Gaza horror

7 Aug

I have been horrified and distraught to see  reportings of loss of lives of children and women in Gaza. A UNDP statement says 400 children have lost lives . The estimated loss of lives is more than 1,8oo in Gaza.  This is Genocide.

”  More than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed – the vast majority civilians, including hundreds of women and children.  Three civilians in Israel were also killed as well as 64 Israeli soldiers. People on both sides have the right to life but also the right to a life free from fear.

Of course we understand the legitimate security right to defend Israeli citizens from the threat of rocket attacks by Hamas.

At the same time, the fighting has raised serious questions about respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality in international humanitarian law.

Perhaps nothing symbolized more the horror that was unleashed on the people of Gaza than the repeated shelling of UN facilities harbouring civilians who had been explicitly told to seek a safe haven there. These attacks were outrageous, unacceptable and unjustifiable.

Yes, we uncovered cases in which weapons were stored in a small number of abandoned buildings.

Yes, there were reports that Hamas rockets were fired from near UN premises.

Yet, let me be clear: Mere suspicion of militant activity does not justify jeopardizing the lives and safety of many thousands of innocent civilians. ”

Ban Ki Moon, 6 August 2014, Secretary General remarks to General Assembly on Gaza 

Please see : http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7913

I also watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interview to CNN blaming Hamas for all civilian casualties in Gaza and Isarel’s right to self defense to indiscrminate  firing of rockets in its territory.  Please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S68DgomAVCk

I still can’t recocile as the UN Secretary General’s statement to General Assembly states ” the fighting has raised serious questions about respect for the principles of distinction and proportionality in international humanitarian law.”. Israel has been disproportionate in its response. If this is not war crime , what is it ?

The Secretary General has criticized Israel for shelling a  UN school inspite of information being provided to Israel Military. The response is brutal.

The long standing problem is complex and cessation of hostilities is the first step towards a negotiated settlement.  Israel’s arguments are indiscriminate firing of rockets and digging terror tunnels by Hamas into its territory for terrorist activities.  Israel response has been  disrupture of civilian infrastructure and killings. Israel Prime minister says to CNN it seeks ” sustainable quiet”. My sense is it will get away with disproportionate response.  But what is the long standing solution?

Sultan Barakat in a piece for CNN writes ” Israel’s repeated wars on the Gaza strip have taken a heavy toll on Palestinian civilian infrastructure, and this latest offensive is no different. Israeli shelling first damaged, then destroyed Gaza’s only power plant, while waves of attacks have shredded power lines and ruptured sewage systems. Indeed, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates  as much as two-thirds of the enclave’s population of 1.8 million now lacks or has very limited access to potable water or sanitation services.

But such disregard for basic civilian infrastructure will ultimately prove counterproductive – if Israel genuinely wants a lasting solution to the conflict, it must be made to appreciate that the reconstruction and development of Gaza, not its utter destruction, is crucial.”

Further from the CNN piece ” While the death toll in the strip has continued to climb – even if the current cease-fire holds, it has hit more than 1,800, mostly civilians – the most basic requirements for any kind of dignity and quality of life are being destroyed, and more than 425,000 have been left homeless by the actual or threatened demolition of their homes. Yet the destruction of Gazan infrastructure began long before the first airstrikes and rocket launches of the present conflict. The tiny enclave, measuring about 140 square miles, has been under effective siege since 2007, turning it into what is in many respects the world’s largest open-air prison – even construction materials such as the cement, steel and pipes that are needed to expand the enclave’s water treatment system are banned under the embargo.

And yet members of the international community are at best standing aside, and at worst fuelling the conflict. The United States, for one, has poured hundreds of millions into Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. But while the U.S. may have been hoping that shielding Israeli citizens from the fallout of the siege on Gaza would avert the scenes of disproportionate collective punishment that we have seen on our TV screens in the past, U.S. assistance has in fact had the opposite effect, producing an emboldened Israeli sense of invincibility. ”

More “If Israel is determined to wall itself off from the enclave, then the international community should ensure that Gaza at least has access to the outside world. Lifting the siege is a key demand of Hamas, and at a bare minimum, the strip needs access to the sea, with regularized shipping activity not subject to an Israeli blockade. Egypt, too, should be targeted by the international community to ensure that the Rafah border crossing remains open – stable, regulated commerce with the Gaza strip will do more to undermine the illicit tunnel trade than any number of Egyptian demolition operations.

For the population of Gaza the miseries of wars in 2008-9, 2012 and now 2014 have been compounded by the grim drama of watching reconstruction efforts stall and then effectively get reset. If the cycle of violence is to be stopped, then Gaza needs time and diplomatic space under international protection to pursue a long term program of development. The question is how long it will take Israel to realize that this is the only path to a lasting peace. ”

Sultan Barakat alludes to statesmanship from Israel.. will it happen?

Please see : http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/08/05/time-for-israel-to-face-up-to-only-path-to-peace/

Israel says Hamas does not recognize two state theory. What about Hamas ? The disproportionate response and brutally shelling civilian infrastructure in Gaza must stop.

Finally, what is the solution ?

Ban Ki Moon remarks to General Assemblyon Gaza, 6 August 2014 gives a broad outline..

” The immediate task before us is meeting the dire and urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza: providing care to the many wounded and traumatized, ensuring that people have food and water, housing the many homeless families, and repairing vital infrastructure. We now face an enormous reconstruction task in the shattered rubble of Gaza where homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed and damaged.

But we must do even more.

We must spare no effort to turn the current calm into a durable ceasefire that addresses the underlying issues of the conflict: ending rocket fire from Gaza, weapons smuggling, opening the crossings, lifting the blockade and bringing Gaza back under one Palestinian Government that accepts and adheres to the PLO commitments.

I urge the parties to heed the international community’s call to return to negotiations in order to end the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, ultimately through a viable two-state solution. ” ( Ban Ki Moon)

Hopefully the truce will lead to cessation of hostilities and rebuilding a fractured humanity..

Hopefully..

Thank you!

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