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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It is a sad state of affairs in Gaza and your editorial points out the points very well. I personally believe that Israel’s right to exist is a must for any discussions between the two parties. But that can only happen if Israel stops taking over Palestinian land and gives them a chance to live there with dignity. Many Israeli authors admit that the policy of bullying Arabs must stop before any meaningful dialogue can bear fruit. Ahron Bregman, an Israeli who now lives in America wrote the book “Cursed Victory”, is a must for many to read. He unmasks the administrative brutality beneath Israel’s claim to “enlightened occupation”. He recalls how in the aftermath of the 1967 conquest Israel’s government trucked a quarter of Gaza’s population to Jordan; how General Moshe Dayan’s celebrated “Open Bridges” policy, which gave Palestinians a respite from occupation and the chance to travel to Jordan, opened only in one direction for many; and how the Golan Heights were emptied of their 138,000 people, bar a few thousand Druze. The more people Israel displaced, the more land became available for Jewish settlements. Western powers having a guilt complex after WW2, look the other way when Israel carry on taking more Arab land. Other Arab countries like Egypt do not show great interest in helping Palestinians. So the killing will carry on. I am not hopeful that other than a cease-fire any substantial concessions will be on the table for discussion in the near future.
Israel might be out for a final solution this time. Kill or throw away the rest out of the area in order to annex, make no mistake, annex.