Unedited version of my column in Scottish Sun on Sunday 13th July 2014
GAZA UNDER ATTACK- WHEN WILL IT STOP?
Three teenage Jewish settlers were kidnapped in Gaza in June, their bodies were found last week after being brutally slaughtered and dumped, having been shot ten times with a silencer.
Their cowardly murder was the catalyst for Israel’s daily bombardment of Gaza, holding Hamas responsible, although the evidence is yet to be produced.
The international community immediately stood in solidarity with Israel and supported its ‘right to defend itself’,
So began Israel’s military assault on Gaza, bombing over 500 targets, killing 98 Palestinians including 23 children, injuring 580 with zero Israelis dead but blaming Hamas for using civilians as human shields. One airstrike alone killed eight members of a family watching the world cup semi-final in a beach café including five children.
The night after the funeral of the three teenagers, Abdul Khadeir a 16 year Palestinian was also kidnapped, forced to swallow petrol and set on fire by Jewish settlers but there was no similar worldwide condemnation.
As the hourly death toll of innocent Palestinian families rises, the British Government backs unconditionally Israel’s response, with a caveat that simply urges ‘restraint’.
In fact it has taken the Scottish Government to set an example to Westminster of what would have been a just and humanitarian response. They have offered to throw open the doors of its hospitals to the injured of Gaza whilst condemning the ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians. It’s a principled stand that a Westminster Government does not have the guts to adopt.
Since the assault on Gaza began, Hamas have been firing rockets firing into Israel every ten minutes, fortunately they have failed to kill. Whilst some are quick to point out that Hamas rockets have only killed 15 Israelis since 2001, such an argument fails to address their indiscriminate use, or that like Israeli missiles they also terrify, cause psychological trauma and ultimately their aim is to kill otherwise they wouldn’t be firing them.
Israel points to Hamas’s charter which calls for the ‘obliteration of Israel’ as a reason for refusing to negotiate with them. But whist Israel uses Hamas as a reason to justify yet another assault on the civilian population of Gaza, self-defence in law has to be proportionate.
If you think a gunman is on the loose in a school, it doesn’t give you the right to blow him up along with the school children, the school and then blame the gunman for using them as human shields.
World respected Jewish philosopher Noam Chomsky once said:-
“Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defence, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armour, no command in control, no army… and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder.”
GAZA UNDER ATTACK- WHY?
Gaza is an open air prison, whose 1.7 million people have nowhere to run or hide, no air raid shelters, living in the most densely populated scrap of land in the world, 25 miles long and 7.5 miles wide.
Jewish settlers control 40% of Gaza’s most arable land, 80% of Gaza’s water and a quarter of the territory whilst 80% of Palestinians survive on less that £1.20 per day. The Jewish settlements are illegal under international law, an impediment to a viable Palestinian state but they still grow at the rate of 5% a year.
Israel may have won the propaganda war by portraying Palestinians as responsible for their own misfortunes- ‘Terrorists’ who reject peaceful coexistence with their Jewish neighbours.
I suppose that is easy enough to win with a compliant media, which fails to mention that Palestine was split in half and their land handed over to Jewish settlers in 1948 with 750,000 Palestinians expelled.
They fail to mention that 6.5 million Palestinian refugees, have no right of return to their homes live wretched lives in camps throughout the Middle East, abused by the Arab World as well as Israel, meanwhile a Jewish person living in New York with no connection to Israel has a right to claim citizenship on the basis of a 3000 year old Biblical connection.
Unlike others I do not make excuses for the war crimes of Hamas but that does not justify Israel committing war crimes with the collective punishment of Palestinians, indiscriminate bombings, shootings, starving, blockades and occupation.
Israel flags up at every opportunity, Hamas’s refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist, but they also fail to mention that Hamas is willing negotiate for a ceasefire and permanent settlement based on a two state solution according to the 1967 borders without having to recognise Israel’s right to exist.
GAZA UNDER ATTACK- BUT CAN ISRAEL WIN THE WAR?
Israel is a proud nation founded after the murder of 6 million Jews, but sadly it brings shame to memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
No amount of military power will ever buy Israel immunity or peace from the likes of Hamas. This week’s indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza will succeed in creating yet another generation of fighters who hate Israel.
Despite the portrayal of Palestinians as ‘fanatics’ hell bent on blowing themselves up, they are no different to you or me, with normal dreams and aspirations to live in freedom and with dignity.
Israel could make peace with them if it really wanted to, they have the power and all the land, but to do so it must return land for a viable two state solution.
After all Vietnam or Iraq showed you cannot win a war by practising violence against civilians (state terrorism) even if you are a super power.