Gaza in Plain Language

In articles acknowledging the one year anniversary of the assault on Gaza, blunt and unsparing language about what really happened is often avoided. Despite sympathy for and support of the Palestinian people in their struggle against dispossession and oppression, the description of what took place in January 2009 is sometimes buffered by a misguided sense of political correctness. Yes, it’s terrible. Yes, it is unjust. But we don’t want to be inflammatory or risk offending the sensitivities of those who through their own willful ignorance cling to the notion that Israel is a victim state, fighting for its very survival. The argument is that we should reach out to them and attempt to educate them and win them over.

I’ll be more forthright in this commentary.

The sociopathic Zionist administration of Israel, as part of its continuing brutal colonization of Palestine, set out to deliberately devastate the already nearly-incapacitated infrastructure which supports the existence of one and a half million human refugees. The people of Gaza, second-, third-, and fourth-generation dispossessed Palestinians, are living in forced exile from land their families inhabited and cultivated for generations. Half of them are children under the age of fifteen. Their culture and their economy has been systematically ravaged by Israel for decades and since 2006 a criminal siege supported by the United States, as well as much of the international community, has deprived them of all but the most minimal resources for subsistence. This oppressed and brutalized population was then bombed, bulldozed and terrorized mercilessly for twenty-three days.

Below is a small sampling of facts concerning what the fourth largest military in the world did to a captive and defenseless population. The source materials used to substantiate these statistics are available on request. If the reality presented here goes beyond the stretch of your imagination, you can verify the data yourself. Though you’d better hurry. Much of this information appears to be disappearing down Google’s memory hole, just as is the fate of the people of Gaza. A source referencing the percentage of agricultural land destroyed in the onslaught which was used for a shorter version of this article just a few weeks ago is no longer archived in Google’s cache. Surprise, surprise.

You will also find that exact figures vary somewhat depending on the source. But whether it was 21,000 structures or 22,000 structures destroyed, whether 280 schools were destroyed or badly damaged verses 230, the overwhelming truth of the physical devastation which took place in Gaza and the fact that this destruction was deliberate and premeditated is irrefutable. Even the Goldstone Report, itself a document with severe pro-Zionist overtones issued by a declared Zionist and a supporter of Israel, states unequivocally, “…[the] deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government of Israel … cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law.”

We’ve heard time and again that more than 1400 Palestinians were killed, over 80% of them civilians, including 342 children. It has become a familiar talking point in discussions of last year’s assault, so much so that it may have lost its impact on our consciousness. But what we often aren’t reminded of is the horrific level of carefully-planned destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza orchestrated by Israel during Operation Cast Lead.

Financed and armed by the United States, the Israeli military destroyed fifteen percent of the structures in Gaza, approximately 22,000 buildings, including 5300 housing units destroyed or subject to major damage. Another 52,000 homes received some form of structural damage. Over 200 factories and 700 stores and businesses were destroyed or badly damaged. Of the residences, factories and businesses completely destroyed, 1300 of the homes and approximately 25% of the commercial property was deliberately and painstakingly bulldozed or exploded by Israeli ground forces. Eight hospitals and 26 primary health care clinics were damaged or destroyed. More than 280 schools were damaged or destroyed.

Water and sewage treatment facilities as well as electricity infrastructure were deliberately targeted leaving vast segments of the population with little or no power or clean water for the duration of the assault and for weeks and months to follow. Massive amounts of agricultural lands were systematically bombed or bulldozed. Some estimates suggest that as much as 80% of the arable land in Gaza has been ruined or declared off-limits to the people of Gaza over the last decade. Two million litres of wastewater at Gaza City’s sewage treatment plant, bombed during the assault, leaked into surrounding agricultural land making it unusable.

An Israeli television station boasted that Israeli war planes alone, without accounting for tank, ground troop and warship ammunition, dropped approximately one thousand tons of bombs on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. The effort involved months, if not years, of carefully-considered target selection, giving lie to any claim that the devastation was incidental. It requires a stunning level of denial and self-delusion to pretend the destruction which was achieved in Gaza had anything to do with Israel’s “security” or the targeting of Hamas militants. This was savage and barbaric collective punishment unleashed on a civilian population, nothing more. Any suggestion to the contrary must be sharply and immediately ridiculed as absurd.

This was arguably the first aerial bombing campaign ever conducted on a defenseless civilian population held captive within a fenced enclosure and not allowed to escape the assault. It is a measure of the cynical mindset of the Israeli military that leaflets were sometimes dropped in neighborhoods about to be bombed suggesting the residents flee. We are about to destroy your home; you had better get out. Flee to where? Gazans are not allowed to leave their open-air prison, not even when under attack. This tactic on the part of Israel also gives lie to the claim that homes and buildings were targeted because there were Hamas militants “hiding” inside. Why then warn them to leave before destroying the structures?

Given this litany of horror and the coldly premeditated nature of its execution, we need to ask what kind of society condones this level of savagery on the part of their government? What precedent is there for such monstrous disregard for even the most basic tenets of human decency? We need look no further than the behavior of our very own United States, of course. In Iraq, the toll of our psychotic militarism is well over a million human beings (not counting the years of punishing economic sanctions) and a large part of the infrastructure of an entire nation of more than 26 million people has been obliterated. Let’s not even begin to tally up the deaths resulting from U.S. imperialism around the globe in the last sixty years alone. It would put the Zionists to shame–mere pikers in the annals of human slaughter.

And what of Gaza today, one year later? Israel’s continued illegal siege, enabled by the U.S., Egypt (a U.S. client state) and the international community has prevented any substantial amount of building materials from entering Gaza. Essentially, no reconstruction has been possible. The people of Gaza live amongst the rubble left to them by Israeli hatred and aggression. They are attempting to rebuild their society using mud bricks and materials salvaged from the wreckage.

The next time someone attempts to argue, “Israel has a right to defend itself,” or uses what I call the abusive spouse defense, ”Look what you made me do,” tell them, “No.” Tell them there is no and can never be any acceptable justification for the deliberate devastation of entire societies, no matter what political, ideological or “security” issues, real or imagined, may be at stake. It is unconscionable. It is wrong. Plainly put, there is no sane argument in favor of such behavior. Those who believe there is must be contradicted and opposed at every available opportunity.

Joe Mowrey is an anti-war activist and an advocate for Palestinian rights. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his spouse and their three radical canines as well as the fifteen-year old anarchist cat, Mackabee who now has an antithetical feline roommate, Misha, the Velvet Fog. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Joe.

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Rehmat said on January 19th, 2010 at 11:14am #

    Israel being “a victim” is one of many myths created by Zionists to keep the westerners caged in their guilty conscience (the Holocaust stuff). The Zionist-regime tries to fool the world that Palestinians will never achieve anything unless they push for a non-violence movement – in other words, they should tie-down their hands behind their backs and take Irseli brutalities with a big smile.

    Bono wish for a Palestinian Gandhi

  2. Ismail Zayid said on January 19th, 2010 at 12:22pm #

    The assault on Gaza by a mighty military power, Israel, on a defenceless largely refugee population, defies credibility. This was inflicted on a population that has been already ravaged by Israeli occupation and siege, the vast majority of them is a population that have been dispossessed and cleansed from their homes, sixty years before. On top of this savage assault, they, as described in this excellent report, continue to be dnied access to all elements of basic human living, thanks to Israel, Egypt and the US. On top of that, we contiue to experience the deafening silence from the international community that should be calling and acting to bring this calamity to an end.
    To Israel and Israelis nothing can be more accurate and shameful than the words of the Israeli prominent journalist, Akiva Eldar, in his article, titled: “Israel’s compassion in Haiti can’t hide our ugly face in Gaza” [Haaretz, Jan. 18, 2010].

  3. deceschi said on January 19th, 2010 at 2:28pm #

    Really a pity that the Gazans elected the bunch of fanatic terrorists which are Hamas and cohorts, believing that their situation would improve. They actually have been and are cynically misused, exploited for belligerent irrational goals, hostages of a destructive policy of confrontation at all costs that led them in a blind alley.

    Do the Palestinians want to lift the blockade and normalize their living conditions as well as the relations with their neighbours, Israel and Egypt? They should provide evidence that they are serious about reconciliation and peace: stop the hate education of the youth, release Shalit on just terms (not to get free hundreds of more terrorists), remove those passages in the Charter which explicitly promise the destruction of Israel, stop the terror activities (called low intensity war) which, like a boomerang, affect the own civilian population. And accept the demands of the international community for a peaceful solution of the conflict.

    Not willing? Only the “evil” Israel to blame for their “misery”? Then they should face the consequences resulting from the choice to fight against the designated evil enemy.

    It’s a shame the Palestinians (their political representatives) and their persistent Israel-bashing supporters – Eldar is among them – keep alive this ugly fable.

    (Sorry, I have no other words to express the hard nacked truth).

  4. lichen said on January 19th, 2010 at 2:55pm #

    Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza; hamas forces are the national guard of gaza, called out to defend the territory from the illegal invasion, illegal attacks, and illegal occupation of the genocidal IDF; a terrorist organization that recruits every single young person in it’s country to murder, oppress, and steal from Palestine, which has a right to it’s demcoracy and to it’s own defense forces. Israel, as the larger more equipped and guilty party, should be the one to renounce violence. Palestine is not legally subject to Israeli rule, is not legally occupied or owned by israel; so no, deluded colonists like desechi have no place to air their condescending propaganda; the world will stop you from thinking you are a ‘parent’ to the Gazan’s.

  5. okeefecybermesa said on January 19th, 2010 at 3:44pm #

    lichen is correct on every count. Hamas was elected in elections demanded by Israel and the US. When they were not allowed to govern they drove Fatah out and have governed since. They have acted responsibly toward their constituency and are the only thing keeping the population under control.
    The idea that the Gazans must comply with Israel’s ideas of what their government should be is ridiculous beyond words and no sovereign people would agree to that.
    deceschi’s assertion that Gazans are acting irresponsibly is also absurd. Was the Stern gang responsible? Irgun? Desperate people in desperate situations will not act “responsibly” and to expect otherwise is simplistic at best. Israel has created a population that has decided they have nothing to lose and like any creature backed into a corner without escape, they will strike back at times. That they have not done more so is remarkable and attests to the restraint of Hamas. Would deceschi like to see the outcome that happened here in the US when we completely obliterated and humiliated the Native Americans? He would be in great company then!

  6. deceschi said on January 19th, 2010 at 4:29pm #

    lichen –

    I don’t want to disappoint you, but I consider your discourse the usual anti-Israel rethoric without substance (and therefore simply irresponsible and dangerous). I’ve never heard you say a single word about the thousands of rockets Hamas shot against Israeli civilians after Israel pulled out from Gaza in 2005, or – if you like – against the suicide bombings in the Israeli cities after the failed Oslo accords in 2000. Neither you uttered a single word on Hamas Charter that explicitly incites to the destruction of Israel, or against the hate education/propaganda in Palestinian/Arab media and schools.

    But I can presume why you didn’t. Because you agree with all this.
    You justify and even supports all this by virtue of the belief, which you share with the (radical) Palestinians, that Israel is “evil”, the “evil” in itself. And because Israel is the evil, there are no limits to the fight against it. Everything is allowed, justified, even terror against civilians (the latter is integral part of the invading and oppressing “Zionist entity”), even education to hatred, anti-Israeli AND anti-Semitic. That’s also the reason why in Iran the masses can yell without hesitation in every demonstration, istigated by their president and their leaders: “Marg bar Esraiil” – “Death to Israel”.

    But where will this radical (to put it mildly) mindset lead which considers the other side, the enemy, nothing else than “evil”, “cancer”, “microbe” and so on? And do you think that this supposed “evil” will be willing to accept that kind of hatred and violence without (re)acting or defending itself? Will the “evil” Jews agree to be attacked in order to be removed, maybe destroyed, as written in the Hamas charter and repeated by many leaders of Hamas and Iran, its strongest supporter?

    In other words: Do you think that this approach can help the Palestinians to achieve peace and prosperity, to achieve these goals? If you really believe that, so I don’t know who is here more deluded. It’s simply worring.

  7. lichen said on January 19th, 2010 at 4:37pm #

    decechi, you cannot “disappoint” me–I have neither expectations nor hopes for zionists like you. When describing the Palestineans, you have no respect, but take the typical language of the colonizer–to decondescend to the colonial subjects by talking of them as ‘naughty children’ that need to be corrected otherwise they will be ‘rightfully punished’ by the parental white people (and since most jews are white europeans, that phrase is appropriate.) This shows not only the parasitic and cruel attitude you have towards actual children, but how much you deride and hate the rights of the wonderful Palestinean people.

    Thankfully, I’m not someone who is infected by the right wing mainstream media’s “both sides” principal, wherein there are no ethics and there is no possibility of justice, but the weaker party’s subjugation is legitimized by the claim that “both sides” suck. I’m not interested in your Israeli propaganda, either. So oh well; we will continue to build up an international movement that will isolate and force israel to unconditionally follow UN resolutions to get out of east jerusulem, the west bank, and gaza.

  8. deceschi said on January 19th, 2010 at 4:58pm #

    Do this work if you believe in it, but be please aware to work for reconciliation not for more conflict. The way you sometimes speak of Israel – paraphrasing indeed the “right wing” Palestinian / Arab mainstream – does not bode well for peace. Only a suggestion.

    Have a good day.

  9. Maryb said on January 20th, 2010 at 12:44am #

    Chutzpah or bluff from Livni (she who cancelled her visit to the UK when she got wind of an arrest warrant out for her)?

    Bluff and bluster I would say – partly to soften the emasculation of the Geneva Convention Act 1957 which her Zionist friends in NuLabour have promised if they stay in power.

  10. Maryb said on January 20th, 2010 at 1:09am #

    Letters – We must not renege on war crime laws

    The Guardian, Saturday 16 January 2010

    We are shocked at suggestions by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Ivan Lewis and foreign secretary David Miliband that Britain may consider changing its laws to avoid any future attempts to prosecute suspected war criminals, Israeli or otherwise. The UK must not renege on its international treaty obligations, particularly those under the fourth Geneva convention to seek out and prosecute persons suspected of war crimes wherever and whoever they are, whatever their status, rank or influence, against whom good prima facie evidence has been laid. We reject any attempt to undermine the judiciary’s independence and integrity. A judge who finds sufficient evidence of a war crime must have power to order the arrest of a suspect, subject to the usual rights to bail and appeal.

    The power to arrest individuals reasonably suspected of war crimes anywhere in the world should they set foot on UK soil is an efficient and necessary resource in the struggle against war crimes, and must not be interfered with (Report, 6 January). Nor should the government succumb to pressure from any foreign power to alter this crucial aspect of the judicial process. We urge the government to state clearly that it will not alter the law on universal jurisdiction and will continue to allow victims of war crimes to seek justice in British courts.

    (list of just under 100 signatories)

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain said on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:45am #

    Maryb, have you noticed one aspect of the Western media coverage of the desultory rescue attempts in Haiti, ie the sycophantic emphasis on the Israeli ‘contribution’. Just the other night the BBC coverage, that concentrated on the Israeli rescue effort (you will have noticed that the hundreds of Cuban doctors who are there and have been there for years, have been studiously ignored)was followed by SkyNews with an even longer coverage, once again of the heroic Israelis, scrabbling under rubble,instead of producing it, as in Gaza,and rescuing people instead of immolating them with white phosphorus.
    Later, another grotesque excess of fawning obsequiousness included the nauseating sight of an new-born babe, whose mother had ‘decided’ (of her own volition, no doubt, without inducement-I bet!)to name her son ‘Israel’ out of gratitude for her rescue, having his arm tag inscribed, by the Israeli nurse, not just with his name, but a bloody Star of David as well! Talk about arrogant presumption, but it does come so naturally, does it not! Then there was the picture on the daily paper, with the little chap rescued with his arms flung wide, recreating the gesture, while wearing a T-shirt inscribed-what else?-in Hebrew!
    So, plainly, the Zionist propaganda apparatus, either directly on the ground through their ‘humanitarian’ representatives, or through the well-trained hyenas of the Western media, see Haiti as a grand opportunity for pro-Israel agit-prop. Perhaps they imagine that following the Israelis around and highlighting their efforts will make people forget or downplay the savagery, the ongoing sadistic barbarity, of Gaza. Once again the Zionists have excelled themselves in moral imbecility, and arrogance, even in the context of a giant tragedy.

  12. jon s said on January 22nd, 2010 at 10:06am #

    The present Israeli response brought about these recollections, from Yossi Sarid:

  13. MuslimScot said on January 23rd, 2010 at 5:11am #

    Wells said. Good, well written article.

  14. mary said on February 8th, 2010 at 2:25am #

    JOE WROTE – Recently, I was pleased to be contacted by Anthony Lawson, an international-prize-winning producer and director, concerning the production of a video presentation of my latest article at Dissident Voice . It has been my privilege to work with Anthony over the last few weeks as he edited the article and we researched and compiled the necessary imagery for his masterful production.

    Gaza in Plain Language

    It is a plain and simple assessment of the horror which was unleashed on the people of Gaza in January, 2009. One year later, as the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza continues, and as the brutal dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people in the West Bank is accelerated, the true story of the monumental injustice which has been visited on the Palestinian people for the last 60 years must be told again and again until the entire world begins to listen.

    I hope you will reserve nine minutes and 41 seconds of your time to watch this video. If it arouses your anger and compassion, please share it with as many people as possible.

    As people of conscience, we are obligated to express the truth in order to achieve justice.

    Joe Mowrey

    PS There is a nice acknowledgement to Kim and his DV olleagues on the info. bar.

  15. McMicah said on February 9th, 2010 at 2:55pm #

    I often find myself recalling the following quote by Arthur Schopenhauer when I read news stories that whitewash or “civilize” reality:

    “Lasting pain exist only in thought and therefore lies in the memory. If now such a sorrow, such painful knowledge or reflection, is so bitter that it becomes altogether unbearable, and the individual is prostrated under it, then, terrified nature seizes upon madness as the last resource of life; the mind so forcefully tortured at once destroys the threat of its memory, fills up the gap with fictions, and thus seeks refuge in madness from the mental suffering that exceeds its strength, just as we cut off a mortified limb and replace it with a wooden one… A faint analogy of this kind of transition from pain to madness is to be found in the way in which all of us often seek, as it were mechanically, to drive away a painful thought that suddenly occurs to us by some loud exclamation or quick movement to turn ourselves from it to distract our minds by force.”

    Apparently mainstream media is the insane “force” by which we are supposed to distract ourselves from the unbearable truth. Thank you, Joe Mowrey, for keeping us sane.

  16. JimFetzer said on February 9th, 2010 at 3:12pm #

    It was my privilege to appear on “No Lies Radio” with Kevin Barrett the first half-hour of the show today and to be followed by Joe Mowrey. I consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be among the transcendent human rights issues of our time.
    See my blog at

    An earlier exchange with Sherwood Ross, “The U.S. is Out of Control”, appeared at and with Yvonne Ridley about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, aka “Prisoner 650”,

  17. johntea18 said on February 11th, 2010 at 2:15pm #

    deceschi, you are 100% correct. Looks like most of the responders here, not to mention the “authors” are trolls who ignore Arab intolerance towards all non-arabs. The Pals are no different in their perceptions of the dhimmi…genocidal in tendency and intolerant in perception. They continue to murder women and children. In general, Jihad is merely the tool to create an islamofascist empire. In Israel, they will do anything to dislodge the Jews from their homeland. Is it any wonder that the PLO began in ’64, years before Israel had to defensively fight against 5 Arab armies that wanted to annihilate Jews and eventually captured all of Judea and Samaria, the heartland of biblical Israel? Meanwhile, in the Sudan and Darfur, the racist Arabs murder black muslims –400,000 murdered thus far– because of their skin color while Israelis welcome the Ethiopian Jews as brothers. With this type of hatred of Jews (and it is nothing but that) the fight against all Arabs, including Pals who are culturally no different than Syrians, will be, unfortunately, eternal

  18. dan e said on February 11th, 2010 at 5:44pm #

    yes & the moon is made of green yogurt:)

    “johntea”? TEA? is this cr… er, balderdash what this “tea” business is all about? Speak up, Teapeople:)

  19. Solus said on February 14th, 2010 at 1:56pm #

    Never Again.