Sunday Dec. 28
As I write this, Israeli jets are bombing the areas of Zeitoun and Rimalin central Gaza City. The family I am staying with has moved into the internal corridor of their home to shelter from the bombing. The windows nearly blew out just five minutes ago as a massive explosion rocked the house. Apache’s are hovering above us, whilst F16s sear overhead.
UN radio reports say one blast was a target close to the main gate of AlShifa hospital – Gaza and Palestine’s largest medical facility. Another was a plastics factory. More bombs continue to pound the Strip.
Sirens are wailing on the streets outside. Regular power cuts that plunge the city into blackness every night and tonight is no exception. Only perhaps tonight it is the darkest night people have seen here in their lifetimes.
Over 220 people have been killed and over 700 injured through attacks that shocked the strip in the space 15 minutes. Hospitals are overloaded and unable to cope. These attacks come on top of existing conditions of humanitarian crisis: a lack of medicines, bread, flour, gas, electricity, fuel and freedom of movement.
Doctors at Shifaa had to scramble together 10 make shift operating theatres to deal with the wounded. The hospital’s maternity ward had to transform their operating room into an emergency theatre. Shifaa only had 12 beds in their intensive care unit, they had to make space for 27 today.
There is a shortage of medicine – over 105 key items are not in stock, and blood and spare generator parts are desperately needed.
Shifaa’s main generator is the life support machine of the entire hospital. It’s the apparatus keeping the ventilators and monitors and lights turned on that keep people inside alive. And it doesn’t have the spare parts it needs, despite the International Committee for the RedCross urging Israel to allow it to transport them through Erez checkpoint.
Shifaa’s Head of Casualty, Dr Maowiye Abu Hassanyeh explained, ‘We had over 300 injured in over 30 minutes. There were people on the floor of the operating theatre, in the reception area, in the corridors; we were sending patients to other hospitals. Not even the most advanced hospital in the world could cope with this number of casualties in such a short space of time.’
And as IOF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenaz said this morning, ‘This is only the beginning.’
But this isn’t the beginning, this is an ongoing policy of collective punishment and killing with impunity practised by Israel for decades. It has seen its most intensified level today. But the weight of dread, revenge and isolation hangs thick over Gaza today. People are all asking: If this is only the beginning, what will the end look like?
Next: Israel prepares Gaza ground incursion
DEBKAfile’s military sources assess the next stage of Israel’s Gaza campaign as being a ground incursion of the Gaza Strip, to follow up the air bombardment of Hamas compounds Saturday, Dec. 27. Hamas estimates that in four minutes, dozens of Israeli bombers and helicopters flattened 30 “high profile” sites. At least 350 Palestinians were killed, 90 percent of them Hamas operatives, and between 700 and 800 more were injured. Some of the casualties are still buried under the rubble. The blow sustained by the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group was massive by any military standards and severely upset its military equilibrium. Its retaliation against Israeli towns and villages was therefore slower and smaller in scope that Israel expected.
While Israel’s air attack is counted a success, its war chiefs are taking care not to be trapped by an early achievement into the sort of blunders which led to the Lebanon war’s unsatisfactory conclusion in 2006. That campaign was commanded by a former airman, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who saw no point in a ground operation after Hizballah’s command center was razed by air – until it was too late.
The first objective of a ground force in the coming hours will be to destroy “Lower Gaza,” the underground city designed by an Iranian general and spread under most of the enclave’s area. This subterranean sanctuary kept the bulk of the Hamas army, 15,000 men, their officers and leaders, out of harm’s way during the Israeli air offensive Saturday. Their resistance must be broken before Hamas can be brought to surrender. Until then they will fight on.
The second Israeli objective must be to sever the Gaza Strip from Egypt by recapturing the Philadelphi border strip.
These missions are formidable indeed and may take weeks of ups and downs, which is why prime minister Ehud Olmert’s goal of restoring normal lives to the people of southern Israel is a lot less simplistic than it sounds. The air operation was indeed just the beginning.
“The United States … holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement. “The ceasefire should be restored immediately.”
The United Nations and the European Union, in contrast, simply called for an immediate halt to all violence.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli air campaign was criminal and urged world powers to intervene. more
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi issued a statement concerning the Israeli operation in Gaza in which she wrote that “When Israel is attacked, the United States must continue to stand strongly with its friend and democratic ally.”
According to Pelosi, “Peace between Israelis and Palestinians cannot result from daily barrages of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Hamas and its supporters must understand that Gaza cannot and will not be allowed to be a sanctuary for attacks on Israel.” (Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington) ynetLondon-based newspaper quotes sources who say Egyptian intelligence minister deliberately misled Palestinian organization about IDF intentions; Hamas sources say this is why movement’s compounds were not evacuated
more – ynet
Hundreds of activists in Tel Aviv protest IAF strike in Gaza
Hundreds of left-wing and human rights activists marched in the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest the massive Israel Air Force offensive in Gaza that left at least 230 dead and hundreds more wounded.
According to the protesters, Israel’s military action in Gaza does not protect Israeli citizens or provide them security.
“No one can tell us that slaughtering the citizens of Gaza is meant to protect the citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon,” said Matan Kaminer, a student who participated in the march.
Israel Bombings in Gaza; why it matters to me as a mama
it impacts me as a mother and I think about the mothers who have lost babies today. The bombs dropped during the time when school gets out so you can imagine the panic this created. I think about raising children without the certainty that they’ll get home safely from school or that you can feed them once they do return. This is quite different when such conditions are brutally forced upon you by another state power and not b/c of broader socio-economic reasons. This is military conflict and Palestinians are fighting for survival with stones as their weapons, literally, while Israel is attacking with U.S. provided top-grade weapons and fighter jets. Is there a slight unbalance here?
As a mom, I think about what it means that our son was born in these times. I saw pictures of Arab women protesting this attack, some with tears in their eyes. I’m sure many are mothers who feel this like I do in some ways, as a momma whose heart aches over the lives lost and the insanities of this world that our children must face someday.
Israel doesn’t need my prayers since they have the full support of George Bush and Barack Obama; oh, and the american evangelicals.
more – Majid Umma
Gaza massacres must spur us to action
“I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing.” Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel’s latest massacres were broadcast around the world.
Shmerling’s joy has been echoed by Israelis and their supporters around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is “self-defense” against “terrorists” and therefore justified. Israeli bombing — like American and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan — is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.
The rationalization for Israel’s massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is that Israel is acting in “retaliation” for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rocket attacks).
But today’s horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel’s method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel.
What the media never question is Israel’s idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.
more – The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah
A Bloody Day in Gaza
Palestinian victims were an amalgamation of policemen and civilians who were visiting some police stations for civic affairs. Al Jawazat police station witnessed the bloodiest Israeli attack in which around 70 were killed, mostlypolicemen. The victims of police of Al Jawzat were holding a graduation ceremony for new young police groups.
Gaza hospitals announced inability of receiving the wounded due to lack of medical equipment and tools. Corpses of Palestinians were thrown on the corridors, rooms and units of hospitals. Meanwhile 2-3 wounded victims shared one bed due to lack of medical equipment, a result of the Israeli siege imposed 2 years ago. Basim Nai’m, Health Minster in Gaza said that Gaza medical sector needs tens of kinds of medical equipment and tools. A number of 70 wounded were referred to an Egyptian hospital.
The Israeli bombings flagrantly violate all laws which call for protecting civilians. This was so obvious from the number of civilian casualties. The brutal bombings happened in time of school children were going home, after a normal day of study. A considerable number of children were killed, but medical soruces didn’t announce official numbers in this respect. Identities of killed people are still unknown but a very few ones.
On the other side, Israel officially announced the start of a full-scale military operation in Gaza. She has called on settlers to go down to bunkers bordering Gaza after 1 Israeli was killed and several injured in a homemade rocket fired from Gaza.
Israeli official Television broadcasted footage of the settlements hit by Gazan fighters and ironically ignored what’s happening in Gaza. The television stated that today’s military operations is the start of a long-term massive war action against Gaza. Israeli army named the operation in Gaza “Lead Pouring Out” which entirely means surprisingly decapitation of Palestinian factions in Gaza.
more – Sameh A. Habeeb
Actually, what seems to be shaping up is a major, possibly regionwide confrontation between, on the one side, the many pro-Hamas forces in Egypt, Jordan, and elsewhere in the region, and on the other, the US and Israel and the Arab regimes that have until now been dependent on the US.
Olmert, Livni, and Ehud Barak may well not have factored this into account. It may well be the case that the considerations uppermost in their minds were the very provincial considerations of two governing parties that had been badly tainted by the outcome of the 33-day war of 2006 that are now going into a big general election fight in early February.
The Olmert government would certainly not be the first Israeli government that decided it wanted to launch its election campaign with a “salutary” military attack against some Arab neighbors! (Shimon Peres in 1996 comes immediately to mind.)
One senior Bush administration official said he believes the Israelis acted now in Gaza “because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in.” While Bush has largely been supportive of almost any Israeli action taken in the name of self-defense, this official pointed out: “They can’t predict how the next administration will handle it. And this is not the way they want to start with the new administration.”
This official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Israelis are being vague about how long the offensive will last but have hinted it could continue well into the week.
“Now I think what the Obama administration faces is at least two years or more before they can really think of having any serious movement” on the peace process, Cordesman said. “Every time this kind of violence breaks out, it becomes harder to move forward. It just creates more of a climate of hostility and anger.”
more – SF Sentinel
Ehud Barak said that this operation would roll out in all Gaza’s areas and it will last for a longer time. He vowed of a painfull military strike of Hamas pinting out “there is a time for peace and time for War.” According to Barak the operation aims at topple down Hamas government and stopping the homemade rockets. more
The borders Israel really wants? more – aangirfan
The following maps show what Israel has actually done.
| The above map is Israel as it was first created by UN declaration in 1947. The blue portion is Israel, the rest is all Arab lands. Note that Jerusalem was completely within Arab lands and Israel was much smaller than it is today. Note also that there is NO Israeli presence inside the area surrounding Jerusalem. No settlements, certainly no IDF.
The red square outlines the approximate region shown in the map to the right.
|This is Israel as it is today. Note that the western border of Palestine has been pushed up to Jerusalem. Such a land grab is NOT the result of a defensive act, but of an invasion to bring Jerusalem under Israeli control, even though Jerusalem was not originally part of Israel. The maps clearly tell the story of an Israel conquering lands which do not belong to it. Since Sharon took office, Israel has built more illegal Jewish Settlements on Palestinian land. Note on the above map that the majority of the lands which were originally Arab lands when Israel was created, are now under complete (white) or partial (orange) Israeli control. Only the black areas remain to the Palestinians, and those are shrinking by the minute.|
“Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel ‘aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),’ said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies. Israel’s support for Hamas ‘was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,’ said a former senior CIA official.”
more – Justin Raimondo
Just like the US funded Al-Qaeda to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan who are now the ‘enemy’ in the ‘War on Terror’ and the US funded the Taliban who we now have to ‘surge’ in Afghanistan against.
Neverending wars, ethnic cleansing and land theft always need enemies. Just fund a willing militant group for awhile and before long they will be the enemy when you need one the most.