Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Animals were Harmed in these Episodes

During the first intifada, Israel humorist and songwriter Dani Litani noted that the Palestinians must have a very large air force, because every time the Israel military spokesman reported that Israel soldiers were firing only into the air to break up demonstrations, five or six Palestinians fell down dead. Today it seems that many armed Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have the magical power of turning into unarmed civilians once they are struck by Israeli bullets, shells or missiles.

After a brief lull two weeks ago, militant groups in Gaza and the IDF have resumed ratcheting up the violence. Today's series of incidents took the lives of three Israel soldiers, and, at least eighteen Palestinians, the majority of them unarmed civilians. The series began in the early morning when two armed militants, by approaching the border fence near Kibbutz Bari, drew an Israeli army unit into an ambush which killed the three soldiers. The Israelis replied with machine gun and tank fire, killing some Palestinian gunmen. Tanks and helicopters later fired shells and missiles at a nearby refugee camp, killing fifteen civilians. The Israel spokesman reported this shooting was directed at the source of the earlier fire. The Palestinians reported that the targets were actually two apartment buildings and a mosque and the dead included children and elders.

The sad truth is both sides long ago stopped caring how many Palestinian civilians get killed. Israel looks upon them as having gotten in the way of its soldiers killing as many Palestinian militants as possible, under current rules of engagement. Hamas and other organizations consider the civilian dead as both a recruiting tool and a reason for public opinion to sympathize with its cause.

Israel's overkill today might have also been meant as a "fuck you" to ex-President Carter for his hobnobbing with Hamas leaders. This is the Middle East, after all.

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