Despite a unanimous call from the UN Security Council on Saturday (7/12/14) to cease hostilities, Israel continues to bombard Gaza on an almost constant basis, in an indiscriminate act of murder not seen by the people of Gaza since at least late 2008. Brutal treatment of Gazans is not uncommon, yet the latest operation launched by Israeli military forces is proving exceptional in its violence.
As of Saturday over 150 Gazans lay dead–88 of which civilians, 30 children– as well as almost 1,000 wounded, however it isn’t exactly clear who counts as a civilian or a militant. Yet with targets ranging from Mosques, rehabilitation centers, and a charity for the disabled, what is clear is Israel’s total lack of discretion in their strikes.
Gunboats and F16 fighter jets partake in the operation, yet it is the distinct buzz of the UAV drones overhead which most unnerve the tense people of Gaza. Ground troops and armored vehicles are expected to soon be deployed in the incursion as well, with close to 40,000 troops mobilized, ready to enter the conflicted territory.
Militant groups such as Hamas appear to be taking advantage of the situation, retaliating by firing a slew of projectiles into Israel, many of which are primitive, likely homemade. The injury of even a single innocent person obviously cannot be justified, but such rocket attacks have yet to come anywhere close to the destruction left in the wake of Israeli forces who have claimed to have hit more than 1,100 targets in Gaza. Thankfully, nobody has yet been killed by the Hamas attacks, with only 3 injured as of Friday (7/11/14).
Israeli officials maintain that their operation is seeing success, and that it would make no difference at this point whether they pursued military or diplomatic solutions. Yet it seems obvious that the more force employed by Israel, the more force they will receive in kind, whether from actual Hamas fighters, or individual Palestinians.
About 300,000 residents have been told to leave the area for their own safety, but with a dense population of almost 2 million, as well as Israel’s tight grip on routes of travel, Gazans are finding they have no place to go. This comes as no surprise, however, as the people of Gaza have long lived in what may be described as the world’s largest open-air prison.
This latest Israeli operation appears to have begun, at least in part, in reaction to the murder of 3 young Israeli settlers, an event met with hysteric outrage on behalf of both Israeli citizens and state-officials alike. Almost immediately, a gag order was issued by the Shin Bet intelligence agency, barring media from reporting on the details of the investigation, as well as anything pertaining to the suspects.
However, what is most shocking is what subsequent journalism has revealed about the “kidnapped” teens. The Netanyahu government, within hours of the incident, knew without a doubt these teens were already dead, and yet for weeks allowed a hatred-laden frenzy to whip up among the Israeli people, resulting in the revenge-killing of an innocent Palestinian teenager.
Instead of telling the public the 3 teens were already dead, a phony search was conducted which lead to the ignition of a prolonged media extravaganza. It could be argued that the revenge-killing might have occurred either way, but this cover-up of information certainly only added volatility to the situation.
In the weeks following the Israeli youths’ deaths, over 600 Palestinians were arrested around the West Bank–many of whom remain imprisoned, still facing no charges–despite the fact the actual suspects were identified less than a day after the killings.
Even the youths’ parents were lied to. They were told their children were likely alive, even after hearing what sounded like gunshots in a recorded emergency call from one of the teens during the incident. While Israeli police maintain these were merely blank rounds, a U.S. investigation contradicts that claim.
Presented as a search-and-rescue mission, this deception allowed Israeli forces to begin their campaign of sweeping arrests across the West Bank. The newest all-out military siege on Gaza may have been brought to life, or escalated, by the drastic actions taken by the Israeli state in response to the teens’ murder.
To whatever degree the “kidnappings” influenced the current situation in Gaza, both, on their own merits, remain grim portraits depicting the reality of colonial oppression and military despotism as it exists in Palestine today.
Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has recently announced that “No international pressure will keep us from acting.”
Good ol’ Uncle Ben. For once he isn’t lying.
PS – If you want a cynical laugh, watch ABC’s Dianne Sawyer falsely portray a freshly-destroyed ruin of Gaza as an Israeli home, hit by Hamas rockets. An “Israeli” family is shown picking through the rubble. ABC eventually issued a correction, but such post-production redactions rarely reach nearly as many people as the initial broadcast does.