Israel launched a devastating military campaign on the Gaza strip last weekend in what many have called one of the bloodiest since 1967.
After several days of aerial bombardment, the number of Palestinian killed has soared above 500 while there are more than 2200 men, women and children wounded according to [A1] local aid groups.
The Al Mezan [A2] Center for Human Rights reported from Gaza that the "vast majority" of those killed were "non-combatants and civilians," while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights [A3] said that "mostly" civilians (which included local police) were killed, including 75 children by Saturday.
"Every known police station" across the densely populated Gaza Strip was targeted, according to the Telegraph[A4] , which observed that Israel was not merely striking militants but deliberately targeting local security forces.
The Israeli attack has sparked protests worldwide [A6] in more than a dozen countries[A7] : from universities in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the streets of Britain, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, throughout the Muslim [A8] world, to hundreds [A9] of protests across the U.S., including more than 500 people demonstrating in Downtown Seattle on Saturday.
Dr. Assaf Oron, a former Israeli Defense Forces soldier, human-rights activist, and faculty at the University of Washington, whose family in Israel lives within range of Hamas rockets, spoke out against the attacks at the rally. While he condemned the militants’rocket attacks, he blasted the recent Israeli actions in Gaza as "cynical, idiotic, corrupt, deeply immoral and cowardly."
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr believes [A10] that Israeli use of American bunker-buster bombs in Gaza neighborhoods "is becoming very problematic," stating that "[t]hat’s not why the US sells weapons abroad — for the killing of innocent civilians."
Five daughters, Tahrir, Ikram, Samer, Dina, and Jawahar, who was four-years-old, were killed in their beds located in the poor refugee camp of Jabalia when the camp’s Imad Aqil mosque was bombed and destroyed, leveling their house and several other buildings.
Anwar, their father, said, "We are civilians. I don’t belong to any faction, I don’t support Fatah or Hamas, I’m just a Palestinian. They are punishing us all, civilians and militants. What is the guilt of the civilian[A11] ?"
US leaders have largely supported the strikes, with Bush administration blaming Hamas. President-elect Obama issued a "no comment" press release at first, with a spokesman later supporting them.
The US [A12] has also blocked [A13] a UN Security Council Resolution that called for "an immediate ceasefire and for its full respect by both sides," saying it was "unbalanced" and "one-sided," only to block another on Sunday, according to the Jeresulem Post and Deutche Welle[A14] .
Israeli leaders justified the attacks as a response for firing of homemade rockets by Hamas militants towards nearby Israeli towns.
Ha’aretz [A15] reported however, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered preparation for the strike over six months ago [A16] as Israel was negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas and involved "secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public."
The six-month-old ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas government in Gaza was broken on the fourth of November with an Israeli military attack in the strip, which prompted retaliation with a barrage of rocket fire from Hamas, according to the Israeli press.
Back in August, Barak said that the truce had been a success and that an invasion of Gaza (now under way) would not stop rocket attacks and would only lead to a situation in which they "control another people against their will," according to an August 11 BBC[A17] report.
The day before the bombing, Barak eased the blockade and allowed humanitarian aid into the squalid strip – home to 1.5 million Palestinians – in order "to act as a deception against Hamas and give them the sense that the operation wasn’t imminent," a senior Israeli official said to Agence France[A18] Press[A19] e.
That, and other moves led Hamas-affiliated policemen like chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, a former Fatah (rival to Hamas) official who kept his post Hamas gained power, to return to back to their offices believing that Israel was indicating a future truce