Do you remember Operation Cast Lead? That was the Israeli assault on Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009. In that attack, at least 1,100 Palestinians died, by contrast with the 13 Israelis, four of whom were accidentally killed by their own forces.
Subsequently, the Goldstone report found that Israel had attempted to starve the Gazan population into submission by means of blockades, that it deliberately attacked civilian targets, that it failed to safeguard civilians, that it was guilty of indiscriminate attacks on the population and that it had deliberately attacked civilians with no justifiable military objective. These attacks included shelling houses and subsequently shooting their occupants when they tried to escape. The sort of barbarity, in other words, that was rightly condemned when it happened in Europe.
According to the report,
The facts gathered by the Mission indicate that all the attacks occurred under circumstances in which the Israeli forces were in control of the area and had previously entered into contact with or at least observed the persons they subsequently attacked, so that they must have been aware of their civilian status.
I wrote about the incident quite a lot at the time, drawing on myself the wrath of an orchestrated pro-Israeli disinformation campaign. Indeed, there are one or two sleepers who never comment on any other post here except those that relate to Israel and Palestine and it won’t surprise me in the slightest when they activate themselves to challenge this one. Regular readers will know who I mean.
Now, Gaza is the world’s most densely-populated place, truly a concentration camp complete with walls around it to contain the population, and this was the place that one of the world’s most powerful armies assaulted using aerial bombardment, phosphorus shells and tanks. That was in response to repeated attacks by the lunatic, fanatically Muslim Hamas firing rockets into Israeli territory. Though the rockets presented a danger to life and limb, they were in military terms no more than a pin-prick, and furthermore, the people most in danger were those occupying farms and villages formerly owned by the people of Gaza. But they were, and remain, a political godsend for the Israeli government. Without terrorist attacks, there would be no excuse to attack Gaza.
Proportionality was not an issue with Cast Lead. The IDF assaulted the civilian population with every ferocity at their disposal, in clear breach of the Geneva Conventions. They lied, and they denied, every time honest brokers such as John Ging, head of the UN Relief Works Agency, told the world what they had done.
Not much changes. Nearly four years later, an Israeli soldier has received a prison sentence of 45 days for gunning down a 64-year-old woman, Ria Abu Hajaj and her daughter, Majda, 37. The women were among a group escaping their homes which the Israelis had bombed, and as they approached a checkpoint, holding white flags, the accused soldier, identified only as Staff Sergeant S, shot both of them. The younger woman was killed instantly, and her mother died later in hospital from gunshot wounds.
Following a plea bargain, the soldier was convicted of illegal use of a weapon, rather than manslaughter which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years. As far as I can establish, illegal use of a weapon might include such misdemeanours as shooting at a speed limit sign or killing a dog in the street, and that’s exactly how much the Israeli military court valued the lives of these two Palestinian women.
Dogs in the street.
Is there any surer way to create fundamentalists? Ninety years later, the Black and Tans survive in Irish folk memory, and I have to remind my fellow citizens, despite our national sense of oppression, that they did nothing approaching the savagery of Operation Cast Lead. SO how much more enduring will the Palestinian sense of grievance be?
Stupidity on a monumental scale, or is it arrogance, a quality the Israeli state holds in abundance.
All posts on Gaza