The crisis in Gaza

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 02:00

Sir, – Hamas, a terrorist organisation, for all its futile rockets, has had very little effect on Israel other than to perhaps temporarily damage its tourist industry and psych up its enemies.

However, given its avowed charter aim to destroy Israel, Israel must respond, as a successful missile strike could be devastating. Its response, however, should be proportionate, but instead it has killed over 1,000 people in Gaza, mostly innocent civilians and hundreds of children.

Although Hamas is proscribed/banned in the USA, the EU, in Canada and beyond, Israel must be held accountable to the high standards appropriate to a sovereign state and to international norms. That does not excuse Hamas its war crimes, but the proportions of harm, death, destruction, and disregard for civilised norms are very different so far.

Israel is yet again, devastating Gaza, destroying entire cities and towns, as it has done many times to Lebanon. Hamas is thankfully incapable of devastating more than a house or two, and rarely enough does it succeed in doing that. When the illegal IRA blew up a car, a house, or more in the past, the British army never invaded the Irish republic, devastating Dublin and massacring thousands of people. But that is how Israel behaves.

It has massively and collectively punished those not responsible for Israeli grievances against Hamas, and that is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and ostensibly a war crime. Israel is now seizing 44 per cent of Gazan territory in its newest “buffer zone”.

Has Israel not abused UN resolutions, human rights, and international humanitarian law long enough? Regardless ot its legitimate grievances, these are massively outweighed by its excessive behaviour, outright disregard for innocent life and continuous creeping theft of Palestinian and Arab lands (in 1947/1948, West Bank and Golan in 1967, Gaza then and now again). Its West Bank “wall” is another obscenity. Its behaviour now in Gaza is also hardly different, indeed arguably worse, than that of Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

If selectively targeted sanctions are being imposed on Russia, should they not also be on Israel? Should the EU, the US and others not blacklist and ban Israel’s top officials and companies responsible for war crimes and violations of global norms? Perhaps then Israel will begin to stop acting with outright impunity and rejoin the community of civilised nations able to make peace with their neighbours.

Having said that, Hamas’s indiscriminate, reactive, and futile rocketing of Israel is criminal and should also be repudiated. But it is long overdue time for Israel to stop thinking that the life of an innocent Palestinian child is not worth as much as the life of an armed and aggressive Israeli soldier.

As for Hamas, not only is it banned abroad as a terrorist organisation, but the Palestinian Authority should be obliged to repudiate any alliance with an organisation that abhors Israel and seeks its destruction. Lastly, Gaza should be placed under direct UN administrative mandate, as East Timor was, with Hamas removed from power and security assured by neutral UN forces, obviating any further Israeli intervention.