This is not me reporting. I have not been in Gaza. Like other journalists I am not allowed. Some reporters are having hissy-fits because of the Israeli prohibition to go beyond the frontier. Tough darts. No embedding. They could, of course, try going in through Egypt which also has a border with the Strip, and a border that fronts on areas of much activity by the Israeli military. Like destroying the tunnels that have been Hamas' lifeline for other people's death.
I suppose that these regulations may violate an exaggerated principle or two of freedom of the press. But, in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, the press was allowed complete freedom on the Israeli side, including Israeli movement within south Lebanon, and reported everything that they saw whenever they saw it I shudder to think think how many soldiers were killed or wounded as a direct result of reporters having their way. Hezbollah could watch C.N.N... and suddenly it had a new target.
I do have a friend who has been in and out of Gaza. I trust him. I trust him unconditionally. He tells me that the surface of Gaza cities and towns are a great deal camouflage or deeply entrenched tunnels and warrens. An I.D.F. unit is fighting in one building and then it finds the same Hamas goons fighting in another building, having moved from one to the other through a sinuous underground network. This could be good material for a war movie, and it shows a devilish ingenuity on the part of the jihadists. But it also shows that Hamas was preparing for war, and the first step in this war--a welcome war for people who yearn for martyrdom-- would be the raining of rockets on an Israel that it knew could stomach just so much.
Another as yet unreported piece of news. During today's three hour scheduled lull in the fighting to allow more food and medical aid to get into Gaza the Israeli army found a truck full of military uniforms for Hamas. The truck was sponsored by some N.G.O. Now, uniforms are not weapons. But they're not food or medicine either. Many N.G.O.s are not to be trusted, and almost everybody around here knows that many of their staffs are less aid workers than propagandists and inciters. And not just U.N.R.W.A.
And a bit of news from Vatican City...
Cardinal Renato Martino announced that Gaza "more and more resembles a big concentration camp. He's the Vatican's tried and true anti-Israel hand. Given the papacy's long and proven war-time indifference to the fate of Jews in real concentration camps and if were a prince of the church, I would be a little more careful with such metaphors. But this cannot be accidental or coincidental.
Coming from where it comes it is positively grotesque.
The Nazis put Jews in concentration camps to work them and then murder them. Much of this work was done by pious Catholics. Some Catholic clerics were officials in Nazi regimes. Monsignor Josef Tiso was president of the Hitlerite Slovak Republic. Nearly 75,000 Jews were murdered under the patronage of the monsignor. Less than two years ago, Archbishop Jan Sokol praised the good father Tiso and the Nazi state he ran. Tino was executed as a war criminal after the fighting stopped. Matino, clean up your own pig sty before you slander the Jews who were sent to their death with the blessings of many churchmen.
But to the point: To the extent that Gaza is a camp of any sort it is so because Hamas has made it so. Before the Muslim extremists took over, tens of thousands of Gaza Palestinians came to work in Israel, there was relatively free exchange of goods and money, university students went where they wanted, investment money came in, much of it from charitable Jews around the world, some of them friends of mine, all of whom are Zionists, passionate Zionists. To the extent that Gaza is now a hell-whole it is that because of Hamas which prepared for and provoked a battle that it could not win.