Tag Archives: Gaza - Page 2

“Gaza not in a humanitarian crisis” ?!!

Let me start with this outrageous quote from US House Representative Michael Pence (Republican from Indiana) that he recently made on CNN:

Let’s be clear, there is not a humanitarian crisis in Gaza … the hospitals are fully stocked, the food markets are fully stocked!

WHAAA???? At first I was so shocked that I thought I must have misheard it. So I watched it again and again; nope that is what he said! Apparently Gaza is in top shape and we didn’t know it! Rep. Pence, I salute you (albeit, it is a one-finger salute).

Pence must have smashed all sorts of spin records. Gaza not in a humanitarian crisis?! Michael Pence, what have you been smoking? In what world do you live? Did you leave planet Earth for Pandora? Actually you know what, if you are so confident that what you say is true, I am willing to personally fund you to travel to Gaza with a camera crew and show us how we got it all wrong. Please Pence, enlighten us.

Here is a video of his CNN interview. Prepare to be dazzled!

Much has been said about Israel’s violent interception of the humanitarian aid flotilla headed to Gaza. Both sides have put forth their claims and counter claims. But the basic facts remain: Israel attacked non-military ships in international waters, Israel used lethal force against unarmed civilians (the activists attacked the Israeli commandos with sticks, rods, and chairs … but what do you expect when you drop commandos on a ship in the middle of night? a dance festival?!), and Israel killed 9 unarmed protesting civilians. After all was said and done, no weapons were found on-board any of the ships.

Remembering Gaza

A year ago to this date, a brutal Israeli offensive on Gaza took place. This tiny strip of land had been besieged for many months already and its people were already denied the very basic amenities of life. Yet, a year ago Israel launched a brutal and bloody attack on Gaza that killed at least 1400 people. This savage attack did not distinguish between civilians and militants, and people generally agree that the Israeli response to the termination of the cease fire was at least disproportionate.

The Israeli-given reason for this attack was to fend off the Hamas make-shift rockets that were fired onto southern Israel, which have escalated after the end of the cease-fire. However, this is hardly the case. The Hamas rockets are very primitive and make-shift. They are literally composed of gun powder in pipes that fly. Thus there was no infrastructure for Israel to take out. Plus, the Israeli attack did not stop the Hamas mortars even after it finished.

Unfortunately, it seemed that this attack was little more than a political move to help a candidate win an election. At the start of the offensive, the ruling Israeli party (Kadima) headed by Tzipi Livni were losing in the primary polls against pro-war hardliners and right-wingerssuch as Benjamin Netanyahu. This full-scale attack (without the interference of George Bush in has days in office) boosted Livni’s poll numbers and made the elections closer. Unfortunately, besides the large Palestinian death toll, this was the only outcome of this campaign on the Israeli side.

The Israeli attack didn’t distinguish between militants and civilians, and very little was done to minimize civilian casualties. Israel continued to justify that their mass bombing was because Hamas militants were hiding behind women and children. However, it seemed like Israel was using that as a ready excuse to justify anything (and little proof of that was provided in many cases). For example, Israel bombed a U.N. school that was temporarily housing refugee families which resulted in killing at least 40 people all of which were civilians. Israel also ignored international conventions and weapons that were banned internationally to be used against civilians. For example, white phosphorus was used in civilian locations which is banned internationally. To make matters worse, Israel prevented international news reporters from entering Gaza so as to limit the amount of information getting out.

As I mentioned before, much has been said about this offensive. A U.N. fact-finding investigation of this conflict (what is sometimes called the “Goldstone Report”) concluded that both Hamas and Israel were to blame for the conflict, and concluded that Israel committed war crimes and and possible crimes against humanities.

I personally do not agree or support Hamas, and I have stated that on multiple occasions. However, regardless of your political views you have to acknowledge that what Israel did in killing more than 1400 people, at least 1000 of whom were unarmed civilians, and at least 300 were children was extremely wrong and inhumane. Today, Israel is still denying basic amenities and even cement from entering Gaza to rebuild the destroyed homes.

On this day, it is worth giving a moment to think and reflect.

Answer to Israel’s “avoiding civilians” claims

During the last crisis in Gaza, Israeli spokespeople and pro-Israeli pundits argued that the high amount of civilian death and casualties is not because of Israel’s use of excessive fire power and disregard of Palestinian civilian human life, but because the Hamas fighters were hiding between civilians. On the scene eye witness accounts, however, have often denied that Hamas fighters or rockets were located in the bombed areas.

Even if we chose to believe that Israel is only surgically targeting militants and not infrastructure, civil services facilities, or just bombing anything that moves; That still does not justify Israel’s actual actions on the ground.

For example, Israel already had complete knowledge of GPS locations of hospitals, UN schools and facilities, and even residential towers. Israel also has complete knowledge that civilians fled to these locations for shelter and treatment. So, if Israel was really trying to minimize civilian casualties in the densely populated Gaza Strip, and even if a sniper or a rocket was fired from a hospital or a school’s vicinity, is the surgically targeted response to bomb the entire area ? Does that really minimize civilian casualties ? What benefit would Israel get from bombing a hospital ??

In the following video, Kenneth Roth, an executive director at the Human Rights Watch describes how Israel used 155 millimeter caliber weapons in a densely populated civilian area. A single fire from this weapon can cause casualties within a 300 meeter radius of its impact location. So, would an army seeking to minimize civilian casualties use such a weapon in a dense urban setting ? The answer is of course not.

The following interview is only 3 minutes long and is really worth the viewing. Unfortunately, it only aired on CNN International which is rarely viewed inside America.