Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world: 4,500 people per sq. mile. Over one-half of its 1.5 million citizens are children. On the fourth day of continuous Israel bombing, the known number of dead in Gaza is 380, mostly civilians—including women, children, the elderly, ill and disabled. Over 1000 are said to be badly injured. Israeli government officials say that innocent civilians should move away from the Hamas militants so they won’t be injured. To where were the 5 young sisters crushed to death by collapsing walls of a mosque bombed by Israel supposed to escape? The mosque, one of five now bombed to rubble, was next to their home.
Also on Israel’s list of military targets, the Islamic University was bombed, with particular attention to destroying the girl’s dormitory (60% of the students are female). Of course, no one can know the actual number of people dead, wounded and buried beneath the rubble in what international reporters have long referred to as “an open air prison.”
Gaza is one of the most crowded concentration camps under illegal occupation anywhere in the world. Where would a mother and child run to escape round-the-clock bombing when Israel has ensured there is no exit from Gaza. Since withdrawing from their illegal settlements in Gaza, Israel has continued their brutal occupation through aggressive military control of Gaza’s land borders, air space, seashore and coastal waters.
Over the past several decades the United Nations has passed more than 40 resolutions condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank. For two years, Israel has maintained a strict embargo on daily necessities including medical supplies and equipment. With the increased severity of the blockade over the past several months, Gazans have been suffering from lack of food, medicine, clean water, sanitation, fuel to operate power plants, and electricity. Hospital personnel have had to hand pump oxygen into the incubators for ill newborns; those on dialysis are left to die for lack of facilities for their treatment. The New York Times reports (12/29/08) that “Today at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City women wailed as they searched for relatives among bodies that lay strewn on the hospital floor. One doctor said that given the dearth of facilities, not much could be done for the seriously wounded, and that it was ‘better to be brought in dead.’” Some 200 badly injured civilians need to be moved to hospital in Egypt. However, there is a lack of transportation to get them out of Gaza. Free Speech Radio News reports (12/29/08) that the Egyptians will not allow their reporters to cross the border into Gaza. International Solidarity Workers in Gaza state that Egyptians shot at Palestinians trying to get the seriously injured Gazans through the border crossing to Egyptian hospitals. The United Nations Relief workers in Gaza, say it is very difficult to get to the wounded and homeless. They need emergency food, cash, shelter materials and fuel. It is winter in Gaza, and residents report that in spite of having little or no electricity and heat, they must leave windows open to prevent Israeli bombings shattering the glass.
Israeli officials insist they are “sorry” about the civilian casualties. They are aiming at “Hamas targets,” and tragic mistakes happen. All the Western media sings the same song: “Today is the fourth day of Israel bombing HAMAS TARGETS!” NPR (12/30/08) chimes in: “Five government buildings and those residences near them have been bombed and reduced to rubble today. [my emphasis]” They add that “people are panicking because they don’t know if their neighbor might be a targeted ‘cell member’ of Hamas.” A “cell member!?” Hamas won what even Jimmy Carter certified was the most democratically conducted election in the Middle East! These Hamas “cell members,” are the legal representatives of a democratically elected government, voted for overwhelmingly by the Palestinians citizens themselves. They also have a right to resist outrageous aggression by an illegal occupier. Israel was once a big supporter and financial backer of Hamas in the day when it was seen as an extremist group threatening the status quo in Gaza and the West Bank. After Hamas entered the political process and gained support from the majority of Palestinians, it could no longer serve Israel’s destabilization goals.
It is not surprising, but nevertheless maddening, that US media appears dedicated to supporting the Israeli and US regimes determination to blame this current massacre of Gaza Strip residents on their own Hamas leadership for breaking the truce with Israel, even though Israel’s incursion into Gaza on November 5, and Israel’s refusal to lift the blockade of desperately needed supplies to Gaza, led to the breakdown of the truce. Clearly, this latest massive bombing campaign and call-up of 6500 reservist ground troops ready to invade Gaza has been in the planning process for sometime. There have been numerous infamous statements made by the Zionist government officials over recent years about their intent to drive Gazans to near starvation, and reduce them to howling beasts. The genocidal agenda has not change since 1948…although it seems it is taking longer than the Jewish State would have liked.
Of course, they could not have gotten even this far without the passivity of the “world community;” and more importantly, the financial and military support of the USA. The “Intelligence Report” in Parade Magazine (12/14/08) quotes US State Department figures showing Israel the top recipient of US aid for 2008. Of the $2.4 billion going to Israel, “virtually all of this money is used to buy weapons (up to 75% made in the U.S.). Beginning in 2009, the US plans to give Israel $30 billion over 10 years.” Second in line are the Egyptians. These US/Israel sentinels are the proud recipients of $1.7 billion in aid from the USA ($1.3 billion to buy weapons). It is important to note that these billions of dollars in military aid do not actually leave the USA.
This money is transferred directly into the bank accounts of US military contractors and weapons makers. Killing Palestinians is quite a profitable enterprise for US war manufacturers. But the investment in Israel on the part of first the UK, and later by the US, has a much longer history going back at least to the early 1800’s. The Capitalist Superpower has its sights on a bigger pay off than mere for-profit military production. The strategic location of Israel, access to major water ways, oil and other resources, economic and political dominance in the middle east, have always made it desirable for the Empire to have a “European” friend in the midst of less predictable Arab nationalist interests. And with the successful Zionist construction of “The New Jew,” built on the destruction and denial of 1000s of years of Diaspora and Sephardi/Mizrahi cultural identity, Israel has become that trusted European friend of the US. Conveniently, its own genocidal efforts to expand Israeli “lebensraum” are compatible with US geopolitical and global economic goals*.
Back in the 60s when I lived in Guadalajara, we used to say, “Pobre de Mejico; tan lejos de Dios, y tan cerquitas a los Estados Unidos.” Today it seems it is the entire world that is impoverished and ravished by proximity to the US or its “titeres.”
*For excellent historical research on this phenomena, I would highly recommend Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, by Robert Dreyfuss; and “The Persistence of the Palestinian Question,” by Joseph A. Massad
MARY LYNN CRAMER has dedicated twenty-five years to low paying “applied economics,” working as a bilingual social worker with families and children. She has degrees in economic history, economic theory and social work. She is also an active participant in campaigns for Peace in the Middle East and Palestinian Rights. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org