by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 11, Muharram, 1430)
Even by the murderous standards of Zionist Israel, the relentless aerial attacks on Ghazzah rank among the most criminal it has ever perpetrated against Palestinian civilians. At least 30 separate locations in the narrow strip were attacked simultaneously on December 27 as waves of US-supplied F16 planes and Apache helicopters dropped more than 100 tons of bombs. Entire buildings were pulverized and their occupants crushed to death in the rubble. The attacks went on into the night and the following day.
Taking its barbarous practices to new heights, Israeli attacks were carried out in broad daylight to ensure maximum civilian casualties. Offices, schools and shops were full of people. As Israeli planes and helicopters launched their murderous attacks, children were just leaving school; their exit from school buildings turned into nightmare as bombs exploded all around them. They ran screaming in all directions. As more Israeli attack planes and helicopters swooped down dropping bombs, it turned into a bloodbath.
Initial reports mentioned dozens of deaths but typically advanced the Israeli spin that only Hamas security facilities were targeted. Even the following day (December 28) as Israeli attacks continued, the New York Times, considered the voice of liberal thinking in America, peddled Israeli propaganda regarding the motive for the attack as did the overly venerated BBC. “Waves of Israeli airstrikes destroyed Hamas security facilities in Ghazzah on Saturday in a crushing response to the group’s rocket fire, killing more than 225 — the highest one-day toll in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades,” according to the New York Times. The reality in Ghazzah was very different. Ewa Jasiewicz, a human rights activist, in a report filed from the scene wrote on the first day of the attacks: “Israeli jets are bombing the areas of Zeitoun and Rimal in central Gaza City. UN radio reports say one blast was a target close to the main gate of Al Shifa hospital — Gaza and Palestine’s largest medical facility. Another was a plastics factory.”
As the day wore on and casualties were rushed to the hospitals, more than 225 people had been killed and close to 600 were injured on the first day, although most deaths occurred within the first 15 minutes of Israeli airstrikes. The following day, more innocent civilians were killed. Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, a hawkish former general, proudly proclaimed, “This is just the beginning.” He promised that more attacks would follow and he told the rightwing American TV Fox News, Israel would also carry out a ground invasion if needed.
True to the Zionists’ lying nature, Barak was not being honest even about the “beginning” part. Israel has been attacking Ghazzah even while the so-called ceasefire was in effect. Throughout November and December, Israeli bombs continued to rain in on Ghazzah although not with the ferocity and intensity witnessed since December 27. While Western media outlets dutifully parroted Israeli propaganda about Hamas “violations” of the ceasefire, little if anything has been said about Israeli violations.
Even prior to the latest assaults, Ehud Olmert, the soon-to-resign Israeli prime minister, had only a few hours earlier said that Israel would work toward the “peace process.” Within hours, Israeli planes and helicopters were dropping their savage wares on Palestinian civilians. What is also reflective of the Zionist mindset, these attacks were carried out on Saturday, a day of Sabbath (a day of rest and prayer) for the Jewish people. Most observant Jews do not cook food on this day; certainly Jewish law does not permit such murderous attacks on the Sabbath yet here were leaders of the “Jewish” state ordering their air force to attack Palestinian civilians and kill hundreds of them. They miss no opportunity to tell the world that they cannot allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes because that would dilute the “Jewish” character of Israel. Perhaps killing Palestinians helps to reinforce the “Jewish” character ofIsrael and is, therefore, permissible.
Far from condemning the killing of civilians and what clearly constitutes war crimes, Western leaders were unanimous in insisting Israel had the right to “protect” itself from Hamasrocket fire. US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy all parroted the same line. There was hardly a thought spared for uprooted and starving Palestinian civilians, many of them elderly men and women, and children.
If there was support in the West for Israeli crimes, there was deadly silence from the Arabian rulers against such barbarism. In fact, Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman had told Amos Gilad, head of Israeli Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau 10 days earlier that Israel should deal with Hamas. He told Gilad who was visiting Cairo at the time, “Hamas’ leadership must be reined in, even in Damascus,” according to the London- based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi. Egypt, he said “would not object to a limited Israeli incursion in the Strip, which can topple Hamas and bring an end to the Gazans’ suffering.” While Israel needed no prodding from the Egyptians, Suleiman’s comments reflected the treacherous nature of Arabian rulers. This also explains the deadly silence from the two Abdullahs — of Saudi Arabia and Jordan — and a host of other Arabian potentates, amirs and kings.
The Arab League, a body that represents the collective impotence of Arabian rulers, called a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on December 28 in Cairo but then postponed it to December 31 to allow their “excellencies” time to respond to the crisis. If tens of thousands of people can hold instantaneous demonstrations in different parts of the world to condemn Israeli brutalities why can’t the Arab League gather 21 Arabian foreign ministers for a meeting? The truth is, the Arab League is a dead entity as is Arab nationalism. Not one Arab regime has come to the aid of the Palestinian people despite months of brutal siege by Israel to starve them into submission.
Not all Muslim leaders, however, were silent. Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, not only condemned Zionist barbarism and Bush’s shameless support of it, he also challenged the Arabian rulers to realize their responsibilities. He called upon the ulama of al-Azhar to make their position clear about these latest atrocities being perpetrated against the innocent people of Ghazzah. The Rahbar also declared Monday December 29 as a ‘day of mourning’ for the victims of Ghazzah as he urged Muslim governments and the Orga-nization of the Islamic Conference to fulfill their responsibilities. Shaikh Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hizbullah, also challenged the Arabian rulers to wake up to their responsibilities. Meanwhile, Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister, in response to Israeli attacks said, “Palestine has never witnessed an uglier massacre.” But he vowed to fightIsrael, “We say in all confidence that even if we are hung on the gallows or they make our blood flow in the streets or they tear our bodies apart, we will bow only before Allah (swt) and we will not abandon Palestine,” he said.