Waves of Israeli aircraft swooped over the Gaza Strip on Saturday, firing missiles at Hamas’s security headquarters and killing more than 200 people, bringing the highest death toll in Gaza in years in a crushing response to rocket fire by Hamas against Israeli towns.
At least 140 Palestinians were killed and scores more wounded, according to the head of emergency services at the Gaza Ministry of Health
After the initial airstrikes, which also wounded about 600 Palestinians, dozens of rockets struck southern Israel. Thousands of Israelis hurried into bomb shelters amid the hail of rockets, including some longer-range models that reached farther north than ever before. One Israeli man was killed in the town of Netivot and four were wounded, one seriously.
A military operation against Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, had been forecast and demanded by Israeli officials for weeks, ever since a rocky cease-fire between Israel and Hamas broke down completely in early November and rocket attacks began in large numbers against Israel. Still, there was a shocking quality to Saturday’s attacks, in broad daylight on about 100 sites, as police cadets were graduating, women were shopping at the outdoor market and children were emerging from school.
The center of Gaza City instantly became a scene of chaotic horror, with rubble everywhere, sirens wailing, and women shrieking as dozens of mutilated bodies were laid out on the pavement and in the lobby of Shifa Hospital so that family members could identify them. The vast majority of those killed were Hamas police officers and security men, including two senior commanders, but the dead included several construction workers and at least two children in school uniforms.
According to HuffPo, parents are still looking for their children — who were leaving school as the air strikes began — and the hospitals cannot cope with the casualties. The Electronic Intifada has info on a lack of food in Gaza thanks to the sanctions, and an additional editorial on Israel’s violence and how it ought to spurn action. (Thanks to BFP for these links via Twitter.)
The United Nations, along with Russia, Egypt and “numerous governments in Western Europe,” has called on Israel to stop. And our government? Oh, Bush has merely urged them to try harder to not kill civilians.
This is fucked up. That’s all I’m going to say. And my thoughts are with the Palestinians living in Gaza.