The massacre in Gaza continues.
I’ve seen the accounts of Palestinians killed ranging anywhere from 430 to over 500. Too many. And with many bodies still buried beneath the rubble the body count will continue to grown. Counts of the injured range around 2700 – 3000. And this does not take in to account the trauma, and other less visible – but no less real – injuries. The ground invasion began last night. This will no doubt increase casualties on both sides.
Bloggers and journalists living in Gaza and volunteer human rights workers on the ground with ISM report that if you look at the bombs being launched from above it seems that Israel is dropping cluster bombs – yet another war crime. And Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.
The madness continues.
Al jazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/200914103921799948.html is reporting that Israel occupation forces have now cut gaza in two:
“Perhaps the most significant military development on the ground is that Gaza has now actually been split in two. A column of Israeli tanks and artillery, and armoured personnel vehicles has made its way through from the eastern part of Gaza, reaching as far as the Mediterrannean sea on the Western part, essentially splitting Gaza. That area, mostly in the former settlement of Nitzerim, was an open area after Israel withdrew the settlement, so they were able to make strong advances all the way across Gaza, essentially cutting off the northern part from the southern”
Schools, mosques, police stations, television stations, phone lines… all targeted with many reports of hospitals, medics and ambulances being targeted as well.
The devastation is unbelievable, and seemingly never ending. Hospitals and medical personal are overwhelmed with the incoming wounded and dead.
The corporate owned media tells us nothing, but lies. Please, take the time to read the eyewitness accounts:
Meanwhile, the US – with out veto power -prevents any meaningful UN action, while our tax dollars pay for the terror brought down on the Palestinian people.
It is not difficult to see that the blockade and the conditions Israel (with full US support) has created in Gaza are a breeding ground for violence and retaliation such as the rocket attacks. Gaza is a huge, open air prison. Israel closes the borders, keeps food and medical suppliers, gas, replacement parts for water pumps and other necessities from getting through, and we wonder why there are rockets fired?
And do not get me wrong, I in no way support these rocket attacks. As a (struggling to be) pacifist I do not support violence. All life is sacred and any death by violence is wrong. And these rockets are sent into Israeli cities and towns where civilians live. That is, in my view, wrong. And – let’s be honest – targeting civilians is a violation of humanitarian law. The rocket fire is illegal.
But, Israel’s claims that it is “responding to” or “retaliating for” these Palestinian rocket attacks is outrageous. On her blog, http://gretasgroundhoggrooming.wordpress.com, my friend Abby notes: “According to the BBC, in 2007, 783 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, and 2 Israelis were killed by rockets. And between 2000 and Jan. 2008, a total of 13 Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza. Here is the link to that article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3702088.stm.
13 Israelis killed by rockets in 7 years, compared 500 Palestinians killed in one week. How can we even pretend to talk about “both sides” as if they were equal? How can we not acknowledge that the current massacre is not beyond disproportionate?
And anyway, that rocket fire, even if it is illegal and wrong, does not give Israel the right to punish the entire population of Gaza for those actions. This is not retaliation, it is vengeance. It is ruthless. It is collective punishment and it is a violation of the Geneva conventions.
I find myself feeling helpless and hopeless in the face of such overwhelming horror. I believe what we are witnessing is nothing less than genocide. But, giving up hope is not an option and claiming helplessness is too often just an excuse not to act. So what do We Do?
For the “now” – the answer is do something. Do anything. Do everything:
* don’t’ hide from the truth no matter how painful – Read accounts of those living this hell, watch the videos, look at the photos – bear witness to the truth.
* sign on to the many petitions being circulated.
* write letters – to Congress members and the State Department, to UN officials, to Israeli officials, the Obama transition team. Amnesty International has some templates and some addresses, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israelopt-immediate-access-humanitarian-workers-and-observers-essential-20081231
* write letters to the editor and op-eds for every news outlet you can find, call radio talk shows
* Get in the streets! Organize and join demonstrations in front of Israeli and Egyptian embassies or when not doable in front of offices for elected officials, and any other visible place. End the Occupation, http://www.endtheoccupation.org/ has been keeping track of many of the demos happening
* Start talking! We need to engage people and tell them the truth Hold a teach-in, seminar, public dialogue, documentary film viewing etc. Pass out fliers with facts and figures about Palestine and Gaza in your community. Do something to gain attention and help start a conversation with someone: put a Palestinian flag in your window, wear a Koufiya (Palestinian head scarf) ,wear Black arm bands…
* Write and call people in Gaza. Let them know they are not alone! Call people in your community who have family there. Get in the way of Israel’s plans to isolate the people.
* Pray, hold the people of Gaza in light, and whatever else your faith traditions call on you to do.
* Give aid directly- . Support Shifa Hospital in Gaza Palestine Aid Society of America
P.O.Box 130572,Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113 Tax # 38-2381-291 (I know the folks here, they are great and 100% will go to the hospital! See PS note at bottom of post also) or send direct aid to Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). http://www.un.org/unrwa/
So – yes, do something. Anything. Everything. Do it now.
But we need to go beyond the immediate. We need to build for real justice (which peace does not exist without ) in Gaza and in the rest of occupied Palestine. There is lots of work to do, my friends, but I firmly believe it is doable.
PS – the following appeal if from a friend. It’s a good organization. They are good people. I have no hesitation in passing this along on their behalf:
Genocide is being committed in Gaza by the Israeli military in violation of international law, not to mention all sense of decency and proportion. We at the Palestine Aid Society (PAS) have been inundated with calls for action by fellow Americans of all faiths and ethnicities. We feel the pain and the hurt as we watch, with horror, the terrorized children, the dismembered bodies, the wounded crying in pain, the frustrated aid workers, all on our television screens. We also hear in disgust the support for this Israeli-conducted genocide by some of our representatives in Washington DC. At the time of this writing the number of dead has exceeded 345 and the wounded more than 1650, most of them unarmed civilians. And it seems that Israel is intent on carrying this orgy of violence for days to come, proclaiming that the people of Gaza are not Israel’s enemies, but that their democratically-elected government is! The need in Gaza for immediate relief is immense. The Shifa Hospital is the major medical facility in Gaza receiving and caring for the majority of the victims and it has been inundated, especially after months of an inhumane and punitive siege that has left it short of medicine and other medical supplies. As a small gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza and in order to help alleviate a bit of their suffering, PAS is calling on all people of good will in our community to donate what they can to a fund for Shifa Hospital. Your tax-deductible donations (100% of all monies contributed) will be transmitted by PAS to the International Red Cross with instructions to deliver them to Shifa Hospital. Please make your checks payable to PAS, earmarked to Shifa Hospital, and send it to:
Palestine Aid Society of America
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113
Tax # 38-2381-291.
Palestine Aid Society