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Reverberations from Gaza: Conflict close to home

Organizers said more than 300 people protested Monday.
MinnPost photo by Sharon Schmickle
Organizers said more than 300 people protested Monday.

Reverberations from the conflict in Gaza echoed across the Twin Cities Monday with hundreds of Palestinian supporters chanting "Free Gaza!" on the steps of the state Capitol and Israel's defenders arguing elsewhere that the attack on Gaza was a clearly justified act of national self defense.

While the political and historical chasm that separates the two sides is well defined, it is not at all clear what could stop the bloody conflict that is raging in Gaza now with more than 500 dead.

Israel's goal is to stop rocket and mortar attacks that have been launched from Gaza into southern Israel, said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

I completely understand why Israelis don't want to be targets. Hunegs said more than 8,000 weapons have been lobbed over the border since 2001, and the range has grown to the point that missiles are reaching cities, a large port and a major university.

But I was looking for more specifics as they relate to the fighting at hand: What would it take to satisfy Israel that the attacks truly had been stopped? Would Israel be finished in Gaza if it took out the rocket launching facilities of the governing Palestinian group, Hamas? Would it keep going until it had taken out all of Hamas' leaders? Does it plan to take control of Gaza City, the scene of the latest intense fighting?

Ask Israel's Consul General in Chicago, Hunegs suggested.

What would stop Israel?
Orli Gil, the consul general of Israel to the Midwest, took my call. She explained Israel's rationale in close to home terms: "Think about Minneapolis. How long would you take rockets and missiles fired from across the border? Would you take it without retaliating for years and years?" (From militant cheeseheads in Wisconsin? Scary thought.)

But she didn't answer the basic question.

"It's very hard to answer this question because I don't want to tell you when we will stop this operation," Gil said. "I don't want to say what would satisfy us because that would get into the army operation right now."

She continued almost in riddles.

"We will reach an understanding with whoever rules Gaza, and I hope it is not Hamas because the way I see Hamas, it is nothing but a terrorist organization," she said of the militant leadership chosen by Palestinians in a 2006 election.

Some trustworthy authority in Gaza must promise to stop the rocket fire, she said, and "ending Hamas control in Gaza certainly would help."

But she quickly added that Israel has no intention of forcing regime change in Gaza.

"Right now we are trying to achieve one thing and that is to destroy the ability of Hamas to throw rockets over Israel," she said. "We are not interested in things that happen in Gaza internally. We have no claims there. We do not have one single Israeli civilian there. We have no territorial demand of them. . . . Let them strive and build and flourish and have their self rule. We have no interest in ruling them. What we are interested is that we will be able to live in peace on the other side of the border."

What would stop Hamas?
There was no clear consensus on a related question I asked at the state Capitol where hundreds of Palestinians and their sympathizers denounced the bloodshed in Gaza.

"What would it take to convince militants in Gaza to stop firing rockets into Israel?" I asked several of them.

Lesley Chaudhry said she joined the protest at the Capitol because she is a mother and a Muslim.
MinnPost photo by Sharon Schmickle
Lesley Chaudhry of Minneapolis said she joined the protest at the Capitol because she is a mother and a Muslim.

Many analysts say that openly defying Israel is a sure way to win support from Palestinians and their sympathizers in the region. Those rockets could help Hamas regain political ground it was losing. But they also invited the terrible price Palestinians now are paying in the Gaza Strip.

If Israel says it will stop when the rockets stop, why not stop the rockets?

The answers were mixed from the crowd that fired hot anti-Israeli rhetoric into the chilly wind sweeping the steps of the Capitol.

"I do agree that citizens are citizens and sovereign countries have to protect their citizens," said Fuad Hannon, a U of M freshman who grew up in California with Palestinian roots.

"It would be ignorant to say, though, that [ending this conflict] is as simple as saying, 'Hamas, don't fire rockets,'" he said.

Like America's Revolutionary War, he said, this fight pits a mighty power against a relatively powerless people who are desperate enough for their own land and self rule that they must turn to unconventional fighting tactics.  

Others at the rally organized by the Al-Madinah Cultural Center at the University of Minnesota were less equivocal.

Zahi Haidari of Minneapolis, who called himself "a stateless Palestinian," insisted the rocket fire into Israel must continue whatever the consequences.

"We are getting our country back by force because we have tried everything else for the past 65 years," he said. "It's done! . . . If Hamas today said, 'We will do what they ask us to do,' we would be controlled. We are a free nation and we cannot be controlled."

Several said that after decades of failed bids to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict they do not trust Israel to honor any negotiated peace agreement. They repeatedly called Israelis the true terrorists. Many chided President-elect Barack Obama for his silence on Israel's assault on Gaza.

Ikram Huq of Apple Valley led the crowd in a prayer: "Forgive us – not because we are launching the rockets into Israel...but because we looked the other way when the conflict was growing...Wiping a nation off the face of the Earth is not the path to peace."

Again and again, the crowd chanted a call to action: "Free free Gaza. Free free Gaza. The people of Gaza are under attack. Stand up and fight back!"

And so the fighting continues – with words here, with bullets and blood half a world away in Gaza.

Official Israel has given hints in the past few days to what it wants to achieve before the assault ends in Gaza.

In a statement circulated to reporters, Brigadier-General Avi Benayahu, who is the spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said the central goals are "to deal a heavy blow to the Hamas terror organization, to strengthen Israel's deterrence, and to create a better security situation for those living around the Gaza Strip that will be maintained for the long term."

I still wonder how heavy a blow is heavy enough.  How strong must the deterrence be? And what's the precise definition of a better security situation?

And how do the deaths of so many civilians in Gaza relate to the goals of either side?

Most recently, three young Palestinian men were killed on Monday night when an Israeli missile struck a United Nations school in Gaza where about 400 Palestinians had taken refuge from the fighting, the Washington Post reported.

The Post also reported that fresh Palestinian rocket attacks hit Israeli territory on Tuesday, including a Grad missile that landed in the town of Gedera, about 20 miles south of Tel Aviv. It was one of the northernmost points reached by Palestinian rocket fire, the Post said, citing the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as a source.

One of some 30 rockets Hamas fired Monday struck an empty kindergarten in the Israeli city Ashdod, and a mortar shell injured two people in the village of Shaar Hanegev, the Post said, attributing the information to the Israeli military.

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, summed the endless nature of the tragic conflict in a grim statement on Hamas's television station: "The Zionists have legitimized the killing of their children by killing our children."

Sharon Schmickle writes about national and foreign affairs, science and other topics. She can be reached at sschmickle [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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Comments (29)

Why no mention of the fact that Keith Ellison was booed so vociferously that he fled the scene amidst chants of “No justice, no Keith.”?

This article is truly baffling -- both on the part of Schmickle (who keeps asking "what would bring peace"; and the Paletinian protesters (who claim "it would be ignorant to stop the rocket attacks).

What part of "stop...shooting...rockets" do they not understand???? Seems simple to me.

Would it end the conflict between the sides? No.
Would it be a final solution (to use a poor choice of words)? No.

But... would it be a vital first step to end bloodshed? Almost certainly, yes. Why not start with that!

The tone of this story baffles me as well. I do not pretend to be well-versed enough in the facts and history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to offer a credible or honest opinion about which side is more to blame. I am not qualified to answer. Nor, I surmise, are 99 percent of MinnPost's readers--or for that matter its writers.

Reading the protesters' quotes, however, and seeing the slogan on the sign of the photograph in this story (Holocaust?), I have the sinking feeling that for most of them, their outrage is stoked not by a reasoned analysis of injustice, but rather by the naive romanticization of a "cause" they admire for disingenuous if understandable reasons. It is fun to air your grievances, and especially fun when you can convince yourself you are doing so on behalf of the truly oppressed and not just because you want to feel morally superior.

Schmikle's smug throw-away line about "militant Cheeseheads" dismisses what is probably a fair analogy: How would you feel if missiles were repeatedly fired from Hudson, Wisc. into the east-metro area? Would you not expect your government to do something to protect you, even those firing the missiles were wronged by your government's policies?

Her further opining about Ms. Gil's "speaking in riddles" makes me question the objectivity of Schmikle's reportage.

For those interested, I think Richard Cohen's column in today's Washington Post provides a more thoughtful and substantive take on this issue. Anybody who reads him knows he is hardly an Israel-Right-or-Wrong voice.

Gaza's puny little rockets are sent only in response to Israeli aggression and repression that continues to worsen year after year.

How about a nice article in MinnPost from the Palestinian point of view instead of Israel's repetition of "we are under 'constant" attack" and "we have the high moral ground," et cetera?

How long will this war last? Israel says until it "feels safe." Will it then feel "unsafe" because Iran still exists? Syria? Will the US support more such attacks?

I give thanks often for Jewish contributions to America's arts and letters; education; ethics and philosophy; math and science; jurisprudence, the law and governance. The list is endless.

I am only sorry that I cannot support the current state of Israel and its far-right, militant Zionist regime. These are the folks who have propagandized our government and our media and who kill innocents in the name of religion.

Ms Vetsch
I return to my original point -- using your words.
If these are "puny little rockets" what have the Palestinians to gain by continuing to lob them into Israel? Nothing! Except to continue to be bloodied. Like a fighter who is knocked down round after round yet continues to come out over and over in some sensless, mindless useless way.

I acknowledge we are not talking about a long term solution by stopping the rockets -- what we are talking about here is: let's find a way to immediately STOP THE KILLING. Stopping the rockets, might do it...at least it is a first step. And it would give the protesters a little stronger moral high ground to work with.

They don't want any moral high ground. They don't want any rational action. They apparently want to continue to be killed! As an aside -- "puny little rockets" kill as well.

Myles, if you read my comment clearly you would realize that I did not say that "it would be ignorant to stop the rocket attacks". I said that it would be ignorant say the solution to this problem is simply to stop rocket attacks. When 1.5 million people are constrained for 18 months, and food, water, and electricity are cut off, people begin getting desperate. So for all those simple minded folk who love using the analogy, "What if your neighbor was shooting at you, what do you expect your country to do?", is an unfair completely biased assessment of the situation.

Also, lets say Israel was really targeting Hamas militants, I highly doubt they would be found in U.N. schools, and bombs would be dropped in accordance to when schools are released. So please, save me of this undeducated rhetoric that the zionist movement and Israel loves to put into your heads, as we see this situation is far above your level of education.

"Where you start the clock is how you define the crisis"...Phyllis Bennis from International Policy Studies has a definitive study of events leading to this present crisis on realnews.com..."Historical Amnesia and Gaza".

Certainly reminds the viewer of the chain of events - rather than the distortion of the news timeline;its historical chronology - and informs the reader, whatever one's sensitivities or insenitivities.

What is the point of moderated posts if the editor allows cutting comments that question a poster's "level of education"? I would think MinnPost has actual standards.

Fuad,
I won't argue that Israel does not have foolish, immoral policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians or that it does not act like a bully. But if "desperation" morally justifies any action (suicide bombings, too?), the calculus applies to both sides. Using that logic, the analogy you rush to dismiss is neither simpleminded nor unfair.

Fuad's comments are EXACTLY why this conflict will continue -- and Palestinians will not reach peace in the region.

After 45 years in the ad agency business, Fuad, I am acutely aware of words...and how they are used.
Your words are "hot", contentious, combative, and confrontational!

Unfortuantely, you are part of the problem...not the solution. Which is quite sad, because there should and could be a symbiotic relationship between the Israelies and Palestinians which could make both richer, happier, and peaceful. No such condition can result from persons like you -- who unfortunately reside on BOTH sides of this issue. So...onward we go into battle.

Myles, indeed my words are hot, not because I don't want peace but because it is hard to envision after seeing the mounting death toll. So for you to state that thinking like mine is why this conflict continues is quite unaccurate. I would love peace, but governments can put up partition lines and rule, but at the end of the day if they neighbors still hate eachother, then this war will continue.

And as being part of the problem, at the rally I stood beside a Jewish speaker and called for peace, in my Global Hotspots class first semester I led a class forum on how we can initiate peace in Palestine, and it tears me everytime I see a lost life, be it Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.

Dan, thank you for your comments. They make a lot of sense.

Well Fuad
Despite your attack on my intellect (you no NOTHING about my intellectual capacity or education I might add), I fear it is you who have misunderstood my position.

I clearly stated, stopping the rocket attacks is NOT a solution to this complex and emotional problem -- only to add that both Mr. Netenyahu along with you and your rigid Hamas mindset are beyond any solution at all. The hawks have ruled far too long on BOTH sides.

My point, presuming it is not above your level of education, is simple this: stopping the rockets might save many Palestinian lives RIGHT NOW. A simple action. One without much risk as an intelligent and pragmatic strategy. What is the downside if Hamas should make such a rational decision? I see none. Are there any such rational voices in Hamas -- or only more Fuads?

Meanwhile, I repeat: with your point of view...rigid opinions..."hot" words...and lack of any rational suggestion to stop immediate bloodshed...onward into battle we go!

"I highly doubt they would be found in U.N. schools.."

Your doubt ignores the opinions of anyone that has been involved with, or against, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda and every other Islamic terrorist group.

These groups deliberately position themselves, their safe houses and their weapons caches as deeply inside civilian areas as they can.

The tactic of ensuring civilian casualties not only reduces the ferocity of offensives against them, it provides apologists grist for the disinformation mill.

Well said Mr Swift.

Which also allows me to add to my message to Fuad: while I maintain the Israelies have every right to defend themselves, at his point in the bloodshed, they TOO may be well advised to take a hiatus from the killing. If the rockets stop as well, some lives may be saved. If not....?

But with both sides totally committed to keep on killing, the only outcome will be endless death.

Swift

The policy of Israel and settlements is a deliberate target against civilians, to disposes them of their land.

Pro Israeli apologists will talk of everything under the sun, but will conveniently forget Israels own violation of the Geneva Convention.

Myles

What part of stop the illegal blockade and land grabs from Palestinians does Israel not understand.

There are two parts of your statement I do not understand. One is the hatred imbedded in it -- wihich will prevent the Palestinian people from ever finding peace, prosperity or deliverance from this sad situation. Israel is a fact -- face it -- deal with it -- but unmitigated hatred only excacerbates the situation, and damages the Palestinians. You do them no favors.

The second part I apparently do not understand is the word "land". Take a look at a map of the middle east. the "land" involved in this conflict is absolutely MINUTE!. There is plenty of open land in Jordan contiguous to the West Bank. The Jordanians rejected the Palestinians. Ask why? This is less about land than unmitigated hatred between two peoples. Unless and until that is solved, the issue of land is moot.

Thomas, per your previous post. Please visit this link and read it in an objective manner. Many of the statements here from all who posted pose interesting points and thought provoking ideas, but in order to reach a legitimate peace agreement both sides of the aisle need to be assessed in a fair and balanced manner, not Fox News fair and balanced.

Facts are facts, Statistics are Statistics, and neither lie unless they are manipulated.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/20091805410769377.html

Myles

At least now it is clear where you stand on peace. You are one of those who believes in that famous canard Jordan is Palestine.

You keep chastising Fuad as to why his belligerence just prolongs the conflict; while u blithely ignore the very right of Palestinians to exist on lands that they were born and brought up on.

This is a typical response from people who will talk about everything under the sun, except the fact that the state of Israel has a deliberate plan to take Palestinian land.

They will talk about Hamas and how it wants to destroy Israel (I wonder how), they will talk about Jordan is Palestine, they will talk about the Holocaust, they will talk about terrorism. But one thing they will not talk about is the Israeli land grab to destroy the Palestinian state.

I do not believe that the Israeli army would deliberately target this school unless it believed that it was being used as a base of operations by Hamas.

They may have been mistaken, we do not have enough information to know for sure, but you are not going to convince me, or the majority of the world’s citizens, that it is the practice of Israel to indiscriminately target civilians, much less children.

Israel has earned that trust by consistently acting as a responsible state, despite constant attacks on it by its Arab neighbors.

Israel has, on several occasions, removed illegal settlements from the West Bank and Gaza.

http://www.historycentral.com/MIDEAST/Gaza.html

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/In...

Israel has never sent it's citizens into Gaza or the West bank wearing high explosive vests with the expressed intent of killing unarmed civilians.

Israeli citizens have never fired munitions into Gaza or the West bank without provocation.

Israel has made mistakes, but in the overwhelming majority of instances, it has acted as a responsible, legitimate sovereign state in good standing with the world community would be expected to act.

The Palestinians freely elected a band of confirmed terrorists to lead them.

For what ever reasons they did it, that act alone de-legitimizes any claim of peaceful intentions, and the hate-filled bile that I have read, and heard, coming from pro-Palestinian protesters here in America and elsewhere does nothing to make me, or any reasonable person believe otherwise.

Lets not confuse the voice of a majority of the world citizens with the United States veto in the United Nations.

Poll after poll in the free world has shown that people around the world support the Palestinian view point. They see thru the United States and its AIPAC sponsored propoganda when it comes thru Israel.

Anything and everything inconvenient to its AIPAC sponsored view of Israel is conveniently vetoed.

To claim that Israel removes illegal settlements is an absolute joke. Some far outlying settlement by some super wacko settlers are shut down now and then. But the majority of the settlement activity continues unabated today.

Any and every settlement is a violation of International Law.

Israel may not send its citizens into Gaza wearing suicide belts. But on a daily basis its denies the basic human rights of Palestinians by taking their land and farms and penning them into ghettos. All this may I remind u is done under the barell of a gun without any recourse under law.

If Hamas is a terrorist organization, let me remind u that Israel was the genius who sponsored Hamas, in one of their several rope-a-dope schemes to deny Palestinans their existance as a free people.

Talking about hate on side while blithely ignoring the horrors of the occupation has become a pastime of the Fixed News crowd in this country.

Israeli citizens have never fired munitions into the West Bank....

That is so nice to hear. But does being clubbed by a baseball bat count as terrorism ?

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1855914,00.html

"video footage shows Jewish youths using baseball bats to club Palestinian families trying to harvest their olive trees or tending sheep. Nor do the settlers fear reprisals from the Israeli authorities: human-rights group Yesh Din says only 8% of Palestinian complaints of settler violence have led to indictments by Israeli police. "

I'm kind of curious how the Hamas apologists explain this common coincidence, captured time over time by aerial photography: when the evil Zionists, in their bloodthirsty yen to murder innocent Palestinians simply going about their business, pass up large gatherings of civilians (I'm not sure why, but let's move on) to target the odd innocent school, mosque, private home or whatever . . .

. . . there's all those secondary explosions from the odd school, mosque, private home or whatever as though, I dunno, huge amounts of ammunition and explosives had been hidden there -- you know, under the traditional local worship implements: Qassam launchers, mortars, antitank guns and all the other ephemera apparently necessary for an ordinary Gazan to go about his ordinary business of an ordinary life.

Why all the secondaries? Could it be that what appear to be -- while exploding, that is -- ammo dumps are actually ammo dumps, and that the often-announced policy of Hamas to use human body armor really amounts to a policy by Hamas to use human body armor?

I'm always interested in folks who talk about Gaza's "puny" little rockets -- I invite them to continue the discussion after shooting themselves with, say, a relatively even more puny little, oh, .44 Magnum revolver; perhaps they'll have gained some clarity.

Couldn't hurt. To to speak.

Raj
There is a timy bit of agreement here -- the settlements are a thorn in the side of peace. Having said that the FACT is ALL the settlements have been removed from Gaza -- and look what Hamas did with the result -- more rockets. I return to my original thesis, it is not land involved here, it is an idealogical dispute, and there is no solution till Hamas realizes that continued conflict is futile and destructive.

I might also add, I would not oppose the Palestinians demanding the removal of settlements from the west bank. But, with settlements there now, the area is quite tranquil, and if the settlments are allowed to remain, they may bring friendship and ultimate cooperation between the west bank residents and those remaining Israelies. This how peace may ultimately come -- a peace we ALL pray for.

First we must have a cease fire now -- the Israelies should take a hiatus, and Hamas stop rockets.

Thomas, I'm quite intrigued by the fact that you can look facts straight into the eye, and dismiss them on account of Israel's responsible behavior. And, like Raj mentioned, majority of informed citizens around the world support the Palestinian cause.

I can see that the opening for a constructive discussion has come and gone, and I hesitate to drag this out any longer, but I'm simply unwilling to ever let anyone claim a rhetorical victory using "facts" that are never laid out for scrutiny.

Fuad claims I have looked "facts" in the eye and dismissed them. That is simply a false statement.

The facts contained in his link regarding the UN school destruction were that A) The school was in fact levelled; B) Hamas and it's apologists are claiming Israel deliberately targeted kids and C) Israel says the school was targeted because it was believed to have been used to stage attacks from.

I looked those facts over and concluded that the school may or may not have in fact been a staging area for terrorist offensives, there simply isn't enough information to be sure one way or another, but that I was convinced that the Israeli army genuinely believed it was because no where in their history has the IDF been ever been shown to target innocent civilians in battle....just hasn't happened.

On the other hand, Hamas and it's ilk use civilian shields as a standard battle tactic. That is another proven fact that causes me to doubt the veracity of anything they, or their supporters, say.

Someone a lot smarter than I once said "You're entitled to your oen opinions, but not your own facts".

So which facts have I so casually dismissed, Fuad?

Which fact that Thomas so casually dismiss?

The fact that the UN representative in that school directly contradicted the IDF assertion that there was Hamas in that school.

Which fact did Thomas grab on to so readily ?

Of course, the one put out by the IDF.

Of course it will never be proven in this life time to Thomas that the IDF or Israeli settlers have repeatedly shown in many instances a wanton disregard for Palestinian life.

Do I blame him. Absolutely not. After all the AIPAC and the right wing/Fixed news propoganda in this country, we have all come to conclude that the UN, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Manderla are all vicious, lying anti-semites. How could we believe any of them ? We should only believe AIPAC and Pat Robertson.

Thomas, if you believe truly in your heart, that Israel has never targeted civilians and is acting merely in self-defense, with all due respect sir, you have much to read and learn. Pick up one book on Zionism and you will maybe understand the situation more clearly. I cannot understand how anyone with a hint of education or knowledge on the situation can accept what Israel is doing. I don't suppose the 25k that came out in New York, or the 10k in Oslo or London are misinformed, however I do believe thinking like yours is quite misinformed.

"Would Israel be finished in Gaza if it took out the rocket launching facilities of the governing Palestinian group, Hamas?"

There are no such "facilities". Hamas launches its rockets from fields. So really there's no way to say "this is done".

Gaza is the most populous area on earth. Israel is bombing fish in a barrel while claiming it is trying to avoid civilian casualties.

LAND AREA

Gaza land area: 279 square miles

Minnesota land area: 86,943 square miles (includes lakes)

Therefore Gaza is less than one third of a percent of the size of Minnesota or Minnesota is 300 times bigger than Gaza.

POPULATION

Gaza population: 1,500,202 (July 2008 est)

Minnesota population: 4,919,479 (US Census, April 2000)

Gaza's population is one third that of Minnesota's.

POPULATION DENSITY

Putting land and population together, there are 61.79 people per square mile in Minnesota and 5,377 people per square mile in Gaza.

This means that Gaza has 5,315 people more per square mile than Minnesota -- roughly 100 times the population density.

"But consider this fact – the Gaza strip is one of the most densely populated urban tracts in the world – 1.4 million people occupy an area roughly twice the size of Washington D.C. Its borders – land and sea – as well as its airspace, are controlled by Israel. Life in Gaza, as a Palestinian acquaintance related, is like living in an overcrowded prison. “For the news to say that Israel is “targeting” Hamas inside Gaza,” he explained “is like saying they are targeting a particular fish in a barrel full of them.” That it would be impossible for Israel to target individuals without killing scores of innocent civilians is as well-known to the Israeli military as it is to the terrorized citizens of Gaza. But the average American doesn’t know. And they’re certainly not going to get any hints from the mainstream media. “According to Western media, Palestinian civilians are killed only when they’re sheltering militants,” says my acquaintance. “We’re not sheltering anyone. They are among us because we are all trapped here. There is simply nowhere else to be.”"

--"Who Is Winning the PR War?", Sarah Nardi, Adbusters (December 30th, 2008) http://www.adbusters.org/features/pr_war.html

For once, Raj Madalli is accurate: UN Representative Sergeant "See No Evil" Schultz (okay, I'm making the name up) repeatedly said that there were no Hamas terrorists firing from the school.

On the other hand, CNN (known by some, with perhaps no great affection, as the Caliphate News Network) did report (as did other news agencies) of locals in Gaza observing Hamas "militants" firing from that school.

Which should not have surprised anybody, I suppose. It's not just that among Hamas' preference in Human Body Armor are the occupants of UN schools (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpNLYH1qFWs for a Hamas video of such), but that particular UN school has been used as a launching site and weapons dump in the past; see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLbZyWZI3hU .