The Israeli military cannot target Hamas without also targeting innocent Palestinian civilians. The Israel government has known this from the start of the assault. Foreign journalists have not been allowed into Gaza since Dec. 27, 2008, when the bombings on Gaza began. Today NBC reported that the Israeli government admits it has barred foreign journalists from entering Gaza because the government wants to control the images that come out of Gaza. They don't want the public to see the effects of the assault on the civilian population.

We are complacent in this carnage because US tax dollars fund the Israeli military, about 3 billion dollars in military aid pledged to Israel for 2009. If you do not want your tax money to fund the Israeli military assault on Gaza, please write, email or phone your US Senators and US House representatives. You can find their contact information at OPENCONGRESS.ORG Your letter does not have to be long, just direct and to the point. For example:

Dear Senator ____________ ;

The Israeli military cannot target Hamas without inflicting terror and tremendous casualties to the innocent Palestinian civilians living in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are living with with no electricity, no food and water supplies, and no place to run.

As a US citizen I demand that all military aide to Israeli be halted until a humanitarian solution to the crisis in Gaza can be found. As my elected official, it is your duty and responsibility to represent me in congress; I have every expectation that you will fulfill this duty, as no American should stand idly by while innocent civilians are being massacred.

Sincerely,

(name, address)

This is the article that accompanied the above video:

Hazem Balousha in Gaza City and Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
The Guardian, Tuesday 6 January 2009

The small dead bodies were laid next to one another on the tiled floor of the morgue corridor, the blood drained from their cheeks. One had a bandage still wrapped around his head, another lay with his mouth half-open in his oversized, bloodstained clothes.

For a week the Samouni family had taken shelter in their small, single-storey home in Zeitoun, south-east of Gaza City, and there they survived wave after wave of Israeli bombing and artillery strikes. Then came Israel's ground offensive, the next phase in what Israel argues is a necessary and justified battle against the Palestinian militants firing rockets out of Gaza.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, promised an "iron fist" for Hamas and said he would treat the civilian citizens of Gaza with "silk gloves," though the Palestinians of Gaza know perhaps better than most that there are few silk gloves in war.

The Samouni family woke on Sunday morning to find themselves surrounded by camouflaged Israeli troops and dozens of tanks, who had set up a position in the rubble of what was once the large Jewish settlement of Netzarim. As dawn broke, the soldiers seized control of the highest buildings in the district and ordered several of the neighbours into the Samouni family home and there a dozen of them waited, without food and without water.

"All day Sunday there was shooting and bombing. We didn't have anything to eat, we didn't have water to drink - our water tanks had been damaged in the fighting," said Wael Samouni, 32, who on a normal day would be manning his stall at the vegetable market. "We couldn't sleep."

He stepped out of the house briefly and saw a man shooting an M16 assault rifle. He mistook him for a Palestinian militant. Samouni shouted at him: "Please don't come here. They'll kill us. Go away." But as the gunman turned round, it became clear he was an Israeli soldier. The soldier shouted back in Arabic: "Bring me your ID." Samouni disappeared back into his house and decided not to venture out again.

They passed another night under the bombing and artillery strikes, grateful to have made it through to morning. Samouni remembered sitting in the crowded living room yesterday, surrounded by his neighbours, wondering how much longer they had to endure. It was 6.30am.

"We were sitting and suddenly there was bombing on our house and everyone started to run. There were three rockets. I have no idea where they came from," said Samouni. The rockets, believed now to be tank shells, hit the building and brought it crashing down. "I looked to my side, took hold of my boy Mohammad and I started to run. As I ran I looked back and saw on the floor my mother, two cousins and three of my children. All dead," he said. Samouni and the others ran from the house, some raised white cloths as flags and they made it to a patch of safe ground where they were taken to hospital by car.

Yesterday, as three of his children were laid out dead on the hospital floor, Samouni was in a bed upstairs in the Shifa hospital, recovering from wounds to his legs and shoulder and comforting his son Mohammad, five, who had suffered a broken arm in the shelling and had just woken after his operation. He was still unsure exactly how many of his 10 children had died.

"It's a massacre," Samouni said. "I'm 32 years old and I've never seen such things as this. I couldn't help myself or any of those around me. We just want to live in peace."

At his bedside was his brother Nael, 36, who lives in a house close by. His wife and daughter had been in Wael's house yesterday morning at the time of the shelling: both were killed.

"I wanted to go and join them the night before, but it was too dangerous to go out. If anyone moved he would be shot," Nael said. "Then when I heard the bombing this morning I saw people running. I saw an injured man fall to the ground. I ran to help, but there was an Israeli sniper in the house next door who shouted: 'Leave him alone.' We couldn't rescue anyone."

As he ran, Israeli troops fired over their heads and then ordered them to lift up their shirts to show they carried no weapons under their clothes. "We just made it out and here to the hospital," Nael said. Then, in a moment of anger, he pointed the blame. "Hamas is responsible for this. They are starving us, now they are killing us," he said. "They asked the Israelis to enter but where is the resistance? They are hiding. All the leaders of Hamas are underground. It's just the civilians confronting the Israeli army. I don't like Hamas and I don't want them ruling Gaza."

Hospital officials believe nine people were killed in the Samouni house, including at least four children. But they were not the only civilians to die at the hand of the Israeli offensive yesterday. Just north of Gaza City in the Shamali district, a missile struck a three-storey apartment block in the middle of the night - home to three brothers, their families and their father. It hit the roof and dropped down to the basement, destroying half the building and killing Amer Abu Asha, 47, along with his two wives, three sons and one daughter.

Yesterday his brother Samer Abu Asha, 50, sat outside on a plastic chair under a green awning. Neighbours came to shake his hand and offer their sympathy before slipping away quickly to avoid the next missile strike.

The family were not asleep at 1.30am yesterday when the Israeli missile struck - the noise of the bombing had been too much. In the moments after the attack there was such confusion no one knew who or how many had died.

"We started searching but it was hard with the dust, the darkness and the smoke," said Abu Asha. Neighbours told them bodies had been taken to the hospital, so they rushed to the Shifa in Gaza City, only to be told no one from their family had been admitted. "We went back home and searched everywhere," he said. Finally they found his brother Amer lying on a patch of ground outside the house, mortally wounded, his stomach ripped open. "We started to search for others under the rubble. We found arms, legs, half a head," he said. "We didn't find a complete body."

Abu Asha admitted that another brother in the family - but one who did not live in the building - was in the Hamas military wing but said he could not account for the bombing. They had received no warning. "It's unjust. They are targeting civilians, children, old women," he said. "Some European and Arab countries are supporting Israel in this terrorism. They want to crack down on Hamas, but Hamas is not in the houses. It's on the front line. Go there and kill them. Not us."

Tags: gaza, israel

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I've never been one to be political about anything. But it is a fact that the Palestinians have been firing daily rockets into Israel, killing innocent Israelis on a daily basis. The Israelis many times are told by the US and other governments to stay at peace and not enter into a war. Yet, one cannot expect them to get bombarded by this firing on a daily basis and not retaliate. I mean if I lived there I would want something to be done about it. Again, I'm not interested in politics and could care less about it, but I am against the killing of innocent lives on both sides of the front. Of course I also believe that the US has destroyed many innocent lives in Iraq/Afghanistan and destroyed the way of life of many others besides. So writing to the US government about such things almost seems a bit heretical. Anyhow, just my viewpoint. Please don't get offended. I do not wish to start a war of the words.
I am against the killing of innocent lives on both sides of the front.

Me too : ). That is the only reason I am writing about this, because it is happening right at this moment, and I want to do something... that maybe will help it not happen again in the future. We have to try to alleviate human suffering, in whatever ways seem to be in front of us, I think.
Hey Kevin, just thinking a little more about what you wrote, esp about it being heretical to write congress now, after what we just did in Iraq. And I thought, if we let the bad we've done in the past keep us from trying to do good in the present and future, where would we be? Just a thought. I've blogged a few times in the past few days about Israel and Gaza, and maybe that would give more context to where I am coming from, but I moved my post to discussions to get more exposure, because the tragedy is happening right now. I won't get offended, I just want people to look at what is happening, and decide if they want to quietly be complacent in it or not, as far as we are able to be either.
I understand that this is a serious issue, but it is not directly related to educational technology and belongs in the blog section, not here. I'm closing the discussion.

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