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In Palestine, only the innocent suffer

In Palestine, only the innocent suffer

🕔21.Nov 2012

The latest escalation of violence in Palestine is yet another step to the destruction of the lives of innocent people.

The politics of the Palestinian / Israeli conflict stretches back to the 1940s when the British withdrew from the occupied lands as part of the withdrawal of the empire. But this postitive act – the removal of an occupying force –  led to the unholy co-existence of two groups of people who have historical rights over the lands.

Whatever the historical issue, the killing of innocent lives is unacceptable. The destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, the restriction of movement and the suppression of the economy and the creation of the ‘largest concentration camp’ are wars against humanity. Any decent democratic country cannot and should not be undertaking such actions, whatever the supposedly provocation.

It is extraordinary that Israel can undertake what I would describe as ‘war crimes’ with impunity, drawing only a rather muted response from the West.

Let us consider this recent violence. Hamas, the Palestine based organisation (democratically elected in Gaza by a popular mandate, by the way) also has an armed wing, which launched missiles into Israel. This is nothing new, and is a regular occurrence. These missiles are of low grade compared to the arsenal available to Western powers, including Israel. Of course the latest round unfortunately killed innocent Israelis – which should be condemned –  the response of Israel is disproportionate. So we have seen the latest American-provided F-16s flying over a densely populated area of 17 sq mi, launching precision missiles and killing more than 147 innocent people.

To understand the mindset of what many have called the acts of ‘terrorism’ by Israel, one has to only read the latest outburst from a senior Israeli politician, Matan Vilnai, (deputy defence minister), who said during a radio interview “The more qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, the (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust)…” . And the son of the former Prime Minister, Gilad Sharon called for Gaza to be flattered, thereby destroying and killing the innocent people. I should add these are not official Israeli Government policy, but their actions seem to support these assertions.

As I write this piece, Israel has amassed their army on the border of Gaza ready for a ground offensive. If we thought the air strikes were destructive, the ground offensive will devastate Gaza once again. The previous ground offensive in 2009 resulted in condemnation from all quarters, at the apparent lack of regard for innocent lives, with over 1,000 people being killed during the offensive. There were also calls for a war crimes investigation into the use of white phosphorus a banned weapon, however, the UN report was a complete whitewash, with the major cheerleader USA vetoing the report.
Despite theovertures of Western fovernments, including the USA and UK that the only solution to the crisis is a two-state solution, no one has seriously made an effort to ensure this happens. The USA can ‘instruct’ Israel to stop building illegal settlements on lands belonging to the Palestinians, to pull down the illegal wall around Gaza and the West Bank and to recognize the state of Palestine as agreed on the 1967 borders.

In return, the Palestinians need to allow Israel to co exist. I say the USA can instruct because without the support of the USA both financially ($1b of aid per year) and militarily Israel would be in trouble.

Yet it seems that peace is not what the politicians on both sides want, and the only people who suffer are the innocent people and in almost all cases this is the Palestinians.

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