Israel’s attack today came at the time of day when, as Fikr Shallpoot, a health worker and resident in Gaza told the BBC, children leave the morning school session and the afternoon students arrive. (Please listen to this report, it is very informative but sadly the BBC does not allow embedding) At least 200 Gazans were with more than 700 wounded. One target was the Gaza City police station where a graduation ceremony was taking place (this is raw footage from the aftermath of the attack and is graphic):
And Israel has announced this is just the beginning:
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will deepen and widen its offensive in the Gaza Strip as much as needed. Barak also vowed during an afternoon in a press conference that it’s "time to fight," adding that "tough times lay ahead." The Israeli minister explained "there is a time for cease-fires and a time to fight, and now is the time to fight."
Israel is also launching a PR campaign to gain international support for its actions, claiming they are simply protecting themselves. Viewing the videos of Gazan reactions to the air strikes, it is clear that rather than diminishing attacks on Israel, these air strikes will simply further inflame the situation and harden Hamas’ resolve. As Hamas spokesman Al-Nunu said:
from the midst of the air strikes and the destroyed government buildings and from the midst of body parts we declare the renewal of our holding onto our people’s rights and our rejection of any political concession and the rejection of the conditions of the quartet and our refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the occupier. We will not give in to their demands."
Today’s attacks were not unexpected and even Israel’s Defense Minister admits that they have been planning and preparing for months. In fact, Ha’aretz is now reporting on the months of "deception", the "long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public " used to plan this attack. After provoking a renewal of rocket attacks, Israel tightened the existing blockade to keep all supplies out of Gaza as well as foreign journalists – and then began a series of raids and small incursions which inevitably led to more rocket attacks. It’s very hard to see today’s actions as anything more than the next phase of an Israeli government plan to provoke Hamas and use the resulting rocket attacks as a pretext for a full blown attack on Gaza.
Right before the attacks, Gazan blogger Sameh Akram Habeeb wrote at Gaza Today:
Time is running out in Gaza and mass starvation looms as Gaza\’s skies are further darkened with threats of an Israeli military incursion. As a journalist, peace activist, and one of the hundreds of thousands of Gazans who are being collectively punished by Israel, I urge those who read this to appeal their governments to hold Israel accountable to international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, article 33 of which forbids the collective punishment of a civilian population.