The Gaza Strip: “It’s just that dystopian”

Max Blumenthal tells Glenn Greenwald:

“And for all I knew about the Israel-Palestine crisis, I was not prepared to come in to such intimate contact with so much human destruction. And to really come to grips with the fact that the Gaza Strip is an open-air prison, and it’s not hyperbolic to say so. We’re not just saying this for rhetorical effect.

In order to enter Gaza, you pass through the Erez terminal with your government press office credential, which means you’re one of very few people who can get in or get out. And you wander down a long corridor, which is a cage, and then you arrive at a metal door at a concrete wall. The metal door opens, it shuts behind you, and you’re inside what is effectively a walled-off ghetto.

You look down this endless wall, to your right, and you see a remote-controlled machine gun perched on the wall. That’s the spot and strike system, which is operated by an all-female unit of Israeli soldiers in the Negev Desert, tens of kilometers away, by remote. And what they do is, they watch the buffer zone?—?this 300-kilometer area that Palestinians are forbidden from entering inside the Gaza Strip. And anyone who enters who they determine to be a “terrorist,” they eliminate with the push of a joystick button from a remote-controlled machine gun. It’s just that dystopian.”

Back to Black and Back to the Stone Age

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You know how sometimes a cop will turn off his dash cam (often “mistakenly,” or it “malfunctions”) right before he brutalizes or executes a victim? That’s what Israel did yesterday, when it knocked out Gaza’s only power plant, killing the power for most of the population. This, besides its economic/humanitarian impacts, will make it much harder for Gazans to convey their plight to the rest of the world.  As smartphone and computer batteries run out, powerful, sympathy-inducing voices from Gaza, like that of the 16-year old Twitter-user Farah Baker (@Farah_Gazan), and the 10-year-old girl in this viral video, will be silenced. And as camera batteries die, we may see fewer heart-rending images of the carnage and wreckage that Israel’s pogrom is inflicting upon civilians, especially children.

Israeli government officials and their cheerleaders will welcome such a development, as one of their chief complaints in interviews has been the “unfair” impact that such images of, in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words “telegenically dead Palestinians,” have had on world opinion. Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the US, recently fretted that, “the pictures look terrible on the TV, and that immediately translates into diplomatic pressure on Israel to accept a far-less advantageous ceasefire.” Oren was particularly worried that the outrage over the images would lead to Israel having its (blood-soaked) “hands tied” by the UN Security Council.

After all, imagine if these pesky personal recording and communication devices had been around in 1947. If its massacres had been broadcast in real time, the Naqba might never have even gotten off the ground!

Surely, Netanyahu and Oren hope that the electricity black-out will result in an atrocity black-out. And with the “telegenically” dead conveniently made invisibly dead, the massacre might become “out of sight, out of mind” enough to world opinion, that Israel can secure a Carthaginian peace, with their precious starvation blockade of Gaza fully intact.

Leaving Gaza with no electricity, and therefore no running water or sewage treatment, also furthers another Israeli aim. Netanyahu has stressed the war objective of stripping Hamas of its rocket-firing ability. We’re not talking centrifuges and IBMs here. The Qassam rockets Hamas uses consist of little more than piping and fertilizer. So, the only way that an assault could make the creation of such primitive devices impossible would be by completely obliterating any remnants of technology and the division of labor left in Gaza: by bombing the Palestinians “back to the Stone Age” and destroying their infrastructure. A chilling expression of such a desire was given by Gilad Sharon, the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Jerusalem Post in 2012:
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The New York Times Soft-Pedals Israel’s Slaughter of Children, Shifts Blame to Victims

This was what the original The New York Times report of the Israeli military bombing to death four children while they were playing soccer on an otherwise generally empty beach.


 


They have since made the URL for this article redirect to a different one, that looks like this:


 


This is also the version NYT went with for its print edition. You can track the changes at newsdiffs.org. Notice how they replaced the direct, plain-English headline “Four Young Boys Killed Playing on Gaza Beach” with the anodyne “Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, and Into Center of Mideast Strife.” Language about individual children being “killed,” which implies killers and victims, is replaced by vague language which eliminates any conveyance of culpability, and characterizes the affair as just an unfortunate tragedy resulting from general regional “strife.”
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Bombing a Prison Camp for Children

Even the shameless Israeli state seems momentarily shamed, as it has announced a five-hour ceasefire in their bombardment of Gaza after having shelled to death four Palestinian children who had been playing soccer on a beach, thereby presumably serving as “human shields” for Hamas fighters ingeniously hiding under the sand.

Over 36 children have now been killed by Israel’s assaults out of 200+ total (mostly civilian) Palestinian deaths. Such a high proportion is hardly surprising, given that a majority of the population in Gaza is under 18, and over 40 percent are age 14 and under. Israel is bombing what is for the most part a vast open-air prison camp for children. This is what the Obama administration refers to as Israel “defending itself.”

“Eye for an eye” probably wouldn’t make the whole world blind. But, “the eyes of your children and neighbors for an eye,” sure as hell will. This bombing campaign of collective punishment is bloodthirsty, rank tribalism of the most primitive sort. Every American should be as aghast as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder recently expressed himself to be that his tax dollars are paying for it.

Exchange of Projectiles?

Numerous headlines in mainstream American coverage of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip feature language about Israelis and Palestinians “exchanging rocket fire,” which conveys to the American public the sense that it is a matter of a “battle” between two neighboring “powers,” instead of the bombardment of an occupied territory; as if there was any kind of equivalence between the 400 tons of explosives that have rained down from Israeli jet planes, and the primitive, unguided rockets being lobbed from Gaza. The former has, in just a few days already killed over 100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and including at least 13 children. The latter has resulted in zero Israeli deaths, and only 7 injuries.

It’s rather like a scrum of cops assaulting a prostrate man with batons and tasers, and the media calling that a “fight” instead of a beating, because the man, as he flailed about under the blows raining down on him, kicked the leg one of the cops.

The Palestinians aren’t allowed to leave; the Gaza Strip is a giant open-air prison camp. They have no air raid shelters or sirens. They are like fish in a barrel, being blasted by a shotgun from above. It’s like some of the fish in the barrel pathetically spitting water at the gunman, and calling that a “shooting battle.” Indeed one has to wonder, if the economic blockade and the destruction wrought upon the Palestinians were to reduce them to such penury that they no longer had enough materials for rockets, and were reduced to only throwing rocks while continuing to have 1-ton smart-bombs dropped on their houses, would the American mainstream media call the affair an “exchange of projectiles”?