I have been greatly disturbed by Israel's attacks on Gaza these past couple of weeks. (As always, Hamas' and other terrorist organizations' rocket-fire on Israel is also greatly troubling, though the destruction from those attacks are minuscule compared to the havoc Israel has managed to wreak even in a day.) Elections are coming up in Israel, and many analysts are saying there are political motives behind Israel's offensive streak.
This has to stop. Israel has no right to punish all of Gaza for the crimes of a few. In fact by attacking innocent civilians it just provides Hamas and other extremist organizations with a populist rallying cry against Israel. The air raids lead to indiscriminant killing; the ground offensive has only escalated the bloodshed.
Thirteen days of fighting between Israel and Hamas have left an estimated 765 Palestinians and 14 Israelis dead.
Israeli warplanes appeared to be making new air strikes on Gaza after dark.
The sound of circling planes and car horns hung in the air over Gaza City and several explosions from apparent airstrikes lit up the night-time sky, an Associated Press reporter says.
A UN agency has halted aid operations in Gaza citing danger to its workers.
The suspension would continue "until the Israeli authorities can guarantee our safety and security", the UN's relief agency Unrwa said.
Among the dead are tens of children. Gaza's infrastructure has been all but wiped out, meaning its economy will continue to hurt even after the attacks cease (Israel cutting off supplies, etc. even when it's not attacking certainly doesn't help either).
On an international level, the United States has proven to be an obstacle a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire, and Egypt — cooperating with Israel — refuses to open up the Rafah border in the south of Gaza.
Israel has behaved inhumanely these past couple weeks (no departure from its usual policy regarding the Palestinian territories, of course). It has prevented media from reporting the happenings in Gaza despite an Israeli supreme court order ruling such actions are not allowed. Furthermore, the prevention of the UN from sending aid into Gaza just means more suffering for the people of Gaza, most of whom pose no security threat to Israel. Meanwhile the International Red Cross has also been prevented from reaching civilian victims of Israel's air offensive:
The international Red Cross accused Israel on Thursday of "unacceptable" delays in letting rescue workers reach three Gaza City homes hit by shelling where they eventually found 15 dead and 18 wounded, including young children too weak to stand.
The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, said the Israeli army refused rescuers permission to reach the site in the Zeitoun neighborhood for four days. Ambulances could not get to the neighborhood because the Israeli army had erected large earthen barriers that blocked access.
The ICRC normally conducts confidential negotiations with warring parties, and its accusation against Israel was a rare public criticism of one party in a conflict over a specific incident.
Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but this is a horrible and impractical way to go about doing so. Hamas is to blame at the core of this, but Israel's response to the terrorist group's rocket attacks is wholly disproportionate. Hamas must, for the sake of the people of the Gaza strip, budge on its stubborn, extremist positions; and Israel must stop going about defending itself the wrong way. Send in special ops to try to raid strategic Hamas strongholds; don't risk bombing schools full of children, children who will remember seeing the dismembered remains of their peers and vow revenge on the perpetrators of the attack, dragging out this conflict for generations (as if it hasn't been going on long enough). We must learn from the past.
Update: The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution calling for a ceasefire.