Monday, January 05, 2009

“In all the locations,” one blogger from Gaza wrote, “people are going through the dead, terrified of recognizing a family member among them.  The streets are strewn with their bodies, their arms, legs, feet, some with shoes and some without. . . .  Some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them.  Outside the destroyed buildings,” the writer said, “old men are kneeling on the ground, weeping.”


So what, I’ve heard commentators, politicians from both parties, the president and the secretary of state say on television in the last few days.  They deserve it.  They brought it on themselves. So what if there are dead children in the streets, struck down on their way to or from school.  “Our self-righteous celebration of ourselves and our supposed virtue is as false as that of Israel,” wrote former New York Times Mideast correspondent, Chris Hedges.  “We have become monsters, militarized bullies, heartless and savage.  We are a party to human slaughter, a flagrant war crime, and do nothing.”


I’ve walked those streets, slept in those houses, wept with the people living in Gaza City, and those close-packed refugee camps,  Jabalia, and Rafa, some of the most crowded places on earth.  Every time I see a bomb go off in the last murderous weeks I wonder if Abu Musa and his children are ok.  His oldest sons would be about 23 or 24 now, twenty years after I met them.  I ate lunch under a tent at what used to be their house, used to be until the Israelis bulldozed it down.  I wonder if Mohammad and Mary have been bombed to death.  I lived on the second floor of their house for two weeks, a gorgeous house overlooking the Mediterranian. 

“Privilege and power,” Hedges wrote, especially military power, is a dangerous narcotic.  Violence destroys those who bear the brunt of its force, but also those who try to use it to become gods.”  The Israelis are using our weapons - - our jets, our ammunition, our military aid to slaughter Palestinians in what Israel’s defense minister called Israel’s “war to the bitter end.”  War?  As Hedges reminds us, “Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums, to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command and control, no army, and calls it a war.  It is not a war.  It is murder.”


The U. N special rapporteur for human rights in Occupied Palestine, Princeton University law professor emeritus Richard Falk, has said that “the Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneve Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”  In short, Israel and “countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly,” including the United States, which supplies Israel with warplanes and missiles used in the illegal attacks, are complicit in war crimes.


“A sunny Saturday in Gaza became very dark as pillars of smoke blacked out the sky of the coastal territory, while the smell of blood was everywhere,” the blogger wrote on Saturday December 27th, . . . But it is the [Gaza] prisoners’ burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration.”


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