by Stephen Lendman
Sunday as this is written is day 5. Monday when it's read will be day 6. How much longer will this continue? How much more death, destruction, and human misery is tolerable?
Seventy-two confirmed Palestinian deaths were reported. Sunday attacks killed 24. Most are civilians. They include 14 children and eight women.
Over 550 others were injured. All but about 15 are civilians. They include 145 children and 86 women.
Israel deliberately targets noncombatants and civilian sites. It's official policy in all Israeli wars. International laws are spurned. Israel contemptuously ignores them.
Accountability never follows because world leaders don't care. Israel has carte blanche to kill, injure, maim, destroy, torture, and terrorize an entire population.
On November 15, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Pillar of Cloud goals are to "strengthen Israel's deterrence, cripple the rocket-firing capacity, and strike a painful blow to Hamas and the terrorist organizations and minimize harm to the home front."
He, Netanyahu, and other Israeli officials lie. Their strategy is state terror. Their goal is unchallenged occupation harshness. Crimes of war and against humanity are tactics to maintain and enforce it.
Justifiable resistance is called terrorism. Premeditated Israeli mass murder and destruction are called self-defense. All rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst.
Sunday morning headlines include the following:
Israeli gunboats shell Gaza's coast.
Gazan hospitals stretched. Need medications and supplies to treat patients.
Operation Pillar of Cloud to be intensified.
Local media offices were bombed. Seven journalists were injured. Beirut-based Al Quds satellite channel journalist Khader Zahar lost a leg. Ma'an News and German broadcaster ARD were struck. So were an Islamic Jihad radio station and Hamas broadcast channel.
Israeli soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas against nonviolent West Bank protesters.
Air strikes on central Gaza kills infant. Bombing killed six other children and five women.
Israel's Iron Dome success rate exaggerated. Missile defense never works as claimed. Most Gazan rockets and missiles fired land.
Reports differ on what's next. On November 18, the Jerusalem Post headlined "Netanyahu: IDF prepared to widen Gaza operations," saying:
Over 1,000 sites were bombed. On Sunday, Netanyahu told cabinet members that Israel "is prepared to expand its operations in Gaza." Ministers discussed a possible ground operation.
On November 18, YNet News headlined "Report: Netanyahu told Obama Israel not planning ground op," saying:
On Friday, both leaders spoke. Netanyahu told Obama no ground operation is planned at this time. However, things will change if Hamas escalates rocket fire or causes significant casualties.
US ambassador Michael Oren said:
If Hamas "keep(s) shooting at 5.5 million Israelis at the current rate, we will have no choice but to use all necessary and legitimate means to defend our citizens and that includes possible ground action."
On Friday, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) "began receiving worrisome and severe reports regarding the obstruction of the activity of emergency and rescue teams."
Gaza Red Crescent director of emergency and rescue services, Dr. Bashar Murad, said:
"Although there is no direct harm to the emergency services and centers, the proximity to the bombings….causes great harm."
"Heavy shrapnels sharp edged fragments….hit the center. With no advanced warnings, there is no possibility of evacuation prior to the bombing."
"The destruction of infrastructure….causes difficulties and delays reaching the wounded. In some cases, the blocked roads….do not allow clear transfer of ambulances."
Paramedics have to carry wounded victims and walk. Doing so endangers their lives. Time is crucial. Severe wounds need immediate treatment.
Rescue teams are endangered. Bomb explode near them. Two paramedics were wounded. Some emergency centers and clinics sustained heavy damage.
During Cast Lead, Israel targeted hospitals, ambulances, and medical workers. Apparently it's happening again. World leaders give Israel carte blanche to commit murder with impunity. As NATO members, they have plenty of blood on their own hands.
On November 18, WND.com Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein headlined "Claim: Israeli Official to Cairo for Truce Talks," saying:
An unnamed Egyptian official said a senior Israeli military figure is in Cairo for truce talks. Hamas' Political Bureau Chairman Khaled Mashal and Deputy Political Bureau head Mousa Abu Marzook are involved.
They want Israel's land and and sea blockade ended "as a precondition for any truce." Short of it, ceasefire terms are meaningless.
Israel can halt current attacks and resume them anytime. Gazans suffer horrendously under siege. It's lawless. Ending it is essential. Israel, of course, won't agree. World leaders should demand it, but don't.
Hamas also wants "an internationally-backed guarantee against further Israeli strikes…."
Israel guarantees nothing. It doesn't negotiate. It demands. Its pledges aren't worth the paper they're written on. What follows remains to be seen. Expect nothing positive for beleaguered Gazans.
Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) said "daylong bargaining (occurred) Saturday among Washington, Jerusalem, Cairo and Gaza."
Talks failed to reach ceasefire terms. According to an unnamed Western source, more time is needed to determine possibilities.
DF said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is involved. It's hard imagining he's not. He's Palestine's democratically elected leader.
Israel and Washington "insist that a ceasefire be signed (by America), Egypt, Turkey and Israel, and exclude Hamas, which would be bound by a separate agreement with Cairo."
Netanyahu officials want Washington "to act as guarantor for a ceasefire." Erdogan invited Vladimir Putin to be party to what's ongoing.
Hamas "rejected all of Israel's terms." Like all Israeli deals, they're one-sided and meaningless. Palestinians never had a legitimate peace partner. Decades of futility prove why.
At the same time, Israel denied reports about its negotiator heading for Cairo. A possible ground operation is delayed. Netanyahu promised Obama he'll hold off unless Hamas escalates strikes or causes significant casualties.
As more information becomes available, follow-up reports will discuss it. Hamas won't agree to one-sided terms. Israel murdered Qassam Brigades head Ahmed Jabari to avoid peace.
A draft agreement was in place for that purpose. Killing Jabari subverted it. Israel depends on violence and instability. It spurns peace.
Whatever Tel Aviv has in mind now offers Hamas nothing. Expect stalemate, bombing and shelling to continue. Conflict reflects Israel's entire history. It's not about to change policy now.
Hamas officials know what they're up against. They'll get no help from Washington or other Western leaders.
On the Progressive Radio News Hour, Professor Rodney Shakespeare said Egypt's Mohamed Morsi has a historic opportunity. He could act responsibly and be lionized on the Arab street for his efforts.
He could back up his condemnation of Israeli attacks with pro-Palestinian policies. He could open Rafah crossing, provide direct aid, and urge other regional leaders to get directly involved.
Halting Israeli attacks, ending Gaza's siege, and helping long-suffering Gazans should be prioritized. Beyond rhetoric, of course, most regional leaders do nothing.
On November 17, an Arab League statement was meaningless, toothless, and embarrassing. It pledged support for Palestinians against "Israel's aggression," but offered nothing to stop it.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan wants "justice" in Gaza, but stopped short of punitive measures to achieve it. At the same time, he's Washington's lead attack dog against Syria.
Safe havens he provides Western-recruited death squads and weapons he assures they're provided kill scores or hundreds of Syrians daily. Most are civilians.
Talks with Israel achieve nothing. Punishing Netanyahu's government is essential. Ambassadors should be recalled. Israeli envoys should be expelled. Oil can be used punitively. All political and economic relations should be suspended or terminated.
Israel only understands smack downs. Major ones are long overdue short of violent confrontations. How much more Palestinian suffering is tolerable before regional and other leaders say no more? The time for confronting and stopping this beast is now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.