Gaza death toll at 350 as air-strikes enter fourth day

Israeli air-strikes on the Gaza Strip entered a fourth day Dec. 30, with raids on a number of Hamas government buildings and security installations, as well as the Islamic University. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset that Israel is engaged in an “all-out war with Hamas.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate ceasefire and condemned both Israel and Hamas. While recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks, he condemned its “excessive use of force.” The death toll has surpassed 350, some 60 of them civilians, by a UN count. (BBC News, IHT, Dec. 30)

President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah leadership called an all-factions meeting to address the crisis, but Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the An-Nasser Brigades (armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees) refused to participate. Islamic Jihad said in a statement that “what is required now is resistance.” (Ma’an News Agency, Dec. 29)

See our last post on Gaza.

World War 4 Report. Use it or lose it:

  1. Gaza air-strikes against international law
    From the New York Times, Dec. 30:

    To the Editor:

    I believe the Israeli airstrikes are clear violations of international humanitarian law. While the Palestinian rocket fire against civilian targets in Israel may be illegal, that does not give Israel the right to violate the Geneva Conventions. The airstrikes represent:

    *Collective punishment (the civilian population is being punished for actions of a few militants).

    *Unlawful attack on civilians in a protected population (the strikes are targeting civilian areas, Gaza being one of the most densely populated areas in the Middle East).

    *Disproportionate military action (Israel has destroyed the entire security infrastructure of 1.5 million people).

    In addition, earlier Israeli actions, like the closing of Gaza’s borders, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel, so ambulances can’t respond to the injured, hospitals can’t adequately receive or treat the wounded, and doctors are unable to provide sufficient medical care.

    Israel is using F-16 fighter jets and weapons provided by the United States. We must stop military aid to Israel.

    Phyllis Bennis
    Washington, Dec. 29, 2008

    The writer, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, is the author of a book about understanding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    To the Editor:

    It is clear that Israeli airstrikes are a vastly disproportionate response to Hamas’s rockets launched into Israel.

    Although Israel may claim that it is aiming at military targets, the dreadful civilian death toll in Gaza says otherwise, and almost certainly defines Israel’s actions as a war crime.

    The bombs dropped by Israel are killing noncombatants by the hundreds in Gaza. The United States supplies arms, technology and other substantial military aid to Israel. Taxpayers should demand that a new United States administration cease doing so at once.

    Judith Mahoney Pasternak
    New York, Dec. 29, 2008