Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Massacre of Innocence

News of Israel's latest demonstration that the concepts of "proportionate response" and "not targeting civilians" are as alien to its government as they have always been made me wonder how many Israelis have died in the rain of rockets from Gaza we keep hearing about. I knew that as far as the post-cease-fire attacks go, the answer is none (zero, nil, nada) (***see update below***), though of course Hamas did manage to kill two Palestinian girls thus saving Israel the bother. (Before you all yell, I know Hamas didn't claim responsibility for those deaths. Well knock me down with a feather.) I imagined that over the course of the previous campaign of rocket attacks there might have been rather more Israelis killed, even though most of the rockets landed well away from populated areas. (I don't kid myself that that's due to any scruples on the part of Hamas: rather - as the two Palestinian girls discovered - their targeting is either spectacularly bad or completely non-existent.)

Anyway, I went off a-Googling, and so far while I've found several reports of minor-to-moderate injuries caused to Israelis by the Kassam rockets, the only report I've found anywhere of an Israeli fatality is Shirel Friedman, age 32, of Sderot, who was killed by a Hamas rocket which hit his car on 21 May 2007. Do please update me if you have documentation of more recent Israeli deaths or serious injuries (or indeed earlier ones).

***I note that Craig Murray,, who is very reliable on facts and figures, reckons like me that there have been no Israeli deaths from rocket attacks in the past year - that is until the ones in my update below. ***

***Update: I see from today's Ha'aretz that another Israeli was in fact killed yesterday. ***
***Further: another Israeli dead today (29/12). ITN news made a point of telling us it was an Israeli Arab, though why they imagine that would make any difference to Hamas escapes me. ***

It would clearly be anti-semitic of me (/irony) to suggest that avenging the murder of one Israeli over a year and a half ago does not justify the indiscriminate slaughter of over three hundred Palestinian civilians (and I'm sorry, police count as civilians when it's Israeli ones being murdered - or British ones if it comes to that - so Palestinian police in Gaza are civilians). So I shall make no such suggestion. If the Israeli government wishes to argue that genocide is necessary to prevent future Israeli loss of life, and that history will judge it kindly, well, good luck with that. All I'd say is that their illustrious predecessor King Herod didn't find it brought much long-term benefit for his reputation. Though if Herod had had the IAF's ability to bomb all the escape routes into Egypt as well as butchering the locals, he could at least have achieved his short-term goal.

While on the face of it Mahmoud Abbas is quite right to say that the suffering in Gaza could have been avoided if the truce had been extended, one has to view with a degree of cynicism any pronouncements on Hamas (the legally elected government of Palestine) from an unelected puppet "president" installed by Israel. Hamas are equally correct to say that Israel wasn't honouring the truce anyway, but Abbas isn't being paid to remind people of that. Nor is he likely to point out that Ehud Barak was planning this genocide at the same time as he was signing the truce six months ago.

Let us hope that even if the United States is concentrating on blaming the victims and Tony Blair is still whingeing about the fact that Hamas won the last election, more responsible members of the international community may be successful in achieving a resumption of the cease-fire and an end to the slaughter. Let us hope that both sides abide by whatever is agreed. Finally, let's hope that this happens before the last resident of Gaza has been murdered. If Lewis Carroll's Red Queen could believe six impossible things before breakfast, surely I can be permitted three improbable hopes before Hogmanay?


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