Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gaza still under fire

With so much attention on Lebanon, it's easy to forget there are events in other parts of the world: a contested election in Mexico, American violations of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, a proposed law in the U.S. to deny Americans the right to a trial by their peers, or even the right to face their accusers, and... Gaza.

A 12-year-old boy dead on a stretcher. A mother in shock and disbelief after her son was shot dead for standing on their roof. A phone rings and a voice in broken Arabic orders residents to abandon their home on pain of death.

...

It is a war of containment and control that has turned the besieged Strip into a prison with no way in or out, and no protection from an fearsome battery of drones, precision missiles, tank shells, and artillery rounds.

As of last night, 29 people had been killed in the most concentrated 48 hours of violence since an Israeli soldier was abducted by Palestinian militants just more than a month ago.

The operation is codenamed "Samson's Pillars," a collective punishment of the 1.4 million Gazans, subjecting them to a Lebanese-style offensive that has targeted the civilian infrastructure by destroying water mains, the main power station, and bridges.

...

In Gaza, Palestinian land has already been bulldozed to form a 300-meter open area along the border with Israel proper. And in both cases, the crisis will doubtless end up being defused by a prisoner exchange. With Lebanon dominating the headlines, Israel has "rearranged the occupation" in Gaza, in the words of the Palestinian academic and MP, Hanan Ashrawi. But unlike the Lebanese, the desperate Gazans have nowhere to flee from their humanitarian crisis.

Before Israeli tanks moved into northern Gaza, yesterday, 12-year-old Anas Zumlut joined the ranks of dead Palestinians, numbering more than 100. His body was wrapped in a funeral shroud, just like those of the two sisters, a three-year-old and an eight-month-old baby, who were killed three days ago in the same area of Jablaya.

In the past three weeks, the foreign ministry and the interior ministry in Gaza city have been smashed, prompting speculation that Israel's offensive is not only aimed at securing the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, or bringing an end to the Qassam rocket attacks that have wounded one person in the past month and jarred the nerves of the residents of the nearest Israeli town of Sderot.

"At first we thought they were bombing the Hamas leaders by targeting Haniyeh and Zahar," a Palestinian official said, referring to the Palestinian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. "But when they targeted the economy ministry we decided they wanted to completely destroy the entire government."
Source

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