Defiant in Gaza

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Oakland–January 6th 2009–Over a week of Israel’s air assault on Gaza, hundreds of souls have died – a majority women and their children with many more seriously maimed.  On the third, the Israel Defense Force  (IDF’s) land Army had invaded the Strip in four columns from the north.  Both Hamas (the duly elected government in Gaza – whose election to power was attested to by American [former President] Jimmy Carter and his staff to be one of the most freest and transparent they had every observed) and Tel Aviv both asserted high combatant causalities inflicted upon their opponents. 

The Gazan defenders, further, claimed significant destruction of Washington-gifted materiel (through our foreign aid to this most wealthy of States) – principally tanks.  While Hamas was able to maintain their missile barrage into Israel nation, the IDF drove ever deeper — now in three brigade-sized formations — into the miniscule republic on Sunday by-passing the villages and towns staying on the rural roads.  An analysis sympathetic to the Palestinians on the borderline opined that the Gazans were not in as a good position to protect themselves as Hezbollah, who tactically defeated the Israeli Juggernaut, in 2006 because “The Party of God” met the Israelis in the mountains of Lebanon while this “nationette” along the sea is flat and sandy — perfect for Israel’s American-made high-tech tanks to penetrate.  Truly, a David versus Goliath battle within the former Land of the Philistines!  Yet, according to an Israeli military source Hamas is holding up well against their invasion. 

This is the deadliest attack on the Gaza Strip, and, indeed, on the Palestinian people as a whole since the 1967 War when Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Palestinian people.   The IDF had dissected this Muslim-majority autonomous “District” by the fourth.  A Gazan BBC correspondent reported that the Hebrews were in the suburbs of Gaza City, but the Arabs were fiercely defending Delilah’s ancient capital!

The population of Gaza today is more than 1.5 million people — over 80% of whom are refugees (many still living in camps that are being directly assailed at this very moment) after their expulsion from their homes and villages by Israel in 1948. This narrow Strip along the southern littoral of the Mediterranean is among the most densely populated territorial entities on earth.  If anything, this is one of the reasons that this physical assault upon non-militarized citizens is immensely illegal because the Israeli Air Force has been targeting residential neighborhoods!  In fact on Friday, Israel’s advanced planes deliberately targeted a packed mosque killing dozens in order to merely strike terror into the populace!

The question is who broke the truce?  The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories noted in his press release (Dec. 30th 2008), “The breakdown of a truce between Hamas and Israel had been observed for several months by both sides. The truce was maintained by Hamas despite the failure of Israel to fulfill its obligation under the agreement to improve the living conditions of the people of Gaza.”  The recent upsurge in violence occurred after a previous Israeli incursion that murdered several alleged militants within the ancient Land of the Philistines. 

On Saturday (the 2nd) His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, noting Gaza City’s missile counter-defensive strikes against Southern Israel, condemned Tel Aviv for their blockade of starvation by closing the border crossings denounced the over-reaction of Judah, and called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council immediately for that night (the 3rd).  At that meeting the District of Columbia was able to block a call for an instantaneous ceasefire (to give Tel Aviv the time it needed to achieve their military objectives)!

There have been innumerable violations of International Law from West Jerusalem.  The Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 33 prohibits collective punishment)! 
While Palestinian rocket harassment against civilian targets in Israel are illegal, that rocket fire (which had previous to the invasion had created no casualties) does not give the IDF the right to punish the entire 1.5 million civilian people of the Arabic Strip sandwiched between Israel and Egypt.  (Egypt’s role in the crisis has not been too honorable, also, as your author wrote to their Ambassador in D.C., “I urge your government to re-open the border crossings with Gaza for humanitarian purposes,” and at least on Sunday they formally renounced the incursion). 

Israel is, also, violating the Geneva Conventions when it denies those civilians free and sufficient access to food, medicine, clean water, and certainly when the Jewish State launched their massive unselective blitzkrieg against the tightly packed non-combatant residents.  Under International law, any military force must be necessary and proportionate.  The dropping of thousands of tons of bombs on the density of this urban terrain certainly does not meet this criterion!   

Yes, the targeting of civilians in collective punishment is never justified!  This aggression has arisen on top of a merciless eighteen-month long siege of this mini-country by Israel an Egypt!  This has generated a dire humanitarian calamity for the occupants of this small crowded space.  In effect, Israel has restricted access to food, fuel, medicine, electricity and other necessities of life by sealing the frontier to both their territories and Arab Egypt. The siege itself violated Israel’s obligations as an Occupying Power – which is required by the Geneva Conventions to provide the subjugated inhabitants with all the necessities of life, including food, water, education, health care, recreation et al.

Although Israel ended its dominance over Gaza in 2005 by withdrawing their settlers and military troops from a permanent presence within the Strip, Israel still maintains military control through entry and exit points, boundaries, air space, and territorial waters. Occupation is defined as control of a territory by another country; that defines Gaza’s condition today as a subservient entity. Movement of people, food, water, fuel, and medicine in and out of the Gaza Strip has been virtually non-existent, a siege which has resulted in a humanitarian cataclysm of calamitous proportions. 

What is our (U.S’) responsibility in this crisis?  Israel carries out these attacks with F16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, naval gunboats, and missiles produced in the United States and paid for with almost $3 billion a year in American taxpayer money.  From 2001-2006, the United States transferred more than $200 million worth of F-16 spare parts to Israel and more than $100 million in helicopter replacement parts.  In 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel (while Americans were paying approaching $5 a gallon at the pump), and signed a contract to transfer $1.9 billion in coastal combat ships to the Israeli Navy.  Last year, in a violation of the Arms Export Control Act, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer thousands of anti-tank TOW (Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-to command-link), Hellfire, and “bunker buster” missiles.  The Bush Administration has implicitly and explicitly endorsed these outrages!    Further, the United States remains complicit in Israeli violations of U.S. and International law through our continual provision of military aid and through its protection of Israel in the United Nations, which prevents Israel from being held accountable by the international community.

Will President-elect Obama be any different on the question of Palestine?  There have been too many quotations in his campaign that gives slight hope, but many commentators have voiced their opinions that Israelis chief planners launched this atrocious onslaught before our new government takes power.


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