The bombing of the Gaza Strip has predictably been justified by Israel and the United States as self-defense by a country under attack from a ‘terrorist’ organization. Claims of ‘surgical air attacks’ against ‘carefully selected targets’, to minimize civilian casualties, are repeated by Israeli politicians and government spokesmen in their daily encounters with the world media. In Jerusalem, as in Washington, the blame for the plight of Palestinians is placed entirely on Hamas, which rules the territory.
A little perspective is needed to understand what is really happening in Gaza. Roughly 400 Palestinians were killed and as many as 2000 injured in the first five days of Israeli bombing until December 31, 2008. These casualties include children and young students, civilian officials and local policemen. The Gaza Strip is a small territory, about 140 square miles in area and a population of 1.5 million, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world. Israel, on the other hand, is a country of seven million people.
The scale of bloodshed in Gaza over five days is the same as if almost 2000 Israelis had been killed and 9000 wounded in the same period. Imagine the consequences for Israel in such an event. It begins to explain what the people of Gaza have already endured. And their horror is still not over. In contrast, the actual number of Israeli deaths by Hamas rockets fired randomly towards Israel recently is four. More