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Peace talks, not military solution, for Gaza

November 21, 2012

Israel has broken 65 UN resolutions, with no consequences. Iraq broke two and got invaded, bombed and destroyed.

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By Charles Santiago

I woke up two days ago to the most blood-curdling comments that could be made about Gaza. “We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The American didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too” – these were the words of Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli prime minister Aerial Sharon.

Then he continued to say that there should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing…

Although Gilad’s opinion piece in Jerusalem Post is shocking, his choice of linking the violence perpetrated against the people of Gaza and the US is interesting. As if the “greatest democracy”, as the US calls itself, isn’t looking away enough.

More than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis have died over the last six days and nine children were killed on Sunday alone. And Israel is threatening with a ground invasion, saying it will hold its plans for a brokered peace talk by Egypt expected to be held on Thursday.

It’s clear that there is no military solution to the conflict in Gaza. While Egypt’s strategy is not known, the exclusion of Hamas cannot be part of its plan. And this is because Hamas is a democratically elected government by the Palestinians.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning a decisive victory in the general election. And it now demands an end to the blockade on Gaza to call for a ceasefire.

The blockade has plunged 1.5 million people into abject poverty. Reporters and eyewitness accounts have revealed children scavenging for food on the streets and hospitals turning away the terminally ill for lack of medical supplies and hospital beds.

Israel has only allowed a trickle of food, medicine and fuel to keep the civilians hungry and oppressed. No amount of pressure and lobbying has succeeded in getting Israel to lift the restrictions and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu justifies the blockade by saying it prevents militant groups from getting weapons.

Israel has also actively prevented international efforts to get food and medicine to the people of Gaza. No one would have forgotten Israel’s brutal attacks on an aid flotilla in June 2010. The Gaza-bound aid Vessel, Rachel Corrie, was carrying eleven pro-Palestine activists, nine crew members and hundreds of tons of aid when it was hijacked in international waters days after a similar attack turned bloody.

The United Nations, then, stopped short of calling for an independent investigation following US objections.

Nothing much has changed since. UN Chief Ban Ki Moon has said a ground invasion by Israel would have serious consequences not only for Gaza but the entire region, while other nation states are calling for a halt of violence, largely insinuating Hamas stops first.

This is not a game of chess to decide whose move it should be, really. But rather a complex situation where Israel chooses to act erratically with the staunch support of the United States.

‘But I am to blame’

The anger of the people of Gaza from years of oppression could be summed up with this note which is making its rounds in Facebook:

You take my water

Burn my olive trees

Destroy my house

Take my job

Steal my land

Imprison my father

Kill my mother

Bomb my country

Starve us all

Humiliate us all

But I am to blame: I shot a rocket back

It’s almost like the world shuts a blind eye to the continuing humiliation of the people of Gaza, while Israel acts with impunity and gets a pat on the back. For example, Israel has broken 65 UN resolutions, with no consequences. Iraq broke two and got invaded, bombed and destroyed.

Besides calling for calm and an end to violence and deaths on both sides, US president Barack Obama has largely remained noncommittal while he entertained a crowd gathered at Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s house to a speech peppered with the need for human dignity and freedom. He also spoke about reforms.

Obama and his counterparts could certainly start by telling Israel to stop the aggression by ending the blockade so that the people of Gaza can live with pride and dignity. So that they don’t continue to live like beggars in their own country.

And most importantly the world leaders and global community must make sure that the real reason behind the escalating bombing by Israel is not to start a military strike at Iran for its nuclear program.

It’s no secret that Iran would use forces such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon to strike back at Israel if attacked.

Let’s just hope that by continuing to bomb Hamas and inevitably the Gazan civilians, Israel is not trying to test the military strength of Iran’s closest proxy.

Charles Santiago is DAP’s member of parliament for Klang


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