03 January, 2009

How do you say "quagmire" in Hebrew?

Before sending ground forces - CNN just claimed about 10,000 - into Gaza the Israelis supposedly dropped leaflets telling Gazans to leave immediately. With all borders closed, where exactly are the residents of one of the most densely populated places on Earth supposed to go?

Make no mistake, I agree with Human Rights Watch - any indiscriminate firing upon populated areas is wrong. It doesn't work in Gaza, Sderot, Afghanistan or anywhere else. Both sides must forge a durable ceasefire and stick to it. Nobody gets off clean in this one. Foreign Minister Livni's quote in the New York Times earlier this week that, "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce," is obscene. After being sealed off for months, it's well known what conditions there were before this operation began and one can only image what things are like on the ground at the moment. However, hearing a Hamas spokesman speaking on NPR earlier in the week claim that the rocket attacks on Israel were solely the work of Israeli collaborators, made me scream at my radio.

Now that they've gone in, what's the objective? The Israelis claim they don't want to retake Gaza. What marks the endpoint for this? What will mark for them the point when they have "crippled Hamas' infrastructure"? This will be all out urban guerrilla warfare in the heart of Gaza city and that will likely not favor the Israeli troops. What happens if the ground forces get bogged down in bloody street to street fighting? Intensified air assaults? Where does it all end?

The UN says at least 25% of the casualties - over 400 killed and 2,000 wounded so far - are civilians. Of course, verifying anything is next to impossible since the Israelis are STILL barring foreign journalists from entering Gaza and conditions for Palestinian journalists at work inside Gaza are difficult to say the very least. The world has a right to know.


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