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.
There is a scene in And The Band Played On where Matthew Modine’s character explains the origins of the phrase “The Butchers’ Bill”: a phrase coined by British Admiral Lord Nelson when asking for the daily casualty reports of soldiers lost in the Napoleonic wars. In the film, Modine’s character creates his own Butchers’ Bill for the AIDS epidemic, and it remains one of pop culture’s most poignant visual reminders of the devastating cost of the disease in human lives.