By Alex Kane
Ethan Bronner effectively erased the some 1,400 Palestinians killed during Israel’s brutal 2008-09 assault on the besieged Gaza Strip with this sentence from last weekend’s Week in Review in the New York Times:
It is worth noting that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been largely drained of deadly violence in the past few years…
In other words, the dispute is calmer than it has been in years
The “past few years” would seem to include what the Israeli military termed “Operation Cast Lead,” which refers to the invasion of Gaza in late 2008. That war sparked worldwide outrage over Israel’s callous disregard for Palestinian civilian life. In a landmark United Nations report on that assault, Judge Richard Goldstone, an esteemed South African jurist who is Jewish, concluded that “Cast Lead” was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”
This is how Amnesty International, a respected human rights group, described “Cast Lead”:
At 11.30am on 27 December 2008, without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating
bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip codenamed Operation “Cast Lead”. Its stated aim was
to end rocket attacks into Israel by armed groups affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian factions. By 18 January 2009, when unilateral ceasefires were announced by both Israel and Hamas, some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed, including some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians, and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins.
Much of the destruction was wanton and resulted from direct attacks on civilian objects as
well as indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between legitimate military targets
and civilian objects. Such attacks violated fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law, notably the prohibition on direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects
(the principle of distinction), the prohibition on indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks,
and the prohibition on collective punishment.
The conflict can hardly be described, then, as having been “largely drained of deadly violence in the past few years.”
Bronner’s been roundly criticized in the blogosphere. Here’s links to some of those pieces: Norman Finkelstein in Mondoweiss; Peter Hart at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s blog; and Richard Silverstein in his blog.