The God of the Amalekites: Israel’s bombing of Gaza, Israel’s invasion of Gaza and Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians
The most brutal reporting I have ever seen in the Middle East is the mutual dehumanization.
Israel’s invasion of Gaza is destroying tunnels, ammunition dumps and Hamas fighters, yes. It’s also helping to destroy the idea of shared humanity, which in the long-term helps people live together in peace. The poisonous hatred in turn is already spilling over to the United States and other countries worldwide.
I was thinking about this as I drove the other day to meet some Gazans who were temporarily allowed to visit Israel and became stuck in East Jerusalem. My Israeli taxi driver refused to enter the Palestinian neighborhood (“If I go there, I won’t make it out”) and finally abandoned me on the side of the road to get a Palestinian taxi. And then when I got to my destination, I interviewed a sweet 57-year-old Gazan woman who was talking to me about the war and told me that she approved of Hamas’s attacks on Israeli civilians.
That conversation pretty much broke my heart. Such bigotry is nurtured by Hamas propaganda but also by Israeli bombing of Gaza: The woman said she had lost two cousins to Israeli fire, including a young woman married only a year ago, and she weeps daily at the bombardment of family and friends in Gaza.
Meanwhile, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the escalation of the ground operation on Saturday, he cited biblical references to the Amalekites, who were the target of a divine genocide. The order of God was to put men and women and children to death. A code word that has appeared in Israeli politics for a ruthless enemy, it is called “Amalek” and is a policy that Netanyahu was not advocating.
“You may think you’re being merciful” by sparing a child, counsels a far-right rabbi in a chilling video posted online, but actually “you’re being vicious to the ultimate victim that this child will grow up and kill.” This is even worse than the previous one and breaks my heart.
I have highlighted many of the other voices that are rational in the past. But when children on both sides are slaughtered and people are fearful, it is extremists who invariably are ascendant.
Eyad al-Sarraj, who was a Gaza psychiatrist, once said that extremists needed each other. He said the blockade of Gaza had turned Hamas fanatics into popular heroes.
The Israeli Attack on the Falluja Neighborhood of Jabaliya During Tuesday’s Airstrike: Israelis Aren’t Ready to Give Up Their Lives
Videos verified by The New York Times captured the aftermath of an airstrike on Wednesday in the Falluja neighborhood of Jabaliya approximately half a mile from the site of Tuesday’s strike. Several large buildings are completely flattened in the destruction shown. Rescue workers and residents dig through the rubble in order to retrieve injured and dead people, including children.
On Wednesday, the devastated neighborhood, where local officials say dozens were killed and hundreds were wounded in the Tuesday attack — the figures could not be independently confirmed — was hit again. A number of people were killed and wounded by a new Israeli strike, according to the Gaza Interior Ministry.
Ms. Hammad’s last WhatsApp messages to her cousin Ahmed, 31, who had told her he was hosting dozens of people in a four-bedroom apartment, went unread.
Sousan Hammad, a writer and teacher in Brooklyn, said she was trying to get in touch with her family. Her father had grown up in Gaza, and in recent days she had been able to stay in contact with his side of the family, relaying their messages to relatives in the United States.
Mr. Hammash, who is now taking shelter in southern Gaza, said continuing communications outages were adding exponentially to the anguish of living amid deprivation and death.
The airstrike hit the JabalIYA neighborhood and Yousef Hammash is an employee of theNorwegian Refugee Council, who was born there.
Sometimes, phones rang and rang unanswered. The caller was told that they’d lost contact with the beloved Gaza Strip as a result of the ongoing aggression. Gaza and its people should be protected by God.
He said because of the military operations in Gaza and the shock all Israelis felt about the atrocities committed by Hamas, Israeli soldiers were now, more than ever, failing to live up to their duty to protect Palestinian civilians in occupied areas.
According to witness statements, video footage and analysts who have examined larger patterns of the violence, settler extremists in the West Bank have been attacking Palestinian homes and businesses, blowing up their generators and solar panels, burning down the tents of seminomadic Bedouin herders — and even shooting people.
The West Bank has been hit by uprisings before and feels primed to explode. What happens if it does happen is a concern for Palestinians and the Israeli security establishment. Should the violence spin from the West Bank, it could risk opening another front in the war, further raising the chances of a larger, even more catastrophic regional conflict.
But Israel still occupies the West Bank under a highly contentious system that leaves Palestinians stateless, limits their movements, and tries them in Israeli military courts — restrictions that do not apply to settlers. The Israeli military routinely blocks roads, shoos Palestinians off streets and strictly controls access from one area to another.
These communities, often built on strategic hilltops and encircled by walls and razor wire, are interspersed among a patchwork of Palestinian cities and towns administered by the Palestinian Authority, a semiautonomous Palestinian body. Roughly half a million Jewish settlers live in the West Bank.
According to Naomi Kahn, a settler who works for a nonprofit organization that supports the settlements, Palestinians say “Everything in the Middle East is their land.”
In recent days, threatening leaflets have been put under the hood of Palestinian cars, most likely from settlers.
“A great catastrophe will descend upon your heads soon,” read one flier. The Holy Land was written for us by God, and we will destroy every enemy and kick them out. Wherever you are, carry your loads immediately and leave to where you came from. We are going to help you.