From Shelter to Target, Leaving Nothing Sacred

Since the news broke yesterday of the bombing of a United Nations School in Gaza, I have been agog at the live coverage provided by the BBC.

The images – and more evocative, the sounds – of grief, shock, and loss resonated with each replaying of the clips.

The repeated incandescent fury of John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip, sent chills prickling over my head.

The seeming flippancy of Mark Regev – for years he has irked me so; if ever I purchase a dart board, his jug ears shall be the double bull’s eyes – as he repeated over and over that it was a defensive action compounded the tragedy.

According to the Israeli army, Hamas was using the school, and temporary safe house, as a human shield and that they could not risk reaching double figures with Israeli casualties.

Yet as one journalist queried, is there a point at which you must respect the human shields? That the many lives cannot be risked to save one life?

Another – perhaps unlikely –Β  image captured my attention, too: that of the young IDF soldiers carrying the coffin of their comrade to his resting place.

They looked barely out of their teens – almost children themselves – being sent to fight a battle that is based on flimsy rhetoric.

As a relative lent into the camera lens and lamented the loss, I could not stifle the question of why the mourners could not accord the same level of grief to every Palestinian family that had lost a member.

More often than not, members.

Last night it emerged that one family lost twelve members in a strike.

Their loss can never be replaced and the magnitude of their trauma and grief is likely to be unimaginable to many of us.

As I watched the repeated clips of Avital Leibovich and Regev defending the bombing of a United Nations building, I saw no remorse.

Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but the gruesome twosome of the Israeli spokes-circuit seemed to stifle minute smiles, belied only by the turning of the corners of their mouths; their rehearsed statements as cold and lifeless as an ABC drill in a tired language class.

The subsequent meeting at the Security Council offered more of the same: for eight years Israel has suffered, for eights years Israel has tried to tolerate the persecution, but no more can it do so, etc.

For as long as Israel pursues the exhausted track ofΒ  argument, it will always be fighting a weightier moral opponent: just as Israel has suffered for eight years, the Palestinians have suffered for more than 60; just as Israel has lost 9 and rising, Gazans have lost 665 and rising.

In the same ten hours that Israel promised a 3 hour humanitarian corridor, it also warned of the increased bombardment to come.

According to Ging, the Israeli army was granted the GPS coordinates for UN buildings, the insignia of the building was clearly displayed, and the flags illuminated.

Nothing, it seems, is sacred and so the death toll rises.

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This entry was posted on January 7, 2009 by in Conflict Zones, Israel, Middle East, Palestine and tagged , , , , , .
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