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DEBATE: Israel must admit it causes terror too

The inability of Israeli leaders to act with a sense of proportion in Gaza means nothing other than terror results for innocent people caught in the crossfire.

The Abu Hatab family might not be familiar to many readers. They lived in a three-storey building within the Shati refugee camp in western Gaza.

An extended family sleeping under one roof, eight of the children and two women were killed on Saturday morning in an Israeli airstrike.

A five-month old baby survived the carnage, found within the collapsed building, but the following day brought another 42 Palestinians killed in airstrikes.

No side in the conflict has a monoply on terror it seems, as Hamas continues to reign down rockets on Israeli civilians, and the IDF responds with devastating force, causing significantly more injury and death among innocent Gazans.

Whilst Israel has no doubt killed Hamas militants using these airstrikes, the sheer death toll and suffering inflicted on Gaza, a densely populated strip of 2 million people living in an area 25 miles long and 6 miles wide, is indefensible.

181 Palestinians have been killed since the outbreak of violence last week, among them 52 children, whilst ten Israelis have also been killed, including 2 children.

The suggestion that Iran is behind the latest attacks on Israel appears to be a tenuous position, given the speed with which Hamas sought a ceasefire last week, but, by refusing to end hostilities, Israel have instead showed they are just as cruel and ruthless as their enemies, stepping up their assault on what can only be called an oppressed and terrified people.

Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters also feel the same terror, but the effectiveness of the Iron Dome and their shelters have meant many, not all unfortunately, have been protected.

The most commonly used argument in favour of Israeli strikes this week is that the country has a right to defend itself, which is true of course, but, in what has become a euphemistic turn of phrase, the term ‘defence’ has come to mean a wholly disproportionate, irresponsible and heavy-handed bombardment of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

Whilst Israel is not a terrorist organization by any means, sometimes warning Gazans of incoming attacks, the effects of their actions are the same for the victims.

There is as always a great deal of cause and effect in operation, going all the way back to the creation of the state of Israel by the UN in 1948.

It can come as no surprise that Palestinians forced off their land both then and in the following Israeli-Arab and Six Day wars are further outraged that Israel continues to evict their countrymen from the West Bank, replacing them with illegal settlers.

Whilst reprisals by Hamas cannot be justified even in this regard, ending this oppression of Palestinians is the only way forward towards a humane two-state solution in which compromise will be required on both sides.

Failing, as both sides do, to respect any notion of the just war doctrine guiding actions before and during war, the continued and indiscriminate killing of yet more civilians makes a long-term, lasting peace seem further away than ever.

Indeed the indifference of world leaders towards terror on both sides is a sign that Benjamin Netanyahu will be allowed to maintain the stranglehold he and his predecessors have on the residents of Gaza.

It is beyond time for the international community to call a halt to the bloodshed and force both sides into a better solution.

See the opposite side of the debate, with John McGuirk, at this link.

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