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Bloody Week in Iraq; One US Airstrike Destroys an Ambulance............

2005-07-13 15:35:00

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Bloody Week in Iraq; One US Airstrike Destroys an Ambulance, A Separate US Airstrike Kills a Journalist on Live Television

by Eric Jaffa

September 15, 2004

Overview of recent violence, from NNN ("84 Killed, 90 Injured In Unabated Iraq Violence," September 13, 2004):

At least nine people were killed in American attacks on militant positions in the restive Iraqi city of Falluja on Monday morning, taking the death toll to 84 in the unabated continuing violence in the Gulf state during the past 24 hours.

Another 90 people were left injured in continued violence in the country as a series of seven car blasts rocked Baghdad.

US artillery bombarded several districts, before circling warplanes opened fire, witnesses said.

At least 10 people were wounded in the assault, Iraqi sources said.

...Monday’s attack comes a day after 70 people were killed in some of the heaviest fighting across Iraq for weeks.

During these strikes on Fallujah, a US plane bombed an ambulance on Monday (The Independent (UK) ("Ambulance torn apart in Fallujah as US launches 'precision' strikes" by Patrick Cockburn, September 14, 2004)):

The US army said its warplanes had bombed houses because it had intelligence about the presence of fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the US sees as the guiding hand behind many attacks on its forces.

Dr Adel Khamis of the Fallujah General Hospital said at least 16 people were killed, including women and children, and 12 others were wounded. Video film showed a Red Crescent ambulance torn apart by an explosion. A hospital official said the driver, a paramedic and five patients had been killed by the blast.

"The conditions here are miserable - an ambulance was bombed, three houses destroyed and men and women killed," said Rafayi Hayad al-Esawi, the director of the hospital. "The American army has no morals."

The US air force has claimed repeatedly since the invasion of Iraq in March last year to be hitting hostile targets identified by US intelligence. During the war it made 50 air strikes to kill senior members of Saddam Hussein's regime some of which caused many civilian casualties. Only after the war did US Defence officials admit that all the air strikes had missed their target. (MoveLeft Media editor note: The 50 airstrikes referred to were part of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "Shock and Awe" campaign at the start of the Iraq War.) On Sunday US helicopters fired rockets into a crowd in Haifa Street in central Baghdad killing 13 people including an Al-Arabiya television correspondent killed as he was reporting.

. the feasibility of holding elections in January. The interim government has complete control of only a few cities such as Najaf where the opposition has been routed by the US army using its massive firepower. "Iraq is becoming fragmented like Lebanon with each community having some power," said Ghasan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator.

On Sunday in Baghdad, a US helicopter killed people near a damaged US tank left behind by its crew. A journalist, Mazen al-Tomaisi, was among 13 people killed.

Photo from The Guardian, UK newspaper, of the aftermath of US helicopter attack which killed civlians, including a journalist:

Report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ("Journalist killed on camera in Iraq," September 13, 2004):

A Palestinian television journalist has been killed while he was giving a live report to camera on deadly clashes between United States forces and insurgents in the heart of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Mazen al-Tomaisi, 28, worked for Saudi television Akhbariya and for the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya.

He was killed when a US helicopter fired missiles on a mob that had gathered around a US tank in Baghdad.

The tank had been set ablaze in a car bomb attack, one of a string of bombings across the capital on Sunday (local time).

Blood spattered across the cameraman's lens and screams were heard by viewers of the Al-Arabiya report.

Tomaisi, from the West Bank town of Idna, is the fourth Palestinian journalist killed in Iraq.

An Iraqi cameraman and an Iraqi photographer were also slightly wounded by flying shrapnel during the attack.

An Iraqi official says a total 13 people were killed, including two children, and 55 wounded during the battle in Haifa Street.

Bob Harris of the blog "This Modern World" has this comment on the killing of the journalist and the other people near the damaged tank:

Video.

Civilians.

Being killed by a U.S. airstrike.

Non-combatants. Celebrating on a disabled U.S. vehicle, granted. But civilians nonetheless. Certainly not in combat against any U.S. troops.

In the foreground, a reporter just doing his job, frowning over some little technical glitch, maybe something he forgot to do...

Bang, boom. No warning. Just an incoming U.S. aerial attack. "To prevent looters from stripping the vehicle," the Pentagon later says, classifying everyone within thirty feet as "looters" and sentencing them to summary execution.

Blood splashes on the lens. The camera spins. Tiny glimpses of terrible carnage.

Without a beat, without reflection, without even a moment of minimal thought, Wolf Blitzer moves on. As do we, collectively.

And that's that. America kills innocent civilians. Lots of them. And it's no big deal now. Not controversial. No reason to ask questions or rationalize or even pretend to soul-search like the national media once did. America kills civilians. Lots of them. Just part of the fabric of things now.

Happens every day.

The military isn't pressed and can't be bothered for a detailed explanation about the incident, other than to blame the victims themselves. "Great care should be taken by all to avoid and keep a safe distance from any active military operation as unpredictable events can occur," the U.S. spokesman says.

"Unpredictable events," they say. Like an earthquake or a lightning strike. Like an unprovoked attack from an Apache helicopter, firing on unarmed civilians, on tape, recorded for all the world to see.

Nobody's responsible. These are "unpredictable events."

I say this next as the most articulate, precisely-worded response I can muster right now, summing up all my emotions quite clearly: FUCK.

And yet there's no sizeable outrage in this country I can find. Not in the mainstream, and not even much in the blogosphere, except for a few posts.

We are numb now.

We are killing. We are killing in large numbers. And we are numb to what we are doing.

That's it. Game over. We have lost.

Not the war. Ourselves.

For a detailed analysis of the reasons for the helicopter strike which killed a journalist, visit The NewStandard ("Motive for Haifa Street Helicopter Massacre Remains a Mystery" by Brian Dominick and Orly Halpern, September 14, 2004.)


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