As we enter the eighth day of Israel's punishing military incursion into Palestinian Gaza, the casualties continue to rise. The International Herald Tribune is reporting the death of 3 Israeli soldiers, and about 20 wounded. Palestinian casualties are said to have passed 550 dead and 2,500 wounded, many civilians. Many children. Children who manage to survive this furious bombardment and street fighting will likely be scarred for life. Fuck that.
Now, we are hearing stories of significant Israeli war crimes. Collective punishment aside for a moment, reports aired tonight on NPR's "All Things Considered" reveal corpses rotting in the streets; six medics already killed in action while trying to evacuate or treat the wounded; three ambulances destroyed by missiles or tank fire (read about it here); and, over 13,000 civilians displaced within the territory. It is important to remember that the Palestinians were herded into Gaza after immigrant Zionists forced them from their land when the state of Israel was established in 1948. The seven mile Gaza strip is, for all intents and purposes, the world's largest refugee camp. Home to 1.5 million inhabitants. It is surrounded on all sides. By water, desert, walls and tightly controlled borders - a real "hell-on-earth" for most residents. And, of course, there is no escape from the mighty and indiscriminate Israeli Defense Force. Can you say "Sabra and Shatila?"
It is time for the oft-mentioned international community, if indeed one exists beyond narrow national interests, to insist this criminal massacre be halted and final talks on the settlement of all issues be prepared. And what's up with the deafening silence by president-elect Obama and his team? One point is clear to all but the most myopic deniers: The Middle East will never see peace until there is legitimate and sovereign Palestinian state with contiguous borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.