The crisis in Gaza
Sir, – It is with absolute disbelief that I read the article “Gaza ceasefire in sight as 100 more die”, currently the most prominent on your front page. On a day in which the Israeli military bombed a UN school, killing 19 civilians, you felt that the most pertinent information for your readers was the brief and localised ceasefire that followed. Not until the fourth paragraph was any mention made of the school bombing or of the 19 civilian casualties – information that any objective observer would deem critical and which any objective observer would agree far outweighs news of the fleeting ceasefire.
The article runs roughly as follows: headline: Israel declares brief ceasefire; paragraph 1: Israel declares brief ceasefire; paragraph 2: Some details of the fleeting ceasefire; paragraph 3: Hamas had no reaction to the news of the ceasefire; paragraph 4: Israel bombed a UN school killing 19 civilians.
It is absolutely appalling that your reporting is so clearly biased in this case. Currently both the British Times and Guardian newspapers, as well as countless others, are leading with the more appropriate story: that of the condemnable attack on the sleeping civilians in that school. I am extremely disappointed with this, which is only a small part of a pattern I have been observing in all your coverage of this conflict. I will certainly never think of The Irish Times as a credible news source again. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Israeli government has released photographs of Hamas tunnels in Gaza. It is highly probable that Hamas fighters and political leaders are living underground. It is difficult not to conclude therefore that the continual bombardment of civilian residential buildings, mosques, power stations, and other infrastructure by Israeli forces from land, sea and air, is militarily ineffective and thus principally a collective punishment on the Palestinian people.
Israeli spokesmen repeatedly claim that they wish to avoid civilian causalities while they accuse Hamas of deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. Whatever the intention, it is the outcome that counts. At least 75 per cent of the 1,200 killed by the Israel Defence Forces are innocent Palestinian civilians, very many of them children. Of the 56 killed by Hamas, 5 per cent have been civilian and 95 per cent Israeli soldiers.
War crimes have undoubtedly been committed. Those responsible must be held to account for their actions. Yours, etc,
Sir, Israel’s actions and the dreadful civilian death toll in Gaza must be assessed with some balance. There is considerable evidence that Hamas is deliberately putting civilians at risk as a central part of its strategy. The UN alone has reported finding weapons in its Gaza schools for the third time in two weeks.
Were Hamas to adopt the more political approach of the Palestinan Authority in the West Bank we would not see the dreadful images currently on our TV screens.
The Egyptian government is also dealing with the threat from Hamas and closing its tunnels. This week a number of militants were killed by Egyptian troops on its border with Gaza. Hamas supports the Islamic State forces, responsible for the beheading of prisoners, attacks on Kurds and the ethnic cleansing of Christians from Mosul. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 700 people were killed in a recent 48-hour period in “the bloodiest fighting since the civil war began in 2011”.
This is the environment in which Israel has to exist and respond to threats. The Palestinian people deserve better than to have their lives and future threatened by groups promoting extremism and intolerance. Ireland should condemn and demand the removal of Hamas rockets as a necessary first step to ending the Egyptian and Israeli blockades of Gaza and achieving peace and a political solution in the Palestinian territories. Yours, etc,
Sir, – I find that The Irish Times frequently offers a good and impartial view of world events, even those in which the truths are easily obscured. As an American, one who finds himself disagreeing with his government on a number of occasions, I am glad to learn things from your newspaper. In particular, because I am of Jewish heritage, I am indebted to your fair and insightful coverage of the Israel-Gaza issue. It is heartbreaking and so filled with grief for both sides that it is difficult for me to hold steady while I read the news. It is my hope that as all of you, in your difficulties not so long ago, were able to overcome the “troubles” which afflicted so many, all of us, who pray for a good outcome for Gazans and Israelis, will be able to come out of a most terrible dilemma.
Bloodshed and violence were not and can never be the intention of that vast Power from which we derive our lives and hopes. May you lead the way for your readers to deepen their understanding and to increase the sense of compassion which this world needs so dearly. Yours, etc,
Forest Glen Road,
Sir — Thomas Ryan (July 29th) asks whether Palestinian sympathisers can explain why Hamas is smuggling missiles and rockets into Gaza rather than humanitarian supplies. The answer: the rockets are small, but the trucks of food and medical supplies, for nearly 2,000,000 people, are very big.
Good grief, when you find you need to resort to publishing letters like that in order to present a balance of views, it is clearly time to accept that the fault in this matter lies so overwhelmingly with Israel that any attempt to keep to a middle ground is disingenuous.
Such disinterest is really just a kind of moral apathy. Yours, etc,