For the third time in five years, Israel is engaging in a large-scale assault on the Gaza Strip. In three weeks of indiscriminate bombardment, it has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured more than 6,000, the vast majority of them civilians, and an appalling number children, who make up most of Gaza’s population, and who, even when not physically maimed, have been terrorized in their hundreds of thousands. Forty-seven Israelis — almost all of them soldiers — have been killed in turn.

On top of the casualty figures, the scale of material devastation is enormous. The UN estimates that the homes of more than 3,600 families have been heavily damaged or totally destroyed, leaving 22,000 people homeless. Israel claims that it has warned people to flee; more than 200,000 have done so, which would be reckoned a human calamity in Chicago or London but, happening in Gaza, raises scarcely an eyebrow around the world. According to the UN, however, Israel has blanketed almost half of the territory with such warnings, and it has refused to let people out of Gaza to seek shelter, so in fact terrified families have essentially nowhere to go, and have been cut down by Israeli shrapnel and flechette darts when they flee. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are now effectively cut off from water, sewage and electrical services — in a modern urban environment, in the middle of a hot Mediterranean summer.

All of this, we are relentlessly told by Israel’s once well-oiled but nowadays creaking and spluttering propaganda machine, is to prevent rocket attacks into Israel. Time and time again, in 2008-9, in 2012 and again now, it has meticulously been documented that the surest way to prevent rocket attacks on Israel is for Israel itself to abide by ceasefire obligations that, each time, it disregards. Time and time again, however, Israel and its dwindling band of supporters in Europe and the U.S. weave tangled webs of hopelessly convoluted and mendacious distortions of simple chronology, vainly attempting to reverse the relationship of cause and effect, and to rewrite the sequence of events on the fly.

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