Sunday, January 04, 2009

I support peace.

Israeli troops and tanks slice deep into Gaza, by Ibrahim Barzak and Jason Keyser, AP via Yahoo! News.

Thousands of Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships surrounded Gaza's largest city and fought militants at close range on Sunday, in the first full day of an overwhelming ground offensive in the coastal territory.

Israel said it has inflicted a heavy blow against Hamas as it expands a weeklong offensive meant to stop rocket fire on southern Israel. But spiraling civilian casualties among Palestinians fueled an international outcry, even as the U.S. blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement Saturday night calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Israel's ground forces moved in after nightfall Saturday following hours of intense, fiery artillery shelling to clear the way, and Hamas warned that its fighters would turn Gaza into an Israeli "graveyard."

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers continued to fight primarily in open areas in the launching zones used by Gaza's militants to send rockets raining down on Israeli cities. As the troops in three brigade-size formations moved in, residents of those Israeli cities began emerging from bomb shelters in hopes that the rocket fire would taper off.

Backing up the troops, mobile artillery units fired shells that exploded in veils of white smoke over Gaza's urban skyline. Tanks pushed south of Gaza City as deep as the abandoned settlement of Netzarim, which Israel left along with other Israeli communities when it pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

That effectively cut off Gaza City, the territory's largest population center with some 400,000 residents, from the rest of Gaza to the south.

The article continues:

Gaza officials said at least 31 civilians were killed in the onslaught, which also continued from the air.

At one hospital, in the northern village of Beit Lahiya, medics carrying three injured children in their arms rushed them to treatment. One of the children had a blood-soaked bandage wrapped around his head and covering his eyes.

An Israeli airstrike close to Gaza City's main market showered the area with shrapnel, killing three children, all of them siblings, medics said. Militants were using empty land next to the Firas market to fire rockets.

Israeli forces killed dozens of armed Hamas gunmen, an army statement said, but Gaza officials could confirm only a handful of dead fighters — in part because rescue teams could not reach the battle zones.

The new deaths brought the death toll in the Gaza Strip to more than 512 since Dec. 27. The tally is based on figures from the U.N. and Palestinian health officials as well as a count by The Associated Press.

One Israeli soldier died — the first to be killed in the ground operation — and 30 others were wounded, some of them in heavy exchanges of fire near the militant stronghold of Jebaliya, a town on Gaza City's northern outskirts, the army said. Heavy Israeli casualties could undermine what has so far been overwhelming public support for the operation.

Condemnation of Israel's ground operation poured in from around the Middle East and Europe.

"It is absolutely necessary that the violence has to stop," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

And then:

Support for Israel remained firm from U.S. officials, who squarely blame Hamas.

Vice President Dick Cheney said Israel "didn't seek clearance or approval from us, certainly" before thousands of soldiers pushed into Gaza after nightfall on Saturday.

Sens. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin — the top two Democrats in the chamber — and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell all described Israel's actions as understandable. "I think what the Israelis are doing is very important," Reid said. "I think this terrorist organization, Hamas, has got to be put away. They've got to come to their senses."

I don't understand how any of this is "understandable". I don't understand why U.S. officials are taking sides. I don't understand how to "put away" a "terrorist organization" by killing civilians, including children. If someone is reading this who knows more about this almost century-long situation, please explain it to me.



FeministGal said...

I support peace too, but i don't support one-sided blogging, reporting, and journalism... there is always more than one side to every story.

Brian said...

I think everybody wants peace. The Israelis see Hamas as the group that sends suicide bombers and missiles into Israel to kill civillians. By killing members of Hamas, even with some collateral damage, they believe the attacks against Israel will stop. Meanwhile, the Palestinians feel imprisoned by Israel and feel that they need to attack Israel to ensure their own safety.

Everyone wants peace as an ultimate goal. The only problem is determining the best means to that end.

Bianca Reagan said...

FeministGal, there are many sides to every story, and I would like to hear them.

Brian, those are good points.