Photo: flikr/Israel defence Forces
Israel stepped up its strikes on Gaza this weekend in response to a week’s worth of missiles launched from Gaza militants, but it wasn’t just the strikes that stepped up.Several prominent Israeli leaders made astounding comments in the last couple days that raised more than a few eyebrows.
Last night Haaretz reported on their Live Blog of the conflict that Interior Minister Eli Yishai said, “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.”
Taking it a step further, ultra right-wing politician Michael Ben Ari blurted out this gem:
“Brothers! Beloved soldiers and commanders – preserve your lives! Don’t give a hoot about Goldstone! There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives[;] at any tiniest concern for your lives – Mow them!”
His reference to Goldstone was about the U.N.-commissioned report which analysed the 2008/9 conflict between Gaza and Israel. The report concluded that Israel and Hamas both committed several war crimes and humanitarian offenses.
One can understand taking a hardline against “terrorists,” but Gilad Sharon’s comments this weekend caught everyone by surprise. Sharon pretty much advocated turning Gaza into a parking lot in an OpEd he wrote for the right-leaning Jerusalem Post.
From Sharon’s post:
There is no justification for the State of Gaza being able to shoot at our towns with impunity. We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.
The startling nature of Sharon’s comments is twofold. First, he is the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The elder Sharon famously resigned from his previous post as defence Minister for presiding over the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the war in Lebanon.
The Israeli government banned him for life from ever resuming the post, and he subsequently took over as Prime Minister.
The second reason is that Israel is totally capable of doing as much. Hamas threats out of Gaza are no less extreme, but they’re hurling cheap homemade rockets, a stark contrast to Israel’s cutting edge military complex.
Granted, it must be said that Hamas leaders make plenty of insane statements, but they are what Israelis and Americans call terrorists — so it’s probably better not to mimic their forms of speech.
Barack Obama again reaffirmed his support of Israel, to defend itself against unprovoked attacks, but also advised restraint. Israel stepped up the campaign though, striking several targets, even hitting a Hamas newsroom in the same building that housed British news outlets.
Muhammed Morsi recently made some comments indicating that a ceasefire may be close, but also said there are “no guarantees.”
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