Collective punishment in Gaza

“We have been doing surgery around the clock. I just spoke to one of my colleagues … who had not been sleeping for three days and the hospital is completely overcrowded, we’re running six/seven ORs and there are injuries you just don’t want to see in this world. Children coming in with open abdomens and legs cut off. We just had a child who … we had to amputate both legs and the arm, and the only crime they have done is being civilians, Palestinians living in Gaza.

“The relief now is not more doctors and more drugs, the relief now is to stop the bombing immediately. This cannot go on. It’s a disaster…

“We came on New Year’s Eve in the morning – I’ve seen one military person among the … hundreds that we have seen and treated. So anybody who tries to portray this as sort of a ‘clean’ war against another army are lying. This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza.”

[Norwegian volunteer doctor Mads Gilbert, to Sky News, January 5th.]

The Heathlander has a huge, but by no means exhaustive, list of targets struck by IDF ordnance. These are primarily hospitals, ambulances, medical workers, mosques, schools, government and civil buildings, media and charity facilities, and other civilian infrastructure – not to mention Palestinian civilians themselves.

Of the dead themselves, do not be misled by the figures that indicate “only” a quarter of Palestinian casualties are civilians:

The United Nations says 320 people have been killed in Gaza, including 62 women and children, and around 1,400 injured.

“[The 62 figure] does not include civilian casualties who are men, even though we know that there have been some civilian men killed as well,” UN humanitarian affairs co-ordinator John Holmes said.

[Sourced from an ABC news report, emphasis mine.]

“Israel should not target individuals and institutions in Gaza solely because they are part of the Hamas-run political authority, including ordinary police…

Human Rights Watch noted that many of Israel’s airstrikes, especially during the first day, targeted police stations as well as security and militia installations controlled by Hamas. According to the Jerusalem Post, an attack on the police academy in Gaza City on December 27 killed at least 40, including dozens of cadets at their graduation ceremony as well as the chief of police, making it the single deadliest air attack of the campaign to date. Another attack, on a traffic police station in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, killed a by-stander, 12-year-old Camilia Ra`fat al-Burdini.

Under the laws of war, police and police stations are presumptively civilian unless the police are Hamas fighters or taking a direct part in the hostilities, or police stations are being used for military purposes.”

[Source: Human Rights Watch news release, December 30th.]

The Palestinian Mothers blog has a sizable collection of photographs displaying the carnage in Gaza, contrasted with the damage wrought by Qassam rockets. In this blog post Richard Seymour explores the idea that “the ongoing war against the entire Palestinian population, its infrastructure, its political expressions, its culture, and its life-support, contains a genocidal dynamic.”

Regardless of your feelings on Hamas, the plight of Palestinian and Israeli civilians, it is undeniable that the actions of the IDF constitute war crimes, and are part of a strategy that has descended from the highest echelons of the political and military apparatus of Israel. Check the Stop the War Coalition website for details on ongoing and planned demonstrations and protests in the coming days. Take heart from pictures of demos in London, Paris, New York, and Israel.

To those sharing my locality: there was a gathering within Brighton last Saturday, but I’m as yet unable to find anything scheduled this weekend to occur alongside the emergency national protest on Saturday. If anyone knows anything, please leave a comment on this post.

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