Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Senselessly Barbaric

The ferocity of the attacks by Israel, its use of white phosphorus on civilian populations, its total disregard for women and children dying in Gaza all indicate a rabid barbarism that has not been seen in modern times, all the more as Israel tries so desperately to take the moral high ground on this issue. In the first place it was Israel who on Nov 4, 2008 first raided into Gaza killing Hamas fighters in the raid, and thus broke the ceasefire, there had been no rocket attacks at that point since the last ceasefire. It is convenient to claim that eight years of rocket attacks have caused this invasion is nothing but a spin. While it was acknowledged through the six month ceasefire Hamas has made efforts to stop rocket attacks into Israel there were the odd rouge attack which, even the Human Rights Watch said were hard to stop.

When Israel reinforced the blockade of Gaza on December 19, bringing down the supply trucks to a mere 70 trucks that were allowed in, instead of the 500 hundred a day needed to sustain the population of Gaza, the ceasefire had effectively ended. Irrespective of this technicality, and even assuming the Hamas are entirely to blame for the attacks and the collapse of the ceasefire, how can collective responsibility be set onto the entire population of Gaza? Of the 900 killed the actual number of Hamas fighters are a small percentage, so much so that after the incident of Beit Zaitoun where 30 women and children were killed in a missile attack on a building where the previous day Israeli troops had herded the families in on grounds of it being 'safe', one can only assume that war crimes would be an appropriate word for the way the Israeli army has conducted itself.

The question of the conduct of the war cannot be justified merely on grounds that the Hamas started the war, this is a misplaced logic as it assumes therefore Israel is absolved of any responsibility of the way it conducts the military operation. Israel cannot simply say because of the rockets it attacks it is now morally acceptable to kill women and children in Gaza. Once Israeli spin doctors realized there is just so much that can be blamed on the rocket attacks they changed their tune to say Hamas fighters are using women and children as human shields. This is such a weak and feeble argument that international observers have scoffed at the mere gall of Israeli commentators to even suggest this.

When in an article for Postglobal I used the word 'genocide' I was told it was was using terms that were no appropriate. Perhaps I can concede that, but I would need to know then what is the current horror described as? I am not asking for explanations of what Hamas did, I know they have not been exemplary citizens of the world community. I am asking has Israel lived up to its claim that it takes care 'not to target women and children.'?

World reaction has been appalling as far as the governments of the world are concerned. The people with conscious have spoken up, in the streets of Europe, the US, and Asia, but where is the voice of governments. The Arab League is as good as a society of eunuchs who cannot even condemn the Israeli action without worrying about what the Americans will tell them. As for the US government the measure of ethics has been long since discarded and its shocking that President elect Obama has not even spoken up about the Israeli action. Clearly there is more hope, perhaps misplaced, on him changing the tone of what is happening than anyone else.

For the Arab governments, the Egyptians are playing honest broker half hoping that Hamas is weakened to the point where it is ineffective, in the process ignoring the carnage on the streets of Gaza. The rest of the Arab world is caught up in their own issues or at best ignoring them and none of them have seriously told the US to exert pressure on the Israeli's to stop military actions in Gaza, or atleast end them against civilians.

To consider an enduring peace as a possibility is now all the more difficult as the people of Gaza have suffered to an extent where their hearts are hard and the neglect of the world has become all the more obvious. I merely wish to ask if, whatever the reasons, in a war 40% of the people killed were women and children and this was in Europe, or American or Israeli families had suffered this way would everyone have been quiet. Where is the conscious of the American media which questioned the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, where soldiers were convicted for shooting down women and children.


This is the image that we need to remember.

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