Israel-Gaza Conflict: News & Thoughts

[Content Note: Violence, war, eliminationism.]

As this is a highly volatile topic, and a complex subject without easy answers, please take extra care in commenting and remember to engage in good faith. If the thread cannot remain civil, or if I feel at all like the thread is about to slide off the rails, I'm simply going to close it. I absolutely will not host a flamewar that makes this space unsafe for Jewish and/or Palestinian readers.

Below, some recommended reading (please note some of the stories below include images of war and injuries; as many of them are being updated, specific content notes aren't feasible, so proceed with caution):

The Guardian had excellent live coverage again yesterday, if you need to get caught up. You can follow live coverage of today's events, including the truce talks ongoing in Cairo, here.

The HillSen. McCain Calls for Bill Clinton to Lead Israel-Palestinian Talks. Not a terrible idea.

AP—US, Britain Warn of Risks of Israeli Ground War:
The U.S. and Britain on Sunday warned about the risks of Israel expanding its air assault on the Gaza Strip into a ground war, while vigorously defending the Jewish state's right to protect itself against rocket attacks.

The remarks by President Barack Obama and Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague were part of a diplomatic balancing act by the West as it desperately seeks an end to the escalating violence without alienating its closest ally in the region.

"Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory," President Barack Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok at the start of a three-nation visit to Asia.

"If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable," Obama said. "It's not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It's also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they're much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded."
Reuters—Gaza Journalists Wounded by Israeli Attack on Buildings: "Israeli aircraft hit two Gaza media buildings on Sunday, wounding eight journalists and drawing concern from press covering the fighting between Palestinian militants and the Jewish state. The Israeli military said the attacks were pinpoint strikes on Hamas communication devices located on the buildings' roofs, and accused the Islamist group of using reporters as human shields to try and protect their operations. Britain's Sky News, German ARD, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, Beirut-based al Quds television and other broadcasters operate from the two buildings, which are a block apart. One employee from al Quds TV lost his leg in the early morning strike. ...Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich denied that journalists were the target of the strike."

A lot of the framing around Israel's side of the conflict right now is reminiscent of the framing used by the Obama administration to justify its drone war. Targeted strikes. Limited civilian casualties. Precision hits. Et cetera. And, like the US' drone war, there are some problems with those claims. Namely, that they necessarily reject the basic human rights concept that even one civilian death is too many.

It is also troubling to me that the principle of having a right to defend oneself is limited exclusively to Israel. (Steve Hynd has more on that here.) Particularly in light of the eliminationist language like this: Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said over the weekend: "The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years."

Or this: Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in an op-ed for The Jerusalem Post, "We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods 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."

That is certainly not to suggest that there is not eliminationist language directed at Israel. Because there is. A shit-ton of it. Which is (ostensibly) a major reason that Israel's western allies have been reluctant to concede the right to defend itself of any organization, territory, or country that considered eliminationism an option on its list of possible defenses.

Ultimately, the most incendiary escalation in this conflict may be a rhetorical one.

Which is of grave concern when the best hope for lasting peace and mutual prosperity has always been diplomacy.

Rep. Keith Ellison:
I have been to Sderot, Israel and the Gaza Strip, and conditions for ordinary people are horrific on both sides of the Gaza-Israel border. Israelis endure relentless rocket attacks fired at innocent Israeli citizens in violation of international law. At the same time, Gazans, 57% of whom are under 18, live in extreme isolation, limited access, and deprivation of nearly everything including food, building materials, and water. Combatants on both sides of the conflicts must begin to address the root causes of this conflict through a real peace process. Military escalation will not resolve this—just as the 2008-2009 conflict in Gaza did not end hostilities. I join Noam Shalit, the father of former Hamas prisoner and Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, in calling for talks between the parties to resolve this crisis. Talks in the past helped to secure the release of Gilad Shalit and thousands of Palestinian detainees. Dialogue and negotiation can help save lives now.
Let us hope.

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