Just 6 items below (in addition to those I have already forwarded today). The 4th item, Today in Palestine for August 3, 2014, is the only site that keeps you up to date on what is happening in the West Bank in addition to Gaza. Well, today is different. There was what is described in the media as ‘a terrorist’ attempt in Jerusalem to kill Israelis. That will be in the news. But most of the rest, the daily happenings in Jerusalem and the WB are barely mentioned if at all in the media. Thus, Today in Palestine is a crucial source of information.
In item 1 Gideon Levy sarcastically states that it took Washington 25 days to call the Gaza war “barbaric.” The question mark does not indicate a question but rather amazement that it took so long. His conversation by telephone with a Palestinian in Gaza explains why the amazement.
Item 2, When dead children have no names: Israel’s terrifying descent into numbness,” is about the apathy that Israel is falling into regarding the loss of human lives.
Item 3 reveals that even in war-torn Gaza there is hope.
Item 4 is Today in Palestine
And item 5 is the PCHR statistics and update for August 4, 2014.
Item 6 is a France24 newscast which begins with Gaza
That’s it for today—another dreadful one in Gaza. What will be the end?
At least France’s president came out today against Israel’s attack on the school.
That’s it for today. I so hope this ends tonight or at the latest tomorrow morning. Too many dead already! Way too many. And it was totally unnecessary. Totally.
1 Haaretz Sunday, August 3, 2014
What, it took Washington 25 days to call the Gaza war barbaric?
The Palestinians’ famed barbarity has finally reached Washington in another Israeli public-relations feat.
By Gideon Levy
On Saturday morning the Palestinian Health Ministry phoned A. from Rafah and asked him to open his vegetable refrigeration room. The idea was to make room for dozens of bodies piling up in the city’s small hospital. A.’s refrigerator quickly filled up with bodies, including of many children.
In Rafah Saturday they counted 120 dead and about 500 wounded in one night of Israeli operations looking for 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. At midnight between Friday and Saturday I got a call from Y., A.’s brother, who told me, in fluent Hebrew, in a choked voice that turned into weeping: “What happened in Rafah today is a massacre in every sense of the word.”
With his family, Y. had fled on foot from his home toward the sea as shells fell on his neighborhood. “All the F-16s and unmanned aircraft that Israel has are now in the sky over Rafah,” said the man who had spent 33 years working in Israel.
“We’re past Rafah, as you wanted, Tal,” sang Arik Lavie in a boastful song about another war. Lavie was talking about Maj. Gen. Israel Tal, who commanded the division that captured Gaza in 1967. But this time, horrifically, we’re still not past Rafah, the most ruined city in the Strip, where as of Saturday bodies were still piling up.
While Y. was crying massacre in Rafah, the White House spokesman released a statement calling the capture of the Israeli officer and the killing of his two comrades “a barbaric violation” of the cease-fire agreement. The restrained American spokesman used the word “barbaric” for the first time in this war.
Nothing else was considered barbaric. Not the Israeli shell that landed two days earlier on Shujaiyeh’s crowded market killing 17 people and wounding 150 at the height of another cease-fire, not the shell that fell on an UNRWA school where 3,000 refugees were hiding, not the bombing of the Gaza power station, the bombing of the university, the bomb dropped by those excellent Israel Air Force pilots on a four-story dwelling in Khan Yunis without warning, killing 35, including 18 children and eight women – apparently the most deadly bombing in Gaza ever.
Only the abduction and the killing of two soldiers. This is an American spokesman also afflicted with racism; “barbarity” is preserved only for one side. Yes, Hamas is known for its barbarity, as are all the Palestinians, and word of that barbarity has finally reached Washington in another Israeli public-relations feat.
But the truth is that this war has been barbaric since it started. The dead are already more numerous than in the previous barbaric attack, Operation Cast Lead, including the shocking number of civilians killed.
Relative to the size of Gaza’s population, the numbers are approaching the dimensions of the war in Syria, the one Israel bandies about to prove the Arabs’ animal nature. Last week, a record-breaking week, 1,700 people were killed in Syria. In Gaza, whose population is less than one-tenth that of Syria’s, about that same number have been killed in three and a half weeks of Israeli intoxication of the senses – not a major difference.
What began as Operation Cast Lead and continued as Operation Pillar of Defense might turn into Operation Peace for the Galilee. Some people are talking about staying for a year in Gaza. More than 60 Israeli soldiers and officers have been killed, as well as more than 1,600 Palestinians, in a war that will achieve nothing but bloodshed.
The world cannot conceive of how unfeeling Israel is, and neither can Y. from Rafah. On Friday night he said to me on the phone: “I’m ashamed of my Israeli culture. I grew up with you from age 16; it hurts me when I hear a siren in Ashkelon, the city where I worked for years, and you don’t care at all about us, not at all.” He wept again, and I was silent.
2 Haaretz Monday, August 4, 2014
When dead children have no names: Israel’s terrifying descent into numbness
Protective Edge may or may not stop the rocket attacks on Israel. But somewhere along the line, Israelis seem to be approaching a dangerous apathy.
By Asher Schechter
Nearly a month into Operation Protective Edge, Israeli ground troops have begun withdrawing from Gaza. While it remains to be seen if the operation makes Israelis any safer, we can already discern one legacy. It seems to have brought Israel one step closer to an emotional numbness that blocks out any suffering but our own, as attested by a new, violent voice in the public discourse.
“Mohammed Malaka, two years old. Seraj Abdel-Al, eight years old. Sara al-Eid, nine years old. Saher Abu Namous, four years old. Ahmed Mahdi, 15 years old”. For 90 excruciating seconds, the woman’s voice – mimicking the detached tone of Israeli radio newscasters – read names of children killed in Gaza during the last three weeks. “This is only a partial list,” she stressed over and over again.
That was an ad submitted on July 23 by human rights organization B’Tselem to the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, which barred it from airing on the grounds that it was “politically controversial.”
The ad does not ascribe blame. All it does is list the names of children killed during the latest Israel-Hamas skirmish. Its title, “The children of Gaza have a name,” is derived from a line by Israeli poet Zelda, originally written about the Holocaust: “Every person has a name given to him by God and his parents.”
The censorship of the B’Tselem ad seems to signify a deeper, worrying trend. Last week, referring to the UN decision to investigate civilian casualties during Protective Edge, the prime minister’s office called it a farce and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wrote in a Facebook post that she had only two words to say about the decision: “Hapsu oti” – sort of a scornful “lots of luck to you.”
And that was relatively moderate.
“We’re under attack everywhere for our brutality, our cruelty, our disproportion and you say to yourself: Screw this… let them bar each and every one of us from flying abroad, let them do whatever they want, because all this together isn’t worth a single Israeli soldier’s life,” wrote Ben Caspit, a senior columnist and TV personality, in Ma’ariv.
Some uncensored reactions to reports of civilian deaths were much, much worse. In today’s Internet culture, opinions one used to keep to oneself now get posted publicly on Facebook or as comments to media reports. “Only four dead children? What a bummer.” “Today a child, tomorrow a terrorist. Better they die now.” “That’s the price of war – next time don’t start one with us.” “So what.” Others accuse Hamas of lying. One post shrugs, “When you chop wood, chips fly.”
The way we were
Of course, those are extremists, not representative of the great majority of Israelis. Many mourn the tragic senselessness of children dying on either side. But the thing is: Israel’s scum used to be less scummy.
The fact that people are openly posting things like that tells how far the social pendulum has shifted in recent years.
In the past three weeks, it seems emotional numbness has overtaken Israel.
“Dead children? Tragic, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less. If they didn’t want their children to die they should have thought twice before starting this war,” said a middle-aged man in Tel Aviv this week. He used to vote for left-leaning Labor. “Why should we care about their children, when they target ours? … But no, we have to be more moral than anyone else. Screw that.”
Once, the accidental death of children, and civilians in general, would shock. The army would apologize, or answer tough questions. The media would cover the story at length. Even during the panicked, ultra-militaristic atmosphere of the Second Intifada, dead children were not shrugged off.
Now, as of writing, more than 1,700 Palestinian civilians have died during Protective Edge, accounting for 80% of Protective Edge’s departed. At least 300 were children.
This is a shocking, gruesome, frightening number. Yet it elicited few media reports. The military has not been taken to task.
Every person has a name, yes, but it turns out not all names are worthy of being read on TV.
To even express doubt as to the righteousness of our military has become so taboo in Israel nowadays that it has led to actual violence by right-wing groups determined to silence every “demoralizer.” The mere mention of innocents dying is labeled “leftist” and “hate speech,” including by elected officials such as Knesset member Miri Regev.
It’s not that most Israelis don’t care about the killing of children. It’s that if they are, they’re not vocalizing it.
It’s not that killing children is not wrong anymore. It’s that killing children used to be wronger.
It seems that the more children die, the less outrage sparks. Two weeks ago, when four Palestinian children were killed by an IDF airstrike while playing football on the beach, the case was widely reported and commented on. But as the list of dead children grew, most remained nameless casualties. Mere statistics, disputed statistics.
Once upon a time, they used to have names, and faces. That’s a fact.
Inured through despair
There are many possible reasons for this seeming apathy, this willful, blissful ignorance. Facing daily rocket attacks and fearing for their own children’s lives, it can be hard to feel sympathy toward people, even children, on the other side. Plus, after years of no progress towards peace, the mix of despair and anger could have led us to a collective imperviousness. The unilateral disengagement from Gaza was a bust, with the Strip turning into a “Hamastan,” exactly as opponents of Israel’s withdrawal warned. And while Israel’s south is bombarded with rockets on an almost-daily basis, criticism from the international community seemed to point fingers only at one side. Then there’s the sharp right-wing turn Israeli politics has taken in the last decade, which seems to have birthed a difficulty in distinguishing between innocents and non-innocents in Gaza.
Whatever the cause, the result is that the accidental killing of innocents during military operations, long considered a tragic cost of waging war on terror, has become “cheaper.”
Though it’s only plateaued now, this emotional numbness was years in the making. With each round of fighting – with each spouse, son, sibling, parent of friend, child lost – it seems more and more Israelis become deadened themselves. The danger is that over time, more and more people will go from caring less to not caring at all. And total apathy can descend into hate.
Meanwhile, in the most extreme margins of Israeli society, it has become okay to post hateful posts on Internet calling for “revenge”, celebrating the deaths of civilians, even children:
“Why are you reporting this? For a minute there I thought I entered the website of Hamas.” “Very good, destroy Gaza!” “Four less murderous psychopaths, good riddance.” “Let Hamas learn their names.” “Who cares?”
This is only a partial list. This is only a partial list.
3 3 The Guardian Sunday, August 3, 2014
Women in Gaza
Everyday life in Gaza is becoming impossible. Photograph: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis
Gaza is not as I expected. Amid the terror, there is hope
The world is not so blessed that it can afford to waste the lives of the 1.8 million Palestinians who live there.
I have been reporting from Gaza all week, and, amid the stream of dead and injured civilians wheeled on trolleys before me, frantic people gesturing in my face, and nights spent in an unlit city under bombardment, I’ve come to a conclusion I did not expect: Gaza “works”.
What I mean is that, given resources, connections with the outside world, and time, this narrow political entity could function normally. With its smooth sand, blue sea and skies, it could even become a tourist destination. It already has a massive pool of trained and educated human capital – though, sadly, its most expert people are trauma surgeons. As it is, hotels stand deserted along the beachfront in Gaza City. Their embarrassed waiters struggle to boil coffee on single flames. The fishermen in the port sneak out maybe 20 yards in canoes, while hostilities are on, 100 yards in motor boats during the sporadic ceasefires.
Everyday life, even for those with money and friends in the west, is becoming impossible. Water queues form, petrol stations are empty. Equally unnerving, for the young, urbanised kids, the internet is sporadic. I met two women – educated professionals: the top floor of their apartment block had been demolished by an Israeli rocket. Now they, too, were in the world of queues, poor hygiene, homelessness. A decent handbag does not exempt you. The currency is the shekel, but the biggest concern is gold. Palestinians keep their wealth in gold and jewellery. Around 250,000 people have been displaced and moving into a packed and filthy school, to sleep alongside the donkeys of the poor, does not strike people with gold as any better than staying and waiting for the shells to hit.
Gaza works because of Gaza’s people. Since Hamas took control in 2007, the place has been run by a group designated as terrorist, and under Islamic rule. Unable to rebuild after the Israeli invasion of 2008-9, they instead built tunnels – nobody knows how long – in which the military wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, live, store their rockets and fight. The tunnels are also used to bring in the essential supplies that have been banned during the seven-year siege of Gaza.
Strangely, then, for much of the day, you see the place as it might be if Hamas did not exist. Non-Hamas police keep order; women without hijabs move around as freely as the women in full veil; doctors returned from Germany and Canada saw the shattered bones of youths who have lived and may die in this small strip of land. And two-thirds of the population skip and play and wrestle – for they are children.
When this war is over, nothing good will happen in Gaza until the seige and blockade are lifted. Indeed, with 40% of the urban area unlivable because of the destruction, there will be a massive humanitarian crisis for months. Solving that crisis is not just a matter for NGOs. The way it is solved will dictate whether Gaza can survive. UNRWA, the UN agency for refugees that has opened its clean, blue-and-white schools to a dirty, chaotic surge of displaced humanity, says Gaza is “on a precipice”. The hospital I’ve just been in has 95 blast and bullet wounds to treat, with six intensive care beds.
Logic dictates that either aid flows inwards, on an unprecedented scale, or people will flow outwards – not tomorrow, but as the weeks roll by without sanitation or power. Palestinians fear that a humanitarian crisis will be used to move them permanently off the land captured by the Israelis, and ultimately into camps in Egypt.
I have been to Muslim countries where there is deep conservatism, low education and suspicion of the west. This is not one of them. I constantly meet highly educated people who speak English; cheerful and friendly people – which is amazing in itself, given the level of terror the night brings. The world is not so blessed with educated, resourceful people that it can afford to waste the lives of 1.8 million Palestinians behind the iron grilles and the concrete walls that delimit Gaza. I have lost track of how many times I’ve met a young guy, 18 or 19 years old, proud not to be a fighter, a militant, or a duck-and-dive artist on the street. When you ask what his job is, the common answer is “carpenter”. Working with wood – not metal or computer code – is the limit of what the blockade has enabled the skilled manual worker here to achieve.
Faced with such hopelessness, naturally, many become resigned: “Living is the same as being dead” is a phrase you hear among young men. It is the perfect rationale for the nihilist military organisation some choose to join. But its opposite is the resourcefulness that rewires a house after its front has been blown off; that sits on the carpet making bread on a hot pan after a home has been reduced to dust.
There are only two economic routes for life to flow back into Gaza and, given the bitterness of this conflict, the route from Israel will not be the main one. Egypt holds the key to Gaza’s economic integration to the rest of the global economy. Open the Rafah crossing, and the need for the tunnels disappears. To the world this forlorn, impoverished and totally battered society has become a byword for impossibility and despair. But nobody has told Gazans. I found them full of hope.
• Paul Mason is economics editor of Channel 4 News. Follow him @paulmasonnews
4 Today in Palestine for August 3, 2014
5 PCHR Statistics and update for August 4, 2014
6 France24 video http://www.france24.com/en/