When the Israeli Defense Force sealed off Gaza and began shelling I found myself unable to speak my horror. I haven’t written about it or the United States’ pallid response that, essentially, the bombing would stop when those being bombed stopped being bombed. I have no words for what the IDF did to Gaza. In the waning days of the brutal and stupid Bush Administration, I admit I put my head down and waited for cooler heads to prevail.
The United Nations Security Council again demanded that Israel let in food, medicine and fuel unimpeded. Since Israel is still technically the occupying authority in Gaza, insofar as it controls its borders and airspace, for it to engage in collective punishment on the Gazan population is a war crime forbidden by the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949, which was enacted to prevent Nazi tactics from being deployed against occupied populatoins. UN relief workers, have been impeded from getting into Gaza by Israeli authorities. Those who managed to get through found between 14,000 and 21,000 homes destroyed and 240 of 400 schools badly damaged. The value of the destruction is estimated at $2 billion, and the essential infrastructure of the Strip has been deeply degraded, with potentially severe human health consequences. Much rubble has yet to be cleared away, so there could yet be more dead bodies found, and bomb clearing has not been completed, so people may yet be killed by accidentally setting off unexploded ordnance.
It is often forgotten that about half of Gazans are children, because of the ongoing population explosion, caused by insecurity, which has brought the Strip’s population to nearly a million and a half. When Israel made a total war on the Gaza population, it was inevitably targeting large numbers of innocent children.
I actually don’t give a damn who the bombs are falling on. Dropping bombs is barbaric no matter who does it, and dropping them on people who can’t even attempt to get out of the blast zone is wrong on a scale where language fails me. Refusing to permit aid to bombed out people and shooting up U.N. convoys is so far beyond the pale I can only summon one thought: Israel has become the thing it fought. I have lost sympathy for our ally, which is painful for me as a Jew.
My father-in-law used to say we can’t judge Israel because we’re not the ones with the gun to our heads. In better days, I agreed that perhaps I was sheltered from certain realities and might temper my opinion. Not this time, and not anymore.
On a lighter note, direct action is the best remedy for what ails us. February 19th-22nd, we can drop off a new or nearly new women’s suit or business separates at any Dressbarn throughout the U.S. to help deserving women entering the workforce. These Send One Suit events take place on a more or less regular basis because it ain’t easy out there, so if you clean out your closet and need what you’ve got, don’t sweat it. There’ll be a next time pretty soon. But if you’ve just dropped ten pounds, take a truckload of stuff to Dressbarn this weekend. You’ll feel a ton better.