Opinion: Israel’s lack of restraint in Gaza hurts prospects for peace
BY AYMAN OWEIDA, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE
In Israel’s unwavering offensive against Gaza, Luciano Del Negro writes that Israel is exercising restraint (“Hamas ups the ante,” Opinion, July 12).
I beg to differ.
In a recent protest held in Montreal, many Jewish protesters joined Palestinians and people from all walks of life to send a clear message that Israel has transgressed in its war on Gaza.Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory is at the heart of the problem. Much like Del Negro, I also have people close to me who are affected by the current fighting. While he writes that his friends in Israel are scrambling to find the nearest bomb shelter, my friends and relatives in Gaza aren’t, because there aren’t any shelters, and so they are instead the direct target of the Israeli military arsenal.
Israel’s bombing of civilians (a war crime) is unjustifiable. The assertion that all these civilians are simply human shields used by Hamas is unacceptable. Gazans live in an already immensely difficult humanitarian crisis, with a crippling economy, lack of health care, electricity, sanitation and some of the most basic needs of human life.
While under “peaceful” circumstances, Israelis enjoy the land that once belonged to many of those Gazans, including my parents, they exercise violations of numerous accords. Those violations include the illegal imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinian civilians without charge, the displacement of Palestinians from their homes and the continued building of illegal settlements (see United Nations Resolutions 446, 452, 465). The UN has passed more than 45 resolutions since its inception that condemn Israel’s oppressive actions.
Human Rights Watch says the Israeli military response to the recent deaths of the three Israeli teenagers constitutes a “collective punishment,” especially in light of the fact that the killers have not been identified. What’s more, Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s foreign affairs and defence committee chairman, has urged cutting off water and electricity to Gaza!
Clearly, the problem is not one-sided.
The collective punishment of Gazans will not help bring peace to the region. Nor will the continued bombing and targeting of Hamas end the firing of rockets.
Numerous Israeli politicians in the Knesset have expressed grave concern over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forceful approach. The deputy speaker of the Knesset, Hilik Bar, said last week that Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians is not just unnecessary, it’s unethical — and largely ineffective. Bar says Israel’s attacks are unethical because the terrorist’s grandmother is not necessarily guilty nor responsible for his actions. And he says they are ineffective because injuring the grandmother will increase her grandchildren’s hostility toward Israel, and will lead to long-term persistent opposition to Israel.
Del Negro asks rhetorically, “When will it end?” To answer that question, he should begin with a look at what Israel can do in this respect, before blaming other sides in the conflict. A serious review of the UN resolutions, calling for an end to Israeli occupation and building of settlements, would be a good place to start.
Ayman Oweida is a PhD candidate in Experimental Medicine at McGill University. He lives in Montreal.
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