The Acts of the Democracies
Images from the areas attacked showed dead and injured Palestinians, burning and destroyed buildings, and scenes of panic and chaos on the crowded streets. The attacks occurred while children were on their way to school and at least seven children from a United Nations run school were killed. Many police stations in residential areas were attacked, one during a passing out ceremony. The victims included Tawfiq Jabber, the chief of police in Gaza. Several mosques, a factory and the headquarters of a television station (al-Aqsa) were also destroyed.
Israel justified its arracks by blaming the firing of home made Palestinian rockets into Israel. Only four Israelis had been killed by these rockets during 2008, and that after the bombing of Gaza began. The Hamas government had offered a continuation of the cease file if Israel ended its 18 month blockade of Gaza. Israel refused and sent missiles into Gaza. The Palestinian rocket attacks escalated after this. The media of the USA and UK fail to explain this, instead allowing Israeli politicians to justify the attack with the rocket excuse without questions.
A USA spokesman said the USA "urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza". Hamas are the elected government in Gaza which is under an Israeli siege that is supported by the USA and European Union. Another USA spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, blamed the victims for "provoking" Israel. The UK government called for "maximum restraint to avoid further civilian casualties" while also blaming Hamas.
The South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, stated that the bombardment of Gaza by Israel bears all the hallmarks of war crimes. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela rejected the Israeli attacks as defensive and said the USA was complicit in this "naked agression". Neither of these two views are broadcast by USA or UK television.
A contributer called Muntasir to an Al-Jazeera blog from Bangladesh summed up the majority view from around the world:
"Ok. So let me get this right. After months of ceasefire, during which Israel put up blockades to stop almost all essential goods from getting in, militants start firing rockets to vent their anger. The shelling does not kill a single Israeli. Now Israel is fed up so it decides to bomb any building in Gaza it deems as a 'Hamas institution' - be it Civilian or otherwise - and kill a hefty 250 people while injuring 600. Now the US says Hamas is responsible for the deaths. That makes perfect sense.
John Ging, of the United Nations Agency for Refugees noted that there had been a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel during which Palestinians of Gaza had been deprived of food and medicine by the Israeli blockade: "There was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."
On the second day of the attacks, Israel bombs the University of Gaza. Thousands of people demonstrate against Israel and the USA in Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq although the mainly pro-West Arab governments stay silent.
Five sisters from the Ballousha family are killed when a mosque collapses on their house after being bombed. Their ages are between 4 and 18.
Israel fires two missiles into the refugee camp at Rafah. One hits the al-Absi family home, killing three brothers - Sedqi, 3, Ahmad, 12, and Muhammad, 13, and wounding two sisters and the children's mother.
Mohamad al-Sharif, a government worker in Gaza City, made a telling point on the BBC website: "Some people in the media have been depicting us as the aggressors but in three days we have had over 300 casualties; the Israelis have one or two.
Mahmoud Abbas, the USA backed President of the West Bank of Palestine, makes a statement blaming Hamas for the attacks.
KryssTal Opinion: Since Hamas was elected by all the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Abbas is blaming his own people for the Israeli attacks.
After a week of bombing with USA-made F-16 jets and Apache helicopters, over 400 Palestinians are killed in Gaza, a territory that has been under siege by Israel for 18 months even while a cease-fire has been in place. Israel justifies its attacks by blaming the firing of rockets into its cities - these killed four Israelis in 2008.
Over 1,700 people are injured in the first week. This overwhelms Gaza's depleted hospitals which lack basic medical items after being under siege. Many countries around the world call for a cease fire and accuse Israel of "disproportionate action" except the USA which continues to blame the elected government of the victims (Hamas) while arming and aiding Israel.
Israel fires a missile into the Ibrahim al-Maqadna Mosque in Beit Lahiya while 200 people are at prayer inside. More than 13 people are killed including children.
In early January, a naval vessel from Israel rams a ship carrying aid from Cyprus to Gaza - the attack happens in international waters. Shots are also fired at the crew. The 20m (66ft) ship (called Dignity) was carrying 15 civilian passengers, which included doctors, journalists, a former USA congresswoman and a member of the Cypriot parliament.
After docking in the Lebanese port of Tyre, the ship's captain, Denis Healey, stated that several Israeli military vessels had attacked "without any warning, any provocation, or anything". UK doctor, David Halpin, heard explosions and thought he was going to die.
The organisation, Free Gaza, that had chartered the ship, described the incident as "an act of terrorism", as well as a violation of international maritime law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The USA and UK, which are always quick to condemn "Palestinian violence", say nothing.
After 800 strikes, Israeli tanks, supported by helicopters, invade Gaza, a densely populated region of 1.5 million people. While the USA government continues to blame the Palestinians for the violence (even as their country was being invaded), demonstrations occurred in London, Paris, Brussels, The Hague, Amsterdam, Ankara and Cyprus. In London shoes were thrown at the UK Prime Ministers residence echoing an Arab custom where the thowing of shoes is a sign of anger.
Israel, backed by the USA, ignores all protests. All foreign journalists are banned from entering Gaza by Israel. The following figures are before the beginning of the land invasion.
|Palestinians killed since the beginning of the Israeli attacks||424|
|Palestinians wounded since the beginning of the Israeli attacks||over 2000|
|Israelis killed by the rockets used by Israel as a pretext||4|
|Tonnage of Israeli bombs dropped per day on residential areas||100|
The house of Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan, is bombed killing him and 16 members of his family:
After ten days the Palestinian death toll stands at over 550 against 4 Israeli civilians and one Israeli soldier. Over 2,500 Palestinians have been injured and 32 Israelis.
During the invasion, these are some of the targets attacked in Gaza:
A doctor from the clinic in Khan Yunis described conditions in a Gaza hospital to journalist, Ramzy Baroud:
"Scores of the wounded are clinically dead. Others are so badly disfigured; I felt that death is of greater mercy for them than living. We had no more room at the Qarara Clinic. Body parts cluttered the hallways. People screamed in endless agony and we had not enough medicine or pain killers. So we had to choose which ones to treat and which not to. In that moment I genuinely wished I was killed in the Israeli strikes myself, but I kept running trying to do something, anything."
Destruction in Rafah Refugee Camp
Dead policemen after a passing out parade is bombed
Fares Akram, journalist for UK newspaper, The Independent, writes how his father, Akrem al-Ghoul, is killed in Gaza when an F-16 jet dropped a bomb on his red-roofed farmhouse. The building was reduced to rubble and the victim's body was just a pile of flesh. Mahmoud, a teenage relative, was also killed after being thrown 300m by the blast.
In Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Dr Mads Gilbert, a doctor from Norway, painted this picture of conditions during the invasion: "We are doing surgery around the clock. The hospital is completely overcrowded and we're seeing injuries that you don't want to see in this world. A child just came in and we had to amputate both arms and legs. It's like hell here now".
Fikr Shalltoot, coordinator for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians reported, "There were 2,050 hospital beds in Gaza before the air strikes and the number of injured already exceeds that. The injured coming in have been hit by F-16 bombs or missiles, not bullets, so you can imagine the injuries they have... There are not enough stretchers. The hospitals are short of sheets, blankets, and surgical gowns. There is no gauze, so they are using cotton, which sticks to wounds. They can't sterilise clothes for the operating theatre".
Canadian writer, Justin Podur, compares the two sides in the conflict: "Israel's active military is estimated to be some 170,000. With universal conscription, it has some 2.4 million people between 17-49 years old fit for military service and everyone has had some training. Its military budget is 9% of its substantial GDP, totaling some $18.7 billion. It receives about $3 billion per year from the USA. It has about 1000 main battle tanks, 1500 lower quality tanks, over 1000 artillery pieces, over 500 warplanes, about 200 helicopters, 13 warships, and 3 submarines. It has the latest unmanned aerial vehicles and can gather very precise intelligence using aerial photography and satellites.
Hamas is mainly a political organization, but it has an armed wing that has the capacity to improvise rockets and explosives and to train fighters with small arms."
Note: HAMAS is an acronym of Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement)
Israeli tanks shell the al-Fakhoura school (run by a United Nations agency) in the town of Jabaliya where families are taking refuge. The organisation had given Israel the school's co-ordinates. 43 people are killed and over 100 injured. Israel accuses the school of hiding Palestinian fighters. The United Nations denies this and called for an independent enquiry.
Dr Bassam Abu Warda of the Kamal Adwan Hospital reported on the scene after the strike: "It was terrible, really terrible. We are living at a very difficult time but even as doctors it is always hard to see children being hurt and had a lot of them today and we are not really equipped to deal with this type of emergency here".
Majid Hamdan, a photographer, was at the scen shortly after the attack: "I saw women and men - parents - slapping their faces in grief, screaming, some of them collapsed to the floor. They knew their children were dead."
Images shown on Middle Eastern televeision but not on UK or USA screens showed medics unloading bodies from an ambulance - they had been stacked three high - many with limbs missing. there were no stretchers.
Randa Seniora, of the Independent Commission on Human Rights, reported that "What is happening in Gaza are crimes against humanity. "Israel cannot claim, as an occupying authority, that it is acting in self defence because simply it is considered a war crime to create harm and damage among civilian populations."
John Ging of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was scathing of Israel's attack the the Western world's lack of action to stop it: "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. There's nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorised and traumatised. I am appealing to political leaders to get their act together and stop this".
Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich on Al-Jazeera: "Let me be clear - I am not apologizing."
United Nations school in Jabaliya bombed by Israel
Bodies lie buried in the rubble of Gaza
After 12 days over 700 Palestinans had been killed (including 219 children) and over 3,085 injured. In the same period, 8 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians had died.
As many as 30 members of the extended Samouni family were killed near their homes in the town of al-Zeitoun while nine more died in hospital. Dozens of bodies remained under the rubble of a large house hit repeatedly by Israeli shelling.
Israeli sodiers arrested three teenage members of the family and ordered about 100 memmbers of the family into the house which was shelled the following morning. Survivors' stories:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were denied permission by Israel to visit the site. Ambulances couldn't reach the scene due to the Israeli habit of shelling them - more than seven paramedics were killed in the first 11 days of the attack. When they finally arrived they found several wounded Palestinians and four weakened children among 12 dead bodies. The children had not eaten since the attack and had difficulty in standing up. "The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded."
Katarina Ritz, the ICRC's head of mission in Jerusalem, said experienced Palestinian emergency workers wept at the scenes they were confronted with. She added Israeli troops were within about 100m of the houses in question, and that the ICRC believes the soldiers "must have been aware" of the presence of the wounded people, because of repeated requests from aid agencies for access. Under international law, she said, even if there are security concerns meaning the injured cannot be evacuated, "the minimum is to treat these people, to feed these people, give them water, and keep them in a safe place".
B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group reported the story of Meysa Fawzi al Samouni, 19. Soldiers had forced her and many others into the warehouse-like building before the attack. "As far as I know, the dead and wounded who were under the ruins are still there". Another survivor, Ibrahim Samouni (13), who was wounded in the leg and chest, told Reuters that he kept his three younger brothers alive and tried to help the injured adults lying among the dead after his mother was killed in the attack: "There was no water, no bread, nothing to eat".
A United Nations relief convoy agreed with Israel is attacked near the Erez crossing by Israeli forces killing one worker at the scene and another who dies later.
John Ging, the head of the United Nations relief agency in Gaza, said that the casualties "... were co-ordinating their movements with the Israelis, as they always do, only to find themselves being fired at from the ground troops."
Azmi Bishara, a former member of the Israeli parliament, criticised the Israeli attacks on Gaza as well as its media campaign that "criminalises the victims and victimises the coloniser". He continued "Usually people are pushed to collective punishment because they want to punish resistance movements or national liberation movements. That's usually what colonial powers did, and that's what Israel is doing. Everybody knows that 75 per cent of the people of Gaza are refugees. Everybody knows that Israel disengaged from Gaza militarily, but occupies it economically and politically and also it besieges Gaza militarily. Israel would say, 'what would any normal country do if they were threatened by rocket fire? They would act'. But Israel is not a normal country, it is an occupying country, a colonial country and the people of Gaza are under siege."
Qunfus, a blogger from Syria writes about the innaction of the West: "In other circumstances it might seem strange that a population on the Mediterranean coast is being besieged and starved without a murmur from the rest of the world. But this is Gaza, Palestine, and the victims suffer alone. Reports say Mubarak had given his assent to a 'limited blow' before today's blood; he's been keeping the Egyptian border with Gaza sealed, keeping the ugly oppressed in their cage very effectively since they briefly broke out last January. Tony Blair - who should be in prison but is instead poncing about in Ramallah and Jerusalem - has been winking to Israeli journalists about necessary change in Gaza. No response to today's crime is likely in Lebanon, or Jordan, or Egypt. The peoples of Europe and America are, by and large, silent.
By the 15th day over 854 Palestinian had been killed (including 10 paramedics), compared to 14 Israelis. Over 3,500 Palestinians were injured.
In the USA, media coverage reflects the USA government's relationship with Israel. Israel's version of events is given greater prominance and more time while the Palestinian viewpoint is underplayed. The Palestinian death toll is usually not mentioned implying that the conflict is between two equallly armed and equally suffering sides. The siege of Gaza and the 42 year military occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel is never mentioned.
Journalist Habib Battah gives two examples from USA television stations. The first from NBC (30 December 2008). The newsreader, Martin Fletcher, began the report "In Gaza two little girls were taking out the rubbish and killed by an Israeli rocket - while in Israel, a woman had been driving home and was killed by a Hamas rocket. No let up today on either side on the fourth day of this battle". No mention was made that 100 times as many Palestinians had been killed as Israelis.
The second (ABC News, 31 December 2008) was broadcast by Simon McGergor-Wood when 400 Palestinians had already died. The journalist began a video piece by describing damage to an Israeli school (with no injuries) by Hamas rockets. According to Habib Battah "For the ABC correspondent, it seemed the Palestinian deaths contained less news value than damage to Israeli buildings. His narration of events, meanwhile, amounted to no less than a parroting of the official Israeli line. In fact, the Israeli government view typically went unchallenged on major US networks".
Talk show and news debate in the USA never discussed if Israel's attack was justified but blamed the Palestinains and agonised over what Israel should do next. The Palestinian human tragedy received little or no attention. USA broadcasters in the region filed their stories from Israeli cities. The video news coverage of the invasion and attacks on Gaza was shown as brief shots of explosions from a distance, Israeli tanks moving on paved roads and perhaps a quick view of a victim. Palestinian victims were rarely interviewed.
Middle Eastern and Arab broadcasters filed their reports from inside Gaza. Their reports capture the air assault in frightening detail from the viewpoint of the victims. The images they capture are often broadcast unedited.
Habib Battah describes a news cycle that "... begins with rooftop-mounted cameras, capturing the air raids live. After moments of quiet, thunderous bombing commences and plumes of smoke rise over the skyline. Then, anguish on the streets. Panicked civilians run for cover as ambulances careen through narrow alleys. Rescue workers hurriedly pick through the rubble, often pulling out mangled bodies. Fathers with tears of rage hold dead children up to the cameras, vowing revenge. The wounded are carried out in stretchers, gushing with blood. Later, local journalists visit the hospitals and more gruesome images, more dead children are broadcast. Doctors wrap up the tiny bodies and carry them into overflowing morgues. The survivors speak to reporters. Their distraught voices are heard around the region; the outflow of misery and destruction is constant."
The difference in coverage is astounding and goes a long way to explaining the differing attitudes to the conflict.
Eight members of a single family are killed by an Israeli tank shell in Jabalya.
Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch tells the Arabic television station Al-Jazeera that the Israeli military is using white phosphorous in civilian areas: "We went by Israeli artillery units that had white phosphorus rounds with the fuses in them. Clearly it is [white phosphorus], we can tell by the explosions and the tendrils that go down [and] the fires that were burning. Today there were massive attacks in Jabalya when we were there. We saw that there were numerous fires once the white phosphorus had gone in".
Neil Gibson, a missiles expert, told the UK newpaper The Times that the shells were an "improved model" made by the USA that burned for up to 10 minutes.
Doctors in Gaza City report that people have been admitted suffering burns consistent with the use of the controversial chemical white phosphorus. This can burn away human flesh to the bone. The doctors reported that it has been used by Israeli forces over Gaza City and Jabaliya. Residents reported a white substance being used that produces suffocating fumes and starts many fires.
White phosphorus can be used under international law but only to cover military movements. "The problem is it covers such a wide area that when the white phosphorus wafers come down, over 100 in each artillery shell, they burn everything they touch and they don't stop burning until they are done. You are talking about skin damage, potentially homes going on fire, damage to infrastructure."
According to Al-Jazeera "Israel used white phophorus during its 34-day war against Lebanon's Hezbollah movement in 2006, while the [USA] used it during the controversial siege of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004."
Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor working at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, reported: "We have been to many war zones, but the special thing is that the 1.5 million Gaza population are completely locked in. The civilian population has no way to hide. The population density is so high you can not do attacks like this without knowing that you are attacking the civilians. Also, the injuries must come from extremely explosive devices. We suspect that Israel is using a new type of high explosive called Dime [dense inert metal explosive]. We urge the world, stop the bombing of Gaza. Please stop it."
Demonstrations against the invasion of Gaza occur around the world:
In Malaysia and Italy, calls were made for boycotts of USA and Israeli goods.
After 15 days 21 Palestinian medics had been killed by Israeli fire and many more wounded. The Al Durra Hospital in Gaza City was hit. Three mobile clinics run by a Danish charity, DanChurchAid, were destroyed.
Israeli commanders were reported in the Israeli media to be unsurprised by the heavy toll on civilians of their latest actions, saying their priority was to protect soldiers. "For us, being cautious means being aggressive," one told the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. "From the minute we entered, we've acted like we're at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground."
The newspaper said the government had taken into account the likely high number of Palestinian civilian casualties when it approved the ground operation. Another soldier, identified as Lt Col Amir, told Israeli television: "We are very violent. We are not shying away from any method of preventing casualties among our troops."
Human rights organisation, Amnesty International accused Israeli soldiers of using Palestinian civilians as human shields - something that Israel frequently accuses Hamas of doing. Their spokesman, Malcolm Smart said: "Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground-floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position."
Dr. Nicolas Doussis-Rassias is a member of a group of volunteer doctors based in Athens (Greece) called Doctors of Peace. These doctors pay their own way to help people who have been injured in war or natural disasters. They have helped victims in Latin America (Hurricane Mitch), Sri Lanka (tsunami) and in wars in Lebanon, Serbia, Turkey, and Pakistan. The group of doctors were stuck at the Egypt-Gaza border, prevented from entering Gaza to treat the wounded. Egypt, under pressure from Israel and the USA kept its border with Gaza closed during the Israeli invasion, even to humanitarian aid.
The United Nations Special Reporter on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, has pointed out the human rights violations of the closed border: "Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza's besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims." For more information, read Richard Falk's UN Report
A report by journalist, Ayman Mohyeldin, of Al Jazeera described tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes after being warned by leaflets dropped by Israel to leave. "A large part of Rafah has been completely reduced to rubble... it has been described as hell on earth by some of the witnesses we have met". Much of Rafah is a refugee camp, consisting of people and their descendents who fled was in now Israel in 1948 - a fact never mentioned by most media.
By the 18th day, 984 Palestinians had been killed over 4,530 wounded, half of them women and children. More 80,000 people are displaced from their homes but cannot leave the territory as all borders and crossing points remain closed. United Nations schools take in 35,000 people. Ten soldiers and three civilians died on the Israeli side since the land invasion.
According to Christer Zettergren, of the Swedish Red Cross, seven ambulances operated by the Red Crescent were damaged in one week in Gaza.
UK journalist and author, Robert Fisk, asked "Why are they dispossessed? Why are settlements - colonies for Jews, and Jews only - being built on Arab land, illegally? And still it continues. Unless we deal with this, there will not be an end to this war. There might be a ceasefire in Gaza, a ceasefire in the West Bank, but there will not be an end to the war. That is the problem". Fisk added that Israel would continue flouting the United Nations and international law as long as the USA continues to back it.
Although the powerful countries of North America and Europe and the puppet states of the Middle East remain quiet during Israel's invasion (often against the wishes of their populations), a few countries begin to take action:
These events remain unreported in the Western media.
Evidence begins to appear that Israel is using newly devloped and unregulated weapons on Gaza in order to test them. David Halpin, a retired UK surgeon and trauma specialist talks about a high blast weapon called DIME: "I fear the thinking in Israel is that it is in its interests to create as much mutilation as possible to terrorise the civilian population in the hope they will turn against Hamas". Mads Gilbert, a specialist in emergency medicine from Norway reported that many of the injuries seen at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City are consistent with the use of DIME.
Wounds from the weapon are said to be distinctive. Those exposed to the blast have severed or melted limbs, or internal ruptures, especially to soft tissue such as the abdomen, that often lead to death. Minute metal particles produced by the blast - and visible on damaged organs during autopsies - lead to survivors of a DIME blast having an increased risk of developing cancer, according to research carried out in the USA.
A media centre in Gaza City housing journalists is bombed by Israeli forces. On the same day, a United Nations compound is bombed with white phosphorous - all its stock of food and medicine is burnt. Hundreds of civilians were sheltering there at the time. A Red Crescent office in Gaza and the main mosque in Rafah were shelled. Three hospitals are also shelled, again with white phosphorous. John Ging, of the United Nations, complained "They are phosphorus fires so they are extremely difficult to put out because, if you put water on, it will just generate toxic fumes and do nothing to stop the burning".
A number of Israeli human rights groups in Israel accuse the country of "blatant violations of the laws of warfare". Fifteen medical facities were attacked and 12 medical personnel are killed. Half a million people in Gaza are without fresh water, 250,000 are without electricity.
Mads Gilbert, who works at the al-Shifa Hospital, told the USA based CBS News: "I've seen one military person among the hundreds that we have seen and treated. So anyone who tries to portray this as sort of a clean war against another army are lying. This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza and we can prove that with the numbers".
The USA abstains from a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a cease fire. The resolution had been drafted by the USA Secretary of State, Codoliza Rice. After a phone call to the USA president, Geroge W Bush, from the Israeli Prime Minister, just before the vote was taken, Rice was ordered to abstain. The resolution was passed 14 to 0. Israel ignored it.
After 22 days:
|Palestinian civilians killed||670|
|Palestinian children killed||225|
|Palestinians wounded||over 5,200|
|Israelis killed by the rockets used by Israeli as a pretext||3|
|Israelis killed by "friendly fire"||4|
|Israeli soldiers killed||10|
|Number of Israeli air strikes||2,360|
|Palestinians killed between 2005 and 2007 by Israeli forces||1290|
|Israelis killed by rockets fired from Gaza (2005 - 2008)||11|
Two boys aged 5 and 7 are killed when Israel shells a United Nations compound sheltering 1,600 people. Christopher Guiness, a worker at the school: "The Israeli army knew exactly our GPS co-ordinates and they would have known that hundreds of people had taken shelter there. When you have a direct hit into the third floor of a UN school, there has to be an investigation to see if a war crime has been committed."
This was the third United Nations school attacked by Israel.
In Jabaliya (one of Gaza's refugee camps, Dr Ezzedine Abu al-Aish, a doctor working at al-Shifa Hospital, lost his three daughters and one niece during an Israeli air attack as he was being interviewed on an Israeli television channel.
The USA vetos a United Nations General Assembly Resolution which is passed 142 to 4 (with 8 abstentions).
"The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash." Israeli historian, Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, UK
"I believed and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land." Ehud Olmert, Israeli Prime Minister, 2006.
"Half the population has no water. On January 11, Gaza's Water Authority said it's near totally disabled and no longer can provide any. Israel attacked a major water pipe in central Gaza. Salty water from wells is all that's available. Raw sewage is running through streets. Officials warn of a "massive sewage flood throughout the Strip. One million Gazans have no electricity. Hospitals can't function. Their supplies are near-exhausted. Hundreds more will die as a result." Stephen Lendman, Centre for Research on GlobalizationIn June a report is released by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The report describes Palestinians living in Gaza as "trapped in despair". Thousands of Gazans remain without shelter despite pledges of billions of dollars in aid, because Israel continues to refuse to allow building materials into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.
Israeli forces attacked and boarded a human rights vessel (The Spirit of Humanity) in international waters. 21 human rights workers from 11 countries were arrested. These included a former USA Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney who stated:
"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip. [USA] President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey."
Another of the arrested passengers was Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland. She stated:
"The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of 'Cast Lead'. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone".
In September the United Nations publishes a report which states that Israel "punished and terrorised" civilians in Gaza. According to a summary in Al-Jazeera: "Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the inquiry, said he found evidence Israel targeted civilians and used excessive force in the assault."
The author of the report, Judge Richard Goldstone, reported:
"The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defence Force. The shooting of civilians holding white flags ... the deliberate and unjustifiable targeting of UN shelters ... and the killing of over 300 children whilst the Israeli Army had at their disposal the most precise weaponry in the world".
Al-Jazeera: "The report said there were 'numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians' and civilian objects in Gaza by Israel. Its firing of white phosphorous shells and the use of high explosive artillery shells were listed as 'violations of humanitarian law'."
The report remains unreported in the Western media.
Gaza Question and Answer from ZNet Magazine.
Analysis of the Gaza attack of 2009 by Noam Chomsky