The Israeli government is insisting that its operations in northern Gaza are just to stop rockets from being fired at Israel from there, and that the utmost care is taken so that the civilian population should not suffer unduly.
Not pleasant, but if that was the complete story it would be at least marginally understandable.
But the reality unfortunately looks very different.
Three years ago Israel agreed with the Palestinian Authority that the electricity supply should not be affected by the different conflicts due to its critical importance to the civilian population and economy.
But last week the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed the six generators of the only power station in the Gaza area. Following that, the Israeli Army tried to destroy the power lines as well, although that seems to have failed.
More than 700 000 Palestinians are since then without electricity. It’s not only that all air conditioning is gone, but also that 130 water wells operating with electricity and can no longer produce water. And since Israel is also blocking all deliveries of diesel, the reserve power generators at the remaining water wells are likely to stop soon as well.
In the hospitals all the equipment requiring electricity will soon not be able to work. Diabetics that require insulin injection will have to be without, since insulin needs to be stored cool. And any thought of eating any food that is not very fresh should be forgotten – refrigerators will no longer work.
How much of the economy is stopped by the absence of electricity is not clear. Numerous shops and small industries have been forced to close.
And nothing of this can be repaired very soon. Even if six new generators were to be delivered immediately, those knowing the technology are saying that it would take towards six months to get everything up and running smoothly again.
The deliberate destruction of the power system is only one of the examples of the way in which hardship is very deliberately inflicted on the civilian population. One has also bombed a bridge that also housed the main water pipeline between the North and the South of the Gaza area.
It would be very difficult indeed not to classify these acts by Israel as deliberate attempts to punish and destroy the ordinary lives of ordinary Palestinians, and to inflict humanitarian suffering well beyond what the laws of war could motivate.
I guess that if someone deliberately destroyed the power supply of New York it would immediately be classified as an act of terrorism, since the purpose could be no other than inflicting harm on innocent civilians.
As long as Israel acts like this – deliberately destroying civilian infrastructure of critical importance for the population – they deserve the condemnation of the world, and they gravely undercut the support that otherwise would be there for actions necessary against rockets fired at Israel.
Whatever it should be called – there is no doubt that acts like these are acts that breed and fuel terrorism.