Nå som det regner!

Av | 3. januar 2009

Nå som bakkekrigen er igang på Gaza-stripen og klokka er 23 her hjemme, kom jeg over en interessant artikkel i The Guardian. Les, følg med og engasjer deg. Vel bekomme!

Israel was not allowing international journalists into Gaza this week, so I sat under a pine tree on a small hill, on the edge of the Israeli border town of Sderot, watching the war from a distance. Israeli attack helicopters moved lazily across the sky, taking all the time they wanted, waiting for the next target.

An F-15 warplane suddenly screamed over, only a couple of hundred feet up, fiery decoy flares flicking around its tail just in case Hamas had managed to smuggle in some sort of anti aircraft missile through the tunnels from Egypt.

A vapour trail rose out of the dark line of buildings on the edge of Gaza City. Almost simultaneously a female voice drifted towards our pine tree from the loudspeakers in Sderot.

«Colour Red. Colour Red.»

Her voice was a signal to run for cover. They used to have sirens but they frightened the children too much. The voice was calm, insistent; maybe she is meant to sound like a mother.

The voice meant a launch had been detected and a rocket was coming in from Gaza. The 15 or 20 seconds before it struck were not pleasant. There was a scream from the rocket before it exploded. A cloud of black smoke rose from the grass to the south of the hill, about 200 metres away. No one was hurt. The cameramen on the hill focused on the spot from where the launch had come. They expected an Israeli answer, a plume of smoke and an explosion.

But half an hour later the launch sites still had not been attacked. Presumably the rocket crews had gone back under cover and were now planning their next attack.

The lesson they can learn is that firing at the Israelis does not mean certain death. The young, religious men in the armed wing of Hamas have taken some very heavy casualties so far, and many more of them will die before this is over. But those who have launched rockets and are still alive must be gaining confidence for whatever lies ahead. It is clear that for all its air power, surveillance drones and modern technology, the Israeli air force cannot stop every rocket.


That is why Israeli generals were pressing to send troops in, to wipe out the stain on the army’s reputation caused by its poor showing in Lebanon in 2006. Halfway through the week, lines of Israeli tanks were lined up in the ploughed fields between Sderot and the border wire. It was hard to say whether the soldiers hunkered down around the tanks, water dripping down their necks, were keen to be off and into Gaza or keen to be out of the field and back home – journalists were not allowed to talk to them, and the fields had been declared a closed military area, so we were not meant to be there at all.

Even though it has not been possible this week for most journalists to report firsthand from Gaza, plenty of information is coming out about the condition of the people there.

The Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, says there is no humanitarian crisis there because Israel is allowing in dozens of truckloads of relief supplies every day. Her view is not shared by the people at the United Nations who run the relief operation.

Even before Israel started its military campaign they were providing food aid to one million people, which is two-thirds of Gaza’s population. The Israeli blockade over the past 18 months has destroyed Gaza’s economy; 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

This week there has been an extra, deadly dimension to civilian life in Gaza. Five sisters from the Balusha family were killed as they slept. Even through a TV picture you could feel the grief and loneliness of the sister who survived as she described how the walls fell in on them. Too many other Gazans have similar stories to tell.

Civilian casualties get Israel a lot of bad publicity, so it is probably fair to say that it does not hit every target it wants, otherwise many more would have died. Even so, it knows that the use of powerful weapons in a territory as confined and heavily populated as Gaza means that the most accurate satellite-guided weapons in its arsenal will still kill neighbours, passersby, children taking out the rubbish or playing outside. I spoke to a friend in Gaza on the phone. He said he had evacuated his wife and children. What he meant was he had moved them a short distance from their home to a place that seemed less exposed. In Gaza, there aren’t many places to go to.

Israel would like to topple Hamas from power in Gaza. The government hopes the people of Gaza will stop blaming Israel for what is happening to their families and start blaming Hamas. The people I speak to here say that is not happening, and will not.


If Israel cannot stop the rocket fire, with or without sending in the tanks, its leaders will be accused of failure, as they were after the 2006 summer war in Lebanon. If Hamas can still fire a rocket or even a bullet when the ceasefire comes it will claim victory, just as Hezbollah did in Lebanon in 2006.

In this war both sides believe their actions are legitimate and justified on grounds of self defence. Many more Palestinians than Israelis have died, but both sides believe they are the real victims. The only way to settle their differences is through political agreement. But there are people in Israel, and in Gaza, who think they can win. And while they think like that, more blood will spill.

• Jeremy Bowen is the BBC’s Middle East editor.

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