Israel and Palestine: The victims of victims…

The current violence in the Middle East is profoundly depressing. Your heart goes out to the poor Palestinians who are stuck between the extremists of Hamas and the extremists of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

John Oliver had a pretty good take on the situation in Last Week Tonight:

This week’s David McWilliams podcast with Tom Friedman was a good overview of the complexity of the situation.

The excessive response of the IDF is nothing short of pure murder and war crimes. The figures speak for themselves about the one-sided nature of this conflict, from The Guardian:

Israeli airstrikes have killed 217 Palestinians, including 63 children, and wounded more than 1,400 people in just over a week in the Hamas-run enclave, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The death toll on the Israeli side has risen to 12 after rockets Hamas fired at the southern Eshkol region killed two Thai nationals working in a factory, police said.

The humanitarian crisis has deepened in the impoverished strip, with the UN saying 72,000 Palestinians have been displaced.

There is a lot to like about Israel. They are a modern democracy. They have a standard of human rights that is sadly lacking in other countries of the region. But you can be a friend to Israel and still be against the murder of innocent men, women and children. Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself, but this right does not extend to demolishing a block of apartments where militants may or may not be.

Israel must give some consideration to how terrible these actions are to its international image. Israel has a thriving tech scene. It is also trying to promote itself as a Covid free tourist destination. But it’s a bit hard to relax by the beach if you know a few miles away children are getting blown to bits.

YouTube video

History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes, is very apt for a situation where Israel thinks it’s ok to force people into a small area, cut off services and supplies, and then kill them at random. Dehumanising people is never right and always results in a backlash. When the victim becomes the abuser you really need to stop and think.

I really do wonder about the strategy of Hamas. Trying to take on the might of one of the most well equipped and trained defence forces in the world is extremely foolish. For all the thousands of rockets Hamas fire into Israel, most of them are intercepted by Israel’s iron dome. Given what we have discovered about the role of spooks here during the Troubles it is completely believable that Mossad has infiltrated Hamas at every level. Has all this kicked off for political reasons?

It seems Hamas and Benjamin Netanyahu feed off each other. From the FT:

A week ago, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was facing the humiliating end of his fifth premiership.

After four stalemated elections, he had once again failed to form a government. His rivals had banded together in an unlikely coalition and were on the verge of forming a government designed to oust him. With courts open again after the coronavirus lockdown, his trial on corruption charges was picking up steam.

But then Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, stepped into the fray of a long-simmering dispute over control of al-Aqsa mosque that had escalated after police stormed the compound and wounded more than 600 Palestinians. Hamas fired seven rockets deep into Israel and, as the Israeli military pounded the Gaza Strip in response, Netanyahu’s career has inadvertently been resurrected.

“Netanyahu had no cards left to play, and suddenly, he was saved by the bell,” said Aviv Bushinsky, a former aide to Netanyahu, marvelling at his former boss’s good fortune. “He’s so lucky, every time.”

Any discussion around Israel and Palestine always descends into a shouting match – apologies in advance to the mods. Can I ask: instead of adopting your usual knee jerk reaction on this issue to take a moment to think of a constructive response? This is a very complex situation and looking at it as a black and white issue is as useful as those Americans who used to come over here and declare that everything would be fixed if the Brits just left.

There are lots of good people on both sides. People who just want to live in peace, go to work, raise their kids. Now more than ever it is important that the silent majority say stop. No land is worth the death of a single child. If you want to pick a side choose peace.

“Don’t take pictures”” by Pierre Janineh is licensed under CC BY-ND

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