Hamas or IDF: Killing Civilians Is Wrong
Deaglán de Bréadún
The Gaza episode is over but the memories remain. Very haunting memories at that. You should read an excellent and very balanced piece from Tom Clonan in today’s Irish Times by clicking here.
In the interests of balance and impartiality, I am providing a link to Israel’s response here.
I find what happened in Gaza very difficult to accept. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am very well-disposed to Israel, that I support its right to exist within the 1967 borders and would be completely opposed to terrorist attacks of any kind on the Jewish state.
I also have some reservations about Amnesty International. But I have to accept the conclusions of this report by the human rights organisation. Quite rightly – and this is highlighted in Clonan’s article – Hamas is condemned for its outrageous rocket attacks on civilians inside the borders of Israel.
But the Israeli response was totally disproportionate. Clonan writes that the Amnesty report provides “evidence of a systematic and systemic attempt on the part of the general staff of the IDF to terrorise Gaza’s civilian population”.
He continues: “The combined arms nature of the protracted Israeli onslaught on an area inhabited by 1.5 million civilians – 48 per cent of whom were children under the age of 15 – on an objective military analysis, appears to provide clear evidence of war crimes on the part of Israel’s general staff.”
Whether or not these actions constitute war crimes is not something I am qualified to decide. But on a basic human level, how could they do it? I have written before about visiting Gaza, particularly the Jabaliya refugee camp. When you go there you are instantly surrounded by hordes of Palestinian children, friendly, smiling, curious and, like all Palestinians, very welcoming.
I have children of my own as, I’m sure, do many of those who attacked Gaza and left so many children for dead – quite possibly including some of the children I saw there on my last visit with a photographer colleague who was working with me on news and features for The Irish Times.
Killing civilians is wrong. Killing children is doubly wrong, no matter what side does it. I have heard the excuses and the rationales but still find myself facing the same question: How could they do it?