Gaza Is a Concentration Camp
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Jamal says, "Israel trapped hundreds of civilians inside a school as if in a box, including many children, and then crushed them with all the might of its bombs. What were the world's reactions? Almost nothing. We would have been better off as animals rather than Palestinians. We would have been more protected."
Arigoni also described the account, by ophthalmologist Dr. Abdel, of strange and terrible wounds he'd never seen before: "Dr. Abdel told me that at Al Shifa hospital, they don't have the medical and military competence to say for sure whether the wounds they examined on certain corpses were indeed provoked by white phosphorous bullets. But on his word, in 20 years on the job, he had never seen casualties like those now being carried into the ward."
These included "traumas to the skull, with fractures to ... the jaw … cheekbones, tear duct, nasal and palatine bones [all showing] signs of the collision of an immense force against the victim's face. What he finds inexplicable is the total lack of eyeballs, which ought to leave a trace somewhere within the skull, even in the case of such violent impact. Instead, we see Palestinian corpses coming into the hospitals without eyes at all, as if someone had removed them surgically before handing them over to the coroner."
Since no international observers are allowed in, judgment about the weapons inflicting such trauma will depend on further reports from Gaza, and corroboration from experts like Gilbert. (Arigoni is an international who reached Gaza by boat during the siege. His report was sent to e-mail lists Jan. 9.)
The Israel of Operation Cast Lead is still the Israel of Plan Dalet, under which 750,000 Arabs were expelled from Palestine in 1948. It is the Israel of massacres under Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir on April, 9, 1948, at Deir Yassin; of the Phalangist massacre of 1,500 Palestinians in the Beirut refugee camps Sabra and Shatila, overseen by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. Held "personally responsible" and cashiered from his post, he later rose to prime minister to resume his malignant policies in the West Bank and Gaza. The late Israeli writer Tanya Reinhardt predicted in 2002 that Israel was starting to finish what it began in 1948. This 60-year-long legacy rages on in Gaza under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to the applause of a vengeful Israeli public (see Jan. 13 story in the New York Times .)
Operation Cast Lead is one of the great war crimes of our era. It was planned six to 18 months in advance, according to journalist Jonathan Cook. The war design "required directing artillery fire and air strikes at civilian neighborhoods from which rockets were fired, despite being a violation of international law. Legal advisers, Barak noted, were seeking ways to avoid such prohibitions, presumably in the hope the international community would turn a blind eye."
Operation Cast Lead fulfills at least three of the points under Article 2 in the Convention on Genocide: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
So to President-elect Barack Obama in his silence; to our senators and representatives who obediently parrot American Israel Public Affairs Committee's lines, forgiving the occupier and blaming the occupied, I'd address European Parliament member Luisa Morgantini's closing words in her open letter to European leaders: