Israeli Attacks on Gaza Draw Critisim

Israeli Attacks on Gaza Draw Critisim


Following an 18 month blockade of the Gaza Strip, allowing in almost no food, medicine, or humanitarian supplies, Israeli forces began aerial bombardment of the area on December 27th, 2008. Israel claims it is responding to continued firing of small rockets from the strip, but critics point out that the area enjoyed a relative calm for six months until November 4th, when Israel targeted tunnels near the border with Gaza. Although Israel claims the tunnels are used to smuggle arms, humanitarian groups and various international news groups have pointed out that they are often the only source of a trickle of food, energy and medical supplies for the 1.5 million refugees there.

More than 450 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli bombardment, thousands of air to ground bombs delivered by F-16s and Apache helicopters. More than 2,000 Gazans have been wounded, many of them seriously, and hospitals in the area have pleaded for a ceasefire and medical supplies from the international community. Gazan rockets have killed about a dozen people in eight years, and four in this current conflict.

Although many governments in the Arab and western world have thrown their support squarely for Israel, rallies have taken place on a daily basis in hundreds of cities across the world demanding an end to the attacks and a lifting of the blockade. In the United States, rallies have been held in 65 cities in 3 0 states on a daily basis. In Washington, DC more than 3,000 people gathered for a march at the State Department two days after the start of the bombing, and on January 2nd about half that number marched between the embassies of Israel and Egypt. Smaller rallies have been held in Baltimore as well.

Israel receives about $3 billion a year in aid from the United States, the vast majority of which goes toward funding its military. Since the end of World War II, Israel has been the largest recipient of US foreign aid, regularly receiving about 25% of the yearly allocation from Congress. Senator Ben Cardin (D), representing Maryland, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Israel, and issued a statement in support of the current operation. Governor Martin O'Malley, who has made a number of trips to Israel since taking office, has also issued a statement in support of Israel. Despite extreme pressure from the United Nations and international human rights groups, US officials have said a ceasefire cannot occur until Hamas is taken out of power, an outcome that will become more difficult as support for what is considered the only legitimate resistance for the Palestinians gains ground.