723 Palestinians, 35 Israelis* Killed in Gaza Conflict; Israel Reservists Refuse to Serve
703 Palestinians [Update 7 a.m. ET: 723 Palestinians] (around 560 civilians), 35 Israelis* (three civilians, *including one Thai resident) have now died in the Gaza conflict, and from various directions pressure is building on Israel. The most important word in the following lead sentence, I think, is the one I’ve emphasized:
Israel faced new political and economic pressures Wednesday to negotiate a halt to the Gaza war, with its rising toll of death and destruction, as cease-fire talks ground forward and the Israeli tourism industry was upended as major foreign airlines extended their suspension of flights over fears of Palestinian rocket fire.
Even the mainstream media now recognizes that Hamas has transformed the conflict from just another collective punishment orgy against Gaza into a war over the brutal siege, obviously ‘illegal’ under what is called ‘international law’, that Israel has punished Gaza with for voting Hamas into office in 2006. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal:
Let’s agree first on the demands and on implementing them and then we can agree on the zero hour for a ceasefire … We will not accept any proposal that does not lift the blockade … We do not desire war and we do not want it to continue but we will not be broken by it.
Meanwhile, growing numbers of Israeli reservists are refusing to serve in the Gaza war (whenever Israel launches one of its frequent wars, it calls up thousands of reserves). Read the petition at
We are Israeli reservists. We refuse to serve. The introduction, written by journalist and former Israeli soldier Yael Even Or, is actually more to the point than the petition itself:
We are more than 50 Israelis who were once soldiers and now declare our refusal to be part of the reserves. We oppose the Israeli Army and the conscription law. Partly, that’s because we revile the current military operation. But most of the signers below are women and would not have fought in combat. For us, the army is flawed for reasons far broader than “Operation Protective Edge,” or even the occupation. We rue the militarization of Israel and the army’s discriminatory policies. One example is the way women are often relegated to low-ranking secretarial positions. Another is the screening system that discriminates against Mizrachi (Jews whose families originate in Arab countries) by keeping them from being fairly represented inside the army’s most prestigious units. In Israeli society, one’s unit and position determines much of one’s professional path in the civilian afterlife.
To us, the current military operation and the way militarization affects Israeli society are inseparable. In Israel, war is not merely politics by other means — it replaces politics. Israel is no longer able to think about a solution to a political conflict except in terms of physical might; no wonder it is prone to never-ending cycles of mortal violence. And when the cannons fire, no criticism may be heard.
This petition, long in the making, has a special urgency because of the brutal military operation now taking place in our name. …
P.S. – One reason, in my humble opinion, that the war is falling apart for the Israeli leadership, and is ‘getting away’ from its simple apparent purpose, ‘do something about those missiles’, is that you can’t do anything (just) about the missiles. Israel has three realistic (which doesn’t mean civilized) choices: 1) destroy Gaza and kill or deport all its Palestinians, 2) do nothing and accept the missiles in the way people accept traffic accidents (which kill far more people in Israel than missiles from Gaza do), or 3) negotiate a long-term peace agreement with Hamas (notes: not with the PLO; Egypt is the worst possible intermediary). Instead of choosing one of those three, Israel has chosen something else, and the backfiring sound can be heard all around the world.