Sheer malevolence: Israel's sonic booms over Gaza

Malevolence can be the only possible motive for creating sonic booms over Gaza at the very time aid agencies, medics and other humanitarian aid workers are engaged in the monumental attempt to alleviate suffering in the blockaded territory.

Ask Israel why the hell it uses sonic booms to terrorise an already traumatised population and demand that it cease such hateful and gratuitous mental torture.

Following its documented violence against children that clearly amounted to war crimes during Operation Protective Edge, Israel continues to terrorise its young victims in Gaza by using its air force to create sonic booms. On 15 April 2015, for example, in clear breach of the Gaza ceasefire agreement, Israeli forces invaded the an-Nahda neighbourhood, to the east of Rafah, moving north to bulldoze crops in the Sharab al-‘Asal area. Israeli troops also opened fire on Palestinian farmland near Abu Reeda, south-east of Khuza’a, causing Palestinian farmers to flee. Meanwhile, Israeli air force fighter jets flew over different areas of the coastal region, repeatedly breaking the sound barrier and terrorising residents, especially children.

Malevolence can be the only possible motive for creating sonic booms over Gaza at the very time aid agencies, medics and other humanitarian aid workers are engaged in the monumental attempt to alleviate suffering in the blockaded territory. It is the same ideologically-driven spite that prompts the Zionist state to destroy Palestinian homes, wells and irrigation in the Occupied West Bank. Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP) has published a report: Operation Protective Edge: A War Waged on Gaza's Children that describes in detail the horrific 50-day assault lasting from 8 July to 26 August 2015 that, according to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), claimed the lives of 2220 Palestinians. DCIP independently verified the deaths of 547 Palestinian children among the slaughtered in Gaza, 535 of them killed as a direct result of Israeli attacks.

Israeli forces committed grave violations against children, amounting to war crimes
Nearly 68 per cent of the children killed by Israeli forces were 12 years old or younger. DCIP’s investigation into all Palestinian child fatalities during Operation Protective Edge found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations against children, amounting to war crimes. This included the direct targeting of children by Israeli drone-fired missiles and attacks carried out against schools.

Nowhere for children to hide from the Israeli blitz
Israel, the world’s largest exporter of aerial drones, killed 164 children in drone strikes during the conflict. Evidence and testimony collected by DCIP showed that there was no safe place for children in Gaza during the Israeli assault. Children were killed in their homes by Israeli missiles and while sheltering in schools by high-explosive Israeli artillery shells. They died in the streets, even as they and their families attempted to escape the onslaught, because there was no escape from Israeli bombardment. Israel claims that it targets 'militants' hiding among civilians. Hundreds of photos of utterly destroyed blocks of houses and apartments in Gaza are mute testimony to Israel's atrocious addiction to mass slaughter – and to lying.

Many children permanently disabled
Those who survived these attacks will continue to pay the price for many years. Amputees like Mohammad Baroud, 12, who lost both his feet in an explosion that killed 11 of his neighbours, will require lifelong medical care and support. More than 1000 children suffered injuries that rendered them permanently disabled, according to OCHA.

Children suffering severe psychological trauma
For the children who managed to escape physical injury, the psychological effects of this latest operation have been severe and tragic. Many have lost one or both parents, other family members and, in some cases, their entire extended families.

Every child has experienced violence, fear and instability
And still the constant and largely unreported Israeli ceasefire violations make a mockery of attempts to bring aid to the people in Gaza. The Israeli Navy continues to attack Palestinian fishing boats (sometimes with fatal results) while the Army attacks farmers and civilians attempting to make some sort of a living.

Israel's continuing and unremitting economic and agricultural sabotage
On top of Israel's shameless violations of last year's Gaza ceasefire agreement, with almost daily attacks on fishing boats, bombardment of farms and bulldozing of crops, evidence is now emerging that Israel sprays Gaza crops with toxic chemicals. This is nothing less than a form of chemical warfare – see video. On 23 April 2015, after well over 200 Israeli ceasefire violations since the beginning of the year (resulting in three dead, 18 wounded and much economic and agricultural damage), finally managed to provoke the Palestinian Resistance into firing a single missile into southern Israel. It caused no injury or damage but Israel, nevertheless, made use of the incident to further degrade a hungry population's meagre agriculture by sending in fighter jets to attack northern Gaza farms, destroying crops and causing widespread damage.

On many fronts the Palestinian people have been, and are still being, betrayed. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is preventing funds from coming into Gaza through the banks by putting huge obstacles in their way so many charities are finding themselves without donations from overseas. Money that used to come in, even amounts as small as $3000 destined for a charity in one of the areas worst hit by the last offensive, are now stopped or returned.
Israel and Egypt are preventing almost everything, including people, from getting in or out of Gaza. People are not getting paid, no one has any money and there are many homeless. According to one observer in Gaza, many people think the PA is collaborating with Israel and Egypt to make conditions as unbearable as possible so the people will rise up against Hamas. As the observer commented, if there were any genuine commitment to Gaza and Palestine's future, the elections would be held as promised. The collusion of the UN and the international community in standing by and letting the situation deteriorate to such an extent is nothing short of criminal. People are dying from lack of medicine and adequate treatment and from extreme poverty. Some are committing suicide because their situation has become so hopeless.

The Security Council
A 22 April Press Release by the New Zealand United Nations Security Council of the farewell speech by New Zealand Representative Jim McLay contains an admission that “. . . discussions in this Council are often formulaic and often disconnected from reality. We exist in a world of diplomatic niceties, carefully avoiding the elephants in the room (usually, I might add, in a room deliberately screened from the rest of the world).” Jim McLay is to be congratulated for his frankness but unfortunately nowhere in his speech did he venture to depart from that same obfuscating convention. Some of his speech read like a comedy parody of corporate speak: “. . . to get negotiations started,” McLay said, “. . . will require that both sides step back from their optimum or preferred outcomes, and that they both put any pre-conditions to one side. There’s already been reference to the fact that France is working with others on a parameters resolution.” While Israel is wantonly attacking Gaza fishing boats and bulldozing the blockaded territory’s crops McLay speaks about the need for a resumption of the same futile negotiations that have bought Israel so much time to acquire ever more Palestinian land.

The Palestinian people are suffering the appalling consequences of decisions taken about their future without their consent and contemptuously implemented by the world community. We are all responsible. When people tell us that New Zealand was 'changed forever' by supporting Britain in the First World War, this country's silence at the Security Council over Israel's atrocities would suggest that absolutely nothing was learned from that involvement. The Palestinian people trusted the allies to allow them self determination in the event of an allied victory. In the event, the victorious allies, Britain and France, carved up the Middle East to suit themselves and the Palestinian people became the victims of Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration. Today, amid escalating chaos, with their UN-recognised right of return denied by Israel, the suffering of Palestinian refugees in the Syrian Yarmouk refugee camp draws closer to holocaust proportions.

The requirement that a defenceless, ethnically-cleansed population negotiate with its oppressor in order to salvage a small proportion of its inalienable human rights amounts to complicity with the crimes of the occupying power. Israel is violating the Fourth Geneva Convention and committing war crimes that no amount of negotiations can ever legalise. It is time for New Zealand's representatives to stop “carefully avoiding the elephants in the room”. Nothing less than forthright public denunciation of Israel's inhumanities, accompanied by the certainty of the imposition of sanctions, will suffice in challenging its unwarranted impunity. This humanitarian disaster is man-made; we are all responsible and not another life must be lost to apathy and collusion. Demand to know of Israel why the hell it uses sonic booms to terrorise an already traumatised population.


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