Friday, January 16, 2009

Someone must stop Israel's rampant madness in Gaza

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Correspondent

Someone has to stop this rampant madness. Right now. It may seem as though the cabinet hasn't decided on the "third stage" of the war yet, Amos Gilad is discussing a cease fire in Cairo, the end of the fighting seems close - but all this is misleading.

The streets of Gaza Thursday looked like killing fields in the midst of the "third stage" and worse. Israel is arrogantly ignoring the Security Council's resolution calling for a cease-fire and is shelling the UN compound in Gaza, as if to show its real feeling toward that institution. Emergency supplies intended for Gaza residents are going up in flames in the burning warehouses. Thick black smoke is rising from the burning flour sacks and the fuel reserves near them, covering the streets.

In the streets, people are running back and forth in panic, holding children and suitcases in their hands, helpless as the shells fall around them. Nobody in the diplomatic corridors is in any hurry to help those unfortunates who have nowhere to run.

The handful of journalists trying to cover the events, despite the outrageous media closure Israel has imposed, are also in danger. The Israel Defense Forces Thursday shelled the media building they were in and now they are all crowded in one office, as fearful and horrified as the rest of the scorched city's residents.

The BBC's Arabic correspondent, furious and alarmed, swears hoarsely that nobody fired from the building or around it. Meanwhile, in our television studios, there is rejoicing.

Is this war a "corrective experience," asks Rafi Reshef, who seems diabolically delighted by the fighting. Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer tells him that the IDF and Israel Air Force have made great achievements. Nobody of course asks what is so great about these achievements except the killing, destruction and thousands of casualties in Gaza and the rockets that continue falling on Be'er Sheva - undermining every "achievement."

In the lobby of a luxury hotel, against the background of the horror show from Gaza, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni explains, with intolerable arrogance, that the fire will stop "whenever Israel decides" on the basis of "daily situation evaluations."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, standing beside her, breaks protocol and denounces Israel with uncharacteristic vigor for its attack on the UN compound.

This is how Israel now looks to the outside world - its tanks in the burning streets of Gaza; more and more people being killed for nothing; tens of thousands of new refugees; an appallingly haughty foreign minister, and a growing clamor of condemnation and disgust from all over the globe.

Whether or not we have accomplished anything in the war, now only the thirst for blood and lust for revenge speak out, together with the desperate longing for the "victory shot" on the backs of hundreds and thousands of miserable civilians - a picture that will never be achieved, even with another 100 assassinations of Hamas leaders, like Thursday.

All those who supported this war and all those who objected to it should unite in the cry, Enough.


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