Israel's assault on Gaza, by air, sea and
now land, has killed (at the time of this writing) more than 600
Palestinians, with more than 2,700 injured. Ten Israelis have been
killed, three of them Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire. Beyond
the deaths and injuries, the people of Gaza are suffering a dire
humanitarian crisis that is dismissed by the Israeli government. There
is, however, Israeli opposition to the military assault.
Israeli professor Neve Gordon is chair
of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University
of the Negev in southern Israel, the region most impacted by the Hamas
Speaking over the phone from Beersheba,
Gordon said: "We just had a rocket about an hour ago not far from our
house. My two children have been sleeping in a bomb shelter for the
past week. And yet, I think what Israel is doing is outrageous. ... The
problem is that most Israelis say Israel left the Gaza Strip three
years ago and Hamas is still shooting rockets at us. They forget the
details. The detail is that Israel maintains sovereignty. The detail is
that the Palestinians live in a cage. The detail is that they don't get
basic foodstuff, that they don't get electricity, that they don't get
water. And when you forget those kinds of details, all you say is, 'Why
are they still shooting at us?' That's what the media here has been
pumping them with, then you think this war is rational. If you look at
what's been going on in the Gaza Strip in the past three years and you
see what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, you would think
that the Palestinian resistance is rational. And that's what's missing
in the mainstream media here."
Gordon attended a large peace march
last weekend in Tel Aviv with more than 10,000 other Israelis. Longtime
Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery was there. He called the invasion "a
criminal war, because, on top of everything else it is openly and
shamelessly part of Ehud Barak's and Tzipi Livni's election campaign. I
accuse Ehud Barak of exploiting the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]
soldiers in order to get more Knesset seats. I accuse Tzipi Livni of
advocating mutual slaughter in order to become prime minister."
Israel's elections will be in February.
The assault strengthens right-wing
Likud Party leader and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, a foremost hawk and leading candidate for prime minister.
While Netanyahu fully supports the attack on Gaza, his nephew, Jonathan
Ben-Artzi, is an Israeli conscientious objector who was court-martialed
and imprisoned for a year and a half. He spoke to me from Providence,
R.I., where he is a student at Brown University.
"I'm speaking ... not as anyone's
nephew but ... as an Israeli, trying to speak out to Americans to tell
them you don't have to support Israel blindly. Not everything that
Israel does is holy ... sometimes you have to speak firmly to Israel
and tell us, tell our government, stop doing this."
Gideon Levy is a Jewish journalist with
the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. He told me: "I think that Israel had
this legitimacy to protect its citizens in the southern part of Israel
... but this doing something does not mean this brutal and violent
operation. ... I believe we could have got to a new truce without this
bloodshed. Immediately to send dozens of jets to bomb a total helpless
civilian society with hundreds of bombs--just today, they were burying
five sisters. I mean, this is unheard of. This cannot go on like this."
But it is. The United Nations Relief
and Works Agency, UNRWA, in Gaza opened up schools to provide shelter,
since Gazans, trapped in this narrow strip of land, have no place to
flee. Christopher Gunness of UNRWA told me that the agency provided the
coordinates of the schools to the Israeli military. Nevertheless, at
least two schools have been hit by Israeli strikes in the past 24
hours. Three people were killed at the Asma elementary school. More
than 30 are reported dead and more than 55 injured at the al-Fakhura
school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza.
While Israeli planes drop pamphlets
urging Palestinians to leave, the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza
Strip, perhaps the most densely populated place on Earth, have no place
to run, no place to hide. Calls for an immediate cease-fire are ignored
by Israel and blocked by the U.S. government. It is not clear what the
Obama administration will do--but the people of Gaza can't wait until
the inauguration. There must be a cease-fire now. And that's just the
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column which appeared first on TruthDig.com.