Israel launched an air strike on the Palestinian Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the first such attack since an eight-day war in November, Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the territory, and Israel’s military said.
“Occupation planes bombarded an open area in northern Gaza, there were no wounded,” a statement from the Hamas interior ministry said. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed there had been a strike in Gaza, but gave no further details.
Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egyptian-mediated truce in November after eight days of fighting in which 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.
Israel launched the 2012 offensive with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli military said Palestinians launched three rockets at Israel. Two landed in Gaza and one hit an open area in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries.
No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rockets."
It is true that there are Israeli Arab Knesset members and that Israeli Arabs can vote, but it is also true that there are huge differences in the way that Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews are treated by the state, ranging from whether or not they are required to join the army at the age of 18 to whether or not their home town or village gets a reasonable annual budget to cover municipal requirements. It is painfully obvious from available statistics that Israeli Arab areas get substantially less support from the Israeli state than equivalent size Jewish settlements, and that in general, while Israeli Arabs may not offically be second-class citizens of Israel, that is certainly what they are in practice.
Then, in late 2008, Operation Cast Lead began. Having previously largely withdrawn from Gaza in 2005 (though still keeping it surrounded and effectively cut off from the West Bank), Israel began in December 2008 to bombard it indiscriminately, in the name of ending rocket fire into Israel from within the Strip. For the life of me, I could not see how this was supposed to work. I could not see any way of defending this action. As the number of Palestinian casualties grew – far out of proportion to the number of casualties on the Israeli side - it just got worse and worse.
For the first time in my adult life I began wondering whether the Jewish State was actually worth defending at all on any level if this was the price. I was watching a blatant and brutal massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, utterly disproportionate to the attacks that had provoked it, which had in turn been provoked by earlier Israeli incursions, in an endless back-and-forth cycle, in order to defend what?
An Israeli State that would allow me – born in London – to become a citizen at a moment’s notice, while Palestinian friends of friends actually born in the Holy Land itself could never become citizens of anything anywhere? Exactly what convoluted justification would stand that up?
I couldn’t do it any more. On Machon, I’d had training in how to argue against the proposition that Zionism was racism, but no training in how to argue in defence of the indiscriminate massacre of civilian children. That one hadn’t come up.
Nevertheless, post 1948, it is very hard to argue that Zionism has not behaved, since Independence, in a de facto racist way. On that at least, Gilad, Daphna and I can all agree. Right now in 2012 we are watching aghast at yet another massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Yet again this comes just before the Israeli elections; this time we are hearing Israeli ministers such as Eli Yishai assert that “the goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”
Not only can I no longer defend any of this, I can no longer defend Zionism at all, not even in an abstract philosophical sense outside of any context involving the actions of the Israeli state. The Law of Return, under which I - an occasional tourist who just happens to be Jewish – can claim Israeli citizenship at a moment’s notice, while a Palestinian actually born in, say, Haifa, but subsequently exiled cannot – that is a racist law. The notion of a Jewish state? That is – as far as it has been put into practice since 1948 - a racist notion.
Is Zionism racism? It didn’t have to be. There were historical strands within Zionism that were not racist. Martin Buber – Zionist founder, in 1925, of the Brit Shalom organisation advocating a binational state, was not a racist, and nor were the pre-1948 Hashomer Hatzair.
But right now?
It’s really very hard indeed to argue otherwise.
And it’s such a blessed relief to feel that I am no longer obligated to attempt to do so.
That relief does not, however, in any way reduce the anger I feel at the current massacre of civilians in Gaza."
Several years ago, I was researching the cause of death of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces during the first months of the Second Intifadah, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. As I counted up the numbers, I was chilled to discover that the single most frequent cause of death in those beginning months was “gunfire to the head.”
In the past 10 years Israeli forces have killed at least 255 Palestinian minors by fire to the head, and the number may actually be greater, since in many instances the specific bodily location of the lethal trauma is unlisted. In addition, this statistic does not include the many more Palestinian youngsters shot in the head by Israeli soldiers who survived, in one form or another.
Below is a small sampling of those who died. (The term IDF stands for “Israeli Defense Forces,” although these forces are, in reality, an occupation army and are almost always deployed offensively; the incidents below took place on Palestinian territory):
Sami, 12, died of head wounds from IDF gunfire during a demonstration. Abdul, 9, was killed by IDF gunfire to his head during a funeral. Ala, 14, died of head wounds from IDF gunfire while on the terrace of his home one hour after injuring an Israeli soldier with a stone. Omar, 11, died of head wounds from IDF gunfire during a demonstration. Diya, 3 months, was killed, along with her older brother, by Israeli settler gunfire to her head and back. Bara, 10, was killed by IDF gunfire to his head while near his home. Ayman, 15, was killed by IDF tank fire to his head while farming. Khalil, 11, was killed by IDF tank fire to his head while playing with a friend. Rami, 13, was killed by IDF helicopter fire to his head while playing in front of his house. Yaser, 11, died of head wounds from an IDF rubber-coated bullet fired at close range during a demonstration?
Imagine if these names were Bobby? Michael? Susan… Melissa? Jimmy? And that the foreign troops killing them were invading Arizona, Connecticut, Ohio…"