Israel kills a “top Hamas leader”

The nice thing for Israel about killing “top Hamas leaders” is 1) you get to kill someone, 2) no one will be upset because, after all, it was a “top Hamas leader”, and 3) after you’ve killed a “top Hamas leader”, there will be another one to take his place. Another thing not to worry about is who else was killed in addition to the “top Hamas leader”: the story that comes via the Associated Press says the bombing killed two people including Adnan al-Ghoul.

The Globe and Mail, where I read that story, has another story about how Canada is ’tilting’ towards Israel. Hard not to ’tilt’ towards a country so tough on terror.

One every three hours in Gaza

You can read about the ongoing massacre at IMEMC.org. At the same site, there is a good analysis by Ghassan Andoni, one of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement and a columnist at IMEMC on the aims of this “Days of Penitence” operation. (For some analysis from the Israeli side, check Uri Avnery’s or Gideon Levy’s recent work. For some reporting, check out Rafah Today’s Mohammed Omer).

Andoni provides the simplest and most concise explanation of Sharon’s ‘strategy’, and it is the same ‘strategy’ Sharon has always used: commit shocking acts of violence against Palestinians, and the population and the United States will follow you. Quoting him:

Building on past experience, military attacks that result in massive bloodshed have always achieved an end to all initiatives introduced to reduce the level of violence and pave the way for diplomatic negotiations.

Such offensives have consistently triggered revenge attacks and have escalated the endless cycle of violence in the region.

Operation “Days of Penitence” has no doubt alienated the internationally backed Egyptian efforts to bring about a coordinated disengagement that could serve as a step towards implementing the road map peace initiative.

Dov Weisglass, one of Sharon’s top aides, explained it best in an interview in Ha’aretz, where he described the significance of Sharon’s “disengagement from Gaza plan”:

“The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. What more could have been anticipated? What more could have been given to the settlers?”

It is not just the Israeli army is killing a Palestinian every three hours, or that hundreds of children are in Israeli jails, or that virtually all the children in the territories are starving or on the verge of starving, or that houses and farms and livelihoods and lives are being systematically demolished. Beyond that, Israel and the US are very systematically working to ensure that there can be no decent peace at the end of this murderous, dirty “war”.

Gaza death toll… 112 and counting

The best place to follow it is IMEMC, it seems to me.

Over the course of an invasion like this, mistakes tend to happen. Like, for example, the mistake Israeli snipers made when they shot 13-year old Iman Alhamas 20 times. Not to worry though. “Military sources… said the case was being investigated and confirmed the possibility that she had been shot from several posts.”

One of the many obstacles to peace in Israel/Palestine…

First thing: I want readers to know that even though I don’t spend much time blogging about Iraq, I don’t want readers to think that reflects what I think should be priorities. In fact I think Iraq is a major priority. I just think that two of my favourite blogs, Rahul’s and Zeynep’s , are staying on top of it quite effectively. If I think I can add anything, I will.

On Israel/Palestine. The offensive in Gaza continues. Israeli military shot and killed a 4 year old child there, according to IMEMC, and 12 others.

Read Ramzy Baroud in today’s Counterpunch for a thought experiment and a summary of what’s happened in this ‘Gaza raid’ so far.

And while this massacre goes on, the religious fundamentalists have invaded Israel and are trying to impose their agenda on that country.

Hamas, you ask? No, dear reader, I am talking about Pat Robertson. Today’s Haaretz quotes Pat, in Israel right now, said that if Bush were to “touch” Jerusalem, “Evangelicals would form a third party” (touch it, Bush! touch it please!)

Other constructive contributions from Pat include:

-Wanting to abolish the UN Relief and Works Agency (it perpetuates the refugee problem — which I suppose is true, since UNRWA is stopping all the refugees from starving to death, counter to Israel’s closure policies)

-Saying Arab nations “want a conflict” and “want the destruction of Israel” (so do the evangelicals, though I suppose they expect God will do it in His own time)

-“A Palestinian state with full sovereignty would be a launching ground for
various types of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction” (though how the WMD would get there from the US wasn’t explained)

-“I see the rise of Islam to destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews
and give East Jerusalem to [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Yasser Arafat.
I see that as Satan’s plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the
Lord,”

-“God says, ‘I’m going to judge those who carve up the West Bank and Gaza
Strip,'” Robertson said. “‘It’s my land and keep your hands off it.'”

I’m reminded of Latin American writer Eduardo Galeano’s quizzical remark before the US invaded Iraq last March: why is God giving Bush and the Pope such contradictory messages?

Sharon vows to keep on killing

And why shouldn’t he? When “Operation Defensive Shield” happened in March/April 2002, there was at least the idea that while Powell meandered his way around the world, by the time he got to Israel Sharon would have to slow the massacre down. MSNBC says 58 have been killed in Gaza so far, around the same number cited for the Jenin slaughter in 2002. But Sharon has vowed to continue doggedly, as if this is some kind of act of courage, and not a slaughter of a an already starving population of refugees.

Gaza (or is it Fallujah?): The massacre has begun

This morning wire services were reporting 200 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and bulldozers were massed on the Gaza border. “Troops were setting up makeshift camps, apparently in preparation for an extended operation.”

Keep in mind this was after 28 Palestinians had already been killed, and 139 wounded, the day before. That was before the “major operation” that is already underway. 10 more have been killed since.

The first killings were in the refugee camp of Jabaliya, with aircraft firing into a crowd. Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in fighting.

Haaretz is making the obvious comparison to March/April 2002, when Israel slaughtered its way through Jenin and Nablus:

“Thursday’s deaths marked the highest one-day Palestinian toll since April 2002 when 35 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, during Operation Defensive Shield.”

It can only be coincidence that as Israel is mounting major offensive operations in Gaza, that the US is mounting major offensive operations in Fallujah and Samarra in Iraq? That these occupying armies are smashing through civilian neighbourhoods and camps with ultra modern high-tech weaponry? That the media is rationalizing all these actions as ‘self-defence’?

As happens often when Israel and the US compete for atrocities, the US is winning hands down: it has killed over 100 already.

Beating Peacemakers Senseless in Palestine — and much worse to come

On September 29, Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteers Kim Lamberty and Christopher Brown were attacked by Israeli settlers in the Palestinian West Bank town of Hebron and beaten senseless. Lamberty ended up with a broken arm and knee, Brown with broken ribs and a contusion on his head and temple.

They were escorting Palestinian children to school. The settlers (unlike today’s bombers in Iraq and US and Israeli bombers in Iraq and Palestine in recent days) spared the children a beating today, focusing strictly on the peacemakers.

But Israeli missiles did not spare anyone in their path in Gaza. Israel launched tank shells into the densely populated refugee camp of Jabaliya, killing at least 7 and wounding at least 20, including several children. Israeli troops stormed the place, firing weapons and killing 14 and wounding 85. Three Israelis — a soldier and two settlers — were killed in Gaza by Palestinian fighters. Israeli soldiers returned fire and killed one or more gunmen. Israeli forces targeted power lines, leaving the camp of 120,000 without electricity. This invasion followed a rocket attack that killed two Israeli children on Wednesday. Israeli soldiers killed six Palestinians in one raid, and a single Palestinian child in another attack.

And Sharon’s plans for Gaza make today’s massacre seem like a picnic. It’s to be called “Operation Penitence” and its intent is to “exact a price”, according to Ha’aretz’s quotation of Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. “Exacting a price” from a population for an attack by a specific group is mass reprisal, illegal, immoral, terrorism — and already underway.

Perhaps the weirdest justification for it came from The chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who, according to Ha’aretz:

called for an IDF takeover of the entire Gaza Strip, saying, “Israel should wage operation Defensive Shield number two in Gaza, take control of the entire Strip in a wide-spread operation over a period of a few weeks to gather information, destroy the terrorist organizations’ infrastructure and wipe out any slicks of arms as well as the foundations for manufacturing Qassam rockets.”

Steinitz added that he would bring these issues up in planned meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “Since the technology for laser interception of missiles has yet to be realized, We must significantly damage terrorist infrastructures – it is our only option to ease the situation.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think he is saying that because Bush’s weaponization of space program isn’t yet implemented, Israel has to invade Gaza and smash civilians. Any reader who can make sense of this, feel free to email me.

Jenin was re-invaded days ago. Israel is promising something terrible and huge in Gaza. Are we helplessly watching the unfolding of another massive atrocity like ‘Defensive Shield’ of 2002?

Four Years of Intifada – Statistics

September 28, 2000 was the beginning of the Second Intifada in Israel/Palestine. So we are at the 4-year anniversary of the day Sharon went to the Al-Aqsa mosque to provoke Palestinian demonstrators so that those demonstrators could then be shot, dozens killed. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, and Israel proceeded to re-occupy and devastate the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Four years later, most of the hopes entertained in the previous years about peace, reconciliation, and a just settlement are dashed. Instead, we have starvation, murder, massacre, assassination, humiliation, checkpoints, closures, sieges, and a total disruption of every aspect of life. And the US cheering it on and paying for it.

Some statistics from the Palestine Monitor.

Egypt and Gaza

An interesting story from swissinfo, again via Newsinsider. Apparently Egypt and Israel are working on a border deal for Gaza. The idea is that Egyptian police would take over the policing of the border. The article discusses it in terms of two things — first, Egyptians would stop ‘smugglers’ of weapons… must be all those ‘tunnels’ the Israelis uncover every time they bulldoze a neighbourhood and slaughter the inhabitants. Second, the deal would give “the Palestinians unrestricted access to an Arab country for the first time since Israel captured Gaza in 1967.”

Since the smuggling weapons business is just a pretext for the Israeli raids, we can turn to the ‘unrestricted access’. I doubt it. That would conflict with the US/Israel’s vision of the Palestinian future, being one of life in open-air prisons, where people starve and die and are periodically killed by remote control if they try to revolt, but for which the US/Israel take no responsibility. I suppose all things being equal Israel would rather Egyptians be the prison guards. But I doubt that’s a foregone conclusion either, and I doubt that’s the role Egypt sees itself playing. I also doubt that, should Palestinians revolt against their future Egyptian prison guards, the whole thing could be kept up for very long — how long would the Iraqi army, or the rest of the ‘Coalition’, last against the insurgency without the US presence there. If it’s true that Israel wants out of Gaza, getting the Egyptians to take over might seem like a good plan. But I don’t see it working out the way Israel hopes. And in any case, Uri Avnery argues pretty persuasively here that Sharon really doesn’t plan to leave Gaza at all.