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Argument: Israel killed an unacceptable number of civilians in Gaza

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Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent in Gaza, reports: There are many corpses and wounded, every moment another casualty is added to the list of the dead, and there is no more room in the morgue. Relatives search among the bodies and the wounded in order to bring the dead quickly to burial. A mother whose three school-age children were killed, and are piled one on top of the other in the morgue, screams and then cries, screams again and then is silent.[1]

The New York Times reported in late December: "At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, women wailed as they searched for relatives among bodies that lay strewn on the hospital floor. One doctor said that given the dearth of facilities, not much could be done for the seriously wounded, and that it was 'better to be brought in dead.'"[2]

The Washington Post revealed, "By late Sunday night, the toll had reached 290 dead and as many as 1,300 wounded, Moawia Hassanain, a senior Palestinian Health Ministry official, said in an interview. The fatalities included 22 children younger than 16; more than 235 children were wounded, he said."[3]

"Civilians must be protected in Gaza and Southern Israel". Amnesty International - Amnesty International has called on Israeli forces to immediately halt the unlawful attacks carried out as part of the escalation of violence which has caused over 400 Palestinian deaths and some 1900 injuries since December 27. Amnesty International also condemns the rocket fire by armed Palestinian groups including Hamas that have resulted in the death of 4 Israelis with several dozen injured.

This is the highest level of Palestinian fatalities and casualties in four decades of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Scores of unarmed civilians, as well as police personnel who were not directly participating in the hostilities, are among the Palestinian victims of the Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip.

From January 2008 until the cease-fire agreement in June 2008, 420 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, half of them unarmed civilians, including some 70 children. In the same period, Palestinian armed groups killed 24 Israelis (six by rocket fire from Gaza), 15 of them civilians, including four children. Although there was relative calm during the cease-fire with no Israelis or Palestinians killed in the area, sporadic rocket fire into Israel continued and Israel further tightened restrictions at Gaza crossings.

"Killing a two-state solution". Guardian. December 29, 2008 - We do not know how many civilians died in the assault which Israel launched on Hamas in Gaza at 11.30am on Saturday, because Israel prevents foreign journalists as well as Israeli ones from entering the strip. But we do know that the air raids brought the biggest total loss of life on a single day in Gaza in 40 years: more than 230 Palestinians. The death toll by last night had climbed to nearly 290, with more than 700 wounded. This in reply to hundreds of rockets from Hamas militants which killed one Israeli in six months. But the equation is always like this.

We also know that to have chosen to strike on a Saturday morning, when the streets of this impoverished enclave were full, showed the same indifference to human life that Israel charges its enemies with. When the suicide bombers reply in cafes and shops, as they inevitably will, Israel will reel in horror. But it will shut out of its mind the blood its warplanes have caused to flow in Gaza this weekend. The foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, warned loudly of her government's intention to topple Hamas if it did not stop the rocket fire. But both she and the defence minister, Ehud Barak, are responsible for dropping over 100 tonnes of explosives on up to 100 targets in a strip of land crowded with 1.5 million people. A hammer blow is intended to terrorise and that is exactly what Israel did yesterday. Dr Haidar Eid, a Gazan academic who saw the bodies and children with amputated limbs, told Haaretz journalist Amira Hass: "To pick a time like this, 11:30 [AM], to bomb in the hearts of cities, this is terrible. This choice was intended to cause as large a massacre as possible." The targets were not the training camps of Hamas's military wing, which were empty when the jets struck, but rather police stations. The raids were intended to destroy the infrastructure on which Hamas builds its administrative as much as its military hold over Gaza. But that means killing policemen, not just the militants who assemble and fire the rockets. Presumably it also means targeting judges, officials, and doctors too.

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