Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gaza Killings--A Spectator Sport for Israelis

Many Israelis are bringing their lawn chairs and binoculars to watch death and destruction rain upon Gazans, according to a report in Wall Street Journal.

The report mentions Moti Danino, one of dozens of Israelis who have arrived from all over Israel, some with sack lunches and portable radios tuned to the latest reports of the battle raging in front of them. Some, like Mr. Danino, are here to egg on friends and family members in the fight in Gaza.

The Jewish spectators share hilltop space with many camera-toting Israeli and foreign journalists, who have so far been banned by the Israeli military from entering Gaza to report on the conflict, according to the Journal.

Here's an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal story about a joyful Israeli spectator named Jocelyn Znaty:

Jocelyn Znaty, a stout 60-year-old nurse for Magen David Adom, the Israeli counterpart of the Red Cross, can hardly contain her glee at the site of exploding mortars below in Gaza."Look at that," she shouts, clapping her hands as four artillery rounds pound the territory in quick succession. "Bravo! Bravo!" She acknowledges an uncomfortable, self-conscious awareness that she is cheering on a deadly war. Israeli planes, ships and artillery have blasted the small, sealed-off territory for more than a week, killing more than 680 Palestinians and injuring about 3,000. Ten Israelis have been killed, including three civilians, according to U.N. officials.

Here's another excerpt from a similar story in McClatchy newspapers:

A tower of white smoke rose from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun after another Israeli bombardment Monday morning, and a half-dozen Israelis, perched on a dusty hilltop, gazed at the scene like armchair military strategists.

Avi Pilchick took a long swig of Pepsi and propped a foot on the plastic patio chair he had carried up the hillside to watch the fighting. "They are doing good," Pilchick, 20, said of Israeli forces battling Palestinian militants in Gaza, "but they can do more."

This is a really macabre situation where one community is enjoying watching the Israeli state-sponsored spectacle of murder and mayhem of their neighbors, including innocent Palestinian women and children. In Israel today, there are echoes of Christian persecution in Rome that became a spectator sport for the ordinary Romans. Can this overt display of such deep hatred by neighbors lead to peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

I just hope that the ghoulish behavior of the Israelis featured in the newspaper stories is not representative of the feelings of the majority of Israeli citizens.


Anonymous said...

will Indians nationalist also copy this. They seems to be biggest fan of Israel.

Anonymous said...

If AlQaeda and Taliban were called terrorists because they killed innocent people what should we be calling Israel then??

Anonymous said...

Gaza "Killings" is a bit of a stretch. This article just dramatize an ordinary situation.You don't allege that journalists are voyeurs..they too are standing on the Israel-Gaza border.If explosions and gun shots are ringing out,its natural for people to crowd around from a safe distance.The Israeli ppl are relieved that Hamas is getting a taste of its own medicine. Counting dead bodies is a false construct to arrive at a moral judgment of belligerent parties, what is important is the context which triggered this conflict. Israeli military have a tough time hitting targets accurately hidden among population, but according to figures civilians causalities are still only about 20%..which is excellent statistic for precision urban warfare. I don't know if any Muslim countries practise stuff like Israel does like air-dropping warning pamplets before attacking the target. Pakistan in its "counter-terrorism" campaign in Bajour and all, is said to just shell the whole village from outside, indiscriminately as a collective punishment. In fact,collective punishment by Pak Army is an accepted fact for decades in Pak tribal areas from times of British Empire.
Part of Pakistan(Swat)has already fallen to Taliban, still you guys are nit-picking on what Israel does! get a grip ppl.

Riaz Haq said...

You said, "You don't allege that journalists are voyeurs..they too are standing on the Israel-Gaza border.If explosions and gun shots are ringing out,its natural for people to crowd around from a safe distance."

Talking about a "stretch", I think you have mastered the art of stretch probably doing a lot yoga stretches. Comparing journalists with ghouls...though some of them may also be a big stretch. Journalists are there to do a job (and Israel wants to prevent them from covering its atrocities) rather than "cheer on" the massive death and destruction of a besieged civilian population with hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

I am sorry to say that it's not that your conscience is temporarily asleep, it seems you have no conscience, just like the Israelis who are applauding mass killings of Gazans.

Anonymous said...

From a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish (Asad AbuKhalil's translation):
"We shall meet in a little while
in a year
in two years
and a generation..
..I sip the kiss
from the edge of knives..
I am the one in whose skin
chains are carving
a shape of the homeland."

Anonymous said...

as sombody said in DailyTimes editorial
lets not pretend we don't know what we know
Al-Qaeda and Taliban directly target soft-targets. IDF problem is that their hard targets are deliberately enmeshed among densely populated areas.They don't have an Hamas Air Force Base or Hamas Ordinance Factory in a 1000 acre fenced compound like India or Pak to hit. Without CAS(Close Air Support) IDF ground troops will be slaughtered in a fight deeper in Gaza. Most of civilian casualties are due to secondary explosions of stored missiles or mortars. As you may now know, Israel inquired into the UN shelter bombing and report say that Hamas fired mortars from back of the UN shelter and Israeli artillery locating radars pin-pointed the co-ordinates of fire and retaliated with counter-battery fire...and in ensuing exchange 1 out of 3 mortars hit UN shelter killing innocent ppl.

Riaz Haq said...

Your comments clearly show that you don't know much about Gaza. It's a small strip of land densely packed with people who have no where to go to protect themselves. Israel is not allowing the civilians to have safe passage and find shelter out of harms way.

In fact,the latest reports indicate that Israel is resorting to the use of phosphorus shells causing severe burns to the victims. This seems like a repeat of US napalm attacks on civilians in Vietnam.

What Israel is committing are serious war crimes comparable to the Nazi crimes against Jews in Europe. Israel is not making itself safer by its latest wave of major war crimes against a trapped civilian population in Gaza.

Anonymous said...

of course I hav no much idea about Gaza..I have never been there or anywhere near it! Deeper in Gaza was reference to in the sense that all the +/-90,000 of civilians who fled the periphery of fighting will be more densely packed in population and hence more difficult to avoid a death trap of IEDs and suicide bombers w.r.t IDF in 3rd phase.Until now I guess its more of hit-and-run-back attacks.Fighting amidst civilians is hard however small(several blocks..) the area may be like in Taj hotel.

Riaz Haq said...

I was shocked to read several Western media reports that the Gaza killings had become a spectator sport for many Israelis who brought their binoculars and lawn chairs to the hill tops surrounding Gaza. Many of them cheered the fireballs and explosions occurring in Gaza in front of their eyes. Dr. Aboul Aish's tragedy, who lost his three daughters in an Israeli strike, puts a human face on the tragic suffering of ordinary Palestinians. The fact that some Israelis showed care and concern and acted to help this particular victim helps reinforce my faith in our common humanity.

Here's the link to a video clip of Dr. Aboul Aish's suffering:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent piece by Eric Walberg in Countercurrents:

A vital playing field in today’s Great Game is Palestine/Israel, where again there is a tentative meeting of political minds between Russia and Turkey. In defiance of the US and much of Europe, both endorsed the Goldstone report into atrocities committed during Israel's invasion of Gaza in December 2008, where 100 Palestinians died for every Israeli casualty. Neither government is captive to Israel in the way European and US governments are, though they both have important economic relations with Israel.

Israeli dissident writer Israel Shamir commended the Turkish leaders at a conference in Ankara in December: "Your president, Mr Gul, said a few days ago to our president, Mr Peres, that he will not visit Israel while the siege of Gaza continues. Turkey is no longer an American colony. You stopped joint air force exercises with Israel and the US. You expressed your clear anger over the horrors of Gaza. Now you pay more attention to the area where you live; you play an important role already and are destined to play an even greater role. So much depends on you! We feel it every day in Palestine."

He called on Turkey, as inheritor of the Ottoman-era responsibility for Palestine, to follow the lead of the Spanish and British judges who issued arrest warrants for Chilean General Pinochet and Israeli prime minister Tzipi Livni for murder, and issue an arrest warrant for the infamous Captain R, accused of murdering a Palestinian child Iman Al-Hams, but feted in Israel as a hero. "A Turkish warrant for his arrest should await him wherever he goes," just as "according to Israeli law, if a Turk does wrong to a Jew in Turkey, he may be snatched, arrested, tried and punished in Israel. Turkey should introduce a symmetrical law, covering offences against Palestinians who otherwise are not protected by law."

Though unlikely, this would be wildly popular in Turkey. Similarly, unlike brainwashed Westerners fed daily doses of pro-Israeli media, Turks and most Russians have no use for the Zionist project. True, over one million Russians took up the tantalising offer of instant Israeli citizenship in search of a better life, qualifying as Jewish merely via marriage or with as little as one grandparent racially Jewish. But, despite the chauvinism of the Russian-Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, many of these Russian Israelis, too, have no use for the Zionist project, with its innate racism, some even marrying Palestinians. Many are returning to Russia, bitter at the way they are treated by sabra (Jews born in Israel). The natural sympathy of these and non-Jewish Russians is for the Palestinians.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an OpEd by Yosi Sarid in Haaretz about Israeli settlers campaign of terror in occupied Palestine:

Bullets are fired, trees are chopped down, fields are set ablaze, window panes are shattered and houses are subject to pogroms while the representatives of law and order keep themselves safe and at a distance.
By Yossi Sarid

It's impossible to ignore any longer the calming presence of the Shin Bet security service in our lives - from the hummus in Gaza to Noam Chomsky in Bir Zeit.

This hyperactivity demands an explanation: How can we explain that one arm is long and powerful, when it comes to those who wish to destroy us, whereas the other arm is short and delicate, when it comes to those exacting a "price tag."

At the beginning of the week, Aysar Zaban from a village near Ramallah was shot in the back and killed. He was 15 years old and will no longer throw stones at cars. They're looking for the gunman, and there's no chance they will find him.

How do I know? Very simple: Not a single settler has ever been caught. There have been hundreds of "terror-settler" events and all the avengers are still walking about free. There is evidence and there are traces, but there is no justice.

Bullets are fired, trees are chopped down, fields are set ablaze, window panes are shattered and houses are subject to pogroms while the representatives of law and order keep themselves safe and at a distance. Soldiers and policemen already understand the principle; the spirit of the commanders explained it to them.

How does a person dare make such accusations, just after Yaakov (Jack ) Teitel was finally caught? For 12 years he murdered Palestinians and planted explosive devices, and had he not made the foolish mistake of harming Jews as well - even though they were leftists - he would never have been found.

Now it has been ruled that his mental state makes him unfit to stand trial - as if Teitel has suddenly fallen ill with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The right to go mad like a cow is reserved for Jewish terrorists only.

And if he's so crazy, how was he so cunning as well, managing to deceive the Shin Bet with such sophistication for so long?

Riaz Haq said...

Israelis claim the right to defend themselves against Palestinian attacks. But Prof Noam Chomsky, as quoted by Occupy New Hampshire, disagrees and says as follows:

"When Israelis in the occupied territories claim they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing..You can't defend yourself when you are militarily occupying someone else's land. That's not defense. Call it what you like, it's not defense."

Riaz Haq said...

An image that appears to show a group of Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza has caused international outrage after it was shared by thousands on Twitter.

Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.

Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”

Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.

It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.

“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.

Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?”

Another said: “This is the most gruesome image I've seen the last few days.”

Further images have since emerged showing larger crowds on subsequent days - suggesting that the so-called “Sderot cinema” was far from a one-off. They showed groups standing and pointing out to the horizon, and one had even brought a sofa up onto the hilltop.

Meanwhile, Israel today launched its first ground offensive in a bid to destroy a rocket-launching site in northern Gaza.

Troops were sent in early on Sunday, in a brief raid which left four soldiers slightly wounded after an exchange of gunfire, the military said.