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Israel's Onslaught: One of Its Bloodiest Attacks on Palestinians in 60 Years

Reports indicate that 350 people have been killed and 1,400 injured in the aerial strikes across the Gaza Strip since Saturday morning.

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GIDEON LEVY: First of all, I feel horrible as an Israeli when I hear all those reports, when I watch all those horrible pictures. But unlike me, I am afraid that most of the Israelis are quite indifferent. They think that there was a legitimate reason. The attacks on the southern part of Israel was a legitimate reason. Israel has the right to do everything. Unlike them, I think that Israel crossed any line of humanity or morality or even legality. And I think what Israel is doing right now there is horrible and has no justification.

JG: Do you think that there may be some decision by the Israeli government to act now, just as the Bush administration is leaving office and Barack Obama will be sworn in on Jan. 20, that there's a feeling maybe that the U.S. government at this point will not react in any negative way to this kind of action?

GL: Look, you can find all kind of justifications about the timing. There are also elections coming, elections in Israel, soon. But I must remind you that Israel went through a very similar war two years ago, a little bit more than two years ago, two-and-a-half years ago, when there were no elections and President Bush was still in power and there was no elections in the United States and not here. So, I mean, the second Lebanese war. I wouldn't count -- I mean, the situation is much more complex than this. There are [inaudible] calculations, but I don't think that's the main thing. The main thing is that Israel is reacting, overreacting with overpower to a situation which has to have a solution, but not this kind of solution.

AG: And how do you think that this relates to the Feb. 10 elections? Explain who is running and how this plays into this, the bombing of Gaza.

GL: You mean in the domestic Israeli politics?

AG: Yes, with Tzipi Livni, with Ehud Barak, with Benjamin Netanyahu.

GL: There was a poll published yesterday in Israel which showed that, within two days, Labor had gained 50 percent more in the poll, namely because Ehud Barak, he's the man who is mostly identified with this operation. He's the minister of defense, as you know. So he might gain -- his party might gain out of it, but I wouldn't go so far and think that he did it only for the elections. It was in the back of his mind. If he gains so Netanyahu loses, and maybe Kadima remains in the same place or gains also a little bit, but it's too early to judge, because we don't know how will it end. You know, all those operations [inaudible] in a very successful way, but then you don't know how will they end.

AG: We're also joined in Ramallah by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, independent Palestinian lawmaker, democracy activist. Your response from the West Bank right now, which isn't under siege, to say the least, in the same way as Gaza, Dr. Barghouti?

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: We are not under siege, but we are under Israeli attack, as well. The Israeli army attacked civilian nonviolent demonstrators yesterday in Nil'in and killed one person and injured three very seriously. Another young boy was killed in another village in [inaudible]. Three people have been killed already in the West Bank, and the number is rising.

But let me say that what Israel is doing in Gaza is not an act of self-defense, as it is claiming. It's not an attack on Hamas. It is an attack on the whole Palestinian population. What we see is a war crime, a bloodbath, unprecedented since 1967. What we have had so far is 318 people killed, including 30 children, and at least 1,400 people injured, including 150 children and 40 women. I was shocked deeply today over the fact that yesterday the Israeli planes destroyed a house in Jabaliya camp and killed five girls, five sisters from one family, and injured their mother seriously and critically. This is a bloodbath that should stop immediately.

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