Mourning a loss of innocents

**Nobody wins when innocent lives are lost. In the most recent conflict between Gaza and Israel, the body count has risen once again. **

The leaders of both sides need to stand up and be accountable for their actions and stop passing the buck. Each side preaches about the sanctity of life and the right to defend, while being happy to take the lives of the opposition’s innocents and insisting that they have no right to retaliate. It is as if nationality trumps humanity.

Before even delving into this latest aggression, I may need to put the situation in Gaza into context. There are about 1.7 million people living in 140 square miles, making it one of the most cramped places in the world to live. The last major conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis in 2008 saw the deaths of 762 Palestinians. In comparison, three Israelis were killed. Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, were elected in open and fair elections, but are recognised as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the European Union.

As if it’s not bad enough that we, as a nation, have the arrogance to suppose that the only right path in politics is the one which we follow, even in a country which held open and fair elections, we have the audacity to then deny the elected party’s authority. Whatever opinion one may hold about Hamas (and whether nor not this opinion is correct), they were elected by a majority of those living in Gaza.

And is it any wonder why? Following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas’ rise to power in 2007, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) implemented an economic blockade on the Palestinians who lived there, one which Red Cross deemed illegal under international humanitarian law.

{{quote The leaders of both sides need to stand and be accountable for their actions }}

Hamas, however, are firing a constant stream of rockets into Israel. These rockets are being fired into civilian areas with the intention of hurting or killing Israeli civilians, some of whom actively campaign for the rights of the Palestinians living in Gaza.

Britain and Germany have both come forward to say that Hamas bears the brunt of the blame for this latest conflict and the rockets have to stop immediately. Barack Obama has also come out and repeated the US’s support for Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’. Presumably no one would disagree with this either: the right to defend yourself is surely one of the most basic of human rights. What is totally unacceptable, though, is Israel’s disproportionate use of force.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, argued that “no government would tolerate a situation where […] its people live under a constant barrage of rockets,” and one would hope he’s right.
Then again, he’s requiring that the entire 1.7 million people in Gaza content themselves with living in an open air prison. They apparently do not have the right to free themselves from the harsh restrictions implemented upon them.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, described the attacks carried out by the IDF as “more targeted, more surgical and more deadly.” From this one can only assume that surgery in Israel is very different from the practice across the rest of the advanced world. Perhaps, rather than just removing an inflamed appendix, Israeli surgeons also cut off several important arteries from the patient upon whom they are operating. In fact, if you really want to make the metaphor analogous, perhaps the surgeon then turns his attention to the patient’s reproductive organs. The death of innocent children in Gaza is becoming far too commonplace in such fighting.

It is true that the tactics of Hamas will only worsen the situation for themselves. However, the IDF appear to be carrying out a slow, controlled extermination.
The IDF’s methods are unacceptable; the claim that they are making every attempt not to harm civilians is laughable, but Hamas must come to realise that this is a fight that they cannot win through military muscle.

If there is to be any hope (if not for peace, then simply less bloodshed), both side’s military and political leaders must be more willing to accept responsibility and stop bickering like children in the playground- children whose petty squabbling is paid for by the blood and anguish of those they claim to protect.

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