A member of Israel’s parliament has joined the nation’s interior minister in calling for the mass slaughter of civilians in the besieged Gaza strip, arguing that there are no innocent people there because they elected Hamas to lead them.
Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari, a member of the far-right National Union alliance, delivered a message to Israeli troops in which he urged them to show no mercy towards any man, woman or child in Gaza. “Brothers! Beloved soldiers and commanders– preserve your lives. Don’t give a hoot about Goldstone,” Ben-Ari implores, referring to the United Nations Human Rights Council report authored by South African Jew Richard Goldstone that detailed mostly Israeli but also some Palestinian war crimes during the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead invasion of Gaza. “There are no innocents in Gaza,” Ben-Ari continued. “Don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives, at the tiniest concern for your lives, mow them!” “There are no righteous men [in Gaza],” Ben-Ari added. “Turn it into rubble! Paint it red!” Although he is a member of the Israeli Knesset, Washington considers Ben-Ari to be a terrorist supporter and has denied him entry into the United States before. Ben-Ari is a devoted disciple of the late ultra-nationalist rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the outlawed Kach party, which is listed as a terrorist organization in both the United States and Israel.
Ben-Ari’s call for mass slaughter in Gaza follows a shocking remark by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who said that “the goal of the operation [Pillar of Defense] is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.” Although not a cabinet member or elected official, Gilad Sharon, youngest son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a major in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), wrote an op-ed piece in the leading Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post in which he also argued that there were no innocent Gazans among the embattled enclave’s 1.6 million men, women and children and so Israeli troops must “flatten all of Gaza” like “Hiroshima”: “The desire to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences…” “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.”
While Israeli government officials were calling for genocide, the aerial and naval bombardment of the Gaza strip continued into its sixth day. The number of innocent civilians killed spiked to 95, with more than 720 injured. In what the Israel Defense Forces is calling a “mistake,” a bomb intended for a senior Hamas commander struck a family home in Gaza City, killing three generations of one family. Nine of the 11 dead were members of the Dalu family. Shop owner Jamal Dalu was visiting a neighbor’s home when the bomb hit but his wife, his sister, his two daughters, his daughter-in-law and four of his grandchildren, aged 2 to 6, died along with an 18-year-old neighbor and his grandmother. “The wanted target in this case was responsible for firing dozens of rockets into Israel,” Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai explained to reporters after the Dalu family massacre.
“I do not know what happened to him, but I do know that we are committed to the safety of the citizens of Israel.” In a separate bombing attack, two houses belonging to the same family were hit, killing two children and two adults and injuring 42 others. Shrapnel from another attack killed one child and wounded several others. After an all-night lull in Hamas rocket fire against Israel, Haaretz reports that at least 17 rockets were launched on Monday morning. Three of those were intercepted and destroyed by the US-funded Iron Dome missile defense system, while one damaged a building in the southern city of Ashkelon. No deaths were reported. Three Israelis have died from Hamas rockets since hostilities erupted last week. Despite intense international pressure for a negotiated settlement, Israel continued its preparations for an all-out ground invasion of Gaza.
Israel has reportedly given Hamas a 36-hour ultimatum to stop rocket attacks or face a massive ground assault. For its part, Hamas wants Israel to end its crippling economic blockade of the overpopulated and underserved Gaza strip, as well as an end to targeted assassinations and cross-border IDF incursions. While much of the Arab world has condemned what it calls Israeli aggression and even war crimes, US President Barack Obama reaffirmed Israel’s “right to defend itself” during a visit to Thailand on Sunday. Israel claims that it takes great pains to minimize civilian deaths, in contrast to Hamas, which fires rockets indiscriminately at Israeli population centers. But with more than 30 times as many Palestinians as Israelis killed so far in six days of hostilities, and with so many children killed and maimed, Israel’s claims are met with a great deal of skepticism in Gaza and beyond.