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Gaza update

Gaza update

Conflict in Gaza continues…

The New York Times reports that, after 15 days of fighting, at least 620 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have died.


NPR has an extensive coverage by Eyder Peralta: Gaza Conflict Day 16: Here’s What You Need To Know. Includes in the recap was this report:

— The U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights said Israel’s targeting of civilian installations could amount to war crimes.

“The disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life was shockingly evident for all to see in the apparent targeting on 16 July of seven children playing on a Gaza beach,” Navi Pillay said. “Credible reports gathered by my office in Gaza indicate that the children were hit first by an Israeli airstrike, and then by naval shelling. All seven were hit. Four of them — aged between 9 and 11, from the same Bakr family — were killed. These children were clearly civilians taking no part in hostilities.”

NPR’s Emily Harris, who is reporting from Gaza, tells our Newscast unit that Israel has said that schools, mosques and private homes can be legitimate targets if militants use them to stash weapons.

Author Namoi Wolf made a powerful statement, originally on Facebook, and then shared on Philip Weiss’ Mondoweiss:

I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. … Nothing. Where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.

I want no other religion than this, that is, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.

William Saletan’s “How to Save Gaza” in Slate says that “the most plausible way to stop this cycle of violence is through internationally supervised demilitarization. He makes these observations (and elaborates on them):

-Gazans have no government to protect them.

-The absence of a protector in Gaza has worsened Israel’s behavior.

-Israelis have lost faith in a military solution.

-There’s an obvious candidate to take over Gaza.

-The pieces of a solution are in place

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Don Reed

We can keep talking about the fact that war is bloody. Yes, war is bloody. There are injuries and deaths and destruction. The issue, though, is whether Israel’s response is “proportional” to the attacks from Gaza, and whether it is necessary to achieve a legitimate objective. As long as there is no acknowledgement that Hamas is deliberately trying to kill Israeli civilian non-combatants who are not being used as human shields and are not involved in this conflict in any direct way, there is nothing further to discuss. Once that is acknowledged, there is something to talk about.

Donna Hicks

My friend and colleague Linda Gaither asked me to post this comment:

This afternoon, July 24, news is filtering in through media outlets in the U.S. of a strike on a U.N. shelter in northern Gaza. Details are still murky, but it is clear that the coordinates of the school in Beit Hanoun, which was serving as a shelter for Gazan families, had been given to the Israeli military.

 

“Many have been killed — including women and children, as well as U.N. staff,” according to a statement issued by Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general. Footage shows pools of blood at the scene. Ban, who was traveling in Iraq on Thursday, said he was “appalled” by the violence. Whoever is ultimately found responsible for this strike, it is clear that Gazans have nowhere to shelter safely. After 15 days of fighting, over 600 Palestinians have been killed, with thousands wounded, creating a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions.

 

Amidst all the shouting and assignment of responsibility for the accumulating carnage in Gaza, these remarks stand out for me: George Bisharat, professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, posted   in the NYT yesterday: “[D]espite its 2005 withdrawal of ground forces and settlers from Gaza, Israel still exercises effective control over the region by controlling its airspace, coast and territorial waters, land borders (with Egypt), electromagnetic fields, electricity and fuel supply. Accordingly,  Israel remains an occupying power under international law, bound to protect the occupied civilian population. Israel can use force to defend itself, but no more than is necessary to quell disturbances. Hence this is not a war – rather, it is a top military power unleashing massive firepower against a penned and occupied Palestinian population.”

“Bound to protect.” As Episcopalians, this phrase resonates. At our 2012 General Convention, both Houses affirmed Resolution A016: Commend the Responsibility to Protect from Mass Atrocities. This resolution affirms our commitment, on the basis of Gospel love, to promote moral responsibility of states to protect their populations [and populations for which they bear legal responsibility by international law] from mass atrocities, genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The resolution welcomes United Nations establishment of Responsibility to Protect as an international norm, and commends our President for adopting RTP as a principle of United States Foreign Policy. All Episcopalians are urged “to understand and reflect upon the principle of the Responsibility to Protect, and to advocate for its adherence by their respective governmental leaders.”

 

As a member, in 2012, of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, the interim body which crafted Resolution A016 after intensive, face-to-face meetings with international sponsors of the RTP movement, I would suggest that we indeed are challenged to both understand and reflect upon our stated commitments as a church, seeking nonviolent methods to put pressure on “respective government leaders” and other powerful interests that promote and enable unrestrained violence against an occupied civilian population. As A016 states, this moral responsibility is based in our Lord’s command to love our neighbor.

Paul Woodrum

It’s David and Goliath all over again. Only this time Israel is the Philistine.

Dirk C. Reinken

It is very hard for me to stand with one party over and against another party in all of this. I can have deep sympathy for what what Palestinians are going through and how certain forces control and manipulate the situation. I also find it impossible, given the history of Christian anti-semitism and American/European willful neglect of threats to Jews in the 20th Century, to ever stand against Israel. I don’t see a resolution of any kind until all parties decide it’s best to live in peace. A rabbi visiting my church said that the conflict will end when both sides get tired of burying their children (he was also resentful, as an American Jew, of being expected to speak for Israel or be judged by their actions).

It seems to me that it is so easy to scapegoat in this conflict or to pick sides based on a particular action in a particular point in time. I would rather the question for us as outsiders and one-time oppressors and/or abettors of oppression be how can we support efforts that help all parties see the value of coming to a peaceful resolution based on real-world practicalities.

In the meantime, are there ways we can stand with the innocent on both sides of the wall who find their lives threatened, maimed, limited by the actions of their leaders and the leaders of those across the wall?

Don Reed

Christopher, there are two sorts of answers.

1. It’s like the question: If the First Nations/American Indian peoples were on the continent for hundreds or thousands of years prior to [European] contact, why didn’t or doesn’t an Iroquois or Cherokee or Shawnee, etc., state exist? Answer: The invention of the nation-state came to (or was imposed on) some parts of the globe later than others.

2. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, among others, all believe they have legitimate claims on Israel/Palestine. None of them particularly wants the Palestinians to have their own state, let alone the Israelis theirs, because they all want all of it.

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