Cardinal Renato Martino, the Vatican's justice and peace minister, was quoted by the online Italian daily Il Sussidiario as saying the conditions in Gaza "increasingly resemble a big concentration camp."
In fact, prior to the occupation, Jews represented a mere seven per cent of the population and owned three per cent of the land.
Taking the blinders off for a moment, I see a second atrocity perpetuated by the very people who should be exquisitely sensitive to the suffering of others. These people knew what it felt like to be ordered out of your home at gun point and forced to march into the night to unknown destinations or face execution on the spot. The people who displaced the Palestinians knew first hand what it means to watch your home in flames, to surrender everything dear to your heart at a moment's notice. Bulldozers levelled hundreds of villages, along with the remains of the village inhabitants, the old and the young. This was nothing new to the world.
I live alone in my office. My wife and two young children moved in with her father after our apartment was shattered. The neighborhood mosque, where I have prayed since I was a child, had its roof blown off. All the government buildings on my beat have been obliterated.
After days of Israeli shelling, the city and life I have known no longer exist.
Gaza City, with some 400,000 people, stopped supplying water when the fuel ran out for the power station driving the pumps. We listen to battery-run radios for news, even though the outside world watches what's happening to us on television. The Hadi grocery where we once shopped is closed. Food is scarce all over town.
Forget the bombardments, forget the electricity, food, even sleep. But no water? Because of the bombardments by sea, land and air, people cannot even go out to get drinking water from the city faucets. And when someone does have running water at home, it's undrinkable.
Because of my parents' history they knew what it meant to close people behind barbed-wire fences in a small area. A year, five years, 10 years. From 1991. How lucky it is that they are not alive to see how how these incarcerated people are bombarded with all the glorious military technology of Israel and the United States.
So once again, Israel has opened the gates of hell to the Palestinians. Forty civilian refugees dead in a United Nations school, three more in another. Not bad for a night's work in Gaza by the army that believes in "purity of arms". But why should we be surprised?
Responding to media reports that Israel had bombed a UN school serving as a refuge for Palestinian civilians, Congressman Dennis Kucinich is calling for a Congressional report on Israel's possibly illegal misuse of US weapons.
Iraqi authorities have closed a major shrine in Baghdad's Kadhimiya area to women amid security concerns as a Shia religious ceremony reaches its climax.
Ashura is among the holiest days for Shia Muslims, but women will be barred from the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine.
TVNL Comment: Iraqi women had full equality under Saddam!
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost almost $136 billion for the 2009 budget year that began Oct. 1 if they continue at their current pace.
Speaking for neither his current boss, President George W. Bush — nor his future one, President-elect Barack Obama — Gates told top lawmakers in a New Year's Eve letter that the Pentagon would need nearly $70 billion more to supplement the $66 billion approved last year.
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