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Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony

 
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12/31/2008 04:00 PM
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Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony
[link to www.independent.co.uk]

Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.

That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.

But watching the news shows, you'd think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story.

Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. The existence of Gaza is a permanent reminder of those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes to Israel, who fled or were driven out through fear or Israeli ethnic cleansing 60 years ago, when tidal waves of refugees had washed over Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War and when a bunch of Arabs kicked out of their property didn't worry the world.

Well, the world should worry now. Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon's bloody "pacification", starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

Alas for the Palestinians, their most powerful political voice – I'm talking about the late Edward Said, not the corrupt Yassir Arafat (and how the Israelis must miss him now) – is silent and their predicament largely unexplained by their deplorable, foolish spokesmen. "It's the most terrifying place I've ever been in," Said once said of Gaza. "It's a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa."

Of course, it was left to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to admit that "sometimes also civilians pay the price," an argument she would not make, of course, if the fatality statistics were reversed. Indeed, it was instructive yesterday to hear a member of the American Enterprise Institute – faithfully parroting Israel's arguments – defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll by saying that it was "pointless to play the numbers game". Yet if more than 300 Israelis had been killed – against two dead Palestinians – be sure that the "numbers game" and the disproportionate violence would be all too relevant. The simple fact is that Palestinian deaths matter far less than Israeli deaths. True, we know that 180 of the dead were Hamas members. But what of the rest? If the UN's conservative figure of 57 civilian fatalities is correct, the death toll is still a disgrace.

To find both the US and Britain failing to condemn the Israeli onslaught while blaming Hamas is not surprising. US Middle East policy and Israeli policy are now indistinguishable and Gordon Brown is following the same dog-like devotion to the Bush administration as his predecessor.

As usual, the Arab satraps – largely paid and armed by the West – are silent, preposterously calling for an Arab summit on the crisis which will (if it even takes place), appoint an "action committee" to draw up a report which will never be written. For that is the way with the Arab world and its corrupt rulers. As for Hamas, they will, of course, enjoy the discomfiture of the Arab potentates while cynically waiting for Israel to talk to them. Which they will. Indeed, within a few months, we'll be hearing that Israel and Hamas have been having "secret talks" – just as we once did about Israel and the even more corrupt PLO. But by then, the dead will be long buried and we will be facing the next crisis since the last crisis.

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Anonymous Coward (OP)
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12/31/2008 04:15 PM
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Re: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony
Latest Gaza Rockets Injure More Arab Children than Jews

by Gil Ronen

(IsraelNN.com) Six Gaza Arabs, including four children, were injured by rockets that were fired at Israel from Gaza in the past three days. The rockets fell short of their marks and hit Arab controlled territory.

The wounds of three of the children who were injured in this way were described as serious. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said it "remains deeply concerned over the reoccurrence of such incidents that are part of the state of security chaos and misuse of weapons" in the Palestinian Authority.

A PCHR investigation found that at approximately 16:15 this past Monday, three-year-old Myassar Mousa Wahdan was injured in the abdomen and chest and her five-year-old brother, Mohammed, was injured in the head by shrapnel from a locally produced rocket that was fired by members of a neighboring terror group.

The rocket fell on agricultural land near Beit Hanoun Agriculture College, north of the town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. The two children were promptly transferred to Beit Hanoun Hospital for treatment. Medical sources described the wounds of Myassar as serious and reported that she was admitted to the intensive care unit. The wounds of Mohammed were described as moderate.

Be 'far away from civilians'
In another incident, at approximately 17:30 this past Sunday, Hanan Sohwail, 32, was lightly wounded by shrapnel to the right hand when a locally produced rocket exploded near her house in al-Zaytoun quarter in Beit Hanoun. She was immediately taken to Beit Hanoun Hospital for treatment.

At approximately 14:40 on Saturday, a locally produced rocket fired by members of the Palestinian resistance fell near a group of children who were playing in a side street, east of the industrial zone and west of Beit Hanoun. Shrapnel from the rocket wounded two children. The two children were taken to Beit Hanoun Hospital for treatment and then transferred to the intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, since their wounds were serious. The two children were identified as Sari Mana’a al-Sama’ana, 9, and Safi 'Eid al-Sama’ana, 8.

PCHR said it is "gravely concerned over increasing casualties resulting from the misuse of weapons, which is part of the state of security chaos prevailing in the [PA]." It called upon the concerned authorities to investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice. PCHR also called upon "Palestinian resistance groups" to be "far away from civilian populated area when conducting military actions."

[link to www.israelnationalnews.com]
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12/31/2008 04:25 PM
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Re: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony
[link to www.ynetnews.com]





Laborer killed by rocket in Ashkelon

Air raid siren sounds in seaside city, followed by loud explosions; missile hits construction site, killing Arab worker and injuring 16, five of them moderately. Elderly couple suffers shock as rocket strikes building in Sderot

Shmulik Hadad
Published: 12.29.08, 09:42 / Israel News

An Israeli Arab laborer was killed Monday morning from a Grad rocket which hit a construction site inside Ashkelon. An air raid siren was sounded in the seaside city just before 9:30 am, followed by an explosion which rocked many areas across Ashkelon.



The fatality was named as Hani al-Mahdi, a 27-year-old construction worker from the Negev village of Ar'ur.


Saturday's Fatal Attack
Man killed in rocket strike / Ilana Curiel
58-year-old Beber Vaaknin killed when Gaza rocket hits apartment building in Netivot. Residents in south ordered to remain in bomb shelters as IDF op continues
Full story

Sixteen people were injured in the attack, five of them sustaining moderate wounds and the rest lightly hurt. They were evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.



Nir Marciano, who lives across from the fatal landing site, told Ynet, "I was at home, I heard the siren and whistle and ran to the balcony. I heard a small blast followed by a bigger one, which rocked the house and the windows. It was simply terrifying. The blast was so strong it blew me inside."


Scene of attack (Photo: AFP)



Rockets landed in three different locations across the city. One of the Grads landed near a small commercial center in northern Ashkelon, and was blocked by a tree. There were no injuries, but slight damage was caused.



At the same time, a bus arrived in the area carrying many passengers. The driver heard the siren and opened the door, and the passengers escaped into a nearby café.



David Saadon, who was sitting in the café at the time of the attack, told Ynet, "We heard the siren, and then I saw the bus and the people running out of it terrified. We heard a very loud explosion, which rocked the entire area. It was a miracle, because there are a lot of apartment buildings here. It's a very crowded area."



The rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip continued Monday morning. In Sderot, a yard was directed hit by a rocket, which damaged a building and vehicles. An elderly couple who was in the house suffered shock.


Ongoing fire

A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed within the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. A mortar shell fired from the Strip exploded in an open area near the border fence in the Nahal Oz area. There were no reports of injuries or damage.



Defense establishment officials reiterated that Hamas is capable of firing 100 to 200 rockets a day, calling on residents to obey to the Home Front Command instructions.



Israeli fighter jets continued their sorties over Gaza on Sunday night as "Operation Cast Lead" entered its third day. According to Palestinian reports, seven people were killed in the raids, including a baby and three siblings, one of them an infant.



Israeli warplanes bombed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza on Monday, the first air strike that targeted a government building in Israel's offensive, the Palestinian faction said. No immediate word was available on whether there were any casualties.



Palestinian sources further reported that the Israel Air Force bombed the house adjacent to the home of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a refugee camp near Gaza City.

News