The media continues to display the Gaza situation as a conflict between equals, but in fact, writes Lyn Bender, it is largely the massacre of innocents by a mighty military force.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA GLOBALLY continues to report the Gaza situation as though representing a war of equals. Israel is often portrayed as the victim defending herself. Little is said about the displacement of the Palestinian people from their land and of the impact of over 60 years of occupation.

This is an asymmetrical conflict, where a vast military arsenal of the occupier is brought to bear upon largely unarmed civilians, who have no escape route. The latest Israeli ground ‘incursion widening’ is an alarming escalation and literally an example of overkill.

The shocking deaths of four Gazan  children playing soccer on the beach from Israeli naval fire should bring this home to all of us. This is not a war of defence — it is a massacre of innocents.

Israel is a Goliath, raining down massive firepower on men, women and children, sheltering in their homes, schools and hospitals. The ineffective rockets of Hamas are easily repulsed by Israel’s Iron Dome Missile shield.

It is not the first time that Israel, under Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu, has ordered that Palestinians in Gaza suffer terror.

The wonder is how Palestinians carry on trying to live normal lives under occupation. This is an oppressive Occupation, although Australian  Attorney General George Brandis tried to deny this in Senate Estimates, saying such a description was "unhelpful".

Meanwhile. Gaza is experiencing the deadly fist of this occupation. Children are suffering intolerably and human rights are being massively violated.

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, is as usual missing the point, calling for “restraint on both sides” — as though this is some kind of equal contest. Tony Abbott has affirmed Israel’s “right to exist” and to “self defence No mention is made of the Palestinians right to exist.

The contrast between the daily – even serious – problems that beset Australians, and our relative lack of empathy for those in horrendous circumstances, has been brought home for me, yet again. I imagined life for those suffering the bombing in the Gaza Strip and noted our official silence.

There is little in life sweeter than laying your head down at night feeling safe with your loved ones, expecting to see them all again in the morning.

That innocent peace was disturbed for me recently when I awoke unable to draw breath and hearing only my own braying wheezing. I was lucky, I recovered — but for a few brief, but seemingly endless moments I thought that I was going to die.

The next night I tried  to sleep — but kept wondering what it was like to be in Gaza, fearing a bomb could crush and burn you, your family and your home in the night?

There are no bomb shelters in this tiny slice of land.

The Gaza Strip is around 365 square kilometres and is home to a population of around 1.8 million Palestinians. The firecracker shelling on the roof ‘warning’ is all that will be heard, before the shattering crash of a bomb:

If there is any warning, there is nowhere to run — the border exits are closed. The children and disabled can’t run anyway and the hospitals are under-supplied, overflowing and threatened with bombing.

The Guardian has reported at least 274 Palestinians, including 45 children, have been killed since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge began raining fire down upon Gaza. In addition, over 1000 injured and 40,000 Palestinians have been displaced 

The physical and psychological injuries far exceed this, as earthquake bombs shake Gaza day and night. As I write this, the death toll mounts, a ground offensive has begun and attempts to broker a ceasefire through Egypt have stalled.

“We do not target civiliansclaimed ubiquitous Netanyahu spokesperson Mark Regev on ABC 7.30. Unfortunately, it seems the civilians just get in the way of bombs.

Israel also issues warnings to flee and drops leaflets on Gaza.

This included a warning reported by a resident.

 'Any moving body after noon will be struck.'

As reported in Democracy Now by The Palestinian Human Rights Centre, targets have included, charities, parks, sports clubs and a mosque.

One Doctor treating children in Gaza made the following declaration:

We are not just numbers, we are human beings with dreams.”

Dreams have turned to nightmares for Gaza’s people. The deaths are catastrophically tragic — but the survivors agony drags on.

Harry Fear has reported on the 18 deaths in a family of Gaza police chief Tayseer al-Batsh. He survived but many of the children – one as young as one – did not.

There have been two Israeli deaths since Operation Protective Edge was begun. One civilian bringing food to soldiers at the border and one soldier from ‘friendly fire’.

We should remember that Netanyahu and his voicemail Mark Regev have played out this scenario before, in 2012 during Operation Cast Lead. In an interview, Regev refers to “taking out” a Hamas leader. The terror and the horror of Operation Cast Lead the 2009 Israeli incursion is in the living memory of many Gazan children, as you can see by their tears.

Operation Cast Lead left its ghastly wounds on the invaders as well as the invaded.

The documentary Cleansing Gaza contains the astounding testimonials of three members of the Israeli Defence Force as they describe their feelings before during and after the incursion of 2009. Israeli soldiers have also spoken out about systematic cruelty and revenge as a policy coming from high up and inflicted by the Israeli Defence Forces during the Second Intifada.

The Intifada was the Palestinian Uprising  [Arabic 'shaking off'] against the occupation in 2000.

“When you need to have hundreds of protests just to tell the world that bombing children is not ok that is when  you know that humanity has failed." ~ Salam Hussein

Based on past conflicts, there will eventually be a ceasefire. But will there be restitution for shattered Palestinian lives, dead and mutilated children, destroyed homes, trauma and irreconcilable grief.

For those who say: what about the Israeli point of view; what about the endless Hamas rockets that never find their mark?

I respond: that distorted narrative already dominates the mainstream; it’s easy to find.

For some Israelis, including at the western Negev city of Sderot, bombing Gaza is a spectator sport.

They watch and cheer every strike. The score so far: two Israeli and over 300 Palestinian deaths.

One Israeli spectator, who wanted to see the bombing with her own eyes, “not just on television”, said they should just

“... clear off all the city… yes just take it off the ground. [Laughs.] I’m a little bit fascist."

It is called dehumanizing the enemy — but it dehumanizes all.

Israel has now intensified its attacks on Gaza, warning 100,000 people to evacuate — but to where?

That is far more than “a little bit fascist”. Is there an answer? Ending the violence and the occupation would be a good start.

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