Sunday, 28 December 2008

Israel; time for action over words

. Israel's always over-zealous military is once again on the rampage. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured after the Israeli air force launched dozens of air raids on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Of course, we can guarantee that while members of Hamas's security forces were killed there were numerous civilian dead counted amoung the casualties. Now there is talk of a ground offensive which will no doubt fail to quell the rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

Nobody would deny Israel has a right to defend itself but it's defence frequently stretches any credible claim to be proportionate well beyond breaking point. Israeli actions frequently boil down to collective punishment on Gaza's entire population and are frankly counterproductive in that all the civilian dead produce an army of embittered relatives who in turn become willing recruits to the vile agenda of Hamas.

This point is illustrated in this extract from The Guardian;

"The raids had been expected to begin tomorrow, and the fact that they took place mid-morning rather than at night meant many official buildings and schools were full. Some of the missiles struck densely populated areas as children were leaving school. Parents rushed into the streets to search for them.

Television footage from Gaza showed bodies scattered on a road and the dead and wounded being carried away. Civilians rushed to the targeted areas and tried to move the wounded in their cars to hospital."

The reality is that Israel's military 'strategy' is woefully inadequate for the type of conflict it is involved in; it is dependant on using 'shock and awe' to browbeat a population that it thinks will become so cowed it will roll over and refuse to shelter the attackers. Of course, we all know that the reverse is the case; Hamas enjoys considerable support from an embittered and impoverished Palestinian population. Vastly superior the Israeli military may well be but it's mentality is such that it is vulnerable to defeat by 'smaller' forces as Hezbollah showed.

Israel's political leadership is unwilling and unable to make the painful concessions necessary to show it is serious about a viable two-state solution so, the cycle continues like a horrific machine that demands constant feeding through carnage. The problem is that Israel knows well enough international leaders will voice 'concern' and mouth the usual pities as all spokespeople for all three main parties did today but when push comes to shove nothing much will actually be done.

It has nothing to fear as to all intents and purposes it's 'friendly' status towards the US in particular makes it effectively above international law. Let's be honest; who seriously expects punitive sanctions against Israel to be on the table anytime soon? I would be surprised to see them in my lifetime and considering I am not that old (honest) that is saying something. This is dangerous not least for Israel itself as it's overweening arrogance leads it into disasters like the Lebanon adventure.

Frankly, given Nick Clegg's hand-wringing over Zimbabwe, I find our stance on this timid to say the least. Ed Davey said;

"The danger is that this will spark a new spiral of violence and terror, when what is really needed is an international effort to restore the ceasefire.

Israel knows the international community condemns the attacks by Hamas, but it should also realise from the past that this sort of mass attack will only postpone the peace Israel, and the region, needs."

Not good enough; if we want to be credible then we should break from the consensus and be calling on the government to pressure the international community to make a serious statement to Israel that no country is above international law.

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