I just heard a radio report on the destruction of the power plant in Gaza as part of the Israeli attempt to retrieve their lost soldier. Juan Cole says the following at Informed Comment:
destroying electricity generation capability interferes with water purification. Palestinian children will die because of this, from drinking unpurified water. And what crime did Palestinian toddlers commit, to be murdered in this way?
Destroying the power plant in late June in order to retaliate or to retrieve a soldier is collective punishment. It is unconscionable. It is illegal. It will also not achieve the goal the Israelis wish, the safe return of their soldier and the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Gaza.
Jewish Voice for Peace, based here in Oakland, says in an e-mail today:
There has been considerable international consternation over the case of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier recently taken hostage by Palestinian fighters. While it is hard not to feel sympathy for Shalit and his family during this time, it is perhaps appropriate to remember that Israel currently holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners in detention, 380 of them minors.
The hypocrisy is startling: the abduction of a single Israeli soldier from a military base is capturing international headlines, while the illegal detention of hundreds of children (often also taken in night-time raids) escapes notice. This fact has only and reluctantly come to international attention by the attempts of the Palestinian fighters to condition Shalit's release on that of the children, a condition Israel has rejected. Palestinian fighters alone are responsible for the kidnapping of Shalit. At the same time, it is a very bad situation (for the Palestinians as well as for Shalit) if this sort of violent act is the only way to alert the international community to the abusive treatment of hundreds of children.
Resolving the Gaza crisis will require diplomacy, fairness, and healing Israel and Palestine. Soft ideas, soft words. I can hear the fake tough guys to my right jeering.
But war merely ravages. It brutalizes and coarsens those who make it, and it harms those who did not ask to be harmed by it. My family, like many others past and present, was harmed by war fought by others on our soil. I published my story in Tikkun Magazine five years ago, not to prove that Palestinians are killers (although some people persist in reading that conclusion into my essay) but rather to prove that when you brutalize people they will turn on you. When your government brutalizes people, they may turn on you personally, kill you, destroy your property, even though you had nothing to do with your government's actions.
Juan Cole has also asked in the last 24 hours - why do the Israelis think that creating a failed state in their back yard will make them safer? It's an insane idea.
This Dove is not very hopeful tonight. Jared Diamond's book Collapse has been weighing on my mind recently, and I have had dark premonitions specific to Palestine based on his work.
The only positive solution I can think of right now is that the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank need to go solar. They need to decentralize their power generation, cooking and water heating, and get it off the petroleum grid. But that won't save the people threatened this week in Gaza.
One last note, again forwarded by Jewish Voice for Peace. Let's hear from an Israeli Army tank unit veteran:
by Naftali Lavie, Toronto -- As someone who has served in an Israeli tank unit near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, I have nothing but sympathy for the families of Lieutenant Hanan Barak and Sergeant Pavel Slutzker, killed on Sunday in a daring Palestinian commando raid in which Corporal Gilad Shalit was taken captive (Israel, Hamas In Turmoil After Raid On Outpost -- front page, June 26). But some perspective and some context are necessary.
This tank base is one of the locations from which Israel has been relentlessly shelling the Gaza Strip for several weeks. Moreover, just one day earlier, on Saturday, Israeli commandos had raided Rafah in the Gaza Strip and captured two brothers, Mustafa and Osama Muamar, who, according to the army, were in the "final stages of planning a large-scale terror attack." All of this is well known but did not make it to the front page. Can it be that Palestinian lives are nothing, Israeli lives everything? That Palestinian captives are nothing, Israeli captives everything?