Nov 20 2012
A week into the Israeli bombing campaign of Gaza, 121 Palestinians have been killed by airstrikes, and more than 800 injured. While a slew of rockets from Gaza are targeting Israeli areas, they are vastly outnumbered by Israeli drone strikes and bombing raids, and pale in comparison to the power of Israeli bombs, part of what is being called Operation Pillar of Defense.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shortened her trip to Asia to fly to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also arrived in Israel on Tuesday to help defuse the situation and said, “Immediate steps are needed by all to avoid a further escalation, including a ground operation which will only result in further tragedy.”
About a quarter of the Palestinian fatalities so far are children despite Israel’s assurances that its air strikes are extremely targeted and precise. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, home to 1.7 million people. Monday’s strikes were the deadliest yet, with an apartment building, a media center, and a sports stadium among the targets.
Hamas leaders are currently in Egypt, signaling a willingness to negotiate a ceasefire. However, Israeli political and media rhetoric has signaled a strong desire to continue the offensive. For example, writing in his column, Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza.
Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima — the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”
The timing of the bombing campaign has provoked questions of political efficacy, coming right after the US elections, and a few months before Benjamin Netanyahu faces re-election in Israel. The last major bombing campaign in late 2008-early 2009, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, had similar election-related timing, and resulted in the killing of 1,400 Palestinian civilians in 22 days.
GUEST: Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University – he’s also the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories
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