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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 8, 2009 at 4:01 PM

The Gaza war

Khaled Omar / The Associated Press

Palestinians walk in the rubble following an Israeli airstrike Wednesday in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel ordered a pause in its Gaza offensive Wednesday for three hours to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, as the country’s leaders debated whether to accept an international cease-fire plan or to expand the assault against Hamas.

Casualties are nothing new

Editor, The Times:

Counting and recounting every casualty of the current conflict in Gaza seems surreal to me. Was it not only 60 years ago that we routinely bombed cities like Tokyo and Dresden, creating terrifying firestorms that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians?

I grew up during the Vietnam War watching the casualties on television each and every night for years. Every military person will tell you that warfare equals casualties.

It is remarkable that the Israeli military, receiving no respect or acknowledgment, takes extraordinary measures to avoid casualties.

— Paul Zohav, Bellevue

Can’t ignore facts on the ground

“Israel is not attacking the Palestinian people.” Such is the claim of Israel’s military spokesmen. Facts on the ground speak louder than words. For 18 months before the current assault, Israel implemented an air, sea and land blockade, producing a humanitarian emergency for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians.

According to U.N. agencies, 80 percent of Gazans rely on aid for food, and unemployment has risen to more than 50 percent. Gaza’s power station often has no fuel or spare parts. More than 100 lifesaving medications were depleted.

My father, brother and other family members under fire in Gaza are — like the vast majority of Palestinians — innocent of any crimes against Israeli civilians. Yet they have been deprived of basic human necessities by Israel.

Most Gazans are Palestinian refugees who were displaced by Israel and denied the right to return to their homeland. This suffering is the latest chapter of 60 years of occupation and displacement.

Israel is bombing universities, mosques, ministries, police stations, the Palestinian Parliament and schools. My family is terrorized, keeping windows open to avoid glass breakage by the bombing (there is no glass repair in Gaza) and suffering in cold and darkness.

And we’re supposed to believe that Israel is not attacking the Palestinian people. Visit for more information.

— Hazim Shafi, Redmond

Make a choice

Michael Barr of Sammamish apparently believes it’s time to “dissolve the artificially created geopolitical lines of 1948” and abolish the state of Israel [“No friend of democracy,” Northwest Voices, Jan. 6]. I wonder if he feels the same about the “artificially created” boundaries of Syria, Jordan and the other nations formed after WWI when the Ottoman Turkish Empire collapsed? Would he support the abolition of Lebanon or Iraq as nations because they “abused the privilege” of statehood by attacking their neighbors? How about Japan? Germany?

Suggesting the dissolution of sovereign nations because of their actions toward their neighbors is the most absurd notion I’ve seen in your pages. What do you suppose would happen to the notion of sovereignty if even one country was told by the U.N. that it no longer had a right to exist?

One wonders what Barr’s response would be if, say, Mexico started lobbing rockets into San Diego to protest our “occupation” of Southern California in the 1800s? How long do you think we as a nation would stand for that? And if Mexico failed to stop its attacks, what would Barr’s response be if we took strong military action to force an end to the attacks? Would he call for the dissolution of the United States?

Those claiming Israel’s actions constitute “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” don’t understand the meaning of the words. Israel is targeting enemies who are sworn to its destruction. It’s unfortunate that innocent Palestinians are being killed and injured, but this is a war and there is simply no way to avoid occasional collateral damage.

If Palestinians want peace, they can have it. All they need to do is force Hamas to stop the violence and renounce their insane, suicidal goal of destroying a neighboring state. Then the borders will open, the food and fuel and medicine will flow.

The people of Gaza must make a choice: peace or destruction. Seems pretty simple to me.

— Winston Rockwell, Kirkland

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