The situation in Gaza has crossed beyond the rabbit hole (or perhaps in this case, tunnel) and has entered the surreal zone.
Consider, from Reuters: "Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 600 lives." On the other side, Israel's military announced that the total number of army fatalities have risen to 29, three times as many as were killed in the last ground invasion of Gaza, in a 2008-2009 war.
Among the Gaza targets: five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the deceased Hamas military chief. But why is Israel targeting what are clearly civilian locales? "Israeli military accuses Hamas militants of firing rockets from the grounds of Gaza hospitals and seeking refuge there." Remember, this was supposed to be a "pinpoint military operation."
About 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past fortnight, Israeli military says. The country has also been destroying tunnels that Hamas reportedly constructed from Gaza into Israel to carry out attacks.
Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) said at a Geneva news briefing that nearly 500 homes have been destroyed in the Israeli bombardments and 100,000 people have been displaced. Of course, if this had been any other part of the world than Gaza, the UN, the Western media and everyone else would be at arms over the humanitarian crisis that has developed in Gaza. But, well, it's Gaza.
All of this is happening despite Kerry's arrival in the region in an attemp to fix things. Or rather, due to. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held discussions in neighboring Egypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon flew to Israel to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and meet on Wednesday with the Palestinian prime minister in the occupied West Bank.
Dispatched by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Middle East to seek a ceasefire, Kerry held talks on Tuesday in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri.
"There is a framework ... to end the violence and that framework is the Egyptian initiative," Kerry said at a joint news conference with Shukri.
"For the sake of thousands of innocent families whose lives have been shaken and destroyed by this conflict, on all sides, we hope we can get there as soon as possible," he said.
His words were summarily ignored and dismissed by Israel which has no intention of reducing the soaring body count: ""A ceasefire is not near," said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, viewed as the most dovish member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner security cabinet. "I see no light at the end of the tunnel," she told Israel's Army Radio."
There is some good news: Kerry said the United States would provide $47 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza. He plans to stay in Cairo until Wednesday morning but has no set departure date from the region.
In other words, the latest Gaza land invasion, which is now far more deadly than the last invasion during the 2008-2009 war, is nowhere near finding a resolution, which perhaps is just the catalyst the S&P 500 needed to keep rising to recorder highs.
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But where things get truly surreal, was the statement by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who said on Tuesday that the Israeli army should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for its “unimaginable restraint” in Gaza.
Well, considering Barack "Don't drone me, bro" Obama received it, why not?
During an address at the Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington, Dermer was interrupted several times by hecklers, but delivered a passionate and warmly received speech in defense of Operation Protective Edge, calling Iran the “Great Evil” and accusing the United Nations and human rights groups of inadvertently aiding Hamas in its war against Israel.
“Some are shamelessly accusing Israel of genocide and would put us in the dock for war crimes,” Dermer said. “But the truth is that the Israeli Defense Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”
Dermer’s comments followed a statement issued by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who on Sunday said that the IDF is the “most humane and bravest army in the world.”