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Gaza Is a Concentration Camp

One Israeli official promised a holocaust in Gaza; it is impossible to keep pace with the death toll.
 
 
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Gaza is an immense concentration camp -- 1.5 million people squeezed into 140 square miles hemmed in on all sides by 25-foot-high walls separated by a vast expanse of bulldozed earth. The 2005 "pull-out" left Gaza still controlled by Israel from air and sea, its entries and exits prisonlike mazes electronically controlled and under constant surveillance. Bombing it, assaulting it with tanks and Uzis, is like shooting animals in a pen. The claptrap about "pinpoint" accuracy and "avoiding civilians" is a lie so flagrant, so transparent, that any child -- certainly any Gaza child -- could grasp it.

There have been eight military assaults on Gaza since 2004; blockades started in 2005, and then a siege of medieval proportions in 2006, punishment for Gazans' having elected the wrong party for Israel and its U.S. patron. By December 2008, Richard Falk, special rapporteur on the Occupied Territories for the United Nations, reported an overall Gaza malnutrition rate of 75 percent, a childhood anemia rate of 46 percent and a devastated infrastructure.  (For more, see Richard Falk's " Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe.")

This latest war -- called Operation Cast Lead -- is the "holocaust" promised by Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai last spring when he said Israel would create a shoa if Qassem rockets kept dropping on Israeli towns like Sderot. Shoa, Hebrew for holocaust, is a serious word denoting the extermination of an entire people. Vilnai embarrassed the Israeli government, and no official has used the term since.

But since Dec. 27, Israel has bombed Gaza's government buildings, universities, mosques, schools, medical clinics. It is impossible to keep pace with the death and injury toll, which rises as I write: on Jan. 13, the Israeli human rights organization B'tselem reported 900 Palestinians killed, with more than 4,200 injured. The Israeli toll: three civilians and seven soldiers killed, more than 82 civilians and 61 soldiers injured. As for Israeli civilians killed by rockets, the Israel Project lists 25 dead during the past seven years.

On the broadcast program Democracy Now, a Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, who had just returned from Gaza to Denmark, told host Amy Goodman that "90 percent of those killed are civilians." Gilbert reported 971 dead, of whom 1 in 3 is a child under 18. He has worked in Gaza for years and was there for the first weeks of Israel's assault.

The Times of London, Human Rights Watch and B'tselem all report the illegal use of white phosphorous to strike civilians. When white phosphorous adheres to flesh, its flames continue to burn for five to 10 minutes, often penetrating to the bone.

Gilbert and other experts think Israel is also using a new weapon called dense inert metal explosive. It was developed by the United States to create lethal, powerful blasts within small areas. DIME inflicts wounds never before seen by surgeons in Gaza. According to Gilbert, conventional shrapnel damages limbs and other body parts as if they'd been cut by a huge knife. DIME, on the other hand, leaves "no signs of shrapnel," but rather "small pieces of some kind of substance" (DIME is made of nickel and cobalt). It crushes "the whole limb," not just part, with "multiple severe fractures, muscles split from bones." Some classify DIME weapons as nuclear because they are based on a fusion process. ( Democracy Now, Jan. 14.)

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"Take some kittens … in a box. Seal up the box, then jump on it with all your weight and might, until you feel their little bones crunching, and you hear the last muffled little mew," a surgeon named Jamal tells Italian writer Vittorio Arigoni. Bloodstained boxes are fetched; Jamal opens one. It contains "amputated limbs, legs and arms, some from the knee down, others with the entire femur attached . . . from the injured at the Al Fakhura United Nations school in Jabalia, which resulted in more than 50 casualties."

 
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