"Just as I've made my way back to Maryland, getting ready to post about how the rest of my trip went, and my stint on Democracy Now this morning, I learned that 10 palestinians have been been by Israeli shelling in northern Gaza as they were picnicing on the beach. 3 of them were children-two under the age of two. And their mother. And forty others wounded. We called my Aunt, who works with the al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza. She was hysterical, and this is a woman who seldom loses her grip.
"She just spoke of blood and body parts, and how one of the cameramen at the hospital couldn't hold it together and dropped his camera as he was filming after he heard a bloodied, batterd girl crying out for her father."
I don't know the tactical details of the tit-for-tat violence that characterizes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a day-to-day basis, but I trust what Jonathan Edelstein says:
"I've never been in favor of shelling Gaza launch sites as a response to Qassam fire. The shelling has never been effective in suppressing the Qassams, and nobody's been able to come up with a plausible scenario under which it would be effective. It's part psychological warfare, part palliative to Israelis who need to believe that the government is protecting them from the rockets, and not very good at either. And most of all, it was inevitable that the shelling would lead to something like what happened today, with families killed as they took a Friday holiday on the beach."
If this is right, then I agree with vasi's comment that politically motivated yet ineffective attacks which endanger civilians start to blend into the same moral level as intentional terrorism. However, while maintaining sympathy for the victims, we also need to bear in mind that, just as not all Palestinians are terrorists, so Israelis are often upset at the excesses of their defense establishment. In that vein, both the liberal Lisa and more conservative-seeming Sarah have thoughtful, introspective posts on the matter.
UPDATE: See also Yael:
"I plan to blog about my thoughts on what occurred on Friday on the Gaza beach but I have and still am too upset about it to even think about writing. I don't have any words at the moment and I am haunted by it. I feel physically sick when I even think about it, exactly as I feel when a suicide bomb has gone off here but differently too, worse in a way. Well, later, I don't have the words now."