The crisis in Gaza
Sir, – On BBC’s Newsnight (July 30th) a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Binjamin Netanyahu, said: “We don’t want to hurt innocent Gazan civilians, that’s not our desire. We have a policy. We don’t target civilians.”
Incredibly, this comment was not just left to rest unchallenged but was, in fact, repeated a number of times. The evidence that Israel is, in fact, completely unconcerned about the human toll in Gaza is overwhelming. It is indisputable. Courtesy of the skill and bravery of cameramen and reporters in the field no unbiased eye could but be appalled by the complete abandonment of the principles of international law of a nation that presents itself as a modern, mature, democratic state.
Over and over again targets that are primarily places of refuge for a frightened people have been bombed to oblivion, even in cases where the United Nations had, well in advance, advised the Israeli Defence Forces of the exact co-ordinates of the schools, hospitals and playgrounds where civilians were sheltering.
We are told that Israel has one of the world’s most powerful and sophisticated armed forces, with what some experts describe as unparalleled military technology. How then, in addressing the threat posed by Hamas, can such systems be failing so abysmally to effect the stated purpose for which they are being deployed? Furthermore, if the sole objective is to “root out Hamas” and weeks after the bombardment commenced little or no progress has been made in that respect, how can spokesmen for Israel be allowed by western media to feign concern for the lives of the people of Gaza.
The lack of a meaningful response by western governments is not good enough even if, in part, it is on account of sensitivities relating to the unspeakable horrors visited upon the Jewish people during the second World War. This is about the actions of a sovereign state that purports to be among the world’s sophisticated nations. The failure of the EU and its member states, including Ireland, to support the recent Human Rights Council’s resolution to establish a commission of inquiry into Israel’s actions was the ultimate proof of a complete lack of moral leadership.
In the 1940s there was, to put it at its kindest, an institutional paralysis in Europe around the growing threat to the Jewish people. Today, when we are witness to state-sponsored killing on a grand scale – which is exactly what Israel is responsible for in Gaza – then in the absence of leadership from those who govern, citizens have a responsibility to express their alarm. Protests need to grow in number, scale and in voice. The boycotts need to be across every product imported here from Israel (from oranges to cosmetics) and should cover events where Israel is represented.
All the actions taken should be lawful, with the express purpose of displaying to the state of Israel that we are horrified by its engagement in war crimes and its complete abandonment of the most basic principles of democracy and human rights. Yours, etc,
Sir, – In responding to my previous letter, Simon Fuller (July 31st) says that Hamas chooses to smuggle rockets and weaponry into Gaza rather than food or medical supplies because “rockets are small, but the trucks of food and medical supplies ... are very big.” Perhaps Mr Fuller should acquaint himself with the exact scale of the Hamas rocket arsenal.
The Hamas weapon of choice is known as the Qassam rocket, which weighs 50 kilos and is 250 centimetres long, over half the length of an average saloon car. In the month of July alone 2,500 such rockets have been fired by Hamas, which amounts to over 130 tonnes of hardware. It would take six articulated trucks to transport this much material, and that’s before you consider the stockpiles of rockets and weapons which have yet to be used.
To put this in perspective, an average person eats about five pounds of food per day, so 130 tonnes of food could have fed around 2,000 people for the entire month that this conflict has raged.
And yet Mr Fuller seems to think that it is acceptable for Hamas to use their smuggling routes for importing rockets rather than for items which would keep their people alive. How dare he accuse me, or anyone else, of “moral apathy” while displaying such a disgusting attitude. – Yours, etc,
THOMAS RYAN BL,
Mount Tallant Avenue,
Sir, – Lest anyone think otherwise I am no cheerleader for the IDF. Their actions in the current conflict seem in many instances reprehensible. Nonetheless, I can’t help thinking that were Hamas to expend even half the amount of energy they use on their rockets on bringing food and medicines to their people, the situation in Gaza would be far less unbearable.
Of course I fully appreciate that my analysis might be simplistic. This most recent outbreak of violence has made one thing clear: Ireland has an inordinate number of Israeli/Palestinian “experts”. Yours, etc,
Sir, – Israel justifies its continuous assault on Gaza by arguing that a state has the right to defend itself. For 30 years Britain was subject to continuous attack from the Provisional IRA. During the course of that campaign the Provos attempted to wipe out the British cabinet in Brighton, killed a close relative of the queen and members of parliament, while car bombs brought death and destruction to British cities for many years.
Certainly questions can be asked about the origins of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings but there is little evidence of the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, as is happening in Gaza.
British patience and restraint paid off in the end and the “Irish question” was resolved to the satisfaction of both sides. Perhaps Israel could learn from the British experience. Yours, etc,