NEWS & OPINION: Collective punishment of Gaza

Strong in numbers

Here we have the yardstick for security success: the number of Palestinians killed. As in the most primeval wars, the heads of the defense establishment are boasting about the number of people Israel has killed. Their job is to ensure protection for the residents of the state. And, as we know, the residents of the “Gaza perimeter” are not receiving this protection. So the death toll has become the measure of their success.

Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin briefed the cabinet last week about the “achievements” of his organization: 810 Palestinians killed during the past two years. His predecessor, Avi Dichter, once appeared before the editorial board of Haaretz and proudly presented a sophisticated slideshow from his laptop computer: a pie chart of Palestinian casualties, in several colors. Last week, the brigade commander in Gaza, Colonel Ron Ashrov, defined the operation in the Zeitun neighborhood as “very successful.” Why? Because his troops killed 19 Palestinians in a single day and further inflamed the conflagration in the South. How depressing, morally and in practical terms, to think that this is the measure of success. [complete article]

Olmert: No fuel? Gazans can walk

“We won’t allow a situation in which people in Sderot walk around in fear day and night, while Gazans lead a completely normal life,” olmert told his faction members. “We won’t allow for a humanitarian crisis, but have no intention of making their lives easier. And the harder their lives, excluding humanitarian damage, we will not allow them to lead a pleasant life.

“As far as I am concerned, all of Gaza’s resident can walk and have no fuel for their cars, as they live under a murderous regime.” [complete article]

The poor and the sick suffer as Israel cuts power to Gaza

Mansour Rahal lay unconscious in the intensive care unit of Gaza City’s Shifa hospital, linked to an electrically powered ventilator, the coloured monitor above his head showing his heart, respiration and oxygen saturation rate.

On Thursday last week, he was driving his donkey cart through Beit Lahiya when it was destroyed by a missile which targeted militants in a nearby car – it also killed his mother and older brother. His hopes of survival yesterday depended on there being enough diesel to keep in operation the four generators which were Shifa’s only source of power.

His doctor, Kamal al-Geathny, said: “If the fuel runs out for the generators and we have no power, he and six other patients in this unit will die.”

This was the scene at the hospital before Israel authorised limited supplies of fuel and medicine to Gaza last night after a wave of international condemnation for its act of “collective punishment” in imposing a four-day total embargo, which had left much of the Strip without electricity. [complete article]

Defusing the Gaza time bomb

The Gaza Strip suffers from sky-rocketing unemployment and poverty, and lacks medicine, fuel, electricity, food, and other essential commodities. It is virtually cut off. It also is the most likely trigger for the next Arab-Israeli war.

In the past few weeks, Palestinian militant groups have fired rockets and mortars into Israel. Israeli incursions and aerial attacks have resulted in Palestinian casualties, including one that killed the son of one of Hamas’s senior leaders. The situation is untenable, and both sides know it. Israel is unlikely to stand idly by as Hamas’s arsenal grows and attacks continue. Hamas undoubtedly will retaliate for the deaths. Neither can afford to back down. [complete article]

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