In July 2014, Israel intentionally provoked a war against Hamas, as it has done several times since 2008, designed to punish Palestinian civilians by targeting their children, their homes and their infrastructure to discredit Hamas. Thousands of civilians, including children, were murdered by heavily armed Israeli soldiers who defended the huge civilian deaths by asserting that Hamas fighters were “hiding” behind civilians or using them as “human shields.” Since then, Gaza has remained under Israel’s military control, an open-air prison, while the destruction has remained unchanged
By Dezeray Lyn
It began long before the first Israeli bombs smashed into the heavily populated region of the Gaza strip on July 8th of last year.
After the kidnapping of three hitchhiking Israeli teenagers, the Israeli ‘Defense’ Forces followed collective punishment procedures with a launched operation termed Brother’s Keeper. Unfortunately, Israeli military and politicians, et al, consider brotherhood within the tiny scope of those Israelis living within the ever expanding borders of an anti-assimilation apartheid state.
Inside the space of 11 days, over 350 Palestinians were in Israeli custody – as though 350 Palestinians had committed the murders. The crimes were immediately and with no conclusive evidence, linked to Hamas. As the IDF continued to be their brothers’ keeper, five Palestinians were murdered. And when Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was found burned to death weeks later in the Jerusalem Forest it was clearly an act of brutal vengeance for the kidnapping and murder of the teens. Then came the vicious beating of Tampa, Florida resident and cousin of the burned to death Mohammed, Tariq Abu Khdeir by IDF soldiers; also a self-appointed act of vengeance.Israel begins its war crimes against the people of Gaza, on July 8, 2014, with bombings, missiles and an invasion for the 3rd time in six years, killing thousands. Photos (C) 2015 Mohammed Asad. All Rights Reserved. Permission to republish given with full credit to Mohammed Asad and The Arab Daily News.
Still qualifying as an occupying power, despite Israel’s ‘disengagement plan’ from Gaza, which removed 8,000 illegal Israeli settlers from the strip in 2005, Israel implemented an ongoing siege and blockade by land, air and sea as punishment for the democratic election of Hamas. They continue to militarily occupy, economically strangle and socially crush the human rights of the Palestinians in the West Bank.
It began long before the first Israeli bombs smashed into the heavily populated region of the Gaza strip on July 8th of last year. But what occurred over the next fifty days would shock the world.
The Massacre in Gaza by the numbers:
Sourced from Institute for Middle East Understanding: http://imeu.org/article/50-days-of-death-destruction-israels-operation-protective-edge
• 2,191 Palestinian children, women and men killed.
• According to PCHR, 1660 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 527 children and 299 women.
• According to the UN, at least 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members killed in a single Israeli attack, for a total of 739 fatalities and up to 1500 children were orphaned.
• According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 11,100 Palestinians were wounded, including 3374 children, 2088 women, and 410 elderly people. The UN estimates that 1000 of the injured children will suffer a lifelong disability.
• The UN estimates that at least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS), while every child in Gaza has been affected by the crisis and will need some level of psychosocial support.
Homes Destroyed & Palestinians Displaced
• According to the UN, 18,000 housing units were totally destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli attacks, leaving approximately 108,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians homeless. Prior to this latest assault, there were 12,000 Palestinians still displaced from Israel’s 2008-09 attack, “Operation Cast Lead,” and a shortage of 71,000 housing units, according to the UN.
• According to the UN, at the peak of Israel’s assault, an estimated 485,000 people (approximately 28% of Gaza’s population) were displaced.
Destruction of Civilian Infrastructure
• Israeli attacks caused widespread damage to Gaza’s already frail and dilapidated electrical grid, run down and in disrepair after seven years of siege and blockade. Most notably, on July 29 Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant, knocking it out of commission indefinitely, prompting Amnesty International to condemn the attack as an act of “collective punishment” against the entire population. (Israel previously bombed the plant during assaults in 2006 and 2008-09.) According to the UN, even following repairs to what remains of the electrical grid, most areas of Gaza continue to endure up to 18 hours of electrical outages a day.
• Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s power plant caused the shutdown of water treatment plants, while Israeli tank fire put Gaza’s largest sewage treatment plant out of commission. Other Israeli attacks did extensive damage to Gaza’s water and sewage systems, also already in critical condition due to the siege and previous Israeli assaults, leading to the release of raw sewage into open pools, farmland, and the Mediterranean Sea, causing health concerns and affecting fishermen. On August 5, Oxfam warned that Israeli attacks damaging wells, pipelines, and reservoirs had caused the contamination of fresh water supplies, already heavily contaminated before the assault, and that 15,000 tons of solid waste had leaked into the streets of Gaza.
According to the September 4 UN Gaza crisis report:
• 450,000 people were unable to access municipal water systems due to infrastructure damage and/or low water pressure.
• On average, 20% to 30% of Gaza’s water and wastewater systems remain significantly damaged.
• According to the UN, 22 schools were destroyed and 118 damaged, and at least six teachers killed. As a result of the ongoing violence, schools being damaged and destroyed, and displaced people taking refuge in schools, nearly half a million children had the start of their school year delayed, from August 24 to September 14.
These numbers and statistics, horrific as they are, fail to convey the mass destruction caused by the fully-loaded, internationally-funded Israeli military’s ‘Protective Edge’ bombing campaign of the Gaza strip. They do not describe the inhuman double-tap procedure the IDF tactically used, in which a missile smashes into the earth and maimed bodies lay dying- and immediately afterwards as medics, loved ones and persons of conscience rushed to aid them, Israeli missiles immediately target the same area seconds later. These numbers and statistics also fail to speak of the cheers from the gut of those Israelis who could not only stomach to see the bombs falling, but applauded from couches dragged to points of visibility not knowing whether months old infant bodies were adding to the flames engulfing the Israeli controlled skies over Gaza. All these unfathomable instances of agony and cruelty, brutality and devastation cannot be encapsulated by numerical statistics.
Lest we forget… this operation may have been precision targeting, ethnic cleansing and all-out war at the behest of the Israeli state- but these words, though as accurate as the numbers, were not Operation Protective Edge.On the 18th Day of Israeli assault against Palestinian Civilians in 2014, that took the lives of thousands of Palestinians including more than 500 children. Photo copyright (c) 2015 Mohammed Asad. All Rights Reserved. Permission to republish with full attribution to Mohammed Asad and the Arab Daily News.
Scenes of frantic Palestinians running helplessly with the mangled bodies of four young Palestinian boys on a beach in Gaza city- running, playing, laughing one moment, their lives over the next. Mohamed Ramez Bakr, Ahed Atef Bakr, Zakaria Ahed Bakr, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr dead, their family members wailing gut wrenching sobs in the streets- this was Operation Protective Edge.
The seven shellings of UNRWA facilities; safety points where Palestinians took refuge, huddling in fear from what must have been deafening crashes and earth shaking blows as the bombs fell all around them. The artillery, mortar and aerial missile fire violently ending the lives of forty four Palestinians and ten UNRWA staff members who mistakenly trusted that Israel wouldn’t target places of refuge- a war crime- this was Operation Protective Edge.
In the Gazan village of Khuzaa, where Israeli military fired into a crowd of civilians who were fleeing Israel’s siege and carrying white flags while shouting, “Peaceful! Peaceful!,” sure that the IDF wouldn’t slaughter them as they posed zero threat, but still fell to the earth after feeling the bullets entering their bodies… this was Operation Protective Edge.Smoke rises as Palestinians stand atop the rubble of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 20, 2014. Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel for a second day on Wednesday after fighting resumed with the collapse of truce talks and an Israeli air strike that killed three people in Gaza. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Targeting civilian escape routes, using Palestinians as human shields, raiding houses in Gaza, defecating on the floors of family homes and scrawling race hatred into their walls, using faxed coordinates of medical facilities to avoid bombing them during their offensive as a blueprint for intentionally targeting them, physically brutalizing civilians who frantically tried to preserve their lives and the lives of their loved ones… this was Operation Protective Edge.
Perhaps collective lamentation should rest on the fact that while roughly 6,000 Palestinians sit in small windowless cells in Israeli dungeons, while over 400 Palestinians wait on charge-less, trial-less administrative detention, and while nearly a dozen human rights activists have been kidnapped and sit in Israeli prisons after the violent storming of the Freedom Flotilla III, an act of international law-breaking piracy – not one of the criminals who committed war crimes in the assault on Gaza have spent a single day behind bars.
International solidarity is critical. Justice isn’t given. Justice comes upon thunderous demand.
In Tampa Florida, home to the brutalized fifteen year old Tariq Abu Khdeir, activists will gather in a mass die-in at the intersection of MacDill and Dale Mabry, (Click here for more information) walking distance from the MacDill Air force base.
MacDill Air force base is at one of the hearts of American imperialism – an imperialism which financially aided the genocidal offensive “Protective Edge”, gifting Israel $255 million US taxpayer dollars one day after the UNRWA shelling. This criminality, this international chorus of silence, this aiding and abetting of terrorist Israel … this was Operation Protective Edge.
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