Israeli atrocities in Gaza: 1,300 dead in three weeks

Israel says that its recent military operations in Gaza were meant to stop Palestinian militants from firing Kassam rockets into southern Israeli settlements.

Dead Palestinian children in a Gaza mortuary.

Dead Palestinian children in a Gaza mortuary.

According to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), Palestinians have launched hundreds of rockets in the past eight years. Hardest hit is the town of Sderot, whose homes and shops now resemble bunkers due to concrete reinforcements built over the years.

The right of Israel to self-defence is not in doubt. However, by any measure, the deaths of 1,300 Palestinians in the Gaza strip within three weeks is totally out of proportion to the less than 20 Israelis who died in the operation. The inordinately large number of civilian casualties has irredeemably tarnished Israel’s reputation worldwide.

As horrific as the Hamas rockets had been, the violence in Gaza was much worse. The F-16s, Apache helicopters and tanks that moved into Gaza from the north were firing into the towns of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, and the refugee town of Jebalya. The explosions were terrifying. Eventually, tens of thousands of houses inside the Gaza Strip were destroyed by air strikes and artillery.

A home destroyed by the Israeli fire.

A home destroyed by Israeli fire.

The deaths of mostly women and children was worsened by the use of controversial tactics by the Israeli military. Already, new information has emerged about the bombing of the United Nations school where 45 civilians were killed. Israel has now retracted its initial claim that the school was being used by Hamas to fire rockets into Israel. The military is admitting that instead it was a bomb that missed its target. The U.N. is drawing up a report on this to submit as possible evidence of a war crime.

There is evidence that white phosphorous has been used in Gaza, contrary to Geneva Conventions regarding fighting in civilian areas. It is also suspected that Israel has used radioactive uranium weapons in Gaza, putting at risk both Palestinians and its own IDF soldiers.

Amnesty International’s fact-finding team found still-burning wedges of phosphorous from Israeli tank shells around buildings in Gaza City. These were similar to the ones that destroyed tons of humanitarian aid in the attack on the UN Relief and Works Agency Headquarters. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, the Israeli army insists that it “does not use white phosphorus.”

Evidence of phosphorous used in Gaza by Israeli military

Evidence of phosphorous used in Gaza by Israeli military

Explosions of white phosphorous inflict hideous wounds consisting of many tiny holes, often invisible to X-rays. When phosphorous comes into contact with human skin, it burns so intensely that many victims require amputation because of the extensive injury. Palestinian doctors have reported seeing smoke coming out of the wounds several days later.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed that its researchers had seen multiple air-bursts of white phosphorus over Gaza city. “I’ve been on the border for the last few days watching the Israeli artillery firing white phosphorus shells into refugee camps,” Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at HRW told France TV channel 24.

This is not the first time Israel has been accused of using phosphorus bombs in crowded civilian areas in Gaza. Several years ago, doctors in Gaza reported seeing strange wounds on those injured during attacks by Israeli drones, which constantly monitor Gaza from the air.

Though fighting has ended, drones still fly over Gaza, promising more attacks. Many residents who live near the border fear that if they are spotted carrying anything – even a stick, the drones overhead will spot them and mistake them for someone carrying a rocket and they will be attacked.

The stature of Arab governments in the region has fallen in the eyes of ordinary people. Arab leaders were so complacent that Israeli Airforce jets violated Egyptian airspace in order to bomb the Gaza Strip, with little protest from President Hosni Mubarak.

Israeli F-16 fighter jets in action over Gaza.

Israeli F-16 fighter jets in action over Gaza.

Meanwhile, some high profile US military analysts have taken Israel to task for its behavior in its war on the Gaza Strip. Not for all those people they killed, but rather for all those people they left alive.

“I think you were too restrained and could have gone deeper into Gaza,” retired Lt-Gen Thomas McInerney, a military analyst for Fox News noted. McInerney also chided Israel’s leadership, saying they are “too sensitive about world opinion.”

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CREDITS: Anti-war.com, The Palestine Chronicle, Lawahez Jabari – NBC News Producer, The Electronic Intifada, Inter Press ServicePetros Evdokas.

Photos by Shareef Sarhan. Click here for more his Gaza photos on Flickr.
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7 Responses

  1. The rockets weren’t fired at settlements but at cities that are acknowledged as being in Israel proper. An Italian doctor has said that the number of dead is totally inflated.

    In short your facts and conclusions are wrong and inaccurate.

  2. Why should anyone have to defend Israeli Soldiers? What about the years of Hamas Terrorism? Has the World Court brought charges against Hamas? If you want to blame anybody then it is Hamas. Pure and Simple. I am astounded by the naivity and stupity of the people around the world. If Hamas would play a Politically active Role instead of one of Terrorism then I think the results would be more Positive and Humanitarian.

  3. Unfortunately, the point of the article is missed completely by the comments left by Ozymandias and John. The atrocities in Gaza far exceeded anything that is acceptable period. I have been following the events in GAza since Dec 27, reading numerous articles written by “experts”; numerous new reports from around the world, viewing photos and video footage from both sides of the conflict. One has to either be blind or lacking intelligence to think that what happened for 22 days was justifiable. Ozymandias – your comment that the cities attacked were in Isreal proper is incorrect. Gaza and the West Bank belong to Palestinians, as did the area now know as Israel before Palestinians were driven from the land to make way for the Israeli state. This kind of narrow-minded thinking is what has caused the conflict to last so long. Israel must stop believing that it “owns” all the lands. John – because Hamas is considered a terrorist organization and is not recognized as a true government by both the US and Canada, plus numerous other countries throughout the world, it is impossible to bring charges under the WCC. How can you bring charges against an organization that is not “politically” recongized? As for Hamas’ political role – I ask only this question – what has Israel done for the Palestian people that Hamas has not? I do not agree with their terrorist tactics, but you cannot argue the facts – Hamas created employment, built infrastucture, and despite its rocket attacks on Israel, took care of the Palestian people in Gaza. Israel, on the other hand, shut the borders, cut of much-needed humitarian aid and supplies, shot innocent Gazans as it saw fit and always found a way to point a finger at Hamas to justify its actions. I would suggest that both of you read the history of the region, and research all the facts before spouting off incorrect and misguided statements.

  4. While I fully support any country’s right to defend itself, this is not what happened with regards to Israel’s attack on Gaza. What took place in Gaza was not in the least an attack against Hamas, but rather it was a planned and deliberate attack on innocent Palestinian civilians, resulting in their needless slaughter. Ehud Olmert is guilty of war crimes against the good people of Gaza, and as such should be transported to the Hague and tried accordingly for War Crimes under International law.

  5. Matt Hamas is the one that fired rockets on innocent Israeli civilians for 8 years, and they used innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields, resulting in their death.

    It’s very easy for you to say that Ehud Olmert is guilty of war crimes but I wonder if you would have felt the same way if it was your city being bombed.

  6. At least Israel supports its soldiers unlike the US.
    How do you Hamas sympathizers and/or anti-war crowd expect the bombing to stop? Recognize Israel and leave them alone and all this BS goes away. Someone bombs my house I am not going to ask them to please stop. Arab culture recognizes strength and is empowered by weakness. Wake up and smell what you are shoveling.

  7. lies, lies, lies, patlestinians r pigs.

    evedemian@verizon.net

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