The real aim was to annihilate anything within marching distance of the border – including, it turns out, a hospital housing elderly patients and international activists there to protect them.
When he launched his war on Gaza 10 days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his military commanders to “take the gloves off.” Yesterday, they put on brass knuckles.
Shedding even the pretense of “precision” – a lie that has so far left at least 45 Palestinian children dead – Israeli tanks and warships shelled Gaza indiscriminately ahead of a ground incursion that Netanyahu claimed was aimed at destroying tunnels along the border with Israel.
Never mind that Netanyahu himself, during his 2012 war on Gaza, used airstrikes to destroy far more sophisticated tunnels along the Rafah border. This time, one-ton bombs dropped from F-16s could not have sufficed. The real aim was to annihilate anything within marching distance of the border – including, it turns out, a hospital housing elderly patients and international activists there to protect them.
On the same day that the hospital’s director, Basman Alashi, published this powerful piece in the Detroit News, in which he vowed to stay at his patients’ side “come hell or high water,” the Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital was pummeled for hours by heavy artillery, forcing him and other hospital staff to evacuate patients like 85-year-old Hiba Kalli amidst the sound and the fury. They barely made it out alive before the hospital buckled under the weight of the bombardment.
As of this writing, Haaretz reports that 20 Palestinians were killed in the onslaught, adding to a tally that already exceeded 250. Meanwhile, behind the horrific numbers, those who remain spoke Thursday of a “living death,” telling Reuters reporter Noah Browning that they see no point in a ceasefire that would leave Israel’s suffocating siege in place and maintain its ability to bomb Gaza at whim.
And why should they? Even as U.S.-funded weapons were being used to fire at places like Wafa Hospital, Washington lawmakers predictably banded together Thursday night to pass a resolution pledging their support to Israel. In so doing, they were arguably in violation of their own Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of American-made weapons “solely for internal security” – not to further the military occupation of another people. But never mind all of that; laws have done nothing to protect the people of Gaza.
In Netanyahu’s no-hold-barred world, the region’s mightiest military and sole nuclear power runs roughshod over civilians with impunity, of late displacing 100,000 or more from their homes along the border – all to make way for “boots on the ground.” And when the dust settles, “victory” will be gauged, not by the destruction of Hamas – for that has been tried before, and Netanyahu knows better — but by how satiated the most rabid of his political bedfellows have become, once the killing is done. In this month of Ramadan, Palestinians fast while the Israeli war machine feasts.
If you still see daylight between Israel’s current bloodletting and its state-sanctioned policy toward the Palestinians, have a look at what the deputy speaker of the Knesset, Moshe Feiglin, posted on his official website Tuesday. It’s a seven-point tract named, without a hint of irony, “My Outline for a Solution for Gaza.”
Point one is titled “Ultimatum,” and here it is, word for word:
One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.
Enemy population? To whom, exactly, is the deputy speaker referring? Perhaps point two will offer clarification. It’s titled “Attack”:
Attack of the entire ‘target bank’ throughout the Gaza Strip with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.
All of this, writes this top Israeli parliamentarian, is aimed at ensuring that Gaza “will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews.” And as for the Palestinians already there, “those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package.”
Generous? As one Palestinian was quoted today as saying, “you leave your home to die a thousand times, or refuse to leave and die once.” The ground invasion may have begun, but the Palestinians of Gaza remain steadfast.