The word implies violence. The unmitigated violence the world has witnessed at the hands of Hamas last week is incomprehensible to my imagination. The attack by Hamas, obviously planned and coordinated over a period of time, had a single purpose: to kill as many Israelis in as short a time as possible. Consider: the dance party in the southern Israeli desert mere miles from the border with Gaza. More than two hundred young men and women indiscriminately shot and killed by marauding terrorist gunmen. Consider: the bodies of bullet riddled infants. Decapitated Israeli soldiers. Thirteen hundred dead Israelis in the space of two days. The violence has only just begun. The retribution is in progress.
The video footage on the most reliable news feeds displays to my horrified eyes an unremitting bombardment of the Gaza highrises, hundreds in number, reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs. The number of bombs dropped on Gaza since last weekend exceeds the number dropped over Afghanistan in a year. Within these buildings live, among Hamas officials, Palestinian families under Hamas authority. The number of Palestinian dead in Gaza is equal to the number of Israelis killed in Israel. The large majority of the dead are civilians.
Gaza is a tiny strip of land, approximately thirty miles long by five miles wide. It borders southern Israel to the east, Egypt to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the west over which, following the Hamas attack, the Israeli navy has imposed a total blockade. No food, water, electricity or fuel supplies may enter. This tiny space is home to two million, two hundred thousand Palestinians. Fifty per cent of them are fewer than eighteen years old. Immediately after the Hamas attack Israeli reservists were called up to seal the border. No one is permitted to enter or leave Gaza. The single crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been closed due to Israeli bombing. Gaza today is essentially a prison. Gazans live under the immediate threat of death.
Who can avoid the frightening similarities between the condition of Gazans today and those of the Jews in the extermination camps of World War II?
It goes without saying that Israel has a responsibility to defend itself. The Israeli government has vowed the elimination of Hamas, meaning death to all Hamas operatives. As of Saturday morning Israeli tanks have assembled at the Gazan border to the north in preparation of a ground assault. Israeli military and government officials have left little doubt that civilian casualties will be extreme.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports the number of dead Palestinian children at five hundred. I have seen no estimate of the number of Israeli children killed. Mothers, Palestinian and Israeli, whose children have been killed or maimed in this war suffer equal depths of grief.