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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Disproportionate in Gaza

Disproportionate in Gaza

It has started all over again. Israel fights back against Hamas aggression, and everybody cries 'disproportionate'. There's a body count, and it turns out that the Israelis have killed far more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis. Apparently this means Israel has been disproportionate.

But war isn't about exact body counts. Most of the dead Palestinians have been Hamas fighters. If more soldiers on one side die than on the other, isn't that what is supposed to happen in war? As for the genuinely unfortunate Palestinian civilians who have been killed, won't anyone own up to the fact that their lives were put at risk by Hamas fighters hiding within the civilian population? That's illegal under international law, so let's be brutally honest and say that Hamas, not Israel, is guilty of war crimes here. Not so many Israelis get killed, because IDF troops are based away from civilian centres. And don't pretend Hamas are mere 'militants': when they fire rockets or send in suicide bombers, they target the civilian population. Another war crime.

Some sort of madness seems to grip people at a time like this. Israel pulls out of Gaza, apparently something the people of Gaza wanted. What does Hamas do? It takes control of Gaza by brute force, then it uses proxies to fire barrage after barrage of rockets into southern Israel. The pro-Palestinian brigade sneer that these 'home-made' rockets are of little consequence. I notice that none of these people have ever volunteered to live in Sderot (or Ashkelon) in order to drive that point home. If the Scots were firing similar rockets into Berwick, do you honestly believe the UK government would sit back for years and do almost nothing, as the Israeli government has done?

The real disproportion here lies with Hamas, Fatah, and their allies, in their complete refusal to abide by any of the norms of modern international law or the principles of the United Nations. Here's an early passage from the 1988 Hamas Charter:

'The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

'This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.'

The Day of Judgement? How on earth does that fit into the concept of the Westphalian state and the rule of international law? In 1948, when Israel was established by a majority vote of the UN, the Arabs simply defied that vote and sent armies against the new country with the intent of obliterating it. These countries wanted all the advantages that came from membership in the UN, but the moment that body voted democratically to create Israel, they turned their backs and have continued to turn their backs to the present day. Proportionate? Far from it.

The consequence for the Palestinians has been horrific. Instead of enjoying the state they were given in 1948, instead of cooperating with Israel to create mutual prosperity, they and their allies fought yet more wars, while they launched wave after wave of terrorism against the Jewish state. Some people call them resistance fighters, but that's an unforgivable response to such actions. There's nothing to resist, in that Israel is always willing to make peace the moment the violence against it stops. It has been saying so for 60 years and, to be honest, it's bloody obvious. Why would anyone prefer war. Some people don't believe that; but the Palestinians haven't once put it to the test. Why not? Because they think religious motives ('the Day of Judgement') are a valid excuse for killing innocent civilians in the 21st century?

When Israeli children are killed by rockets or suicide bombers, the people of Gaza and the West Bank hand out sweets to passers by and rejoice. When Palestinian children die in the course of an attack, no-one in Israel celebrates. When Palestinian children are wounded, they are taken to Israel and treated in Israeli hospitals. While rockets have been raining on Sderot, Israel has been providing Gaza with 90% of its electricity, with food, medicine, fuel and other necessities. What other country has shown so much compassion to an enemy plotting to destroy it? There is no proportion in any of these things, yet they build a very different picture to that given in the media, of Israel as a marauding tyrant, taking disproportionate revenge.

We all want a real future for an independent Palestine. But that will not come so long as Hamas struggle for the unrealizable and for the coming of Judgement Day.

Denis MacEoin

 Liberal Defense of Israel

Cross posted:

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