Respite for the people of Gaza – but for how long?
Deaglán de Bréadún
Hush little baby don’t you cry
You know your daddy’s born to die.
All my trials Lord soon be over.
We should pray to every god we know that the suffering of the Gaza people is over, at least for the time being. It’s likely under the circumstances that they will see further pain, death and loss in the future but let us hope that the current respite lasts a long time.
For once, Hamas made a smart move in demanding the withdrawal of Israeli troops who are leaving anyway. That way, neither side loses face. But it’s probably too much to expect that the rocket attacks will permanently cease. Can Hamas not see that these forays are the perfect excuse for Israel to hit back with far, far greater force? Or in their religious exaltation, do they care about the fate of their people?
It was the same with the suicide bombings. That deadly tactic provided the perfect justification, in the eyes of many, for Israel to build the wall/barrier/security fence, call it what you like and thereby inflict a devastating blow on the Palestinian people.
I was in Gaza on 9/11 as a reporter covering the visit of our then-minister for foreign affairs (now Taoiseach) Brian Cowen, to the Palestinian President/Chairman Yasser Arafat. For a brief while, the finger of guilt for the World Trade Center attacks pointed at the Palestinians and I still shudder when I recall the fear on the faces of ordinary Gaza residents that day. Happily the real culprits were identified and the danger passed.
The Israelis probably feel their timing was quite smart. They wrapped up their attacks just in time for the Obama inauguration. Mission accomplished? Maybe not. Past experience has shown that such attacks on civilian locations can arouse stubborn defiance and strengthen the spirit of resistance – the exact opposite of what was intended. True, the supply of rockets may be hindered for a while but there are few things as easy to obtain as weapons in this day and age.
If you were a young Gaza boy or girl whose father or mother had been killed by the Israelis, what would you want to do? Engage in peace talks and shake the hand of those responsible for the deaths of your nearest and dearest? Join Hamas or some similar faction and wreak vengeance on your oppressors?