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U.S Weapons Bombing Gaza: Civilians on Both Sides Will Pay the Price

December 31, 2008

Five Gazan girls dying beneath the rubble of their home, in a “precision strike” (Getty images)

Israel has rejected a call for a truce, even a 48 hour one to let humanitarian supplies in, and the number of Palestinians dead will soon surpass 400. The one government in the world that could pressure Israel to stop the attacks has this to say thus far:

“…Avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza.”
~White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe’s regarding the most massive aerial bombardment in Gaza ever.

My advice to Mr. Johndroe and Israel: If you want to ‘avoid civilian casualities’ don’t launch aerial assaults on Gaza–its one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Another tip: if you actually want to protect your citizens, don’t break 5 months of a ceasefire that sharply reduced violence. The major breach in the ceasefire was from Israel–not Hamas–on Nov.4th when Israel’s launched its first air strike on Gaza killing four people in Gaza it claimed were digging a tunnel to smuggle weapons.

The first Israeli killed since the June ceasefire agreement was on December 27th–that’s AFTER Israel’s massive aerial bombardment of Gazans. (And two more Israeli civilians and one Israeli soldier have been killed since.)

Ceasefire results for Israeli security = No Israeli deaths, dramatic reduction in violence, and most of the rockets that were fired into Israel were from splinter groups–not Hamas itself.

Of course Gaza benefited from the ceasefire that stopped Israel’s aerial bombardment as well–until the November 5th bombardment that broke the truce.

But other aspects of life for Gazans did not change–the blockade only tightened. Every calorie of food coming through their borders and whether or not they have electricity is subject to Israeli control. The lucky ones had one meal a day of grass seed and cooking oil. Now Israel is putting even more restrictions on humanitarian aid–since according to an aide to Prime Minister Olmert: “Gaza is not undergoing a humanitarian crisis.” I’d love then, to know what you would call a place where 80% of its residents are dependent on food aid to keep them from starvation.

With “Made-in-the-USA” F-18s, Hellfire missiles, and even GBU-39 “bunker buster” bombs, Israel targeted:

* Police stations–including the police headquarters in the midst of a graduation ceremony
* A university–including a sports club and a science laboratory
* A mosque–a “precision strike” which killed the 5 sisters above in their sleep.

This kind of devastation and the trauma it will bring to Palestinians, Israelis, and everyone else in the region for generations, would not be at all possible without U.S. military and diplomatic support. It’s not only President Obama’s responsibility (which it is, read the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s brilliant op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on what he needs to do); there is a special responsibility that U.S. taxpayers and citizens have in this conflict (which I will have to go more into depth another time…but suffice it to say that according to the Congressional Research Service, “U.S. grants to Israel represent over 20% of the overall Israeli defense budget”.

SO (let me put on my FCNL lobbyist hat…)

TAKE ACTION! Urge your member of Congress to support a ceasefire, robust and inclusive diplomacy, and an end to the blockade of Gaza.

It is so critical that when the 111th Congress begins, members speak out in favor of robust U.S. diplomatic efforts to quickly restore a ceasefire that would:

* end Israeli airstrikes and prevent a ground assault on Gaza;
* end all rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian groups;
* engage diplomatically with Hamas, a policy supported by two-thirds of Israelis according to a poll taken last February;
* end the blockade of Gaza.

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