Tomorrow is Shabbat Hannukah, the Sabbath that occurs during Hannukah. Exactly one year ago, on Shabbat Hannukah (Saturday December 27, 2008), Israel launched Operation Cast Lead. On that day, Saturday December 27, 2008, at 11:30 in the morning, a time when schoolchildren were still in school, 88 Israeli aircraft simultaneously attacked 100 preplanned targets in Gaza within a span of 4 minutes. This initial attack was followed by another attack and by the end of that Sabbath day, at least 230 Palestinians were killed and more than 700 injured. Shabbat Hannukah last year, was the day with the highestone day death toll in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A Reuters report from that day reads as follows:
"Black smoke billowed over Gaza City, where the dead and wounded lay on the ground after Israel bombed more than 40 security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits.
At the main Gaza City graduation ceremony, uniformed bodies lay in a pile and the wounded writhed in pain."
Our traditional greeting for Shabbat is Shabbat Shalom/ A Sabbath of Peace. That day was far from a Sabbath of Peace.
Not only did the Israeli military assault start on Hannukah, the name of the campaign, Operation Cast Lead, is from a Hannukah poem by Haim Nachman Bialik about a dreidel made from cast lead that a father bought for his child.
The poem became a popular Hannukah children's song. I learned the song when I was a child and Jewish children in Israel and around the world sing it joyously. From now on the image of the cast lead dreidl will be associated with the lead of armaments and the violence of Operation Cast Lead.
I imagine we all remember those days last year of the military campaign. I remember how shocked I was by the brutality and disproportional nature of the response. Israel with one of the strongest armies in the world bombarded one and a half million people who live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, in an open air prison, in isolation enforced by the Israeli siege with no way to leave or enter.