• Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.
• Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.
• Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.
The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel's violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.
The BBC is reporting tonight that the Middle East Quartet, that is the US, European Union, UN and Russia, are calling for a truce. That's promising news, although such calls always come after enough people have been killed to make it embarrassing for those who normally stand aside while Israel does what it wants.
By the way, the attack on Gaza has nothing to do with Israel's right to self-defense, because the rockets launched into Israel from Gaza had done minimal damage over the past year. The rocket launching is essentially a symptom of Palestinian rage and frustration at Israel's intransigence over making a true peace, and Israel's blatant campaign to create ever more irreversible "facts on the ground" in the West Bank--ie, to take over as much of that territory as possible--before someone, someday, gets around to calling a halt to its expansionism. Perhaps that someone will be Barack Obama, although that remains to be seen.
Cartoon: Carlos Latuff
Israel's merciless reputation. Vivian Salama writes about the background to the Jewish state's latest round of brutality, online in the Washington Post.
Self-delusion on both sides. Robert Fisk writes about it in the Independent. A key graf:
One common feature of Middle East wars is the ability of all the antagonists to suffer from massive self-delusion. Israel's promise to "root out terror" – be it of the PLO, Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iranian or any other kind – has always turned out to be false. "War to the bitter end," the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has promised in Gaza. Nonsense. Just like the PLO's boast – and Hamas' boast and Hizbollah's boast – to "liberate" Jerusalem. Eyewash. But the Israelis have usually shown a dangerous propensity to believe their own propaganda. Calling up more than 6,000 reservists and sitting them round the Gaza fence is one thing; sending them into the hovels of Gaza will be quite another. In 2006, Israel claimed it was sending 30,000 troops into Lebanon. In reality, it sent about 3,000 – and the moment they crossed the border, they were faced down by the Hizbollah. In some cases, Israeli soldiers actually ran back to their own frontier.
Update (Jan 1): New York Times reports on dozens of civilian deaths in Gaza.
Israel can't bomb its way to peace. So says the always wise Rosa Brooks in the Los Angeles Times.
Reports on the impact of Israeli actions on civilians: Can be found at this link.