News headlines this morning announced what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called war. “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting], at war! This morning Hamas initiated a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens,” he announced in a video statement about 11:00 a.m. local time. As of early this morning (U.S. Central Time), the death toll was reported at about forty Israelis killed and many more wounded.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) response was swift and large, with missile strikes against Gaza resulting in numerous deaths and injuries in an operation dubbed “Iron Swords.” WAFA, the Palestinian News and Information Agency based in the West Bank, reports: “The death toll of the brutal Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has risen to 198, with 1,610 others injured, since early today morning, according to an update by the Ministry of Health.”
The Turkish magazine TRT World reported two years ago, “Israel has one of the world’s most modernized armies equipped with a nuclear arsenal. On the other hand, Palestinians, having no real state and regular army, don’t have much to defend themselves.” The article went on to note that the IDF had about 170,000 active military members (between ten and twenty times their estimate for Palestinian fighters), together with a budget of about $20.5 billion. This imbalance of force is reflected over and over in conflicts between the two groups. Writing this week about a trial in Israel following the beating of U.S. peace and justice activist Cassandra Dixon by an Israeli settler earlier this year, journalist Sam Stein notes, “Harassment and attacks on human rights activists in Palestine are rarely punished.” Dixon is one of many activists that have sought to accompany everyday Palestinians attempting to simply live their lives in peace on the land where they and their families have lived for generations.
The Progressive, throughout its history, has opposed the use of military force to attempt to settle conflict. As legendary journalist I.F. Stone wrote in the pages of our magazine nearly a half century ago, “If we do not pursue the path of reconciliation, the Jewish people will be transformed in the span of a generation; we cannot harden our hearts against our Arab brothers and remain the kind of people we have been proud of being for 2,000 years. We will begin to turn our backs on everything we have been proud of, everything that the Bible and the Prophets stand for. It would not be the first time. . . . we are in danger of bowing down to the idols of militarism and force and realpolitik.”
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