2008-12-29 17:54:13 UTC
Sunday, 28 December 2008 18:49
A savage Israeli air assault on impoverished Gaza has begun. At least
250 people are dead, many of them children. While Gaza city was
reduced to a “chaotic horror,” the New York Times reported that
Israeli defense minster Ehud Barak said that “military operations in
Gaza would expand and deepen as necessary.” An Israeli blockade of
Gaza, backed by the United States and all the European powers, has
resulted in the “near death” of the Gazan economy before this barbaric
onslaught. As for the United States and the Bush Regime, Bush
spokesman Gordon Johndroe admitted “we were all aware of the
authorization (for bombing Gaza) by the Israeli cabinet.” The attacks
on the Palestinian people of Gaza are a horrible crime against
humanity, with the full cooperation, knowledge, and support of the
Bush Regime, and must be condemned and vigorously opposed.
by Kevin Gosztola
More than 200 people are reported dead in Gaza after Israeli attacks,
which were in response to ongoing rocket fire from Hamas. Israel’s
hammering of so-called Hamas targets have left over 300 injured and
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said Israeli attacks will go
on for "as long as necessary."
The U.S., being the biggest of ally of Israel, bears some
responsibility for the worsening situation, against which supporters
of Arab and Palestinian rights are speaking out.
Reactions to the attacks from the Arab League, Syria, and Iran consist
of these following remarks, which are being reported by BBC News:
AMR MOUSSA, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY GENERAL
"We are facing a continuing spectacle which has been carefully
planned. So we have to expect that there will be many casualties. We
face a major humanitarian catastrophe."
SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT
"Syria is following with great anxiety the barbaric Israeli aggression
against the Palestinian people in Gaza... a horrific crime and
"Syria calls on the Arab nation and the international community to use
all possible means to put pressure on Israel to immediately stop the
aggression, allow the wounded to enter hospital and open all crossing
points [to Gaza].
"Syria as president of the Arab League calls on Arab leaders to hold
an emergency summit to assess the dangerous situation in Gaza."
HASAN QASHQAVI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN
"Iran strongly condemns the Zionist regime's wide-ranging attacks
against the civilians in Gaza.
"The raids against innocent people are unforgiveable and
Syria and Iran have been on the short list of nations the U.S. is
willing to attack--the Axis of Evil---and that may be because Israel
considers these countries to pose grave threats to their security.
In an IBA News video posted on the Jerusalem Post website, Dr. Raanan
Gissin, former spokesman for Ariel Sharon, offered his take on the
situation, one that many supportive of Israel, like those in the U.S.,
will most likely consider accurate:
“This is only the first shot in what will probably be a long, enduring
sustained operation on which its main purpose is as I understand it is
not so much to break the military force of Hamas as much as to break
its will, to continue the fighting, and to establish a different
ceasefire, a comprehensive one which will ensure that the citizens of
Israel along its southern border can live in peace and security.
Israel is exercising in a rightful way its right to self-defense. This
is something I think we can explain today better than in the previous
war in Lebanon. No doubt in my mind this is only the first or one of a
series of confrontations in fighting the frontline forces of Iran
whether it’s in the south, Hamas, or in the north, Hezbollah. We still
have several of these confrontations so long as Iran continues with
its intent to drive a wedge into the Middle East and extend the
influence.” [emphasis added]
Gissin added before his analysis was over, “Israel’s action is much
wiser than in 2006 against Lebanon.” And in a comment that one would
expect from the lips of George W. Bush, “Terrorist organizations
require perseverance, endurance, and patience on the part of the
citizens” because in this day and age, “most of the wars we are going
to be forced to fight---not choose to fight---forced to fight will be
of this kind.”
So, why is Hamas firing rockets at Israelis?
The U.S. considers the democratically elected Hamas organization to be
a terrorist organization (as does Israel). Hamas attacks Israel in
ways that terrorists attack countries---it employs guerrilla warfare
while Israel employs military operations that only rich countries with
rich U.S. support can employ.
The White House said in response to the attacks:
“"Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the
violence is to stop. Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it
wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people.
"The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it
targets Hamas in Gaza."
Barack Obama, on vacation, could not offer a comment. But, as Justin
Raimondo over at Antiwar.com suggests, he probably would side with the
Raimondo has links that lead to this letter from then-Senator Obama
which explains why Obama might think Israel has a right to respond to
Hamas rocket fire:
Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,
I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the
situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be
forthcoming from the Council in short order.
I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and
pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the
rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern
All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on
Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is
forced to do this… Israel has the right to respond while seeking to
minimize any impact on civilians.
The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the
rocket attacks… If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense
points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.
United States Senator
That was Obama then. Perhaps we should consider Obama’s reaction to
Carter’s trip to the Middle East to meet with Hamas as an indication
of what he is really thinking now.
Carter said of his trip in April of this year:
“It's very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders
to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to
try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in
Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the
Palestinians…There's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever
going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with
their next-door neighbours, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to
be included in the process.”
Seems fair, right? Obama responded to Carter’s logic by telling a
group of Jewish leaders:
“We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s
destruction…We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce
terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past
Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights has, of course, issued
this statement condemning the attacks and asking people take action.
“As of this writing, Israeli Air Force attacks today on the occupied
Gaza Strip killed an estimated 200 or more people and injured hundreds
more. These Israeli attacks come on top of a brutal siege of the Gaza
Strip, which has created a humanitarian catastrophe of dire
proportions for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinian residents by
restricting the provision of food, fuel, medicine, electricity, and
other necessities of life.
While the scope of civilian casualties in today's attacks is not yet
clear, it is unmistakable that Israel carried out these attacks with
F16 fighter jets and missiles provided by the taxpayers of this
country. From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more
than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F16's. In
July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8
aviation jet fuel. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion
contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW,
Hellfire, and "bunker buster" missiles.
“In short, Israel's lethal attack today on the Gaza Strip could not
have happened without the active military and political support of the
United States. Therefore, we need to take action to protest this
attack and demand an immediate cease-fire.”
As the situation worsens, as the attacks continue, more will be
reported by OpEdNews. In the meantime, consider why Hamas is firing
rockets. It may look like terrorism, but one man's terrorist is
another man’s freedom fighter. The only way Israel’s actions can be
considered self-defense is if we are certain Hamas is not employing
violence because it wishes to attain freedom from Israel's actions,
which recently have included a vicious blockade against Palestinians.
Also, it may be worth asking this question: Exactly what Hanukkah
tradition involves waging violent conflict?
Israeli Attacks Kill Over 310 in Gaza in One of Israel’s Bloodiest
Attacks on Palestinians Since 1948
Amidst worldwide protests, Israel is continuing its bombing campaign
against Gaza for the third consecutive day and preparing to launch a
possible ground invasion. Following months of a crippling blockade,
this has been described as one of Israel’s bloodiest attacks on
Palestinians since 1948. Latest reports indicate that 310 people have
been killed and 1,400 injured in the aerial strikes across the Gaza
Strip since Saturday morning. The latest targets of the air strikes
include the Hamas Interior Ministry building and the Islamic
University. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced today that
Israel is in an “all-out war with Hamas and its proxies” in Gaza.
Fears of a ground invasion are growing after Israel declared a
military buffer zone around Gaza, closing off the strip and its 1.5
million residents to journalists and civilians.
We speak to Dr. Moussa El-Haddad and Fida Qishta in Gaza, Dr. Mustafa
Barghouti in Ramallah, Gideon Levy in Tel Aviv and Ali Abunimah in the
US. [includes rush transcript–partial]
Email to a friend
WATCH Real Video Stream
Real Audio Stream
Dr. Moussa El-Haddad, retired physician in Gaza City. His daughter
Laila El-Haddad is a journalist who writes the popular blog ‘Raising
Fida Qishta, Freelance journalist and Gaza Strip Coordinator for the
International Solidarity Movement
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, independent Palestinian lawmaker and democracy
Gideon Levy, journalist with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz
Ali Abunimah, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the
Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.
His latest piece is called ‘We Have No Words Left’ published today in
London’s Guardian newspaper.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Amidst worldwide protests, Israel is continuing its
bombing campaign against Gaza for the third consecutive day and
preparing to launch a possible ground invasion. After months of a
crippling blockade, this has been described as one of Israel’s
bloodiest attacks on Palestinians since 1948.
Latest reports indicate that a total of 310 people have been killed
and 1,400 injured in the aerial strikes across the Gaza Strip since
Saturday morning. The latest targets of the air strikes include the
Hamas Interior Ministry building and the Islamic University. Five
people in a single family were killed in a strike Sunday night on
Jabaliya. This is a surviving family member, Iman Baloushi.
IMAN BALOUSHI: [translated] Seven of us were sleeping when, all of a
sudden, the walls came tumbling in on us. They were screaming. I told
them all to call for martyrdom, because we were going to die tonight.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced today
that Israel is in a, quote, “all-out war with Hamas and its proxies”
in Gaza. Fears of a ground invasion are growing after Israel declared
a military buffer zone around Gaza, closing off the Strip and its 1.5
million residents to journalists and civilians. The Israeli cabinet
authorized a calling up of 6,500 reserve soldiers Sunday. Israeli
prime minister spokesperson Mark Regev said the military campaign
would continue until there was "quiet in the south,” referring to the
rockets launched from Gaza into southern Israel.
MARK REGEV: Our initial strikes against the Hamas military machine
have been successful, but we have no doubt that the Hamas military
machine in Gaza remains both formidable and lethal. This campaign will
continue, and we have to prepare for different contingencies.
Obviously, the final goal remains achieving peace and quiet in the
AMY GOODMAN: Al Jazeera is now reporting 318 Palestinians have been
killed. Two Israelis have been killed by rockets from Gaza since
Saturday. Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Meshaal, vowed that rocket
attacks would continue and suicide missions against Israel would
resume in an interview broadcast on Al Jazeera Saturday. The exiled
leader in Damascus called on Palestinians to unite and rise up in a
KHALED MESHAAL: [translated] This is a historical moment. We worked
shoulder to shoulder during the First Intifada and the Second
Intifada. Despite the political differences between us, today what is
needed is for us to work together in the upcoming intifada and our
coming resistance, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank.
AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, however, blamed
Hamas Sunday for triggering the Israeli assault.
PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS: [translated] I want to say very clearly that,
yes, we talked to Hamas and the leaders of Hamas in Gaza, and we spoke
to them clearly and honestly, directly and indirectly, and through
many parties, Arab and non-Arab. So we were in touch with them. Now
it’s not important what problems existed between us. We called them
and told them, “Please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the
truce continue and not stop,” so that we could have avoided what
happened. And I wished it had been avoided.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by a number of people right now for our
discussion. In Jacksonville, Florida, we’re joined by Ali Abunimah. He
is founder of Electronic Intifada, author of One Country: A Bold
Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. His latest piece, “We
Have No Words Left,” was published in London’s Guardian newspaper.
We’re also joined from Gaza by—well, from Gaza City by Dr. Moussa El-
Haddad. He’s a retired physician. His daughter Laila El-Haddad is a
journalist who writes the popular blog “Raising Yusuf.
Dr. Moussa El-Haddad, we welcome you to Democracy Now! Can you
describe where you are and what the situation is like right now?
DR. MOUSSA EL-HADDAD: Well, I am in the middle of Gaza City, in the
heart of Gaza City, and the situation is indescribable. If this is not
a holocaust, I don’t know what holocaust is. According to the news,
they say almost 318 people are dead. The majority of those are
civilians. At least 300 of them are civilians. And they say about
1,500 are injured, but a lot of them are seriously injured. The
hospitals lack a lot of the necessary staff, instruments, even gauze
and medicines, and everything is lacking. Physicians and nursing staff
are working around the clock. People cannot find a place in the
hospitals for treatment, injuries. And I am sure there will be a lot
more of the dead under the rubbles of those buildings that were
attacked and demolished.
Every now and then, we hear a rocket attack or two. So, there are
warplanes in the sky flying all over the time. As I speak to you now,
I can hear them up in the sky, the pilotless jets and the warplanes,
F-16s and God knows what. The warships in the sea are also attacking
from the sea. And attacking who? Hamas? They are not attacking Hamas;
they are attacking the people, the civilians. The civilians—I mean,
I’m looking at the street right now, the main street of Gaza, Omar al-
Mukhtar, and hardly you can see anyone walking there, because every
single person is afraid.
As you mentioned, last night, a family, five people, a woman and her
four children, were killed when they were in their house. Three and—I
don’t know, three or four mosques were demolished. These are praying
areas. These are mosques. So I don’t know—nobody is safe. No place is
safe. All the buildings that were attacked, they are not military
buildings. Even in the initial day, on Saturday, the first 150 people,
they were civil servants. They were not striking attackers. They were
civil servants, civilians. I don’t know. I—
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Dr. Moussa El-Haddad, I’d like to ask you also
about the—there have been reports that the Israelis were trying to
block television signals. What’s the situation with the electricity,
the ability of the people to at least get some information and
communicate with each other?
DR. MOUSSA EL-HADDAD: Well, as I speak to you know, I have no
electricity in my house. I have a generator that I can open or let
work for like two or three hours every now and then to let the
internet work and watch TV. We have electricity like three or four
hours a day. We have no cooking gas. I mean, I’m talking about the
people. Maybe I have a little left in my house. But people don’t have
electricity about 75 percent of the time, no cooking gas, no gas for
the cars. So fuel is also lacking. And the only source of, like, food
and fuel lately was through Egypt, through those tunnels, and these
were attacked last night. At least forty tunnels were demolished last
I don’t know. This is—can you tell me if any of this is against Hamas?
There’s nothing against Hamas. This is a clear-cut genocide and
holocaust against civilians, civilians who are helpless. They don’t
have warplanes. They don’t have warships. They don’t—even the rockets
that they talk about are homemade. And I just—I cannot—and I really
lost the words, because the situation is so bad. And we are in the
twenty-first century. We are not in tenth or fifteenth century.
Everybody in the world can see and hear. But who acts? Who is doing
anything? Now, they say the killer and the killed are the same. They
are putting Israel, with all its military power, [inaudible] level
like Hamas and people of Gaza.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Moussa El-Haddad, we’re also joined by Fida Qishta,
who is a freelance journalist living in Rafah and the Gaza Strip
Coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement. Welcome to
Democracy Now!, Fida Qishta. Describe what is happening in Rafah.
FIDA QISHTA: Well, at this moment, everything is calm, but yesterday
was a massive attack to Rafah’s border. They attacked the border area
with more than eleven rockets by the F-16, and it was the only source
for the Gazans to stay survivors, by the food and the medicines,
anything that they could bring through the tunnels. But now, the only
way for the Gazans to stay survive is destroyed.
And yesterday morning, they attacked a pharmacy in Rafah near my
house. It’s just fifty meters away from my house. And they [inaudible]
other normal buildings in Rafah, too, which just include families and
civilians. I don’t know what is the reason for doing that. As Dr.
Moussa said, they’re attacking civilians. And it’s true that the
Israelis say that they attack—their attack is really, really massive,
and it’s really unbelievable that we can see in our eyes what’s
happening. It’s too much. The hospitals—and even in Rafah, the biggest
hospital, Abu Yusuf Al-Najjar, cannot afford to have more than twenty
injured. And they moved the injured to Gaza City. And most of the
people stay at home. Everything is closed. It’s like a war. Nobody
JUAN GONZALEZ: Fida Qishta, I’d like to ask you about the role of
Egypt. There have been reports that the Egyptians along the border
have prevented Palestinians from trying to escape the violence. Could
you talk about that or what you have—the reports you have heard
FIDA QISHTA: Well, when we heard the attack to the border, me and some
friends from the ISM went there to observe in our eyes what’s going
on. And when we went there, we saw the Palestinians. Palestinians
didn’t try to escape. The Palestinians tried to show their anger to
the Egyptian soldiers, why they didn’t open just part of these borders
or the crossings to let the injured go out of Gaza to have treatment
in Egypt. This is what the Palestinians tried to do. They didn’t try
to escape to Egypt. This is a false information. People went to the
border with Egypt after the attacks by the F-16s happened, and they
tried to show their anger for the Egyptian soldiers to let them—just
let the injured go to Egypt for treatment. They didn’t try to escape.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break, then come back to this
conversation. We’ll also be joined by Gideon Levy in Tel Aviv. He’s
with Ha’aretz. And Mustafa Barghouti, he’s in Ramallah. Ali Abunimah
is also with us from Florida. He’s the founder of Electronic Intifada.
Then we’ll hear an excerpt of the Nobel Prize acceptance speech of
Harold Pinter, who died last week. This is Democracy Now!,
democracynow.org. Our guests on the phone, Fida Qishta, freelance
journalist in Rafah; Dr. Moussa El-Haddad. He’s a retired physician,
speaking to us from Gaza City. Stay with us.