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Posted on Dec 29, 2008
Gaza officer
AP photo / Fadi Adwan

The body of a Palestinian security force officer lies in the rubble after an Israeli missile strike on a building in Gaza City on Sunday.

By Chris Hedges

Editor’s note: In light of the recent fighting in Gaza, Truthdig asked Chris Hedges, who covered the Mideast for The New York Times for seven years, to update a previous column on Gaza.

Can anyone who is following the Israeli air attacks on Gaza—the buildings blown to rubble, the children killed on their way to school, the long rows of mutilated corpses, the wailing mothers and wives, the crowds of terrified Palestinians not knowing where to flee, the hospitals so overburdened and out of supplies they cannot treat the wounded, and our studied, callous indifference to this widespread human suffering—wonder why we are hated?

Our self-righteous celebration of ourselves and our supposed virtue is as false as that of Israel. We have become monsters, militarized bullies, heartless and savage. We are a party to human slaughter, a flagrant war crime, and do nothing. We forget that the innocents who suffer and die in Gaza are a reflection of ourselves, of how we might have been should fate and time and geography have made the circumstances of our birth different. We forget that we are all absurd and vulnerable creatures. We all have the capacity to fear and hate and love. “Expose thyself to what wretches feel,” King Lear said, entering the mud and straw hovel of Poor Tom, “and show the heavens more just.”

Privilege and power, especially military power, is a dangerous narcotic. Violence destroys those who bear the brunt of its force, but also those who try to use it to become gods. Over 350 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, and over 1,000 have been wounded since the air attacks began on Saturday. Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, said Israel is engaged in a “war to the bitter end” against Hamas in Gaza. A war? Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums, to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command and control, no army, and calls it a war. It is not a war. It is murder.

The U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, has labeled what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza “a crime against humanity.” Falk, who is Jewish, has condemned the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza as “a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” He has asked for “the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.”

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Falk’s unflinching honesty has enraged Israel. He was banned from entering the country on Dec. 14 during his attempt to visit Gaza and the West Bank.

“After being denied entry I was put in a holding room with about 20 others experiencing entry problems,” he said. “At this point I was treated not as a U.N. representative, but as some sort of security threat, subjected to an inch-by-inch body search, and the most meticulous luggage inspection I have ever witnessed. I was separated from my two U.N. companions, who were allowed to enter Israel. At this point I was taken to the airport detention facility a mile or so away, required to put all my bags and cell phone in a room, taken to a locked, tiny room that had five other detainees, smelled of urine and filth, and was an unwelcome invitation to claustrophobia. I spent the next 15 hours so confined, which amounted to a cram course on the miseries of prison life, including dirty sheets, inedible food, and either lights that were too bright or darkness controlled from the guard office.”

The foreign press has been, like Falk, barred by Israel from entering Gaza to report on the destruction.

Israel’s stated aim of halting homemade rockets fired from Gaza into Israel remains unfulfilled. Gaza militants have fired more than 100 rockets and mortars into Israel, killing four people and wounding nearly two dozen more, since Israel unleashed its air assault. Israel has threatened to launch a ground assault and has called up 6,500 army reservists. It has massed tanks on the Gaza border and declared the area a closed military zone.

The rocket attacks by Hamas are, as Falk points out, also criminal violations of international law. But as Falk notes, “... such Palestinian behavior does not legalize Israel’s imposition of a collective punishment of a life- and health-threatening character on the people of Gaza, and should not distract the U.N. or international society from discharging their fundamental moral and legal duty to render protection to the Palestinian people.”

“It is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive in terms of their health,” Falk has said of the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza. “This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46 percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live.”

 


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By Fadel Abdallah, December 30, 2008 at 4:52 am Link to this comment

Few comments:

1. As usual, Chris Hedges serves as a voice of truth in America in the vast wilderness of untruth that envelops its politics and media.
2. Since truth hurts Chris Hedges is bound to be attacked by the forces of evil in this sad land.
3. Since truth will set conscientious souls free, Chris Hedges words are also likely to have a positive and efficacious influence on the forces of good in America and hopefully beyond it’s borders.
4. The title of this piece “Party to murder” must be highlighted as expressing the sad fact of the role of official America as a party to the murder and terrorism committed by Israel. This truth is how almost 99% of the people in the Arab-Muslim world perceive the matter.
5. In light of this Chris Hedges hits the nail on the head when he says that “the Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals; Jihadists, enraged by the injustices done by Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of savagery, even at the cost of their own lives.”
6. Another fact that needs to be highlighted and emphasized is that “during the last cease-fire, established through Egyptian intermediaries in July, Hamas upheld the truce although Israel refused to ease the blockade. It was Israel that, on Nov. 4, initiated an armed attack that violated the truce and killed six Palestinians. It was only then that Hamas resumed firing rockets at Israel.”
7. The so-called Hamas rockets that are cited by the enemies of the truth as a justification for this latest Israeli terrorist massacre is exaggerated beyond bounds. These are primitive devices intended to be a symbol of resistance vis-a-vis the weapons of mass destruction manufactured by the U.S. and used by Israel. These so-called rockets can rightly be called as “fire-works toys” and I am sure that if statistics were available the number of people hurt by fire-works in America in one year far exceeds the number of Israelis hurt since the Palestinians started to use these toy devices.
8. Finally, Israel’s preparing for this massacre has been going on for over six months as part of creating new facts on the grounds in response to the the political games in both Israel and the U.S. In Israel, as part of covering the political internal corruptions and preparing for the upcoming elections. In the U.S. as part of “testing” the Obama administration as it’s about to take office. Remember when the Zionist Biden said that “Obama will be tested early on.” He was talking as an insider, because this is the man I heard him say, “We are all Zionists.”
9. Based on fact that political America is an Israeli-occupied territory, things under Obama-Biden administration will even get worse.

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By Gerry Lykins, December 30, 2008 at 4:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

what I am writing my Congress people…who will not read it…

=========
Today I write about righting what I feel has been a grievous wrong for which our country is in large measure accountable…

Israel has once more decided on violence as the way to deal with the Palestinians…They say they are acting against HAMAS…but since the Palestinians elected Hamas and since the Palestinians are being killed and maimed by the bombings (to the tune of 345 dead and over 1000 wounded)and will be victim of the Israeli ground assault when it takes place,,,it is the Palestinians who will be doing the suffering, once more.  I say once more, because the Israeli government has blockaded Gaza for so long now that the Palestinians ae reduced to a terribly weakened considition.  Do the Israelis not remember the suffering of the Jews of Warsaw?

As long as it is our armaments and our support making it possible for Israel to act in violent ways and our vetos stopping the UN from acting to help the weaker and often helpless party in this conflict.. it is WE who must bear responsibility for the terror that is being perpetrated.

please read the following article which much better expresses what I would like to say:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081229_party_to_murder/

Please bring us CHANGE.

Gerry Lykins
Ft.Thomas, KY
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
=====================

Thank you again, Chris Hedges, for your deeply felt and courageously expressed words.

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By Eray Sehrengiz, December 30, 2008 at 4:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The aim of this ruthless attacks by Israel is obviously to escalate violence in the whole region to the point of breaking when they can say “of course we cannot pull the settlers out in such climate”, or “how can we settle for a peace deal now” or “of course we had to bomb the nuclear facilities in Iran”. They are well aware that with 350 people they murder, they gain 35.000 new suicide bombers, who will find a way to take revenge of the innocent blood Israel sheds today. No, it is not good or agreeable to think on this line but it is easily foreseeable.

Now there is a good smokescreen, soon when the tanks move in and all hell breaks loose, they will have the opportunity to send the jets to Iran. And who will stop them. Hamas? Hizbullah? or the UN? Maybe, Ahmedinejad or Obama? Are they any different in their willingness and power to stop the bloodthirst of Israel?

Happy new year. Is there a party in Jerusalem?

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By Wong, December 30, 2008 at 3:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our lives occupy only a fraction of the time-line of the history of enmity between the Arabs and the Jews. Yet, our perspectives disregard history and we spout self righteous opinions based on our abstract ideals of freedom, democracy and human rights. Even recent history is forgotten… who is it that first began targeting civilians as a strategy for political or military advantage and continues to do so? Are the consequences then to be the labeled “agression”?

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By Daryl Davies, December 30, 2008 at 2:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Chris.

An excellent article.

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By ThnkUBush, December 30, 2008 at 2:49 am Link to this comment

The first question is why Hamas chose to end the truce, opening the door to an Israeli attack. The answer might lie in the fact that Palestinian elections are coming up. While Hamas was a pure opposition party, it was an effective critic of Fatah’s governance. But having been responsible for Gaza for a while, Hamas now bears criticism for the conditions there, and thus the party’s popularity had slipped. Having failed to make significant inroads into the West Bank — where Fatah dominated — and having drawn criticism for its administration in Gaza, Hamas saw its momentum blunted.

Hamas was much more effective as a combat party, fighting the Israelis, than as an administrative party dealing with the intractable problem of Gaza. The longer it remained passive toward the Israelis and the longer it remained responsible for Gaza, the less it was likely to appeal to Palestinian voters. Hamas made a strategic decision to re-establish its credentials as the only Palestinian force effectively fighting Israel. In doing so, it also reinforced the perception of Fatah as collaborating with the Israelis (and an Israeli attack is also a mechanism to prompt Palestinians to rally behind Hamas). From Hamas’ point of view — facing a hopeless situation governing Gaza and a showdown with Fatah — ending the truce made sense in the long term, on the premise that a conventional attack by Israel would not decisively break Hamas’ capability.

—-

Ehud Olmert, still prime minister pending a new government, saw the Hamas move as an opportunity. Hamas created a situation that had to be dealt with. Waiting for his successor to deal with the problem would bog that successor down in an issue with the international community that would cripple any ongoing diplomacy. Launching a security campaign as a lame-duck prime minister takes the issue off his successor’s plate. In an odd way, this increases the chance of some sort of settlement with the Palestinians, by allowing Olmert to be cast as a villain.

—-

A Palestinian state on the 1948 borders is an impossibility for both Palestinians and Israelis. For the Palestinians, it would mean a state divided physically between Gaza and the West Bank, without an independent economic foundation. It would be a fiasco. For the Israelis, the 1948 borders would allow the Palestinians to rocket Tel Aviv easily, with no guarantee that a Palestinian state would or could put a stop to it. The Palestinians need more than the 1948 borders, and the Israelis can’t even give that.

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By Silent Observer, December 30, 2008 at 1:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Israeli Jew–“Well then, you know God ordered the ancient Israelites to wipe off the goyim (gentiles) from the holy land of Israel. If that was right then, why can’t it be right now?” With such an attitude,of course,Israel does as it pleases,but,as always in such instances,got away with murder for the last 60 years.
There are evidently (still)too many of those shameful,despicable,bloody and vile gentile collaborators who have become enablers to these atrocities,especially many elected and religious officials(Leaders by what?) who have been blind and deaf for too many years and should be removed. Remember: Yes we can !

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By geronimo, December 30, 2008 at 1:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our own government is implicated in this crime against humanity, as is is MSM for snuffing out the story of the holocaust that is Gaza today.  MSM says that it does this so as not to shock us with the grim and grizzly details of these horrifying events.  Which is precisely how MSM has been (NOT)covering the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Why not?  Because the Vietnam War taught the powers that be that us Americans, like everyone else, react negatively to such things as the sight of a little girl running through a rice paddy while burning alive.  We felt the terror and her rage.  And as a consequence, war, holocausts and such have been depicted by MSM as almost victimless.  Only the occasional hint of how bad things really get.  Which makes it more difficult for us to imagine what it would be like to be in Gaza today.  More difficult, but not impossible.  For those who aren’t already aware of what Gaza is like, think of being one of a million and a half people, crammed together in a few square miles, your homeland under seige by an occupying power, food and medicines scarce, no jobs, electricity out most of the time, open sewage in the streets.  Try coping with this for a few years and then, boom, boom, boom, a sixty warplane swoop and in a matter of a few hours around you there are over three hundred dead and a thousand injured.  Then add in the threat of a military attack.  Which actually takes place leaving one of your loved ones unaccounted for…“Wait, no, it can’t be.”  But it is.  Now what do you feel?  “Rage, that’s what.  Justice for the Palestinian people.”

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By prole, December 30, 2008 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

Great… and you can go right on updating this reguarly for the next forty-one years of occupation. Or at least the next four. Democrats have been even worse for Palestine than Republicans. That gutless political charlatan, barbarous Barack Obama is in full lockstep with the Bush sociopaths on this subject, as on so many others. Mums the word from sunny Hawaii where bullcrap Barack is soaking up the rays and cavorting on the white sand beach, enjoying a luxurious holiday in a similar climate to Gaza but diametrically dissimilar circumstances - and doesn’t have a clue as to what to do. “The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and survival and the overall conditions” of Palestinians seems entirely lost on Mr. Hope & Change. He’s previously publically stated he won’t deal with the democratically elected government of Hamas. And last July on his fund-raising tour to Israel asserted his support for Israel using any means available to crush the military resistance in Gaza. “This occupation is the direct intention by the Israeli military and civilian authorities. They are responsible and should be held accountable”  - along with AIPAC and its stooges like Obama, Clinton , Emanuel, et.al. “Fate and time and geography have made” them just as oblivious in purpose to the plight of the innocents in Gaza and elsewhere as their soon-to-be-predecessors. Obama’s brain, David Axelrod is busy telling reporters now that there is only one president at a time; which means the lamebrain lameduck in the Oval Office presently can go on holding the bag on his own and Pontius Obama can conveniently wash his hands of the whole “unfolding humanitarian catastrophe”.  Although it appears ostrich Obama has been in consultation by phone with his alter ego Condi Rice about the situation but prefers to go on ducking it altogether in public like so many other issues. Brainless Barck’s not paid to think after all. He’ll wait for his handlers to decide what to do next and then like his political hero, Ronnie Ray-gun, teflon-tongued Barack will sell it to a gullible public. No doubt Palestinians will at least be mollified to know that Israel will soon be getting all the attack helicopters and jets and cluster bombs it needs from a black president. And all the diplomatic cover it desires from another female Sec. of State like the last two. Nothing like inclusive imperialism to perfume the crimes of the imperium and mute the cries of the victims. Multicultural murderers are so much more politically correct than those old white male murderers.  Obama Copacabana isn’t about to “Expose thyself to what wretches feel”.  King Lear may have said, upon entering “the mud and straw hovel of Poor Tom, ‘and show the heavens more just.’”  But rich Uncle Tom Obama will stick to his Chicago and Washinton mansions and luxury hotel suites in Waikiki and come on the trot whenever his AIPAC masters snap their fingers. The only silver lining in the catastrophic cloud will have to wait for the future when the tragedy of Gaza truly will become the tragedy of Israel (and friends). Give the Zionazis that run Israel and America enough rope and they’ll hang themselves - if the ICC doesn’t do it first.

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By marcus medler, December 30, 2008 at 1:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I second the comment: COME BACK TO HAUNT US! It is an abject horror that we are tied by the navel to such a beast. I always warned my children as my mother warned me: it is the so called friends that lead one off a cliff, not enemies. The joy of a new day(Jan.20 2009), led by a young fresh voice has now been drowned and darkened by the blood of innocents and the malignant, perfidious act of a false ally.

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By socman, December 30, 2008 at 12:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Violence will never ever bring peace to Israel. Chris, you are very honest there when you said, “The violence unleashed on Palestinian children will, one day, be the violence unleashed on Israeli children.” Time will come when the world will learn the truth and turn its back on Israel.

It’s extremely very sad! It made me wonder and question the authenticity of Western democracies. Does establishment of democracy means punishment and annihilation of native people?

Why, why is Israel acting extremely cruel like that? Is it to reduce Gazans people to the lowest status? Or Israel wants to create a 21st Century museum that will remind the future generations that the Ganzans once lived there!

Look at what democracies have done to Indians, Aboriginals, and Muaris! Stop annihilation of the natives, no more museums for threaten native species.

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By rigo23, December 30, 2008 at 12:00 am Link to this comment

The statistics put forth in this article are simply mind blowing.  The malnutrion and despair levels are unheard of. Like Hedges says, is it any wonder 71% of the kids interviewed at that school want to be martyrs?  That’s all they have left is their pride. 

And what’s the deal with President-elect hopey changey?  I guess that was the politically smart thing to do, ie. to have Axelrod come out with the talking point that “Hey, there can only be one pres at a time.”  Is that a subtle way of saying he himself wouldn’t offer the same condemnation toward Hamas or perhaps that he himself would choose a more nuanced message?

This shit really has to stop.

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By P. T., December 29, 2008 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

This couldn’t happen unless the U.S. wanted it to happen.  The U.S. and Israel have targeted the Palestinians in Gaza—trying to get them to turn against Hamas—ever since Hamas won the elections.

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By Mirror08, December 29, 2008 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our US administration always supports these murderous regime in Israel completely onesided. Look at our administration they are blaming Hamas for this action by Israel. Months after months Israel is preventing humanitarian food, medicine, electricity from getting into Gaza. As long as we support these kind of state terrorism, hatred against United States will not stop. This is as simple as 123.

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By john bausch, December 29, 2008 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Israelis just committed murders with our blessing. This, together with all other atrocities, will eventually come back to hurt us. We will have to pay in blood for Israelis’ deeds. Feel powerless hoping our politicians to wake up.

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