As most Hawaii students were starting their school year this week, Israeli soldiers fired 15 tear gas grenades and 5 stun grenades toward children, including some very young ones, as they waited to go to school in Hebron in the West Bank of occupied Palestine. The children’s school day was delayed as ambulances took away teachers and kids overcome by teargas.

By Aug. 26, as an open-ended cease-fire was announced, Israel, with U.S. support, is reported by the Palestine Ministry of Health to have killed more than 2,135 Gazans, including 89 entire families, during its 50-day assault. The ministry says that about 80 percent were civilians and more than 570 were children. At least 10,890 have been wounded, according to a report in The Guardian. More than half a million people have been displaced. These numbers may increase as more bodies are retrieved from rubble and others die in hospital.

In contrast, 5 Israeli civilians, including 1 child, were killed during that same period, in addition to 64 Israel Occupation Force soldiers (IOF). No Israelis are known to have been displaced.

A July 16 protest in Honolulu against U.S. support for Israeli military action in Gaza.

Dawn Morais Webster

Many people in Hawaii believed that Israel was simply exercising its right to protect itself through these bombardments.

Some humanitarian workers argued that Israel, with U.S. assistance, was committing crimes against humanity.

Our local media have a critical role to play in reporting on the ongoing occupation, blockade and possible war crimes against Palestinians, as well as local resistance activities in Hawaii.

Local congressional candidates have refused to explain their positions on Israel and Palestine. Our newly formed Hawaii Coalition for Justice in Palestine counts on local media to inform Hawaii’s citizens of these critical issues.

Because elected candidates represent us in Congress, we must know their positions to make informed choices about them. We should know that both Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono co-sponsored and voted for Senate Resolution 498, reaffirming Senate support for Israel’s right to “defend” its citizens and ensure Israel’s survival — but not Palestinian’s survival.

We need to know that our entire congressional delegation aligned the U.S. with Israel as it killed Palestinians in Gaza, that all received campaign funds and all but Schatz accepted all-expense paid trips for two to Israel from pro-Israel organizations.

Hawaii voters need to understand that the U.S. provides Israel with $3.1 billion yearly in military aid, recently added $225 million to that support and allowed Israel to use additional U.S. stockpiled munitions. One of the last buildings destroyed in Gaza, prior to this truce, was bombed by an F-16 bomber from the U.S.

We need to know that our entire congressional delegation aligned the U.S. with Israel as it killed Palestinians in Gaza, that all received campaign funds and all but Schatz accepted all-expense paid trips for two to Israel from pro-Israel organizations.

Prior to the cease-fire, the Palestine Medical Relief society issued an urgent appeal to end Israel’s attacks on Gaza to avoid an unprecedented humanitarian and health disaster. Israel destroyed the power plant, making water purification and some acute care procedures for severely injured patients impossible. It also partially destroyed Gaza’s sewage systems. Thus, the entire population of Gaza has little or no access to water and the available water is polluted. Water supplies and foodstuffs for the rest of Palestine were also reduced to less-than-minimum requirements for health.

The IOF also hit United Nations Relief and Works Agency shelters, hospitals, schools and universities, care homes for elderly and disabled, ambulances, rescue and health workers, journalists, mosques, family homes, parks and 4 boys playing on the beach. IOF bombings led to the closure of 12 hospitals, 34 primary care centers, 6 U.N. centers and the death of 9 UNWRA staff, 13 journalists and 15 medical staff.

Some ask why Gazans didn’t just leave Gaza. They don’t understand that Palestine is occupied. Its borders are closed, the airport was destroyed, and Palestinians are not allowed to go out to sea. Movement is controlled. Gaza has a population of 1.8 million in an area twice that of Washington, D.C. Since the conflict started, Israel has eliminated at least 40 percent of the tiny area by moving its borders 3 kilometers inward.

Some lessening of restrictions is possible in the cease-fire agreement, but the occupation would continue. On the first day of the cease-fire, repression continued throughout the rest of Palestine — imprisonments, attacks and harassment.

Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian surgeon volunteering at Gaza’s main hospital, saw Israel’s assault on Gaza as a disaster for world governance given the disrespect for international law showed by the attacks.

How is it possible that our national media did not adequately publicize this violence that is being carried out in our name?

During these atrocities there was relatively little media criticism. Israel killed hundreds of children and injured thousands, simply saying they were targeting military targets, but without providing substantive proof. Dr. Gilbert described parts of Gaza after the attacks as resembling post-war Hiroshima.

Many Palestinians ask why the U.S. didn’t protest. With our funding, Israel dropped over 20,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, which by some calculations, is the equivalent of 6 nuclear bombs.

How is it possible that our national media did not adequately publicize this violence that is being carried out in our name?

And how is it possible that local candidates for our next election refused our right to know their positions on these critical issues?

Part of the problem is the lack of transparency by our leaders and their efforts to suppress or confuse the true story in the national media.

That is why ongoing meaningful coverage and unbiased reporting by our local media is essential.

We need clear answers so we can answer the questions of our children, and the surviving Palestinian children, in years to come.

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