Grief in Gaza

land-for-peace-20060724

I doubt there is anyone who saw the devastation inflicted upon Gaza in recent days and didn’t empathise with those who are living, suffering and grieveing in these appalling circumstances. As with any conflict the price paid in blood is predominantly civilian and what makes this situation even more sad is that it falls upon the festive period – a time which is traditionally meant to represent peace and reconcilliation. Unfortunately this situation reminds us all too actuely of the dangerous world in which we live. Sadly the Arab-Israeli conflict has for the past 60 years pushed the borders of rationality on more times than I care to recall, this situation is no different.

Now it is no secret I am a great defender of the state of Israel. The fundamental problem I have with the Palestinian leadership and Hamas lies in their arrogant and point blank refusal to recognise Israels right to exist and their seeming contempt for human life. However that does not mean that I entirely condone the actions of the Israeli armed forces and government. I recognise the Israelis could show more restraint. I recognise the Palestinians have legitimate grievances. It was indeed Arab land that was partitioned and used to form the state of Israel and if the boot was on the other foot I might be tempted to react with equal passion and anger at the Israeli ‘occupation’ of ‘my’ land. Sadly history is full of ‘injustices’  but I prefer to deal with the world as it is today, not how it was yesterday. Hamas need to recognise it was their land, it isn’t now and ultiamtely never will be. We once had an empire, We don’t now.

The world has moved on. Israel does exist and has done for more than half a century. It has grown in such economic and military strength that any naieve hope of  simply ‘erasing it from history’ are completely out of the question. As it should be. The Israelis have as much of a right to exist as the Palestinians and thus both sides need to realise if they are ever going to achieve peace they need to compromise. Israel has shown it is willing to compromise and has ceded some areas back to Palestinian control. Despite the common critique that it is the Israelis who are the roadblock to reform and peace, I believe the blame for these attrocities lies entirely with the Palestinian militants.

Indeed there are many out there who will blame this crisis entirely on the Israelis based entirely on the casualities. They will claim that Israel has over reacted, that they are bullying and, most gravely of all, mudering innocent Palestinians. Now it is true Israel has a reputation of being intolerant in the face of agression. History has clearly shown  that they aren’t afraid to use force to defend themselves. But I ask you all to remember that that is precisely what they are doing: defending themselves.

The fact remains that if you want someone to blame look to the Palestinian militants who have been bombarding Israel with rockets fire for years. In this situation, as with the war in Lebanon a few years back, much of the world is likely to look upon the violence gripping Gaza and once again assess it simply as a numbers game: How many Palestinians were killed versus how many Israelis? Based on such a crude analysis, one could only assume that Israel is wholly guilty of the charges once again being lobbed against it of acting with disproportionate responses and heavy-handedness. Israel has lost relatively few people through the Palestinian rocket fire whereas the Israeli response as always will yeald a much higher death toll on Palestinians.

The problem with analysing a conflict based on numbers of casulaties and deaths is that it is entirely dismissive of the facts on the ground. Yes, in the years that Palestinian terrorists have been lobbing missiles at Israeli civilian targets, a total of 15-20 Israeli lives have been lost which compared to the number of Palestinian dead could seem a comparatively small number. But this analysis is ignoring the reality that every one of the more than 7,000 rockets fired was launched with the intent to kill, maim and destroy lives. Each had the potential to do just that and it is only sheer luck that forced most of those murderous weapons away from human targets.

While media reports give the impression of a battle being fought between two sides- Israel’s army and Palestinian terrorists, let it be clear that Israel’s only objective in this campaign is to defend her citizens. There are no militants in the Israeli coast towns such as Sderot- no people launching missiles at Gaza or threatening holy war against Muslims or the Palestinian population. Quite the contrary, the people whose homes and lives are being destroyed by Kassam rockets are unassuming family men and women. They are children who often have little comprehension why their school days are being constantly interrupted by the horrific sounds of a shrill siren warning them that they have less than fifteen seconds to reach safety. These are the targets of the Hamas and Fatah terrorists- nothing more and nothing less: The innocent.

The Palestinian militants are the ‘wreckers in our midst’. They seek to use bully boy tactics to provoke Israel in to response. And make no qualms of this: Israel will respond. She has the sovereign right to defend her people against unprovoked aggression and terrorism. Hamas and its militant terrorists know that by provoking Israel the response will yield Palestinian casualties. Grief, poverty and destruction pushes people toward extremism. So who will the Palestinians turn to? The answer is simple: Hamas. These terrorists have no desire for peace with Israel. They have no desire for compromise. All they desire is to wipe Israel off the map and take back ‘their’ land. Well the fact is the world has changed. It isn’t ‘their’ land anymore. Just as America isn’t ours.

There can be no disputing that the continuing loss of innocent life is painful and deeply regrettable. Yet, as we experience a situation where one side is waging a campaign of terror and murder and the other is simply fighting to defend her citizens, the world must look beyond the hard numbers and look at the hard realities. Israel has the right…no… duty, to defend herself and her people from those whose only political ambition is to kill and destroy. We must, albeit with a heavy heart, show them our approval in their fight.

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21 thoughts on “Grief in Gaza

  1. “Quite the contrary, the people whose homes and lives are being destroyed by Kassam rockets are unassuming family men and women. ”

    That would be quite a statement… if it weren’t for the fact that no homes or lives have actually yet been destroyed by Kassam rockets.

    “She has the sovereign right to defend her people against unprovoked aggression”

    Continued building of settlements on Palestinian land, continued bulldozing of Palestinian homes, continued imprisonment and torture of thousands of innocent Palestinians. You need to have a think about whose doing the provoking there Dan.

  2. http://www.zionism-israel.com/vic/sderot1.htm

    Whether a rocket completely destroys a building or a life is irrelevant. The fact is that living in constant fear of an incoming rocket, whether it has the potential to cause major or minor damage is irrelevant. The people of the costal towns of Israel should not have to live in fear of rocket fire whose sole purpose is to kill, destroy and disrupt the lives and property of the Israeli people.

    Even if a rocket doesnt completely destroy a house… if it blasts the roof or the walls off then that roof or wall has to be replaced and it causes severe disruption to peoples lives. Similarly whether a rocket kills you or just blows your leg off…. youve still caused massive emotional and physical trauma to an individual. The people in the coastal towns are of no threat to the Palestinians…. the same cannot be said of the Palestinians. Also how would you feel if you didnt know whether in the night a rocket would be fired at your home?

    We have also established it is not ‘Palestinian land’. History has determined the land belongs to Israel. Rightly or wrongly that is the way it is. We have to find a way to compromise. Israel has made step towards that by completing a unilateral withdrawl from the Gaza strip in 2005. However Hezbollah fighters in their infinate wisdom threw another spanner in the movement for peace in the region when they crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel, attacked and killed eight Israeli soldiers, and abducted two others as hostages which prompted the 2006 Lebanon War.

    There is a pattern emmerging here:… unprovoked unilateral action on the part of Hamas or Hezbollah which provokes Israel to respond. They have the right to respond against miltant wreckers.

    Militants dont want peace.These people want to sabotage peace.They want all out war. They are the mice trying to fight the cat. They don’t care how many innocent people that they get killed by their provocative actions because they know every death they cause to an Israeli will result in a rapid response which will yield more casualties which in turn will convert more to the extremists cause.

  3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/04/israelandthepalestinians.humanrights

    When I said Palestinian land – I was referring to the land that is not an actual part of the state of Israel – but land that it occupies and has confiscated illegally (i.e. parts of the West Bank).

    Occupying the land is one thing, but building permanent settlements on it is another:

    “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

    – Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949

  4. Dan’s version of impartiality is quite selective. You seem quite happy offering a total blanket support for the Israeli state’s random carpet bombing of innocent Palestinain civilians in pursuit of security, but with the other breath you offer cynaical hand wringing of this Xmas massacre being conducted during Xmas as its the time of peace.

    Well guess what? Peace doesn’t occur through bombs nor through making Gaza an open prison (you provide more reasons to hate Israel) but by negotiating an agreement. Yes, you and the right wing elements of Israeli society may hate Hamas, but you cannot choose to negotiate only those you like but those you dislike too.

    If Israel asserts it has a right to exist, then why not respect that right for the Palestinians. You wrongly asserts that Palestinians were offered land for peace (your caption pic), but you cannot technically offer land which belongs to someone else (ie Palestinians), recognised by UN article 242, and then provide them pieces of it interspersed with Israeli settlements full of nutters and imply that Israel is the peacemaker.

    You also state that the Sderot residents have no militants. If you look at today’s BBC programme this is what woman has said and she thinks it’s FANTASTIC!!
    “Finally, a month and a half before the elections, Israel takes some action. I definitely see this as linked, but it’s OK, better late than never. What’s been happening in Gaza is fantastic. I feel very bad about the man killed in [the Israeli town of] Netivot. ”
    Mechi Fendel, mother of 7 from Sderot on http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7801641.stm

    Please remember that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

  5. Good call Dan! I think your points were explained very well, could not have been done better. This is a really touchy issue to debate and I mostly like to avoid it so well done for having the courage!

    Thanks for another intriguing post.

    xXx

  6. Very well put Dan,

    It is almost impossible to understand the situation unless has experienced what life is like for an everyday Israeli. Instead we must try to imagine what life under the constant threat of death at the hand of those “who hate Israel more than they they love their own children”.

    In reply to the previous post, I have no doubt that numerous residents of Sderot would disagree with you, I have myself walked through a shopping mall lacking a roof thanks to a relatively simple steel rocket, be assured that if that were to come through your own roof it would not be a minor occurrence.
    Furthermore accusation of torture is very serious and lacking credible evidence. It is easy to demonise those with military power and look at the underdog as being the just, however there is no justice in a terrorist government.

    At this time of year may we hope that the future will hold Peace/ Shalom & Salaam for all.

    A.Jenner

  7. Accusations of torture lacking credible evidence?

    I’m sorry – but Israel itself has admitted to using torture. A simple Google search of ‘Israeli torture’ brings up countless accounts of psychological and physical torture.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7345025.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/637293.stm
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44664-2004Jun15.html
    http://www.jewwatch.com/jew-atrocities-israelitorture.htm

  8. Zubeda – Let me ask you something: If the boot was on the other foot… If it was Hamas who had the military capabilities of Israel… do you rreeaallly believe Israel would exist today? They would have wiped it off the face of the earth and committed the genocide you claim is being committed on the Palestinians.

    The difference is Israel has the capability to destory the Palestinian people in the same way Hamas would destroy Israel given the chance but for the most part the Israelis exercise restraint. THEY, not Hamas, have shown willingness to negotiate. They, not Hamas, want real and lasting peace. Hamas want their way or no way. That is not negotiation. How may I ask you are you supposed to negotiate with someone who denies your right to exist? Both parties needs to come to the table with a willingness to compromise. Israel I believe has shown far more willingness to find this compromise.

    Incidently Bilal, neither side is innocent. Just as Britain is not blameless in Iraq. But ultimately I believe that Israels actions have a far greater chance at peace than Hamas. I say again Israels actions are entirely on the defence. Whereas Hamas is entirely on the offense. How they defend themselves is open to question… but the point is they wouldnt have to do any of that if Hamas got it through their thick skulls that Israel does and has the human right to exist. Israel has never questioned the rights of the Palestinians to exist and has never threatened ‘holy war’. Until Hamas gets a grip and stops their pathetic attacks on Israel they will be brought to heel.

    My grandmother jokingly summed this situation up: “If a child is unruly and unreasonable you give them a short sharp slap until they fall in to line. Hamas is an unruly child and needs to be brought in to line through similar methods”

  9. ‘If it was’… ‘if it had’…

    You need to stop speculating on what would’ve happened if the situation had been the other way round, because you simply don’t know.

    “When Israel was first created, I had a lot of admiration and respect for the Jews; now I want to throw them all into the sea.” – Palestinian who suffers almost daily harassment at the hands of the settlers near his and their security team.

    Its Israel’s policy that has driven ordinary Palestinians to take up arms. Israel, you say, has shown willingness to compromise – by imprisoning over 1million people like cattle? Why does everyone keep ignoring the months that Gaza has been kept blockaded? What was Israel’s justification for allowing no exports out of Gaza and only a trickle of medical and food supplies into Gaza?

    Locking an unruly child in a room with no food and water will just infuriate the child more.

  10. I know from friends who have lived in and visited Israel that rocket attacks are a real part of daily life. This is not right. Israel has only ever been on the defensive. The arab world cannot seem to get its head around Israels right to exist. The 6 day war was launched by arabs not israelis. The war in lebanon was prompted by Hezbollah militants attacking and seizing members of the Israeli military. And this latest situation is the results of monts, no years, of bombardment by Hamas rockets on Israeli costal towns. Israel is seeking out militants, and sadly civilians are paying a heavy price, but Hamas are actively seeking civilians. There are no militants or military forces in Israeli costal towns.

    The only target of the militants is the innocent. Now I have already conceded that perhaps Israel could show a bit more restraint in their response but not for one second do I concede that this situation is of their making. If you want someone to blame, blame the ones who started this fight. You ask me to deal with reality and thus I ask the same of you: HAMAS DO NOT WANT PEACE. HAMAS WANT THE ANNIALATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL. This can never be treated as an acceptable political standpoint and if they provoke Isreal in to a fight then we must be prepared to let them fight.

    Im afraid this situation is that age old paradox: If you want peace you must prepare for war.

  11. Yet again, you ignore my comments about the Gaza blockade.

    Rocket attacks from Hamas were pretty much reduced to none over the period of the truce. And yet – did Israel keep its side of the bargain and open Gaza? No, they went and tightened the restrictions even more.

    That’s what led Hamas to restart the Qassam rocket firing – and hence gave Israel the perfect excuse to blow Gaza to pieces.

  12. @ Bilal

    The fact that you use JewWatch as a source of your information informs me of the rationality of your arguments.
    For those who do not know, JewWatch.com is a anti-Semitic website run by Frank Weltner, a radical white supremacist. The site itself is full of ludicrous claims ranging from Jews drinking children’s blood; to Winston Churchill being Jewish.
    The other sources refer to little more than conjecture or past instances, far less serious than some of those committed by other western democracies.
    In reference to what would happen if the ‘shoe was on the other foot’, I refer to the 1948 War of Independence and 1967 war, both times Israel has been invaded by countries with the sole aim of pushing it into the Med. Or else to our current scenario with Hamas’s Iranian and Syrian backers looking to ‘wipe Israel off the map’.
    Instead what we see is Israel carrying out an operation to remove a cancerous aspect of the Gazan population, those that would rather see the whole body die than allow Israel to exist. This is being carried out with conventional weapons and with the aim to minimising civilian casualties. Indeed the IDF has been dropping leaflets and providing warnings to civilians, a courtesy which has not been offered to the countless Israelis who see their lives homes and families destroyes by Qassams and Katyushas.
    It is important however to remember that this operation is being carried out in a claustrophobic environment idealy suited for those perpetrators of Terror who find cowardly hiding places amongst innocents. When it is all over we will see the exaggerations of Pallywood laid bare as they have been before with operation Defensive Shield in Jenin.

    A.Jenner

  13. A palistinian state, free from the ravages of israeli occupation is the only solution in my mind.

    Israel must go back to its boarders, and the palistinians need to stop fighting each other, and create a credible goernment willing to work with israel.

    Peace can come out of pain, look at south africa,

    it is time for the debate to move beyond the bombs.

    I find the time of year chosen for this attack by Israel deeply worrying,

    ref the blog, alittle pro Israel i think.

  14. @ A.Jenner

    The JewWatch site was one of the first few links that came up under the Google search ‘Israeli torture’ – hence the copy+paste to here. ‘Refer to little more than past instances’ – so that makes it more acceptable that it did happen?

    Dropping leaflets doesn’t make the smallest of differences… the Palestinians know they’re under attack. Where can you hide and be safe from bombs that rip large buildings to pieces?

    And its interesting you mention Pallywood. Because Israel has, far more than any Arab country, manipulated the media on issues surrounding this conflict. There are countless examples of videos and articles (containing genuine evidence, not rumours) which various media sources have been intimidated by Israel into keeping from publication.

    @Dan

    The Gaza blockade was put in place due to Fatah no longer having a presence in Gaza and hence making Israel feel a little worried about Hamas’ presence there. There was no excuse at all for limiting exports from Gaza… the only aim of that was to cripple the economy. UN Human Rights investigator RA Falk was not allowed to enter Gaza and was thrown out of the country. Israel wanted nothing other than to create a humanitarian crisis.

    History has shown us that brutal Israeli bombing has failed to reach any laudable goals. Time and time again, we have seen bombings followed by recommencement of rocket attacks – it clearly isn’t working. Every time Israel drops a bomb into Gaza it creates more anger and fuels more hostility towards itself.

    Hasn’t the time come for trying a different approach?

  15. ‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile in the hope it will eat him last’

    Hamas CANNOT be appeased. They have one goal which is the destruction of the state of Israel. Even if you do not agree with Israels actions in Gaza surely you can concede Israel is never going to simply fade in to history? If you concede that then I ask you what is the purpose of Hamas?

    Hamas are militants. Like Sinn Fein before them they have encouraged and used terrorist methods to achieve their ends which ultimately are unachievable. Britain refused to bow to their terrorism and fought back. Sinn Fein and the IRA have by and large fallen in to line due to that tough approach. Hamas will realise that they can achieve more with sugar than vinegar.

    Yes the more Israel responds to their provocation the more Palestinians will turn away from peace. I feel this situation will get worse before it gets better. Fatah at least is realistic in its ambitions. The peace process has a fighting chance with them but NOT with Hamas.

    I think Iain Dale summed it up best when he pointed out that over the last four years, 92% of Sderot residents (a town of 20,000 people) have experienced a Qassam rocket falling on their or an adjacent street. Sixteen Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets and hundreds have been injured and maimed.

    Israel should have dealt with this situation long before now. Instead, it allowed itself to be persuaded to call a truce with Hamas. It may have gone down well in the international community, but all it achieved was to allow Hamas time to regroup and rearm.

    Hamas broke the ceasefire by firing more rockets into Israel. Imagine if this had happened here. Imagine if France fired rockets onto Dover from Calais. Would the British people expect its government to stand idly by and do nothing? Of course not.

    Hamas needs to be brought in to line in ways they understand: force. Hamas are putting their people in poverty because it rallys more people to their cause. They understand that if they dont provoke Israel in to response then the peace process will have a real chance. If peace is brought to the region then what role have Hamas left to play? These people need to keep the Palestinians in squalor, pain and poverty in order to exist and preach their poison.

    Israel is not blameless. Its actions may indeed be heavy handed but the gran architechts of the pain, misery and suffering inflicted on both sides are the spinless little snakes firing thousands of rockets in to innocent towns with the intent to kill, maim and destroy, making and breaking ceasefires and keeping their people in poverty to ensure support for their cause. Hamas is the problem not Israel.

  16. Of course I’m not saying that Israel can’t exist. Exactly how it exists is the question though.

    As I’ve said before, the truce was broken by Hamas because Israel refused to keep its own side of the bargain and open up the blockade.

    Although the British did deal with the IRA and SinnFeind in a tough manner, they did not adopt a strategy of building English settlements all over Ireland, threatening and imprisoning Irish people and bombing them. That situation was entirely different.

    Hamas was democratically voted in by the Palestinian people, it shows that the Palestinians had had enough of Fatah sitting around in talks which gave them nothing whilst Israel continued its policy of building settlements and bulldozing Palestinian houses.

    Hamas depends on its popularity within the people to exist and launch rocket attacks, and that popularity is fuelled by Israeli aggression.

    How about if Israel releases the thousands of innocent prisoners who they are holding, retreats from the illegal settlements it has set up in the Occupied Territories, stops bullying aid agencies working in Palestine and shows the Palestinian people that it is willing to look seriously at a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as a part of Palestine?

    If Israeli aggression is fuelling Hamas support and support for rockets to be launched into Israel, then surely a softer approach from Israel will do the opposite.

  17. Dan,

    From a diplomatic standpoint, I suspect that opening negotiations with, to paraphrase your article, ‘we stole your land… deal with it… peace?’, is not the best tack. More importantly, however, this would betray an accurate account of how Israel came to exist.

    Israel has a right to defend itself and, as we are seeing at the moment, the IDF is more than capable of carrying out that duty.

    Ryan rightly lists three conditions for peace: “Israel must go back to its boarders, and the palistinians need to stop fighting each other, and create a credible goernment willing to work with israel.” I don’t know whether Ryan’s ordering was intentional, but I imagine these need to be implemented in reverse order for any realistic hope of the two state solution being realized. For Israel to simply withdraw to it’s 1967 borders without any guarantees from the Palestinian leadership would be to simply endorse the creation of an independent terrorist state in the Middle East.

    Israel, far from being an occupying power (in the traditional sense of the term), has said it will exchange land for guarantees of peace. This is precisely what it did with Egypt when that country produced reliable leadership that was open to genuine negotiations towards a peace settlement.

    In fact, Hamas might more accurately fit the traditional description of an occupying power for the way it overthrew the legitimate Fatah leadership in Gaza.

    (1) Gaza and the West Bank need to once again be governed by one united Palestinian leadership.
    (2) That leadership, once established, must renounce violence, recognize Israel and pledge itself wholeheartedly to reaching a peace settlement.

    If this is achieved, and if Israel makes concessions (including the cessation of settlement expansion in the two territories) then peace might be possible.

  18. The Palestinians remind me of Albert in the monologue ‘Albert and the Lion.’

    At what point will the Albert-like Palestinian ‘leadership’ learn that poking a Lion in the ear is not an especially good idea?

  19. I suppose one could argue that the American revolutionaries did just that in 1776; they poked and stirred the British ‘lion’, succeeded and paved the way for what is retrospectively seen as perhaps the most momentous political moment of the eighteenth century.

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