In what appears to be the deadliest attack in months,Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip for a second straight day, leaving more than 300 civilians dead. And tonight, as Israeli bombs continue to rain down on Palestinian towns and villages, the Arab world is powerless at stopping the carnage. As always, proxy politic overshadows the reality with conflicting interests colliding while the Palestinian masses are being smashed by Israeli’s carpet bombings. Condemnation and outrage sprang across the globe on Sunday, as thousands took to the streets in major capitals of the world to denounce this latest aggression over an almost defenseless population.
As we are writing this piece, we have learned that an escalation of the violence may be imminent. Reports from the Becca Valley along the border with South Lebanon, thousands of Hezbollah militiamen are being mobilizing in what most observers believe could be the opening of a second front.
The Israeli air force is not only targeting the Hamas leadership, which controls the Strip since Hamas gunmen uprooted PDF(Palestinian Defenses Forces) in June of 2007 and assumed effective control, it is also targeting innocent civilians. Hundreds died as a result of indiscriminate bombing. While Gaza City continues to be pounded from the air, a major psychological warfare is firmly underway. The Associated Press confirmed Sunday the air offensive is mainly directed “against Gaza’s Hamas rulers”, which explains the “pounding of smuggling tunnels and government strongholds. In an effort to raise the stake, The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is sending more tanks and artillery toward the Gaza border and activating thousands of reservists for a possible ground invasion.
The Syrian government denounced the carnage and has threatened to break off indirect peace talks with Israel. But despite angry protests across the world, Israeli leaders said they would press ahead with the Gaza campaign. However, Israeli foreign minister claimed that the goal is to be able to halt Hamas rocket fire on Israel, not to reoccupy the territory. This declaration, while leaving little comfort to deprived Palestinian families who continue to live under Israeli bombs, bears a cynicism reminiscent to that of classic occupiers’ response in the hunt to find clumsy justification of war crimes that are clearly unjustifiable. It is easy to criticize Hamas for throwing rockets to the northern Israel, but the root cause, which the major players now involving in shuttle diplomacy are cruelly avoiding for they have no solution to it, is the Israeli occupation itself—the longest military occupation in modern time.
Not withstanding the infighting between the Palestinian entity—now splitting into two—The United Nations and other world bodies are trapped in their impotence to force Israel to withdraw from the pre-1967 green line when Israel seized control of the West Band of the Jordan River and flooded the territory with rightwing settlers in order to create facts on the ground so if there would ever be a Palestinian State, it would look like rotten cheese eaten by rats, but never a viable state that would amount to the etymological meaning of the word.
A humanitarian crisis looms
As the Gaza strip lies under siege tonight, a major humanitarian catastrophe may be looming. Witnesses said crowds of Gazans breached the border wall with Egypt to escape the chaos. Egyptian forces cynically fire in the air in an attempt to scare the refugees off and force them back into Gaza. According to Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, Israeli aircraft attacked a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp next to Gaza City, killing a 14-month-old baby, a man and two women. Meanwhile, in the southern town of Rafah, Palestinian residents said a toddler and his two teenage brothers were killed in an airstrike aimed at a Hamas commander. TheIslamic University and government compound in Gaza City, centers of Hamas power, were also reportedly bombed, including the house next to the residence of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a Gaza City refugee camp.
Gaza hospitals were overwhelmed. Hassanain, who keeps a record for the Gaza Health Ministry, confirmed that more than 290 people were killed over two days and more than 800 wounded. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which keeps researchers at all hospitals, said it had counted 251 dead by midday Sunday, and that among them were 20 children under the age of 16 and nine women. All over the Strip, people pitched traditional mourning tents of green tarp outside homes. But they are no bomb shelters, and the reality of exploded bombs striking from the air forced families to stay away, as rows of chairs inside these tents remained largely empty. Frightened residents cowered into their homes for fear more Israeli bombs.
Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in 1967. Israel withdrew symbolically in 2005, after 38 years of a brutal military occupation. However, Israel never fully left. Israeli forces have repeatedly returned to the territory to hunt militants. But many observers believe that Israel has no intention of trying to retake the territory, for fear of getting bogged down in urban warfare.
Gaza, the poorest strip of land in the Middle East, is also the world most densely populated territory with one million people crammed like sardines in just a few square miles. It is urgent that a solution is found immediately. However, before a durable conclusion to this tragedy can be found, the Palestinian leadership must speak with our voice. It has to seize to be the step stone for those like Iran—in the case of supporting Hamas—whose agenda is completely at odds with the genuine aim of the Palestinian people longing for a viable State. Strategic interest MUST be put above all selfish and disgraceful endeavors. History will judge the Palestinian leaders for failing their own people by leaving them at the mercy of Israeli bombs. By splitting into two, Israel will continue to find all the excuses in the world to justify its aggression against a disenfranchised population.