Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Israel Strikes Elementary Schools

Today, the 11th day of Israel's relentless Gaza war, marked a truly low-spot in the history of the region as the Israeli Defense Forces struck schools in Gaza (including a UN school that had posted its location and GPS coordinates to multiple authorities) killing 40 civilians, many children, and wounding many more. This single act should forever end the debate around whether Israel's actions constitute a Massacre. If attacking schools and killing children isn't a massacre, well, you know... Read the wrap-up of today's hostilities at the Aljazeera site, here.

Remarkably, the IDF defended its actions claiming hostile fire from the UN facility. Uh-huh. We believe that like we believed Tzipi Livni when she said "...there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." Rubbish. The UN authorities and well-known NGOs like MSF and Amnesty have all confirmed the obvious. Gaza is in the throes of a humanitarian crisis of epic porportions. All this carnage and mayhem just to buy a few Israeli politicians facing elections some votes? Some say that's all it is. Others say that this crisis is the direct result of the Bush administration's insistence on democratic elections in an inappropriate cultural and political environment. Those election were held, and the Palestinian people elected a Hamas majority to rule the territories. Fatah, the U.S. military and intelligence communities and Israel suddenly had common cause. That's an interesting and provocative line of thought. I posted about this issue in March of 08. Read the post for more information.

Late today the newswires reported that Israel has agreed under pressure to open a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the evacuation and treatment of wounded civilians. It will be interesting to see how the Israeli government will define this scenario and what details, like hours of operation and access, will be provided. Given that the Israeli authorities will not allow a single member of the press into Gaza to document the action on the ground, it is difficult to believe that this gesture is anything more than a stalling device or face-saving diplomatic concession. Time will tell.

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