Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Latest on the Gaza Massacre from AntiWar News

Israeli Military Surprised by Relative Lack of Hamas Response
December 29th, 2008

An Israeli soldier was killed in a mortar strike on a military base in western Negev today, and a civilian was killed in a strike on the city of Ashdod. A handful of others were also wounded in the attacks from the Gaza Strip. The toll in three days of fire from the strip is at four killed and eight wounded.

And while the casualties have indeed been a story in the Israeli press, the real issue behind these articles is not how many Israelis have been hit in Hamas strikes, but how few. The Israeli military projected a much larger response to the onslaught it has unleashed on the Gaza Strip, but though Hamas has spoken in hushed tones of a third intifada, its strikes have been shockingly limited.

No one seems sure why Hamas hasn’t responded in greater force. but the Israeli media is speculating that it is either a tactical decision by Hamas to make the enormous Israel-inflicted toll in the Gaza Strip seem all the more disproportionate or a testament to the success of the military’s killings over the past three days. So far no credence has been given to the other possibility: that Hamas wasn’t nearly the grave threat Israeli intelligence officials made them out to be.

compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]

Five Gaza Sisters Killed in Their Beds in Israeli Attack
December 29th, 2008

The latest innocent casualties of the Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip were five young sisters, who died this evening when an attack on the mosque of the refugee camp they lived in caused a wall to fall on their small home, killing them and injuring their father and three other siblings.

The Israeli military defended the attack, saying the mosque was a “known gathering place” for Hamas supporters. The uncle of the slain girls insisted that his family has had nothing to do with the rocket attacks coming from the strip.

The civilian death toll in the Gaza attacks is difficult to ascertain, but the United Nations put the estimate very conservatively at 51 early this morning. This would not include the sisters, or anyone else killed today. It’s unclear the methodology of the estimate, however as the early attacks focused on Hamas-run police stations it seems likely all those working in the stations were considered legitimate non-civilian targets, whether they worked as armed police or in other government offices in the stations. With many still buried in the rubble, that number is bound to rise in the coming days.

compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]

Casualties Overwhelm Gaza Hospitals
December 29th, 2008

As Israeli officials continue to promise to escalate attacks on the Gaza Strip, the small enclave’s hospital system, already weakened by a blockade which kept medical supplies in short supply, is on the verge of collapse according to the Red Cross.

Dr. Wael Qadan, the Palestinian Red Crescent’s director of health services, blamed the blockade, saying “we have in our storehouse in Ramallah around five or six trucks of medicine and disposables lying there for the last three months, and we have not been able to enter Gaza.”

But even without the blockade, only so much can be expected of a hospital system faced with almost 2,000 casaulties and the prospect of thousands more in the coming days. Egypt is now allowing medical aid from the international community to cross through its Rafah border crossing. Iran is among the first to take advantage of this, with a planeload of aid reportedly arriving in Cairo earlier today.

But many Egyptians feel the government isn’t doing enough to help besieged neighbors. Thousands took to the streets of Cairo, calling for the government to open the crossing to people and not just aid. The protesters accused the Mubarak government of complicity in the Israeli attack. So far, only a handful of Gazans have been permitted into Egypt for medical treatment, though the Egyptian government insists Hamas is preventing them from crossing the border. At the same time, Egyptian border troops have opened fire on Gazans attempting to flee across the border. Whatever the cause, Gaza’s hospitals are unlikely to be able to handle the growing toll of the air strikes in the coming days.

compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]

European Govts Reluctant to Criticize Gaza Strikes as Protesters Take to the Streets
December 29th, 2008

Around 3,000 protesters clashed with police in London as they rallied at the Israeli embassy calling for an end to the Israeli military’s attacks on the Gaza Strip. Over a thousand marched in a similar rally in Berlin, while smaller rallies were reported in Paris, Athens and Warsaw.

But the governments of those nations are reluctant to speak too critically of the Israeli attacks which have killed hundreds and spurred daily protests in their capitals. The German government has lauded Israel for its “legitimate” attacks on the strip, and spokesman Thomas Steg says “clear, sole responsibility for the situation lies with Hamas.”

And while the British and French governments are working on a ceasefire proposal to be presented tomorrow at the emergency EU session in Paris, both have been careful not to criticize Israel for the situation. Even then, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has slammed the proposal as “very bad for Israel,” and expressed concern that international acquiescence for the continued strikes will only last until next Monday.

compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]

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