After just over a month of fighting, a 72 hour cease-fire held through to the end of last week. Rocket fire briefly resumed from Hamas on Saturday (followed shortly thereafter by Israeli aistrikes), after Hamas blamed Israel for refusing to accede to language regarding an end to the Gaza blockade, but a more permanent truce is now in the works via Egyptian intermediaries. For those who need a reminder, Israel has been blockading the Gaza Strip for the last seven years, which has taken a profound economic and humanitarian toll on the residents of Gaza.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian people collectively hold their breath and try to cope with the overwhelming destruction. From a New York Times article:
[F]adi Abu Al-Roos, who works as a clerk for the United Nations, returned to his peach-and-white tiled home to find “Storeroom position” written in Hebrew on what remained of the outside wall. Inside, a framed cross-stitch “God Bless Our Home,” in English, was hanging intact amid the ruins.
“I don’t see it as a victory or a defeat,” he said. “It’s only destruction.”
…Dr. Fara is haunted by a 3-year-old girl who arrived at a clinic with head injuries under the label “Anonymous No. 6.” Not only did the girl have no relatives to identify her, Dr. Fara thought, but there were five others before her in the same situation.
“I’m worried about this generation, what memories are in their mind, what will happen after a few years,” she said quietly. “No matter what you ask the children to draw, the drawings will come back with blood.”
After, the jump, here is the Butcher’s Bill for the Gaza conflict.
There has been a lot of conversation this week on my blog regarding the current Gaza conflict, and I think it mirrors the tone and tenor of the national debate. In writing about my support for Palestinians and my moral outrage at military actions that have targeted schools, hospitals and refugee camps in a manner that has resulted in predominantly Palestinian civilian death, I have been accused of being pro-Hamas and even anti-Semitic.
I find this rhetoric an abhorrent over-simplification of the political situation in Gaza right now, one that seems intent on shutting down (rather than stimulating) debate centered around the humanization of the Palestinian people.
There are many folks online right now expressing our support for Gaza, in recognition of the status of Palestinians as an occupied people. For too long, that status has been ignored, or racially miscast in the inflammatory, prejudicial language of “terrorism”. Yet, as I have written, communities of colour in America — including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — should be able to see through this charged language to recognize the insidiousness of colonialism and its devastating impact in terms of human lives. In truth, many of us do.
We support the Palestinian people, whom we believe have the right to life, the right to humanity, and the right to exist on their own land. We reject the assertion that an occupied people has no political or legal right to resist their occupiers.
We reject the assertion that Palestinian civilians deserve to die.
The individual stories coming out of Gaza are horrifying. Earlier this week, Gaza’s only power plant was targeted by Israeli airstrikes, leaving most Gaza residents with no electricity or running water. A United Nations school was struck, killing 16 Palestinians. Refugee camps and hospitals have not found themselves immune to attack. Efforts at a cease-fire have failed.
Last week, I wrote about the moral responsibility of all humans to speak out against these horrific deaths, and how I find myself empathizing with the Palestinian civilians and children of the Gaza Strip who have borne the brunt of the attacks and suffered the greatest share of deaths in this conflict. I spoke about the “blood memory” of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who know firsthand the devastating impact of war and colonialism which has throughout our history taken countless lives and ripped apart too many families. I spoke about the emotional responsibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and indeed all humans, to not stand idly by while the death toll from this senseless slaughter continues to rise in the Gaza Strip.