Tuesday, 6 January 2009

What's going on in Gaza?

It seems that wherever I look I get partial or contradictory information. The general position in the Western media is that Hamas has brought this invasion on Gaza upon itself because it broke the ceasefire. Israel waited long enough and finally its patience snapped. I noticed, however, as I briefly glanced into the The Economist, that there is another dimension to the issue: Hamas apperently had to break the truce with rocketfire because Israel didn't keeps its side of the deal, namely opening the boarders. In the meantime I read somewhere else that the return of Gilad Shalit was part of a deal, something also left unfulfilled.

Then there is the question of the proportionality of Israel's invasion. I subscribe to bitterlemons.org, a discussion forum consisting of Israeli and Palestinian political experts. According to one Israeli, the civilian deaths in such operations are relatively low. According to the Palestinians, on the other hand, it is an all out slaugher of women and children (the Palestinan commentator calls it a war on the Palestinian people and not just Hamas). CNN recently gave the latest figures: 100 of 500 Palestinan deaths are women and children. Is this proportional? But then the news reports cause me to ask other questions: how many were killed by Hamas themselves, in misfired rockets and dodgey tactics? The news reader from German agency Heute said today that militants purposefully seek out civilian areas in order to protect themselves and further their cause with images of dead children, something, she said, one could expect from an organisation that equipts children with suicide bombs. On the other hand, Palestinians hold the IDF to be a racist, terrorist organisation which simply wants to destroy Arabs (see this interesting exchange, hat tip Laila, who also claims in another post that the Israelis also use human shields).

Who do I believe and where's the most objective source of information? How do evaluate this shocking information, for example, (again from Laila)? For a blog posts that claims that the war is against the Palestinian people and not just Hamas, go here. For a post with information on the iniquity of Hamas that's new to me, go here.

Update: This interview with a Scandanavian doctor working in Gaza is worth listening to. I don't know too much about the facts, but I struggle to understand how this war is justifiable ... [HT.
The Heathlander]:



Update 2: In a comment on John Hobbin's post, a certain Adam has the following to say on the claim that Israel is using White Phosphorus as an incendiary weapon into Gaza:

The Israeli army is not firing White Phosphorus as an incendiary weapon into Gaza. Here is a post describing their use as a smoke producing agent essentially to provide cover, enhance the element of surprise etc.
http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/archives/280740.php
Update 3: I showed a video unfavorable to Israel above. Hadassah adds one that is favourable. Israeli doctors work to save a Palestian girl evacuated from Gaza:

23 comments:

Kevin Davis said...

I appreciate this post. I think there's a lot of us who have no idea what to think about this whole issue -- both the recent outbreak and the larger history.

steph said...

When Israel says it doesn't target civilians and then attacks Gaza - the most densely populated area...

I got this interesting selection of news reports from Roland Boer's blog which makes you wonder if perhaps Israel thinks there are no civilians in Gaza:
http://heathlander.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/about-those-hamas-targets/

Maybe I'm overreacting but I think that Israel is demonstrating that it is just as capable of genocide as Hitler.

Phil Sumpter said...

Steph, thanks for the link. Terrible reading! I'll be keeping my eyes pealed for analyses and explanations of this on the news. I felt that their response to the rocketing of the UN school was particularly lame.

Could you clarify for me what this has to do with Hitler's crimes? I'm afraid I don't see the connection.

Hadassah said...

Hamas has been raining rockets down on Israeli citizens for EIGHT years. They have shown no signs of returning Gilad Shalit and the Hamas government actively and publicly supports terror.

The Israeli economy benefits from open borders with Gaza and only keeps them closed when security concerns overwhelm economic ones.

The Israeli army does its best not to harm civilians in this attack on Hamas. It is focusing on destroying munition factories, Hamas offices and tunnels used for smuggling ammunition into Gaza from Egypt. Occasionally civilians do get hurt, just as they are getting hurt on the Israeli side (and that's not by accident).

Israel simply wants to prevent Hamas from shooting rockets at Israel by taking away its capability to do that (after all diplomatic avenues have failed).

Even with all the lies Arab propaganda is spewing, the international community has been fairly understanding of Israel's position. Israel does not go to war lightly and it is paying a fairly high price - the endangerment of all the civilians in the south of Israel as well as Israeli soldiers in Gaza and all over the country. But this is a necessary reaction.

An important thing to note: Hamas complains of lack of food, medicine, etc. Israel has been allowing humanitarian aid in to Gaza and Hamas gunmen have been stealing it in order to sell to the citizens of Gaza! Palestinians wounded in Gaza have been treated in Israeli hospitals. While all this has been going on, a Palestinian baby was brought to an Israeli hospital for a life-saving heart operation.

It doesn't get much more humanitarian than that!

Phil Sumpter said...

Thanks for your comments, Hadassah. I've given them their own post, but haven't yet found the time to respond. I will do so as soon as poss ...

steph said...

White phosphorous and cluster bombs? Just as they used them against Lebanon in 2006, now again it's a pretty good way to eliminate a people in a densely populated area.

As Roland Boer says it is precisely the Jewish Diapora using the language of ethnic cleansing, genocide and holocaust against Israel acts in Palestine.

Phil Sumpter said...

Steph, can you give me the link to the Roland Boer comment?

steph said...

It's his latest post in the comments "Where have all the supporters gone" The Heathlander link came from a post a week ago. His blog is Stalin's Moustache.

Phil Sumpter said...

I had already updated the post with video from the Heathlander. Thanks for the Roland Boer link. As I said there, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. Still, things need to be clarified to me ... "Genocide" is defined thus: the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.. I simply cannot accept that this is happening. Even with a fifty percent civilian death rate - something that makes my stomach churn - this is not genocide. Genocide is about genos, race or ethnicity. The worst you could say here is that Israeli's don't care and see civilians as dispensible (something that I also can't really believe). But they are not trying to wipe them out, that is just ludicrous to me.

One of the articles said that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation, by virtue of the fact that they were democratically elected. I'm sorry, but the rest of the article lost all credibility for me.

Nevertheless, I cannot justify this war. If Israel had been innocent the entire time, then perhaps ... But it hasn't been, and so must bare responsbility for its own actions.

steph said...

Well they are succeeding in wiping out the Palestinians in Gaza and they have already asked the US to help them attack Iran. I think that suggests they are keen to get rid of 'Arabs'. Left on their own, I think this is what would happen. However this is 2009 and they have to be careful how they go about it. I have certainly heard and read that sort of extermination language used by Christians and Jews in the diaspora.

Hadassah said...

Seriously? Wiping out the Palestinians in Gaza? There are about a million people living in Gaza. According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, the death toll in Gaza is now at 971. How is this number possible if the Israelis don't care about civilians? The entire reason for the ground operation is to save civilian lives. Israel is endangering its soldiers instead of dropping bombs indiscriminately on the city.

Israel has opened up its hospitals to injured Palestinians AND set up a field hospital inside Gaza in order to treat Palestinians.

Phil, if you love Israel and everything Jewish as you said, you should stop listening to this kind of nonsense. You might think about reading Ynet - http://www.ynetnews.com/home/0,7340,L-3083,00.html - to get a good picture of what's going on in Israel.

Phil Sumpter said...

Steph,

Well they are succeeding in wiping out the Palestinians in Gaza

I'm afraid we're going to have to agree to disagree here. I've simply never come accross it, from either radical Christians or Jews. They talk of re-placement, which, though also immoral, is not the same thing. On the other hand, radical Muslims, including the elected leadership of Gaza, literally do talk of anihilation, in the dictionary sense of the word "genocide." The article you link to calls a phrase used by an Israeli government offical Fascist (he talked of a Palestinian shoah), not of their policies in general (the article was more nuanced then that). The phrase is admittedly appalling, and I'm shocked, but it still remains one phrase in a sea of contrary evidence. There are Arab units in the Israeli army, Arab political parties in government, for goodness sake!

Thanks for the link, Hadassah. I've already been subscribing to them for a year now. I get the impression that they are centre-right, so I've recently subscribed to Ha'aretz in order to get a more leftist view. Another major problem I have in evaluating all this is the lack of time ... I read so slowly!

steph said...

I have read it from right wing / conservative Jews and Christians on the blogs and in comments, "all Muslims are evil" "Islam is evil" "They all deserve to die" "The civilians of Gaza deserve to die" and sometimes "because they voted for Hamas". You must have seen it! It is ugly.

Phil Sumpter said...

I've not seen it. If you can give me any links, I'd be grateful.

steph said...

Oh jeepers Phil! I come across them on blogs. I have dial up. To go back through blogs I have looked at, copy links, come back to your blog to post will take forever. I shouldn't procrastinate on blogs as it is! You obviously don't waste time like I have been recently. I see these comments on religious related blogs and possibly the comments on media sites because I look at those too. I think I've even seen these sentiments on comments on Juan Cole's blog and also that link I gave you - Heathlander's (only he ended up deleting all objectionable comments).

If I come across any and remember I'll send them to you although this post is way down your blog now and I'm almost finished reading you blog for a while - partly because of a nasty taste in my mouth from the filthy language of Muslims against Sharia. I really don't know why he got so abusive.

Phil Sumpter said...

That's kind of you, Steph. I like to keep up to date with these kinds of things. I tend to read posts more than their comment threads. Perhaps that's it.

steph said...

I don't think that commenter is a representative of Islam. I think he had his own personal problems. Personally I think deleting those comments would be a good idea because they do not fairly reflect Muslims and quite frankly the vile language is both offensive to see and lowers the tone of your blog.

I haven't been trawling through comments but I am sure Heathlander was a source of my claims, along with a blog owned by 'Steve Martin', an American 'pastor'. He was just conservative but his commenters made the offensive remarks. Unfortuanately, I can't remember the name of his blog which I came across through the comments section in a post of Drew Tatusko's 'Notes from off Center'! This just proves that I spend FAR too much time procrastinating!!!

steph said...

In response to the terrible libel the Muslims against Sharia is creating, I am NOT whitewashing radical Islam, but even you must recognise that not all Muslims are radical. Particularly in New Zealand where our communities are not divided into ethnic groups and we live as neighbours and intermarry (my brother n law even married a Muslim and there is nothing radical about his bride or her family - he is of course now technically a Muslim) Muslims here are outspoken against war and violence, from the Iraq invasion to the constant terrorist acts of al Qaeda. This is the Islam that has evolved in the colonies where the first Muslim settlers arrived, with the English, European, Pacific Island, Indian and Chinese settlers, at the end of the 19th century.

I suggest the Islam of the nature that 'Muslims against Sharia' project through their comments reflects the tone of radical Islamists and the preservation of the comments on your blog is harmful to other Muslims.

Educational value?

Phil Sumpter said...

OK, Steph, your comments have been documented. This thread is now over. I'll delete whatever else is said.

steph said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steph said...

OK I didn't realise my comments were so obscene. But can you tell me what the educational value was that you thought would be gained from retaining the 'representative' of Islam?

Phil Sumpter said...

Steph, I deleted your comment because I thought you wrote it in the other post. It wasn't obscene. He was obscene and abusive and had no right to talk to you like that. I decided to leave it there as the post was about his organisation. Any mildy intelligent person reading that thread will know that he is an idiot. It's so obvious I don't see what he wrote as any kind of threat to the people he was talking to. Neither you or I have to be worried that our reputations have been tarnished because he's just a child. I personally found his responses to me amusing (I guess swear words don't really impact me much). If the post was about something else, I wouldn't have tolerated it (although this is the first time it's happened). Maybe you're right (my wife reckons I should delete them to), but I've already decided and I won't allow it to happen again anywhere else. I hope that's OK with you ... I'm sorry that you've been offended on my blog.

steph said...

No I'm not worried at all about my 'reputation'! :-) And that's a relief. I thought you took him seriously and if you did, that meant other people would. Of course I knew he was an idiot and it's a relief to know my paranoia that other people would think so too is unfounded. Gee, that doesn't say very much for my opinion of the intelligence of other people ... I must be over sensitive on this issue! And I wasn't personally offended. Thanks Phil.