Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gaza Day 22: 1,203 Palestinians Dead, 5,300 Wounded; Israel Plans Unilateral Ceasefire

GAZA (Reuters) – Israel plans to halt its Gaza offensive without any deal with Hamas, an Israeli official said on Saturday, in an apparent effort to deny the Islamist group any gains from the three-week-old conflict.

Hamas leaders in exile have vowed to fight on, but many of the 1.5 million Palestinians enduring incessant bombardment and privation in Gaza seemed desperate for their ordeal to end.

"The goal is to announce, subject to cabinet approval, a suspension of military activities because we believe our goals have been attained," said the official, asking not to be named.

In today’s most recent developments, two more children have died at a U.N. school, killed by an Israeli tank shell fired in overnight fighting. That seems an ironically sharp twist to the comment “our goals have been attained.”

It is not one of the stated goals of the Israeli offensive to kill women and children. It just so happens that such results are inseparable byproducts of their military actions.

“These two little boys are as innocent, indisputably, as they are dead.”

—John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza.

The Hamas leadership in Lebanon (Osama Hamdan) and Syria (Mohammed Nazzal, Khaled Meshaal) said fighting will continue until Hamas’ demands are met. Demonstrations in the West Bank in support of Hamas, however, have been monitored or broken up by the Palestinian Authority and are not now widely attended. In Israel, Palestinians and pro-peace Israelis have been shot at, shouted at, or otherwise dissuaded from public opposition. The demonstrations in the West Bank are now less militant for action against Israel, and more for a call of unity and reconciliation amongst Palestinians.

Jews Speaking Out Against Israel

Jews themselves are growing in opposition to the war. Canadian Jewish women occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto. Protests have occurred in the U.S. and U.K. Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Member of Parliament for the Labour Party, spoke out against Israel vehemently. Referring to his own grandmother, shot in bed by German soldiers during the Second World War, he compared her legacy to modern Israeli violence committed against Palestinians:
“My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthless and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.”

Amongst the voices in opposition to the Israeli offensive is Canadian journalist Jesse Rosenfeld, who describes himself as “Jewish and Anti-Zionist.” His proposition for a solution to the crisis echoes Hamas’ requirements: “It is the same solution as before: if Israel would withdraw its siege, withdraw its troops and open the Gaza borders like the Palestinians in Gaza have demanded, there would not be a war right now.”

Israel’s counter-argument has been that the siege was a response to Hamas rocket fire. It is a chicken-and-the-egg argument of nationstate tit-for-tat. “You started it.” “No, you started it.”

Rosenfeld likewise opined, “Israel's goals in this war are not something they will achieve. They will not get Hamas to agree to stop the rocket-fire. That is something that will only come politically. Eventually it will have to get to that point, but Israel will kill a lot more Palestinians in the process.”

Mutually Assured Mass Manipulation

Both Israel and Hamas are intentionally ignoring the dirty secrets and blatant truths, overstating or understating their actions and positions to garner international support. Propaganda is nothing new. Each of the powers-that-be are playing to the gallery and shedding crocodile tears.

The casualties, however, are real.

Today I shall leave the final comments to Bill Moyers.

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