Friday, 9 January 2009

Moments of Gaza: Live Blog From Gaza

Click here to read Moments of Gaza, a live blog from Gaza.

One entry from yesterday reads:

'Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, says that the number of civilians injured and killed in Gaza proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the population. The doctor also said that the hospitals have reached capacity, all the doctors are operating around the clock and there are hundreds of people untreated. "This is an all out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza" he said. "They are bombing 1.5 million people in a cage".'

In occurs to me that during the siege of Sarajevo, which I lived through with my parents, the Serb forces who pounded the city from the hills and deliberately targeted civilians (using all the same excuses, verbatim, that the Israelis now use) managed to kill 10,000 people (and wound a lot more) in three and a half years. The Israelis have now killed over 700, according to the latest BBC reports - in only two weeks. Hospitals are at full capacity, doctors are working around the clock, and the bombs keep pounding.

Nonetheless, the tide of global public opinion is hardly opposed to the massacre, owing to a long-established PR miracle - the rhetoric that they, the Palestinians, are the backward terrorists, we Israelis are a legitimate democratic sovereign state protecting our population. That the Palestinians are the ones living under an illegal occupation, behind an illegal wall, that they have families too - nothing else matters.

The argument goes, of course, that Hamas would kill more if they could; they don't because their weapons are imprecise, which is why most of those killed in the conflict are Palestinian civilians. But wouldn't less precise weapons lead to more killing? Isn't having imprecise weapons just a good excuse for indiscriminate slaughter? And if the Israelis have more sophisticated and precise weapons, shouldn't there be less civilian victims among the Palestinians, since Israel is only targeting Hamas?

It is no surprise that in 1987, in sympathy with their staunch ally, the apartheid government of South Africa, Israel and the United States were the only two countries in the United Nations who opposed a General Assembly resolution condemning terrorism. Why? Because, although resolution 42/159 condemned terrorism in the strongest terms - the resolution also, in the opinion of the General Assembly, contained nothing that "could in any way prejudice the right to self-determination, freedom and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, of peoples, forcibly deprived of that right... particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation or other forms of colonial domination, nor...the right of these peoples to struggle to this end and to seek and receive support [in accordance with the Charter and other principles of international law]."

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