Israel “Retaliates” in Gaza, Bombing Greenhouses and Chicken Farms

Bombs fell on Gaza again yesterday, and the Times tells us that the target was a Palestinian militant responsible for firing rockets into Israel. He was critically injured and a bystander was wounded.

Isabel Kershner reports that Israel was responding to an increase in rocket fire from small radical groups in Gaza, that it has revived a practice of “targeted killing” and that it has carried out “retaliatory airstrikes against facilities associated with militant groups.”

This, at least, is what the Israeli army claims: It is going after the rockets and the militants. Kershner takes their word for it. A UN report, however, provides a different perspective, noting the following damages in a Jan. 31 strike: two civilians wounded, about 1,200 small livestock killed, including 150 cattle, 400 rabbits, 600 pigeons, and 60 hens; and damage to five homes, two schools, an educational center and an office building.

And that was not all: “Another strike directed at a building inside Gaza city, ended with two women injured, as well as damage to four homes and a school. Finally, in a strike targeting a site northwest of Rafah, six civilians, including a child and a woman, were injured, and two homes, 13 greenhouses and a water well were damaged.”

Water wells, greenhouses, rabbits, chickens, houses, pigeons and educational centers. Are these really threats to Israeli security? This is just the question Kershner should be asking of the air force.

Kershner also states that the “retaliatory strikes” and clashes along the border fence have been “straining the cease-fire on both sides.” What she does not say is that Israel breached the ceasefire immediately after it went into effect in November 2012, killing four unarmed civilians in the first month and injuring 78.

Today’s story mentions rocket attacks on southern Israel in recent weeks, listing no damages to people or property. But the damage inside Gaza has been considerable. Last year, the UN reports, 11 died at the hands of Israeli forces, and 83 were injured. This year promises to be worse. In January alone Israeli forces killed at least four residents of Gaza and injured 43.

In the Times, however, only Israeli attacks are considered “retaliatory,” and only its strikes on militants are fit to make the news.

Barbara Erickson 

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