Breaking Gaza's Will:
Israel's Enduring Fantasy
By Ramzy Baroud
January 25, 2009
My three-year-old son Sammy walked into my room uninvited as I
sorted through another batch of fresh photos from Gaza.
looking for a specific image, one that would humanise Palestinians as
living, breathing human beings, neither masked nor mutilated. But to no
All the photos I received spoke of the reality that is
Gaza today - homes, schools and civilian infrastructure bombed beyond
description. All the faces were either of dead or dying people.
I paused as I reached a horrifying photo in the slideshow of a young boy
and his sister huddled on a single hospital trolley waiting to be
identified and buried. Their faces were darkened as if they were
charcoal and their lifeless eyes were still widened with the horror that
they experienced as they were burned slowly by a white phosphorus shell.
It was just then that Sammy walked into my room snooping around
for a missing toy. "What is this, daddy?" he inquired.
to click past the horrific image, only to find myself introducing a no
less shocking one. Fretfully, I turned the monitor off, then turned to
my son as he stood puzzled. His eyes sparkled inquisitively as he tried
to make sense of what he had just seen.
He needed to know about
these kids whose little bodies had been burned beyond recognition.
"Where are their mummies and daddies? Why are they all so smoky all the
I explained to him that they are Palestinians, that they
were hurting "just a little" and that their "mummies and daddies will be
The reality is that these children and thousands
like them in Gaza have experienced the most profound pain, a pain that
we may never in our lives comprehend.
"I think that Gaza is now
being used as a test laboratory for new weapons," Mads Gilbert, a
Norwegian doctor who had recently returned from Gaza told reporters in
"This is a new generation of very powerful small
explosives that detonates with extreme power and dissipates its power
within a range of five to 10 metres
"We have not seen the
casualties affected directly by the bomb, because they are normally torn
to pieces and do not survive, but we have seen a number of very brutal
The dreadful weapons are known as dense inert
metal explosives (DIME), "an experimental kind of explosive" but only
one of several new weapons that Israel has been using in Gaza, the
world's most densely populated regions.
Israel could not
possibly have found a better place to experiment with DIME or the use of
white phosphorus in civilian areas than Gaza.
inhabitants of the strip have been disowned. The power of the media,
political coercion, intimidation and manipulation have demonised this
imprisoned nation fighting for its life in the tiny spaces left of its
No wonder Israel refused to allow foreign journalists
into the tiny enclave and brazenly bombed the remaining international
presence in Gaza.
As long as there are no witnesses to the war
crimes committed in Gaza, Israel is confident that it can sell a
fabricated story to the world that it is, as always, the victim, one
that has been terrorised and, strangely enough, demonised as well.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on
"Livni said that these were hard times for Israel,
but that the government was forced to act in Gaza in order to protect
"She stated that Gaza was ruled by a
terrorist regime and that Israel must carry on a dialogue with moderate
sources while simultaneously fighting terror."
peculiar message was conveyed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as
he declared his one-sided ceasefire on January 17.
that the "terrorist regime" was democratically elected and had honoured
a ceasefire agreement with Israel for six months, receiving nothing in
return but a lethal siege interrupted by an occasional round of death
Livni is not as perceptive and shrewd as the
US media fantasises. Blunt-speaking Ehud Barak and stiff-faced Mark
Regev are not convincing men of wisdom. Their logic is bizarre and
wouldn't stand the test of reason.
But they have unfettered
access to the media, where they are hardly challenged by journalists who
know well that protecting one's citizens doesn't require the violation
of international and humanitarian laws, targeting medical workers,
sniper fire at children and demolishing homes with entire families holed
up inside. Securing your borders doesn't require imprisoning and
starving your neighbours and turning their homes to smoking heaps of
Olmert wants to "break the will" of Hamas, i.e. the
Palestinians, since the Hamas government was elected and backed by the
majority of the Palestinian people.
Isn't 60 years of suffering
and survival enough to convince Olmert that the will of the Palestinians
cannot be broken? How many heaps of wreckage and mutilated bodies will
be enough to convince the prime minister that those who fight for their
freedom will either be free or will die trying?
politician Avigdor Lieberman, a rising star in Israel, is not yet
convinced. He thinks that more can be done to "secure" his country,
which was established in 1948 on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian
towns and villages. He has a plan.
"We must continue to fight
Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War
II," said the head of ultra-nationalist opposition party Yisrael Beitenu.
A selective reader of history, Lieberman could only think of
the 1945 atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But something
else happened during those years that Lieberman carefully omitted. It's
called the Holocaust, a term that many are increasingly using to
describe the Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip.
It is strange
that conventional Israeli wisdom still dictates that "the Arabs
understand only the language of force." If that were true, then they
would have conceded their rights after the first massacre in 1948. But,
following more than 60 years filled with massacres new and old, they
continue to resist.
"Freedom or death," is the popular
Palestinian mantra. These are not simply words, but a rule by which
Palestinians live and die. Gaza is the proof and Israeli leaders are yet
My son persisted. "Why are Palestinians so smoky
all the time, Daddy?"
"When you grow up, you'll understand."
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers,
journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto
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