Gaza: Israel’s Shooting Gallery

by Gerry Foley / September 2006 issue of Socialist Action newspaper

Throughout the assault on Lebanon, there was no let up on Israeli attacks in Gaza. And in the Israeli military’s shooting gallery, there has been no ceasefire.

On Aug. 25, Israeli planes fired missiles at two buildings wounding nine Palestinians. The first strike was on the home of Salim Thabet, an activist of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the northern Gaza town of Jabalya. Relatives of the targeted fighter said that the Israeli army told him to evacuate his home about 15 minutes before the strike.

In the second house, about four people were wounded. The Israeli military claimed that the two homes were being used to store weapons. In addition, five people in a third house were moderately wounded from shrapnel.

The day before, Israeli forces killed Youssef Abu Daqqa, the brother of Younis Abu Daqqa, prominent leader of the Islamist Hamas, who was arrested in the operation and detained.

Through the last week of August, the Israeli army kept killing Palestinians. On Aug. 28, according to Haaretz of Aug. 29, it killed three men, only one of whom it claimed was a fighter. At the same time, it wounded three children.

On Aug. 29, Israel killed eight Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy. On Sept. 5 and 6, another seven were killed, some shot by the Israeli army, others hit by missiles.

In the two months since the start of the present Israeli campaign, which was supposedly launched in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by the resistance, 200 Palestinians have been killed. Despite massive collective punishment operations, the Israelis have not recovered their captive soldier.

The Zionist rulers have tried to justify attacks by claiming that they were trying to prevent resistance fighters from moving the captive Israeli soldier. But there is no way that this argument can be stretched far enough to explain their destruction of Gaza’s electric power generating station. The shattered facility provided 60 percent of the enclave’s electricity. The other 40 percent comes from the Israeli electricity company.

Haaretz described the effects in its Aug. 21 issue: “It’s hot, very hot, in the Gaza Strip. But over the last two months, ever since Israel bombed the new power station in the center of the Strip, the heat has become unbearable. The bombing has disrupted the supply of electricity to some 1.5 million residents; food in refrigerators goes bad, the patients in the hospitals groan, industry and work are paralyzed, traffic is gridlocked and there is a severe water shortage.”

The Israeli newspaper said outright that the electric plant was bombed to put pressure on the Palestinians. But the Zionist authorities deny that; if true, it would amount to a violation of the Geneva Convention’s ban on collective punishments.

The Israeli military campaign against Gaza comes on top of the cutoff of funds to the Palestinian Authority, which has removed the major source of incomes in the territories. The PA’s 160,000 employees have remained largely or essentially unpaid since March.

The Beirut daily L’Orient Le Jour pointed out Aug. 21 that the financial squeeze was coming to a head with the approach of the new scholastic year, with parents being unable to pay the school expenses for their children. A teacher, Hamam al-Faqawi, said, “This threatens to push parents into not sending their children to school.” It quoted a parent, Mohammad Abou Mour, as saying: “I am afraid for my children and those of others. I am afraid they will end up in the streets.”

The situation became more complicated at the beginning of September as teachers went out on strike in protest over not being paid.

Even before the recent Israeli military campaign and financial squeeze, Israeli officials estimated that most Palestinians in Gaza lived on about $2 a day, the equivalent of one falafel sandwich. The Zionist rulers have now made any normal life impossible for the people of this overcrowded desert enclave.

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