As Israel pounds the tiny Palestinian state which is itself firing rockets by the hundred into Israel, diplomacy once again has failed and this most intractable of conflicts continues on its bloody way. Neither side is willing to give an inch, and the Palestinians deny the right of Israel’s existence as strongly as Israel defends itself from what it sees as a terrorist state. John Kerry, of whom much was expected, has been unable to broker any sort of deal and while the geopolitical script plays out in the background, it is the ordinary people on both sides that fill the casualty lists.
The list is a one-sided affair, with Palestinians disproportionately represented. Sixteen were killed early on the morning of July 12, which brings the toll to 121 over the five days since the current outbreak of hostilities. The internet is awash with appalling imagery of maimed and mangled men, women and most heart-rendingly, children, who have died as a result of Israeli strikes. Their injuries are too awful to describe, their bodies limp in the arms of their parents whose howls of grief and rage almost burst from the screen. By contrast, there are clips of Israelis running for cover as incoming rockets are intercepted by the ‘Iron Dome’ defence system — but there are no mangled children their limbs at grotesque angles and few shattered buildings.
The plight of those that live in the Gaza Strip is an international disgrace. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the claims by both sides, the world has effectively abandoned the Palestinians to their fate, and it is small wonder that they fight back with a ferocity born of desperation. Thus far, no Israeli has been killed, though one soldier has been badly injured and an elderly man hurt when a petrol station was hit by a rocket. Massive ground forces are poised for an operation on the borders of Palestine and the body count rises by the hour. And who will put the brakes on Israel if it chooses to use main force? ‘Nobody’ would appear to be the answer to that.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2014.
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