Make no mistake, the word ‘conflict’ is a misnomer when used to describe what is happening in Gaza. It is nothing short of a massacre that, tragically, continues to take place with chilling regularity. One can point out the Gaza War — another misnomer — in 2008, in which approximately 1,400 Palestinians were killed in comparison to 13 Israelis. Or similar ‘clashes’ that took place in 2012, in which casualties were similarly disproportionate. One can point out the farce of ‘exchanging fire’ when one country is a nuclear-armed regional superpower with the latest — most lethal — American technology, and the other, a tiny fledging state — might as well put their rockets on a catapult and launch them across for all the damage that they have done.
In this ‘conflict’ spanning the last 11 days, 268 Palestinians have been killed, 70 per cent of them civilians, many of them children. Two Israelis have been killed, and one of them was in a ‘friendly-fire’ incident. The Israeli Army, after relentlessly pounding Gaza with airstrikes for 11 days, is moving in for a ground offensive. The aim, it says, is to uncover and destroy the various tunnels that Hamas used to move weapons and militants in and out of Gaza. Ironically, those same tunnels are more frequently used to move basic supplies which, even in ordinary times, are hard to come by in Gaza, like medicines or petrol.
Shrouded in statements like ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’, the international community and the United States in particular, has given a carte blanche to Israel and its actions. Of course, this extends to Muslim countries as well. Egypt’s new government, which has no love for Hamas, has done its bit to keep the border it shares with Gaza under lockdown as well, not allowing Gazans who have repeatedly been told to evacuate, to do just that.
A ceasefire, an idea paid lip service to by international leaders, seems far away. The massacre continues.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.
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