Gaza through the eyes of the devastated, and some devastating truths

Video taken on December 27, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, by members of the International Solidarity Movement. As you can see, the devastation of the Israeli bombings is much more severe than the TV news in your area has probably led you to believe. In this video, a school and a police station suffered damage. It puts the dirty lie to all the assertions that the Israeli bombings are “surgical strikes”. There was nobody from Hamas in the school OR the police station. These are NOT Hamas compounds. This is the targeting of civilians, a tactic of total war. Over 200 Gaza Palestinians died in this particular attack alone.

Incidentally, the Israeli military has a big PR offensive going. Apparently they’ve learned only one thing since their last attack on Lebanon, and it is NOT how to make peace or behave decently; it’s how to get the major media and the Internets onside. They’re now posting their PR on YouTube (and no, I’m not linking the channel; the last thing their propaganda needs is more admiring eyes.) They’ve already falsified one particularly nasty bombing, claiming to have taken out a truck full of Grad missiles when, in fact, it was a family that owned a welding shop, rescuing their oxygen cylinders from a bombed area. The incident was so grotesque, and the propaganda so blatant, that Israeli human rights group B’Tselem saw fit to decry both.

When an Israeli major says that “The blogosphere and new media are another war zone,” you quickly realize that you’re not about to get the truth from anyone with a dog in the fight. The coverage of the warring factions has fast dissolved into propaganda, and in the western media, it’s definitely one-sided coverage favoring Israel. I have no more stomach for that side of the story than I have for hearing the propaganda of Hamas or any other militant group. It’s not the warring factions whose story must be told, but that of the innocent, and that of those who demand peace. Human rights organizations on the ground are our best hope for getting the truth of what’s going on in Gaza; let’s hope they can continue to get videos like the above out to us. It’s going to be harder to find, however, as the ground invasion of Gaza goes on; telephone lines and Internet access are collapsing as I write. Vital informational ties between Gaza and the world are being severed. Very likely we won’t know the whole story until after the fact–that is, after the damage is done. And, most likely, after the Gaza strip has reverted to Israeli control, as I suspect is the real objective here.

This is not legitimate self-defence, nor is it a proportional response to the paltry amount of damage the Hamas rockets have done. There is no excuse for what either side has done, but it’s clear to me who has done the most and the worst. Considering how the TV in my neck of the woods has been flooded for the past few months with tourism ads for Israel, stressing the word shalom, I find the irony striking. Have they forgotten that shalom means peace?

Even more striking is this: Hamas would never have achieved the strength it now has if Israel had not attempted to use it to drive a wedge between Palestinians, and to oppose the PLO. Now they have their blowback, and they are using it in turn to justify the eradication of Palestinian Gaza. Remind you of anyone or anything?

And of course, there’s the unreported angle on this story: What happened to cause Hamas to start rocketing as soon as the ceasefire ended? I googled the terms “Israel, Hamas, ceasefire, provocation”–and found a snippet of a clue in a guest column by Rabbi Michael Lerner in the UK Times:

Hamas had respected the previously negotiated ceasefire except when Israel used it as cover to make assassination raids. Hamas argued that these raids were hardly a manifestation of a ceasefire, and so as symbolic protest it would allow the release of rocket fire (usually hitting no targets). But when the issue of continuing the ceasefire came up, Hamas wanted a guarantee that these assassination raids would stop. And it asked for more. With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing acute malnutrition, Hamas insists that the borders be opened so that food can arrive unimpeded. And in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, it asks for the release of 1,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

Whoa there, hold up–ASSASSINATION RAIDS? Under the cover of a CEASEFIRE? Looks to me like someone was provoking Hamas on purpose. That puts rather a new light on all this pious talk of “self-defence” and Israel’s right to exist, does it not?

And then I flash back on my earlier findings of Israel fostering Hamas, and another volley of questions arises: Why would Israel deliberately nurture a militant Palestinian group that will not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist? Was it only trying to thwart the PLO? Or did it do so with full knowledge that if Hamas ever took power in a legitimate election, it would furnish Israel with an ideal excuse for wiping out Palestine forever?

Not being privy to what was going through the heads of a succession of Israeli leaders, I can only guess at their ultimate objectives in such an irrational act. But given the fact that Israel has now invaded Gaza, and given the fact that the airstrikes have been anything but surgical, it’s definitely tilted my inner scales toward the pan labelled “ideal excuse for wiping out Palestine forever”.

–Special thanks to Slave Revolt for asking me to comment on this matter.

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5 Responses to Gaza through the eyes of the devastated, and some devastating truths

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    Good words, but I don’t buy the line we hear from liberals that all parties are equally guilty.
    One side has all the cards, and they violate the Geneva Conventions against collectively punishing a civilians.
    There is a pattern here–from Hiroshima, to Vietnam, to Guatemala, to El Salvador, to Haiti, to Indonesia, etc.
    The US and its partners ARE the primary forces for global terrorism.
    “might makes right”
    They don’t have to use terror, but they do–and it is designed to cow governments and civilian populations that aren’t inclined to do what the mafia boss says.
    (Of course, the pattern goes back 500 years in the Americas–fanaticism, dispossession, slaughter, theft.)
    They make my life more dangerous. I don’t want to be blown up by a nuclear bomb–and this is where this logic is leading us.

  2. Oh man. Watching that actually made me queasy.
    Gaza is so fucked…

  3. Slave Revolt says:

    Bina, what makes me sick is watching US left-liberal bloggers who refuse to even develop a platform for discussion this issue. They cater to a segment of the liberal intelligensia that almost always signs off on US imperial violence.
    Follow the money.
    If we can’t denounce the slaughter of innocent civilians, what are we as humans good for? The folks that would rather shuffle this issue to the side and talk about the mundane and quotidian nuances of the US political game are totally lame.
    You had the courage to allow a platform for discussion—and therefore you have strengthened your credibility with respect to denouncing injustice.
    I was encouraged by Obama being elected president–but in my view we should put his feet to the fire on issues of crucial importance.

  4. Slave, it looks like you’ll get your chance to do that very early in the Obama presidency. This is the time to make him realize that it’s no longer kosher to cave in to AIPAC’s every wish and whim. And that neo-cons should be getting not short shrift in Washington anymore, but NO shrift whatsoever. On the day he heads to take possession of the White House, I hope he is greeted with a sea of signs reading “KEEP YOUR PROMISES”, “MIDEAST PEACE = CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN”, etc.
    And you know who’s angriest about the bombing and invasion of Gaza, that I know? My Jewish friends. They see right through what the Israeli government is up to, and they are outraged. They are the harshest and most outspoken critics of the regime that I have seen so far, rivalling even the Arabs. Of course people like them don’t pass muster with the media, but if I were an assignment editor looking for a hot, fresh angle on the story, that’s what I’d send my reporters out to cover. Israel’s angry Jewish critics, both within and outside Israel. It’s no coincidence that Israeli Jewish peace and human rights groups are the toughest critics now, and also no coincidence that they are the ones most often being silenced by being ignored in the media. Even on CBC this evening, around suppertime, I saw the “Israel’s resolve” line being touted, as though this were just another manly pissing contest. I nearly choked on my tea. CBC is the least Israel-biased of all our channels, and here they were, pulling the same shit that I’d expect to see on a neo-con station like CTV or Global! The only protesters anyone’s willing to show anymore are Palestinians in scarves, burning flags. Sickening, one-sided, blatantly cheerleading shit, in other words.

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