Israel Hits Second U.N. School, Blasts Way Into Southern Gaza"Israel isn't commenting on Tuesday's airstrikes, but it has accused Hamas of using schools, mosques and residential areas for cover and staging grounds for terrorist attacks.
Earlier Tuesday there was an attack that killed three at a school in the Gaza city itself."
I've been mostly silent on this issue since it's started. I spoke about it with my wife a few times, but I've yet to commit anything to writing... mostly because I've been reading a lot about the issue, and trying to come to grips with the reality of the situation - there is a metric ton of propaganda being spewed from both sides, so it's tough to really know exactly what's going on.
If you listen to the Israeli's and their supporters:
Israel is the victim. Hamas has been bombarding their civilian areas outside of the Gaza area with almost constant rocket fire. The rocket fire is deadly, and has caused a slow but steady stream of destruction, terror, and death which has been largely not reported because no one attack was ever major enough to merit the coverage. Israel has the right to defend itself, it's patience has run out, and therefore it's actions are justified. Israel has been measured and restrained in it's use of force, and only killed Hamas targets. Anyone who disagrees is either stupid, an anti-Semite, or a terrorist themselves.
If you listen to the Palestinians and their supporters:
The Palestinian people are the victims. The Israeli hardliners are heading into a political election season and have been trying to drum up support by agitating a crisis, spreading fear among their own people to justify harsh tactics and responding to it the only way they know how. Caused directly by Israeli occupation and blockades the region has been left politically unstable, with the people having little to no infrastructure, prospects, and hope of a better tomorrow without outside help. The Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas as its leadership and Israeli's have been looking for any excuse to annhilate them because they refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist. Their history of keeping the Palestinian people in what is essentially an open air prison, at the hands of a tyranical oppressor State (Israel) has lead to the radicalization of certain elements of the Palestinians and lead directly to the response of the people in electing Hamas. Hamas rocket fire has happened but been mostly a nuisance and the Israeli response has been brutal and far beyond degree that has been inflicted upon them. Israel has been careless, caused hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties among them women and children of which they willingly get pictures out to the media, and caused a humanitarian crisis by cutting off food, energy, and medical supplies to the area.
What's the truth?
Hard to say, both sides claim to be the victim, and in some ways, both are. It's pretty clear Israel's hardnose actions and response along with colonialist expansion over the years has caused some of its own problems. It has engendered a lot of hate among it's Arab neighbors for the way its conducted itself. It's treated the Palestinian people pretty terribly throughout the years, while they Palestinian people have been used as a proxy weapon by their Arab neighbors who are quite legitimately anti-Semitic in many cases.
The Palestinian people on the other hand really fouled things up when they democratically elected Hamas to lead them. They put an equally hardline and extremist faction in power, and don't have the power to stop them from agitating for conflict when it's causing a reaction that has lead to the death and suffering of the people it's supposed to lead. Hamas isn't stupid. They know they don't have the power to fight and destroy Israel. The best they can do is to push Israel until it over-reacts (which it has a rich history of doing) and then play to international sympathy at the plight of the Palestnian people which they are using as an unwitting weapon in terms of casualties themselves. Such tactics worked a little while back with Hezbolla & Lebanon, and they appear to be working now.
Israel has been attacking Police Stations (and yes, according to International Law, Police Officers are civilians), Mosques, Schools to get at Hamas. Hamas rocket bombardment is not just a nuisance, it is trying to spread fear, terror, and strife and yes, death - among the Israeli civilians caught in the conflict, and it is lethal and very destructive. While Israel has a right to defend itself certainly, the death toll has rapidly climbed in Gaza, and the suffering of the civilian Palestinian population is being complicated further by the blockade of food, clean water, medical supplies, and energy. Hamas is hiding behind the Palestinian people using them as a human shield, and Israel has seen fit to justify any action they want at all to themselves on the premise of defending themselves, including crushing those people, if it gets the at Hamas.
With every Palestinian death, the population is further terrorized by Israel, and undoubtedly further radicalized in the process - good for Hamas, and good for the Israeli hardliners who are in fact up for a political election cycle. With the staggeringly unequal casualties mounting, International Good-will is beginning to turn against Israel - maybe bad for Israel, they still seem to have the unqualified support of the United States no matter how much civilian death they cause, so maybe not - and good for Hamas, because as we saw with the Hezbollah conflict earlier, International pressure does work.
What is clear is that thinking the broad military action (bombing - discriminant but with unfortunate civilian "collateral damage" *I dislike using the term, civilian death is never a good thing and should not be casually overlooked
- and now it appears ground occupation) of Israel has gone to far is not anti-Semitic just because Israel is a Jewish State. Israel does have a right to defend itself. Israel doesn't have the right other than in the "might makes right" sense to proceed into genocidal-like policies (not limited to bombing civilian sites, but also including its insistence on starving the Palestinian people and causing as much human suffering as possible by denying them medical assistance), which I think are quite rightly evaporating its International support. What is also clear is that Israel is not going to get the Palestinian people to blame Hamas for the situation when they are the ones lobbing bombs and cutting off supplies.
Overall the situation is a mess. George Bush has given blind support to Israel as an Ally engendering that same International ill-will towards us while the United Nations, and the Red Cross saying that Israel is causing a Humanitarian crises. Neither of which has a record of being anti-Semitic, so there is a real problem.
The best solution would of course be for both sides to enter another cease-fire agreement. But while that is in the best interest of the civilian population of both Israel and Gaza, it is not in the best interest of the leadership of either State. The leadership in Hamas is extremist. The hardliners in Israel want to get elected. Both of them benefit from continued aggression, destruction, and killing between the two. Palestine will never be able to recover to a politically moderate and stable area until Israel stops destroying everything they have and choking them to death. At this point, that might not even be possible given the tension levels and hatred that has been spawned across both sides.
It's becoming more and more likely in my mind that a two State solution just isn't going to work. A single State solution might not work either, but it could have some benefits, and would at least address some of the problems if the Palestinians could rise to leadership as well. While we try and keep everyone separate, it's just going to allow the problems to go on.
It's a horrible, tragic mess... and I don't know where the answer is.