“It should be noted that 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 of violence occurred after an Israeli incursion that killed several alleged militants within Gaza.”
–Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
From on the ground here, and from hearing the accounts from 1st-hand witnesses, I would disagree that Israel is merely “targeting Hamas targets”.
There is significant support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, hence their democratic election in 2006, after which they were penalized and put under international sanctions. Thus, to say one is targeting Hamas targets, when any civilian employed by the Hamas government, be he traffic police, civil police or in the Ministries, is an immoral declaration of war against a civilian population.
The situation I am addressing here is the mass-bombing of the entire Gaza Strip. As a civilian reporter here, not a military expert nor claiming to be, I am attempting to report what I see and hear here in Gaza, so I may make the mistake of using terms which have specific military definitions. For the sake of clarity, then, I will say mass bombing, indiscriminate bombing, as well as targeted bombing, instead of “carpet bombing”, although the meaning in the end is the same to me: every area of Gaza is being subject to Israeli bombing, from sea to walls.
Let me give you some personal examples of mass-bombing, indiscriminate bombing, and the targeting of civilians:
8 men, including a father (age 55), 6 of his sons (ages 15- mid-20s), and one friend (age 15) who were targeted by a missile from an Israeli drone yesterday at 5 pm while they attempted to return scrap metal to a metal workshop. This attack came 1 hour after an Israeli F-16 targeted the shop but hit the house next door, alleging the shop had missiles in it (it held oxygen tanks, for the work involved in a metal shop).
The 8 dead were torn to pieces by the missile which targeted them.
Yesterday also, 3 children were collecting firewood for cooking, as they have no cooking gas (because of Israel’s siege on Gaza, cooking gas being among the many banned materials which also include medicines, replacement parts for hospital equipment, building cement, and a very extensive list which i don’t have time to write at present but which is very well documented by the UN and other “objective” sources.) The youths, ages 13 and 14, were in a small patch of olive trees collecting wood when a missile from a drone targeted them, killing one and seriously injuring the other two who are now in critical condition. It was between 11 am and noon.
The mother of a family in Jabaliya was on the street going to buy bread on Saturday afternoon when she was killed by shrapnel from a missile which landed metres from her. The same family lives in fear, in an unprotected room (no bomb shelters here) as bombs explode 30 m from their house and in the neighbouring area. Each bomb near them shakes their house and blows out remaining windows. I know, I sleep there. The missile which struck land across the street was targeting an enclosed olive grove. This morning, the same land was attacked, 20 minutes after I had left the home. The family is terrified. This is a massive missile capable of leveling 2 and 3 story buildings, leaving craters 8-14 m deep.
Two sisters, ages 4 and 12, left their Beit Hanoun home around 9 am this morning to throw the garbage out. They are dead, killed from a missile strike.
At least 4 mosques in Jabaliya alone have been targeted, damaging buildings and houses around them. The first to be felled, Emad Akal mosque, took 5 neighbouring girls, ages 4-17, with it. In their sleep. The mosque across from Shifa hospital was leveled, leaving a crater approximately 15 m deep. A mosque in Khan Younis was leveled yesterday. Islamic university has twice been targeted, on two different days. Al Quds open university buildings were targeted. The coast of Gaza is being fired upon by Israeli naval vessels, from Rafah in the south to up in the north. There are now 370 known killed and over 1450 known injured, half of whom cricitally so. Sixty of the dead are children, 12 are women.
I am not sitting in a comfortable hotel room, I am visiting the sites, talking with the affected people, sleeping in the home of a family who is terrified and subject to bombing around all sides, including 30 metres from their front door. I am not cushioned from this, my ears also ring from the explosions, and I haven’t slept well in three nights. The explosions are extremely loud (that doesn’t suffice to describe it), and the drones and Apache helicopters and F-16s continue to circle over all areas of the Gaza Strip
I’d invite anyone who doubts the severity and seriousness of these ongoing attacks on Gaza to come here to witness this for yourself, to write your own balanced account, but of course that is impossible, because Gaza is under siege, all crossings are closed, and even the Free Gaza boat which brought me here was attacked this morning, rammed by Israeli naval vessels, and prevented from delivering needed medical supplies and bringing journalists to Gaza to report on the situation.
I strongly disagree, and will never agree, that Israel is taking precautions to limit the number of civilian casualties. I disagree with the statement Israel is carrying out airstrikes on Hamas targets, because by that definition, any supporter of Hamas can be a target, as we have seen. Would it be acceptable to bomb the police stations and ministries of Israel’s government, any government, because the political party is viewed as a target. George Bush is a war criminal and supports crimes against humanity. But that doesn’t mean we bomb the police stations and ministries of the United States. Clearly, these are acts of terrorism.
Hamas has publicly said it will “recognize” Israel, an Israel with defined border and without the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.