Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

The atrocities against civilians in Gaza never seem to end, as Israel continues its assault against the Palestinians and the Hamas party and militia. The death toll is now over 700; thirteen Israelis are said to have died during the attack, some from "friendly fire."

Half of Gaza has no electricity. The International Red Cross suspended aid deliveries temporarily after its one of its convoys came under Israeli fire. Four U.N. Relief and Works Agency local staff have been killed. Now the United Nations has indefinitely suspended all humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, blaming Israel's attacks against their facilities. The list goes on and on.

Nothing has been more horrifying than the massacre of Palestinian civilians. The news is grim. The Red Cross has rescued children, too weak to stand, lying next to their dead mothers. From the L.A. Times report:
The Israeli army had built earth walls, making it impossible to bring ambulances into the neighborhood, the report said. "Therefore, the children and the wounded had to be taken to the ambulances on a donkey cart," it said.

Israeli soldiers also ordered the rescue team to leave the area but the team refused to depart, the report said.

The Red Cross said it "believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable."
On Monday, one Gaza house was totally destroyed by Israeli shelling. Incredibly, up to 60 or 70 family members of the extended al Samouni clan, gathered for protection in the house, died in that attack. Two days ago the Israelis shelled a UN school in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, killing 40 Palestinians, and injuring scores more. Today, the Israelis admitted they knew there was no firing coming from the school itself, and yet still they shelled it. The UN had been sheltering refugees from the fighting in these schools.

In Gaza, there is no place safe left, and the Israeli assault is relentless.

The anger building towards the Israeli attack is intense. Psychologically, as the event plays out on the world media and Internet stage, the sense of personal impotence by watching such slaughter from afar is excruciating. At one professional listserv that I know, members with differing opinions on the conflict are ripping themselves apart, lost in acrimonious exchanges about who is right and wrong, and what should be done. The conflict threatens the very existence of the listserv, which had been very active in organizing for social causes.

Of course, listservs are small potatoes compared to what the Palestinians themselves are suffering. And outside Gaza, one wonders how many newly embittered and angry souls are filling their hearts with dreams of vengeance. Gleen Greenwald had the same thought, and so did Juan Cole, who Greenwald quoted in a posting today (emphasis in original):
In 1996, Israeli jets bombed a UN building where civilians had taken refuge at Cana/Qana in south Lebanon, killing 102 persons; in the place where Jesus is said to have made water into wine, Israeli bombs wrought a different sort of transformation. In the distant, picturesque port of Hamburg, a young graduate student studying traditional architecture of Aleppo saw footage like this on the news [graphic]. He was consumed with anguish and the desire for revenge. As soon as operation Grapes of Wrath had begun the week before, he had written out a martyrdom will, indicating his willingness to die avenging the victims, killed in that operation--with airplanes and bombs that were a free gift from the United States. His name was Muhammad Atta. Five years later he piloted American Airlines 11 into the World Trade Center. . . .

On Tuesday, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations school to which terrified Gazans had fled for refuge, killing at least 42 persons and wounding 55, virtually all of them civilians, and many of them children. The Palestinian death toll rose to 660.

You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today.
Meanwhile, the pathetic and craven United States Senate passed a non-binding resolution in support of Israel, while calling for a ceasefire. No one mentioned, of course, the amount of U.S. bombs and shells shipped to Israel for their criminal offensive.

Considering the dire situation, Psychologists for Social Responsibility have issued this "action alert":
Dear PsySR Members and Friends,

Psychologists for Social Responsibility urges you to join us in strongly advocating that the U.S. Congress, the U.S. government, and the leaders of other nations and international organizations immediately prioritize:

(1) Immediate international action for a ceasefire on all sides in Gaza and Israel.
(2) Intensive humanitarian relief efforts.
(3) Much more vigorous and sustained international leadership for negotiations involving all sides and including the issue of mutual recognition and security for Israel, Gaza, and all Palestinians.

The emergency humanitarian crisis in Gaza demands such immediate action.

PsySR urges you to contact today your lawmakers, national government officials, and all other relevant contacts that you can make to strongly advocate for such emergency U.S. and international action.

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