January 8, 2009

A War of Brutal Terror

Filed under: Politics/News — 4fooey @ 10:19 pm

The violence inflicted on the people of Gaza over the past two weeks has been brutal, sickening and totally unjustified. The lack of firm condemnation of Israel from all major western governments has been very disappointing. The majority of people in Gaza are completely innocent, caught up in the bitter struggle between Hamas and the Israeli government. The huge loss of innocent life, and the destruction of schools, mosques, universities, and other infrastructure is a catastrophe, and adds further misery to the already desperate life of the Palestinians living in the Gaza strip.

Israel has some of the most powerful military in the world, the Gazans have very little in comparison (guns and few hundred small rockets) — the conflict is so unequal. What on earth do the Israelis think they can achieve with their actions? Their actions are criminal and ultimately futile. All they are doing is massacreing hundreds of innocent people, further devastating the Gazans living conditions, and strengthening Arab feeling against the state of Israel. This is all such a waste of human life and hopelessly counter-productive for Israel. The actions of the Israelis can only inflame opinion in the whole middle east and make a war with Iran (or a number of sympathetic Arab countries) more likely.

Of course Hamas should not be firing rockets into Israel, but such devastating retaliation by Israel is completely unjustified. The same brutal force was used against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, with little lasting results or effect. The use of overwhelming military force against a poor and more-or-less defenceless people, resulting in many hundreds or thousands of innocent people dieing, should be a crime in international law. The US has used the same ‘shock and awe’ tactics in the Iraq invasion in 2003, the Israelis continue to use such brutal tactics on the Palestinians.

For over 60 years there have been numerous wars and conflicts and so far no solution looks likely. The UN and international community has completely failed the people of this area, while the Palestinians have lived in impossible conditions in Gaza and the West Bank for decades. The world urgently needs to find a solution, otherwise the terror of the past two weeks, or worse, will happen again.

The background to the conflict is covered here: Q&A: Gaza conflict. The following are extracts. 

Gaza has a population of 1.5 million of whom some 33% (about 490,000) are classified as refugees. It is 40km (25 miles) long and between six and 12km (4 and 8 miles) wide. The United Nations Works and Relief agency (Unwra) provides basic food aid to about 750,000 people in Gaza.

Since 2001, when the rockets were first fired (by Hamas into Israel), more than 8,600 have hit southern Israel, nearly 6,000 of them since Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. The rockets have killed 28 people and injured hundreds more. [In the current conflict in Gaza, over 700 Palestinians have died (including over 200 children) and thousands have been injured. ]

Gaza was part of Palestine when it was administered by Britain in a mandate granted by the League of Nations after World War I. In fighting after Israel declared its independence in large areas of Palestine in 1948, the Egyptians captured the Gaza Strip. Palestinian refugees from the coastal cities to the north took refuge there. They or their descendants still live in UN camps in Gaza. Israel captured it in the war of 1967 and eventually moved about 8,000 settlers there, but all Israeli settlers and soldiers left in 2005.


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