Israel, Palestine, World

The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

I know I am emotional about it. I haven’t really been able to discuss it with Ali since it started a few weeks ago. I just cannot comprehend how one side is allowed to get away with so much when they lose so little compared to what they are doing to the other side. And that’s what it is to them, ‘the other side’. They are not people. They are not individuals. They are only seen as the enemy. As terrorists. Even the women and children. For after all, if they are married to a militant, then shouldn’t they die too? I cannot comprehend the comparison, because to me, there is none.

People who know me certainly know the side that I am passionate about, even though I do try to see both sides of the conflict. It’s possible sometimes. But after living in Nazareth and travelling frequently to the West Bank, I saw, felt and experienced more than I read about in the newspapers. This said, it’s a newspaper article that has gotten me worked up this morning as I slowly wake over my coffee on a grey, London morning.

In bold are the numbers that just don’t add up, taken from the article that became my tipping point to finally write something about the situation in Israel-Palestine and now Lebanon that is just about to boil over.

The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah surprised Israel with a bold daylight assault across the border on Wednesday, leading to fighting in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and at least eight killed, and elevating recent tensions into a serious two-front battle.

Early on Thursday morning, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the runways at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, shutting the airport and potentially stranding thousands of visitors at the peak of tourist season. Israeli warplanes also hit numerous locations in southern Lebanon, adding to the civilian death toll. The Israeli military confirmed the strike, saying that the airport was a target because Hezbollah receives weapons shipments there.

The Israeli government also confirmed that Hezbollah fired several Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, injuring three people.

The toll was the highest one for the Israeli soldiers in several years, and combined with the deaths on Wednesday of at least 22 Palestinians, including many civilians, in fighting in Gaza, it was the deadliest day in the Arab-Israeli conflict since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last year. And the violence continued into the early morning hours, when an Israeli airstrike heavily damaged the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building in Gaza.

Two years ago, Hezbollah managed to push Israel to free more than 400 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for an Israeli businessman held in Lebanon and for the bodies of three Israeli soldiers killed in a Hezbollah attack in 2000. Israel is currently holding close to 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, though the number of Lebanese prisoners is believed to be much smaller.

The fighting on the Lebanese border erupted around 9 a.m., when Hezbollah attacked several Israeli towns with rocket fire, wounding several civilians, the Israeli military said. But that attack was a diversion for the main operation, several miles to the east, where Hezbollah militants fired antitank missiles at two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence, the military said. Of the seven soldiers in the two jeeps, three were killed, two wounded and two abducted, the military said.

Israel then responded with artillery fire, airstrikes and a naval bombardment that focused on about 40 sites in southern Lebanon. Most were believed to be Hezbollah strongholds, but roads and bridges were also hit in an attempt to keep Hezbollah from moving the captured soldiers farther north, according to the military. At least 2 Lebanese civilians were killed and more than 10 wounded in southern Lebanon, Lebanese officials said.

The Israeli Air Force also dropped a bomb on a home in Gaza City at around 3 a.m., saying its targets were Hamas leaders. But the blast killed nine members of the Salmiyeh family, according to Dr. Jumaa al-Saqqa, the spokesman for Al Shifa Hospital, where the bodies were taken. There were visiting Hamas leaders in the house at the time of the bombing, but they escaped with only minor injuries, Palestinians said.

In two separate gun battles near the town of Deir al-Balah, Israeli soldiers killed 10 Palestinian militants and wounded at least 7, Palestinian security and medical officials said. At least 12 more Palestinians were killed in other Gaza incidents, many of them in airstrikes around Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah.

Early on Thursday, a strike by Israeli aircraft heavily damaged the Foreign Ministry building in Gaza. There were reports of injuries, though it was unclear whether they included people inside the ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, or in nearby buildings.

These paragraphs are taken from an article in today’s New York Times. It’s clearly most of the article, but I chose items that illustrated the numbers of people reported to have been immediately effected by the violence. To me, they don’t add up. There have been eight Israeli soldiers killed and three are being kept in captivity. That’s eleven. There were three civilians injured from rockets fired from Lebanon. The kidnapped individuals are the said reasons behind the attacks that Israel has launched on Palestinian and Lebonese civilians, while claiming to kill/target militants and militant headquarters, they have infact injured and killed civilians. Since the attacks launched in Gaza alone, there have been over fifty people killed in Gaza. Fifty. And many civilians are again refugees in their own home land, forced to flee their homes and take refuge in UN schools in Gaza.

It appalls me that it is stated that it was the highest toll for Israeli soliers in years when the number tops less than a dozen and more than a dozen Palestinian civilians are being killed or injured daily.

This article focusses on the recent events, it does not include the power plant that was destroyed in Gaza, leaving civilians without electricity and now without water. It does not mention the bridges that were destroyed throughout Gaza, that during the rainy season will make travelling from one place to another impossible.

I find it very difficult to understand how Israel knows that the individuals they are killing are militants, when clearly after the attack is launched, there are a dozen civilians that have been killed in the attempt to kill a militant. And why do we just believe that they are militiants? How do we know? Because Israel says so? And why are Israeli citizens more important than Palestinian ones? Why is it so awful that nearly a dozen soldiers have been killed, injured or kidnapped when there are several dozen civilians — women and children — that are dead, or hungry, or thirsty or homeless. Why is it ok to attack the people of one place but not the other? Why is it justifiable to kill innocent people in order to get one soldier back?

If this is war, why aren’t armies fighting each other, rather than one military against an entire population? Oh, I forgot, there is only one military. Every one else fall into the militants and terrorists category.

This post is what happens when I read the news in the morning and it’s about something important to me.

Other posts about my time in Israel and Palestine:
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005

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