I’ve wanted to blog on Gaza, but it’s impossible to know where to begin. I have sympathies on both sides: I don’t expect Israel to just absorb missiles without responding, but I don’t expect Palestinians to blithely accept being starved, either. It’s one of those tragedies with no clear right or wrong, no spotless heroes, no irredeemable villains.
I’m going to let Phoenix Woman take over from here:
As we hear that the IDF is bombing universities and killing United Nations personnel in addition to the hundreds of Gazans already dead in the three days of the Israeli attack on Gaza, we will hear the inevitable cry “but Hamas has been lobbing rockets at Israelis for years from Gaza!”
Juan Cole tells us about these rockets, and provides some perspective:
Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.
Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.
The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.
But of course you won’t see this on your evening news, not unless you live outside of the US. You’re more likely to know about this if you live in Tel Aviv than if you live in Milwaukee.
There’s more in that article that might be helpful in conversations with those who love to proclaim that Israel can do no wrong.
It’s hard to find good in so many people dead. But it seems that Israel has taken things just one step too far. The carte blanche is being written on a rapidly-emptying bank account. And we can finally talk about Israel in more than simple black-and-white terms.
This was never that simple. It’s a good thing we’re no longer pretending it is.
At this moment of extreme crisis, J Street wants to demonstrate that, among those who care about Israel and its security, there is a constituency for sanity and moderation. There are many who recognize elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide and who know that closing it requires strong American engagement and leadership. Click Here
I support immediate and strong U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to urgently reinstate a meaningful ceasefire that ends all military operations, stops the rockets aimed at Israel and lifts the blockade of Gaza. This is in the best interests of Israel, the Palestinian people and the United States.
I’m going to leave you with what Hilzoy said yesterday, because she sums up my feelings on this rather better than I can:
One of the many things that makes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict so utterly dispiriting is that it’s impossible to think of anything good coming of any of this. Worse than that, it’s hard to imagine that even the people involved think anything good will come of it.
What, exactly, do the Palestinians lobbing rockets into Sderot think they will accomplish? That the Israelis will look about them and say: Holy Moly, I had no idea this place was so dangerous!, and leave? Do the Israelis think: even though we’ve bombed the Palestinians a whole lot, and it’s never done much good before, maybe this time it will be different! Maybe Hamas will say: heavens, this is a pretty serious round of attacks; maybe we should just sue for peace — ? Or what?
I imagine what people on both sides are thinking is something more like: do you expect us to just sit here and take it? Do you expect us to do nothing? To which my answer is: no, I expect you to try to figure out what has some prospect of actually making things better. Killing people out of anger, frustration, and the sense that you have to do something is just wrong. For both sides.