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[TV image from Ramatan News Agency via AFP/Getty/NYT]

Israeli-Palestinian Terror
Stray Shell

The beach is about five minutes from where we live. It’s a gorgeous beach on the Atlantic, steep-sanded at high tide, plains-like at low tide, a Saint Tropez of sorts for egg-laying sea turtles, a minor Mecca for anglers, romantics and old men with thick calves who like to sit on the wooden benches on the dune walk-overs and look at the ocean for fifteen minutes at a time, glimpsing, I imagine, their death’s horizon. We’re about thirty miles north of Daytona Beach so the beaches here aren’t nearly as crowded as they are down there, or as spoiled with walls of condominiums that make the piled-on place look like a richer version of the Gaza strip. Up here there are times when my family and I (my wife, my two young children) are one of maybe a dozen clusters of semi-naked lethargists claiming an acre of our own. My wife sucks up to the sun. My children get sucked in by the sand. I like to sit on a greenish canvas beach chair that I set right into the surf, the water lapping at my feet or sometimes rising high enough to graze the bottom of my bottom, and there I read to the sound of a considerably loud surf. As a judge would say: where am I going with this? Here’s where: How the Fribourg fuck does a “stray shell” find its way to a Mediterranean scene like this, which happens to be twenty times more populated with beachgoers, and kill seven people? And what is a “stray shell”? Gaza journalist Sami Youssef, who was at the scene: “There were people lying on the ground badly injured, crying. There were remains scattered along the beach. Three children were there, two with severe deep cuts in their heads. One girl was just screaming, crying out for her father: 'Dad, my dad.' It was a terrible scene, with blood everywhere. We could see a gunship in middle of sea, so we knew what had happened.” The Israeli military claims it was aiming for a spot “400 yards” beyond the Gaza beach where this latest display of episodic horrors took place yesterday. But that’s like Roger Clemens aiming for home plate and hitting the runner on first in the head with a 92-mile-per-hour fastball. Not possible, unless intentional, or at least cynically careless, which amounts to the same thing. And now in its equally barbaric wisdom, Hamas has decided to fire back in the same way, sending rockets and mortars blind into Israeli civilian areas. Truce over. As if it hadn’t been for months. As if it had had any chance at all. As if any of the usual players, the willfully absent Bush administration among them, have been interested in peace anyway. Since Hamas’s election it’s been a matter of another Israeli-Palestinian war looking for a stage. Now they have their war. One more. From the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush, the sun never sets on a subcontinent in flames. This, ladies and gentlemen of the prejudiced jury, is how the lofty rhetoric of Bush’s second inaugural address—“There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant. And that is the force of human freedom”—has found its translation in the lands called , among other four-lettered words, Holy.

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