Israel invades Gaza
After a four-hour artillery barrage, Israeli troops moved into the northern part of the Gaza strip on Saturday.
This land operation raises the same question Jonathan Freedman asked about the whole Gaza War, which is whether it is wise and how it will end with any lasting advantage to Israel. Me, I can't see it. The Israelis used to assassinate and attack Hamas when they controlled Gaza, with no success in destroying the movement. So how can they destroy it now when they don't control Gaza and are just making a temporary incursion into a heavily populated, complex territory?
Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel for indiscriminate attacks on civilians during the Gaza operation, which is a war crime.
At 2:06 pm on Saturday 1/3 EST, I was watching CNN, the US feed, which had temporarily switched to the London desk of CNN International. CNN International began an interview with PLO spokesman Saeb Erakat, the first time I have seen a Palestinian commenter on US television during the past week with the exception of the PA envoy to the UN.
CNN US suddenly interrupted the Erekat interview and switched to Ben Wiedeman in Jerusalem to explain the task Israel had before it. It has been 20 minutes and they have never returned to finish the Erekat interview. Have any of the major magazine shows had any Palestinians at all on this week as commenters?
2:31 PM CNN US did a telephone interview with Mustafa Barghouti, who complained that CNN's coverage was all from the Israeli side. He insisted that Hamas had been ready to negotiate a cease-fire and pointed out that Hamas had killed no one during the truce since June and before the Israeli attack. Barghouti has a pretty thick accent and I don't know how well he is understood by US audiences. Why is it that Israeli interviewees all have American accents but no similar Palestinian observers can be found?
Earlier on Saturday CNN invited Gen. David Grange on, one of the military commentators outed by the New York Times as part of a Pentagon influence-peddling scheme for the media. Grange kept talking about what "we" would do if "we" took rocket fire the way the Israelis had from Hamas. Grange did not say what "we" would do if militant European refugees landed at Newport Beach, took over Virginia, expelled its population, and then kept the refugees from McLean huddling over in West Virginia in camps for decades with no reparations, recently denying them sufficient food and fuel to avoid a humanitarian crisis. But of course that would never happen to the Granges, so why bother to even mention any point of view but the hawks'?
Besides,the point of CNN US seems to be to prevent voices like Saeb Erekat's from being heard, though they are allowed on adult channels intended for the rest of the world.
posted by Juan Cole @ 1/03/2009 02:00:00 PM
The military used overwhelming firepower from tanks, artillery and aircraft to protect the advancing soldiers, and Gaza officials said at least 31 civilians were killed in the onslaught. The military said troops killed several dozen militants, but Gaza officials could confirm only four dead — in part because rescue teams could not reach the battle zones. One Israeli soldier was killed.
The ground invasion and live images of the fighting in Gaza drew international condemnations and dominated news coverage on Arab satellite TV stations, many of which aired footage of wounded Palestinians at hospitals. Hamas threatened to turn Gaza into an Israeli "graveyard."
Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive against the area's Hamas rulers after a week of intense aerial bombardment. Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light as bursts of machine gun fire rang out.
The ground operation is the second phase in an offensive that began as a weeklong aerial onslaught aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire that has reached deeper and deeper into Israel, threatening major cities and one-eighth of Israel's population.
The new deaths brought the death toll in the Gaza Strip to more than 500 since Dec. 27. Palestinian and U.N. officials say at least 100 civilians are among the dead.
At least 30 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since fighting began late on Saturday, according to Palestinian medical sources.
An Israeli soldier was killed on Sunday in the fighting, the Israeli army said.
Thousands of Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip overnight with tanks and helicopters, accompanied by naval support and air strikes.
The ground offensive followed eight days of intense Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, purportedly aimed at ending cross-border rockets being fired by Hamas fighters from the territory into southern Israel.
The Israeli assault, codenamed "Operation Cast Lead", has killed more than 507 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,400 others. Four Israelis have been killed by the Hamas rocket strikes in the same time.Read More