Sunday, July 27, 2014

'Only stones remain': Gaza lies in ruins - 1,031 Palestinians killed, 6,000 injured // The Massacre at the UN School/ Refugee Center // Gaza: Why a ‘Cease-Fire’ is Not enough

Palestinians in Gaza have been shocked by the scale of Israeli destruction, as long-term truce efforts continue
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Umm Ahmed Abu Sahwish holds stones in her hands. They are now all that's left of her demolished home. "My home is gone and only stones remain," the 65-year-old says. Hundreds of homes here have been destroyed, and unexploded Israeli missiles litter the ground at the entrance to the town, at Gaza's northern tip near the border with Israel. The local hospital, emergency rescue equipment, and infrastructure have also incurred heavy damage from Israeli shelling. Another woman, from a family of 20 people, cries as she tries to dig through the rubble of her house. "Lifetimes of personal and household belongings are gone, with one Israeli missile. Where can we go? We have no food, water, bedding or extra clothes," she says.
Driving the length of this tiny stretch of land — 1.8 million Palestinians live on Gaza's 223 square mile — scenes of devastation are everywhere. The trip from the north to the south of Gaza was only possible during a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire, agreed to by Israel and Hamas on Saturday. On Sunday, Israel resumed its military operation in Gaza, as the prime minister's office declared: "If residents are inadvertently hit, it is Hamas which is responsible given that it has — again — violated the humanitarian truce that Israel acceded to." Hamas and other Palestinian factions reportedly agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip, starting at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday.
At least 1,031 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,000 injured since Israel’s military offensive began on July 8. Forty-three Israeli soldiers have also been killed, along with two Israeli civilians and one Thai worker. In Gaza City, there is little to salvage from beneath the destruction. The eastern neighborhood of Shujayea is a ghost town. Electricity cables are sliced and sticking out of the debris of homes. Cars lay burned out, and human remains are scattered along the streets; the air is thick with the smell of decay.
"I am 45 years old, and I have never seen destruction like this," says a resident, who didn’t give Al Jazeera his name. At least 120 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured when Israel heavily bombarded Shujayea overnight on July 21. The cease-fire provided the first opportunity for families to return to their homes to survey the destruction and salvage their belongings. Ambulance sirens ring out, announcing the discovery of more dead bodies from beneath the rubble. At least 90 bodies were pulled out from the destruction in Shujayea during the cease-fire Saturday.
"This is more ominous than Sabra and Shatila," says Umm Hesham, referring to the killing of about 2,000 Palestinian refugees in the Beirut-area refugee camps in 1982, as her son helps her avoid stepping on bodies. Outside Shujayea, on al-Wehda street, traffic is closed off. Residents busied themselves with trying to get food, water, and medicine. Abu Haytam, a father of eight, stood at a market looking for pasta and lentils. He said he didn’t know what would happen in the coming days: "With electricity out, we can’t buy meat or chicken, it will rot too quickly in the heat," he said.
Nearby, a man selling vegetables was surrounded by customers, while at least 300 men waited for bread at Tal al-Hawa bakery. Banks were crowded, while money wire centers were overflowing with people clamouring to get cash. There are two roads linking north and south Gaza: Saladin Road and Beach Road. Both are damaged; the former from Israeli tank shells and the latter from the Israeli warships lining the coast. Along Saladin road, dairies and a local beverage factory are destroyed, while technical teams worked to restore power to electricity and water installations. Al Aqsa hospital in Deir el-Balah is damaged after Israeli strikes hit the operating theater and the radiology department, killing five people and injuring more than 70 others on July 21.
In Khan Younis, a burned-out crater leaves a gaping hole on the main road, the aftermath of an Israeli F16 missile strike. The residents of nearby Khuzaa, which was under heavy Israeli bombardment, are sleeping on the streets. Access to water is extremely difficult; a man who generally sells water tanks for $4 is now asking for $29. The road to Rafah, at Gaza’s southernmost end, is equally precarious. Two days ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Dahra market in Khan Younis is buzzing with activity, but no one is in the mood to celebrate. Most are only there to stock up on supplies. But in Rafah, a barbershop is full of young people getting haircuts. Spirits are high, but talk quickly turns to stories of death and destruction. The youth are also criticizing neighboring Egypt for not opening the Rafah border crossing.
"The [Israeli-Egyptian] siege has hit every aspect of life; spare parts for my shaving machine are unavailable," says 29-year-old barber Abuel Bara. "Before we would buy it from tunnel merchants, but tunnels are now closed." The machine provides the only income to feed his two daughters, wife, parents and siblings, he says. "But Israel sees no humanitarian need [to lift the siege]."

The Massacre at the UN School/ Refugee Center
Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports for The Nation from Gaza on the Israeli shelling of a UN school that killed 16 and wounded 200, even though the school’s coordinates had been given to the Israeli military. Despite Israeli water-muddying, there isn’t any doubt that the Israelis struck the school, nor is there any evidence that the school was an origin point for any Hamas rockets. Indeed, correspondents on the ground find no evidence for Hamas using civilians as human shields...

Night of Destiny in Palestine: A Third Uprising?

By Juan Cole
When ordinary countries fight wars they have war aims. In World War II, the US wanted to defeat Germany militarily, but then to help it return to democracy and to economic health. By 1947 the US would actually be spending a lot of money on Germany’s well-being via the Marshall Plan. Israel has no strategic war aims in Gaza because it has no large scale, long term strategy concerning the Strip. Its war is all about tactics and minutiae. How many tunnels and rockets can it destroy? How much damage can it inflict on the Hamas leadership? But tunnels and rockets can be rebuilt and the dead leaders’ cousins will take over after them.
It is frankly stupid to think the Israelis can, in Mitt Romney’s words, kick the can down the road forever on making peace with the Palestinians. It hasn’t tried because Israel wants Palestinian land and resources and won’t give them up. The United Nations has raised the specter that because of the Israeli blockade and the consequent inability of Palestinians in Gaza to build their infrastructure, it may well not be habitable by 2020. Its only native source of water, an aquifer, is 90% polluted. If Gaza fails, where will its by-then 2 million people go? Will Israel just let them thirst to death? Renal failure typically sets in in about 3 days if people don’t have water. That is genocide. Israel gives no evidence of doing any planning to avert that outcome in a territory for which it is responsible in international law.

The one strategy Israel has is to use collective punishment and a blockade on children and other non-combatants in an attempt to weaken Hamas. But even if they could succeed (so far they haven’t), the Israelis don’t seem to realize that the hellhole that is Gaza will always throw up radical groups intent on breaking the 1.7 million Palestinians there out of their large open-air jail, in which Israel is keeping them.

That is, Israel’s only real strategy is causing war, not ending war. Gaza is not a country, that Israel can be at war with it. It is a tiny strip of land surrounded by Israel from land, sea and air, which is kept from exporting its made goods for the most part, faces severe restrictions on imports, and therefore has had imposed on it a 40% or so unemployment rate. Some 56% of Palestinians in Gaza are food insecure. Gaza is recognized by the international community as an occupied territory, with Israel being the occupying power. If being occupied by Israel were so great, by the way, why is Gaza so badly off?

Hamas keeps rejecting any ceasefire that does not include a provision for the lifting of the siege of the civilian population. I heard the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, speaking after the meeting of diplomats in Paris, and he spoke about a settlement that allowed for the social and economic development of the Palestinians. What a joke! France is has done nothing practical to end the blockade or allow Palestinians to develop. So a cease-fire that does not include an end to the blockade on Gaza by Israel is not a cease-fire, it is a pause in the war.
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Christianity, Nazism and Anti-SemitismThe origins of the never-ending crisis in West Asia lie in the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. For centuries, the Catholic Church and its offshoots called for the punishment of Jews for their mythical role in the murder of Jesus Christ. The myth originated in Biblical gospels, and was perpetuated by Christianity's greatest intellects, including Saint Paul, Saint Aquinas, Martin Luther and Calvin, not to mention the Papacy.. Read more: 
http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2009/02/2566