Gaza returns to the spotlight

encoreImage by David M* via FlickrThis post is sort of inspired by a friends status update on Facebook which says the following:

F…. thinks the EU and NATO should take unilateral action to protect the citizens of Gaza. But that’s obviously wishful thinking…

Now the issue of the people of Gaza has propped up again in the media as Hamas lets the cease-fire lapse.

There were two things I read today, one blog and one editorial, that made me nod in agreement on this issue.

Firstly the blog. Bock has an excellent post calling the Israeli air strikes that killed 200 Palestinians “Murders” and I can’t help to agree with him. As he points out

They murdered 200 people in Gaza, the most densely-populated place on the face of this planet. They bombed the hell out of a people hemmed in by the Israeli-built concrete wall. Men, women and children. They bombed their own concentration camp.

And why? Rocket attacks on Israel. But how many did they kill? One. While this is tragic does it really mean that Israel can launch air strikes that kill 200 times that? Does it not make it a bit out of balance?

On to the Editorial. Today’s Observer has an excellent editorial on this. It points out that a ground invasion could be “imminent”. The editorial also points out two of the main causes of the heightened hostilities

It is a depressingly familiar scenario, a cycle of provocation and reprisal that periodically escalates into full-blown war. There is no simple account of events leading up to the current confrontation that does justice to the amassed sense of grievance on both sides. But two specific events have played a decisive role: the decision earlier this month by Hamas to end a six-month ceasefire and elections in Israel due in February.It is a depressingly familiar scenario, a cycle of provocation and reprisal that periodically escalates into full-blown war. There is no simple account of events leading up to the current confrontation that does justice to the amassed sense of grievance on both sides. But two specific events have played a decisive role: the decision earlier this month by Hamas to end a six-month ceasefire and elections in Israel due in February.

While the cease-fire didn’t halt all attacks on Israel it did allow things to temper, but with elections around the corner Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Leader of the Kadima Party, and Binyamin Netanyahu, of Likud, trying to out do each other on being hardliners on the Palestinians. In recent comments Ms Livin, who is also the designated Acting Prime Minister, said that the rocket attacks were “unbearable” and that the Hamas administration in Gaza should be “toppled”.

The current Prime Minster was badly damaged by ground operations against militants in Lebanon in 2006. Would a new Israeli leader be damaged by a ground assault in Gaza?

Gaza has suffered hugely over the blockade, but this has helped Hamas who “”taxes” money and goods smuggled in and provides welfare services to the population. Under siege, its monopoly is secure.”taxes” money and goods smuggled in and provides welfare services to the population. Under siege, its monopoly is secure.”

There can be no negations as Israel, the EU and the US all see Hamas as a terrorist organisation, which it is, but Hamas has one the battle for the people’s Hearts and Minds in Gaza due to Israel actions and the refusal of the international community to condemn Israel.

Israel has made sacrifices. They have pulled down settlements in Gaza. But what have they gotten in return? Nothing. Of course there is the issue of the West Bank were things have, moderately, improved for Palestinians living under Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but progress under Mr Abbas cannot be used to win hearts and minds as it is nothing like the progress towards statehood that would allow Mr Abbas to claim his more moderate approach works better than the militant line taken by Hamas.

Moderates on both sides need to be backed, but how can this happen would both sides seam to be spiraling into hardliners due to actions of the otherside. But a Military offenseive against Gaza will not work as

Hamas craves confrontation because its support increases when ordinary Palestinians are collectively punished, as has happened under the blockade.

Israel would be foolish to invade Gaza, but with things heading the way they are, I would not be surprised if they do.

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Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

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