Human Rights Watch recently published a report on the November 2012 drone attacks on Palestinian civilians living in Gaza City. Again the Israeli Army launched a series of destructive drone attacks in which 43 civilians were killed— 12 of those were children. Contrary to the Israeli comments that known fighters were targeted, all of these murdered were civilians who lived and worked in the area.
The drone attacks and sophisticated equipment of the Israelis and Americans are proving to be deadly weapons for the civilians of Gaza City and yet the attacks have increased, and not abated.
Why, we must ask ourselves, would the Israelis target a hospital, a clear violation of international laws and treaties? Human Rights Watch does a great job chronicling these atrocities and has done so again in this report. I was sick to my stomach by the fifth paragraph, and I still had two more pages to go.
In the targeted drone attacks, no one is safe. A grandfather and his 14 year old grand daughter were both killed. In another house, a drone attack killed not only a suspected member of a Hamas wing but they also "blinded their father's wife," killed the man's innocent 17 year old brother, and "wounded six of their siblings".
It is clear to HRW and others who monitor the Israeli drone strikes that these highly efficient killing machines are an important tool in their arsenal. It is also clear that the trained technicians controlling these weapons, sometimes half a world away, are men and women who were out on a hunting expedition. Why would any military commander allow for the targeted killing of children, women, and a man of 79? It is becoming clear because of these detailed witness interviews in the HRW report that Israelis have little concern for taking innocent lives.
Imagine the horror one woman will live with when she gives her account that she gives the HRW investigator. She tells of how she and a friend were watching two young boys playing in the street. The boys had apparently spread out a fishing net and had baited it with a female bird, hoping to catch more birds. Quite suddenly, a bomb landed near them and the boys simply disappear before their eyes.
It is not easy to read about these witness accounts: the mutilation of men, women, and children, but it is important to understand the Israelis are using drones to target innocent children and civilians.
Human Rights Watch report carefully chronicled the individual stories of these witnesses, including men, women, and children who were there in November of 2012 when "Operation Pillar of Defense" was launched by the Israeli Army. The staff writers included information they obtained from patient hospital records.
As usual, the Israeli's have no ethical defense. They can only say that they were targeting "members of Palestinian armed groups," but what we need to ask them is why they killed so many innocent people, given the drone cameras and equipment are very sophisticated and can show in great detail exactly who is being targeted? Clearly the equipment allows them to stop the attack, even at the last moment, and they never did.
The witnesses will bear the psychological effects of what they witnessed. Many of them lost loved ones, and many of them were also wounded. One woman tells of how her son has never wakened from a coma. I cannot imagine what gives Americans—who have used drones to target suspected villains in foreign countries—the right to do this, but the Israeli Army seems to have caught on, and it appears that those behind the killing machines enjoy their work.
As an American, I believe that we need to encourage the Israeli Army to stop these exacting attacks on civilians. The majority of us are unaware of what is happening and what has been happening in Israel, and so we turn away from yet more tragedy.
The Israelis love naming their killing campaigns and this one reminds me of another attack, operation "Mitza Matate," roughly translated as "Operation Broom Sweep". In this 1948 attack the Israelis rid themselves of the Arab "problem," they were able to send the Arabs scrambling out of the country.
"Operation Broom Sweep" cleared the country of the Arab "problem" and made plenty of space, including property, businesses, and funds, available to the Zionists, but it did so at a great cost to the Palestinians, including the more than 700,000 who were literally chased out of their country.
The people of Gaza City are the descendants of those who were forced to flee their homes in 1948. They found refuge wherever they could, and for the most part, many were forced to live in the squalor of refugee camps, like the Sabra Shatila massacre, where Israelis and Israeli trained mercenaries to massacre and attack unarmed civilians, slaughtering more than 3,000 innocent men, women, and children. Fifty years later, the citizens of Gaza City are still prisoners. In another report the author describes the benefits of the 1948 attack, beginning with this opening line: "Operation Broom Sweep," in which the Arabs were swept from Northern Galilee."
My blog account of the Shatila invasion is a more detailed account of another senseless, brutal massacre. In this operation, the Israeli Army aligned itself with Christian Phalangists from Lebanon, who made their way into the refugee camp and murdered men, women, and children. Ariel Sharon was forced to resign because of this incident, in which it was deemed the Israelis had played a major role. The mercenaries were said to have been trained by Israeli forces, and the Jewish-Christian alliance should not go unnoticed.
In 1948, the Zionists, under Ben-Gurion, led this operation. Ben-Gurion and the Israeli army chased nearly 700,000 people out of Israel. In "Mitza Matate", the Zionist Solution to the Arab "problem"" we can examine Ben-Gurion's leadership more closely.
And though this happened more than sixty years ago, if we look closely, we find the presence of similar racist attitudes and policies in Israel. Time and again, we are witnessing the lethal murder and systematic extermination of innocent Palestinian civilians, and this time, the Israeli Army is trying to distance itself from the killings by using the highly sophisticated military equipment and weapons to kill those civilians.
The French writer Jean Genet fell in love with the Palestinian people. He lived in the Sabra Shatila refugee camp for almost a year. While living in the camp and traveling in Beirut, he wrote Prisoner of Love. But I do know Genet, the writer, the prisoner, the gay man. That is the man, always a romantic, who was clearly in love with more than just the Arab culture; he had a more personal interest, you might say, a sexual interest, in several Arab men he met. Born in 1910, Genet was a man living in what was the end of the age of the Explorer, and Genet wasn't going to being sailing off into the world to make any great discoveries, but he had a enduring passion for the world, and especially Northern Africa. So great was that love that he was actually interred in Morocco.
Genet sided, one could say, sided with the Palestinians and he was criticized for that. His sympathy is easy to understand, for his views are romantic in nature, given his life and his writing style. His true sympathy was for the people living in those camps, in those deplorable conditions; he saw and knew a people who were being ritually killed by Israeli forces. Genet saw the result of Sabra Shatila massacre and wrote an essay about it, Four Hours in Shatila.
It was not difficult for Genet to love the Palestinians. Genet once said "I am drawn to peoples in revolt ... because I myself have the need to call the whole of society into question."
The Palestinians, like himself, knew what is was to struggle to live. Genet had done that, not exactly like the Palestinian refugees and the handsome Fedayeen militants had, but he too had struggled to survive. He wrote a book about the time he spent in the camp, titled Prisoner of Love. But it was his defense of the people that made him a hero in that community. It is certain that if "Genet was a "Prisoner of Love" he was also a Soldier of Love.
While many view Ben-Gurion as a hero and the founder of the state of Israel, we must acknowledge that he was also a man with a large arsenal of weapons; a man who was willing to kill and terrorize a million Arabs to secure the Zionist plan. In the Zionist vision, there was no room for Arabs. Yes, Ben-Gurion was the founder of the state of Israel, but we must also admit that he was also a tyrant who caused great suffering for many Palestinians.