target of genocide less than 75 years ago, are now slaughtering innocent people with impunity. And it is American tax dollars that fund and support this slaughter – Israel is the largest recipient of American foreign aid. We should cut off all funding to Israel until they learn to live in peace with their neighbors. The oppressed have become the oppressors.

    • You said we should cut off funding to Israel. That is about like saying that Catholics should renounce the Vatican. Last week, the Senate voted 100-0 for a resolution to support Israel AND denouncing Hamas. The House voted unanimously (except for a vote or 2) supporting Israel AND denouncing Hamas. If I understand it correctly, congress decided to pass similar resolutions this week as well.
      Obama and all cabinet level persons have also proclaimed their allegiances toward Israel and against Hamas!
      Israel R U.S.

  22. For me, the entire recent history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is an awful lot like a big bully constantly whacking a little kid with a stick, until the kid attempts to fight back. The bully then beats the living daylights out of the kid, while yelling to everyone watching that the kid attacked him first.

    It is well past time for the US to end all aid to Israel.

  23. i am now officially, publicly, anti-israel in all matters, from this day forth ..

    ditto the usa, who enables these actions

    no fly list, fema camp, here i come

  24. Netanyahu’s “terror tunnels” are certainly real: they are the tunnels bored by his psychological warfare into the minds of a world and especially an Israeli audience; they are the infliction of visual terror on the world through the images of indiscriminate, violent, and effective state impunity, and among its calculated effects is the frustration and demoralization of emotionally and ethically-sensible people everywhere, of those millions who still believe in universal humanitarian ideals–this very much warlike regime apparently wishes to shock us out of that “illusion.”

  25. Don’t limit your comments to this website. Let your (sic) representative and senators know what you think. They will probably respond with lines from Frank Luntz’s propaganda manual.

  26. Once Israel stood more or less alone surrounded by enemies far larger who were supported by one of the two world superpowers. The only democracy in the middle-east. We cheered. Our hearts broke for them when those horrible A-rabs killed those Israeli kids in Munich. Israel stood as a litteral David against a mighty Goliath, fighting for its survival.
    Then peace broke out between Israel and Eqypt. The USSR fell. Somewhere along the way, Israel acquired a nuclear weapon. They have F-16s and JDAMs. Goliath is gone. Or rather, they have become Goliath.
    Israel is facing rockets from Hamas. My heart goes out to victims on both sides. But Israel no longer faces an existencial threat. Hamas is a courageous but hopelessly out-gunned little band. I don’t like their tactics, though I wonder whether I would do anything different if a regional superpower occupied New England, took my home, and killed my children.
    Israel is killing children in Gaza, not to ensure its survival, but in the face of some puny ineffectual rockets. The world is watching and Israel is looking utterly disgusting.
    Let Palestine be Boston Strong.

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