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Thursday, January 29, 2009


 

The latest Israeli attack and its significance


Israel yesterday bombed a metal factory in Rafah, claiming it was a "weapons factory." Now, if you didn't know anything else, think about this: Israel bombed Gaza for three weeks. Their targets included universities, hospitals, ambulances, food warehouses, and private homes. Surely, you would think, a "known weapons factory" would be a little higher on their target list than any of those; even a higher target than the tunnels which were relentlessly bombed in the same area (Rafah). Without knowing anything else, you'd have to say that the probability there was a known, as-yet-unbombed "weapons factory" in Rafah is as close to nil as possible.

So how did the media treat this event? The New York Times: "Israel carried out a retaliatory air strike against what the military said was a weapons manufacturing plant in southern Gaza." At least an attribution of the claim to Israel, but no counterclaim from Hamas or any Palestinian. Likewise the Reuters: "Israeli aircraft then struck in the southern Gaza Strip, attacking a metal workshop that the military called a weapons factory." The AP goes them one better: "On Wednesday Israeli warplanes struck Gaza smuggling tunnels and a weapons factory." No attribution, and no ifs, ands, or buts - it was a "weapons factory."

Only Al Jazeera (video not online), who actually has reporters in Gaza, thought to visit the site, and talk to the owner of the factory, who vehemently denies there were weapons being made there (on the grounds that he's a businessman making money and he'd be nuts to let people make weapons in his profitable factory and make it a target), shows what they were making, and, in an angle that is completely missing from most Western media, talks about his 30 workers who are now out of work (the factory was completely destroyed) and the families who now have no source of income.

Was this an accident? Bad intelligence? Remarkably, Time Magazine has a story which helps us understand that this was no accident, but a deliberate policy of undermining the fragile economy of Gaza:

Yaser Alwadeya wanders past a field strewn with the remnants of gaily painted ice cream carts that were shredded by a blizzard of shrapnel. He enters the blackened innards of the Al Ameer factory, which once manufactured Gaza's tastiest ice cream and popsicles. Shaking his head, he says, "I can't figure out why the Israelis thought that Hamas had anything to do with ice cream."

Alwadeya's ice cream plant, which had been owned by his family for 55 years, was far from the only factory destroyed in Israel's 22-day assault on the Palestinian enclave. All along Gaza's factory row — which produced everything from biscuits to cement to wooden furniture — hardly a single building remains standing. It is as if a tsunami of fire had roared through Gaza's industrial district, leaving in its wake a tide-line of twisted metal and smashed buildings.

Israeli attacks...destroyed over 230 factories, according to the Palestinian Industries Federation.
Summing up, Time writes:
Israeli war planners had vowed to destroy the "infrastructure of terror" in Gaza, but even many Gazans opposed to Hamas believe the operation was directed against infrastructure per se — it certainly demolished much of Gaza's economy and its civil society. Nearly 50 schools and 23 mosques were also damaged, as well as scores of government buildings.

Several businessmen interviewed by TIME insist that no militants were taking refugee inside the factories bombed by Israelis. "They're targeting factories to make us dependent on the Israeli economy," claims Hamad.


Why stop here? There's more...

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