By John Catalinotto
Published Dec 27, 2008 10:50 PM
Unable to break the spirit of the Palestinians after 18 months of putting Gaza under siege, the Israeli terror machine, using U.S.-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and “Apache” helicopters, dropped more than 100 tons of bombs on Palestinians in Gaza on Dec. 27. The unprecedented onslaught on a civilian population killed at least 229 people and wounded at least 700 more. (Reuter, Dec. 28)
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has threatened to keep up the barrage for an indefinite period. Outgoing Premier Ehud Olmert seconded the threats.
As in every serious Israeli aggression since 1967, the U.S. this time also gave uncritical support to the Zionist state, backing it up with military equipment, diplomacy and propaganda. Israel is Washington’s biggest recipient of military aid and total aid. In return the Israeli state lines up against every revolutionary and progressive force in the region that could possibly challenge U.S. corporate control of the resources.
This time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible. ...” (Reuters, Dec. 27) The Hamas rocket attacks have brought about one or two Israeli casualties and began only after Israel refused to lift its murderous siege.
Gaza is a narrow strip of territory with a dense population of 1.5 million people. Israel occupied it from 1967 to 2005. Then the Israeli state ended the illegal Jewish settlements in Gaza but kept control of Gaza’s borders. When Hamas was elected to govern by the Palestinians in 2006, Israel targeted Gaza again, and for the last 18 months has held the population there captive by siege.
When this siege failed to break the spirit of the Palestinians or break their support for the Hamas government they had elected in 2005, the U.S.-backed Israeli regime launched this latest murderous attack. Washington and Tel Aviv have tried to break Hamas in Palestine, just as their failed invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was an attempt to break the Hizbollah organization in that country.
Because of the Israeli blockade, Gaza residents have inadequate food, electric power and water and the medical system has constantly been degrading. The poor state of the hospitals is expected to cost many lives of those wounded by the Israeli bombs. Many at the recent “Right to Return Congress” of 5,000 people in Damascus condemned the Israeli siege of Gaza, calling Israeli actions “genocide” and a “crime against humanity.” (Workers World, Dec. 18, 2008)
Taher al-Noono, a Hamas spokesperson, described Israel’s operation as a “massacre,” adding: “However, our resolve cannot be dented and cannot be shaken. We will continue our struggle with absolute strength and steadfastness.” (Al-Jazeera, Dec. 27)
Islam Shahwan, a Hamas police spokesperson, said a police graduation ceremony in Gaza City was struck by Israel. Among those killed was Tawfiq Jabber, the Gaza chief of police. The Hamas-run interior ministry said all security compounds in the Strip had been destroyed. (Al-Jazeera, Dec. 27)
“Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. (Reuters, Dec. 28) International observers now in Gaza in solidarity with the people under siege backed this up with eyewitness statements about the attack, a few of which are published here.
Said Eva Bartlett of Canada and the International Solidarity Movement: “At the time of the attacks I was on Omar Mukhtar Street and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars—anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured.
“I have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the blood banks. I have just learned that among the civilians killed today was the mother of my good friends in Jabalya camp.”
Ewa Jasiewicz, a British citizen originally from Poland and member of the Free Gaza Movement, said: “Israeli missiles tore through a children’s playground and busy market in Diere Balah. We saw the aftermath—many were injured and some reportedly killed. Every hospital in the Gaza Strip is already overwhelmed with injured people and does not have the medicine or the capacity to treat them.
“Israel is committing crimes against humanity, it is violating international and human rights law, ignoring the United Nations and planning even bigger attacks. The world must act now and intensify the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.” (Both quotes are from FreeGaza.org.)
An article in the Electronic Intifada had the following statement: “Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it ‘called upon all civil society organizations and freedom-loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it.’”
In the United States, the International Action Center and the al-Awda organization called a demonstration in New York for Sunday, Dec. 28, to begin at Rockefeller Center at 2 p.m. A demonstration has also been called in Atlanta for 2-4 p.m. on Dec. 28 at the Israeli Consulate at 1100 Spring St. Other actions are scheduled.
An IAC statement on Dec. 27 asserted that, “Protest demonstrations have taken place already in Amman, Damascus, Cairo, the cities of the West Bank and in towns within Israel’s 1967 boundaries that are mostly Arab. Organizations in Brussels, Madrid and other European centers have also called for protests.”
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