Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Holy Bejeezus!": I Know What We Did This Summer, In Gaza

We’re now learning that “senior U.S. military officers” were “stunned” at the scale of the Israeli army’s “indiscriminate” shelling that demolished the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza on July 21st. A Pentagon report found “11 Israeli artillery battalions — a minimum of 258 artillery pieces …pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood… during a seven-hour period at the height of the operation.“
“Holy bejeezus,” exclaimed retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard when told the numbers of artillery pieces and rounds fired during the July 21 action. “That rate of fire over that period of time is astonishing. If the figures are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate.” 
Another Pentagon senior officer said: “Eleven battalions of IDF artillery is equivalent to the artillery we deploy to support two divisions of U.S. infantry…That’s a massive amount of firepower, and it’s absolutely deadly.” And a retired American artillery commander, who thought the Pentagon’s report “might well have underestimated the firepower the IDF brought to bear on Shujaiya,” said:  “This is the equivalent of the artillery we deploy to support a full corps...It’s just a huge number of weapons.”

A third senior U.S. officer made the point: “The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gaza, Israel, and America: Crime and Demolishment

Shejaiya  Neighborhood in Gaza/Mahmoud Hams (AFP)/Getty Images

The Israeli army is one of the most powerful in the world, usually ranked around fourth in firepower. It can deploy a half a million troops with a panoply of state-of-the-art weaponry—from body armor, integrated electronic communications and control, and sniper rifles, to tanks, artillery, airpower, drones, ships, and submarines—and, of course, an arsenal of nuclear weapons that have been in development over fifty years. It is backed by the most powerful armed force in the world, which continuously supplies it with whatever arms, cash, intelligence, and political and diplomatic support it needs—an effective guarantee of military (though not political) victory.

There are a few thousand militants armed with light infantry weapons and homemade rockets among the 1.8 million people in Gaza, one of the most densely-populated territories on earth. Those 1.8 million people have been locked into that territory by Israel (abetted by its Egyptian ally, and backed by its American patron), which controls the entry and exit of every person and particle, making Gaza what even British Prime Minister David Cameron (who helps to enable this policy) calls a “prison camp.” This siege has been Israel’s way of punishing the 1.8 million people of Gaza for, among other things, having freely and fairly elected leaders that Israel doesn’t like.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Israel's "Human Shield" Hypocrisy

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much…”– Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness” [h/t William A. Cook]

The Israeli-American (Let’s never forget this is a team effort!) slaughter in Gaza is so horrifying that I’ve been at a loss to find the words to comment on it without letting anger get the better of me. The media coverage of what’s happening, dominated by the ridiculous notion that Israel is “defending” itself, is so grotesquely mendacious, hypocritical, and racist (imbued with colonialist ethno-supremacism) that it is hard to know where to begin critiquing it—without, again, becoming enraged.

For the moment, I’ll focus on one particular, insistent meme, constantly being promoted by Israel and its apologists, namely that Hamas is using civilians as “human shields.” The idea is that for Hamas to place any kind of military personnel anywhere in or near a civilian neighborhood constitutes using all the civilians in that neighborhood as “human shields.” Furthermore, it makes of that neighborhood a legitimate “military” target for devastating Israeli attack, absolves Israel from any culpability for the scores of resulting dead, blown-apart civilians including children, and places all moral and legal responsibility for those victims on the Palestinian resistance fighters who dared appear anywhere near civilians.

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