Mark Steel: It's just health and safety, Hamas!

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The Independent Online

To start with, why do the news channels ask Tony Blair for his advice on conflict in the Middle East? It's like asking Gary Glitter for advice on what to do about Jimmy Savile.

But somehow it fits with the rest of the coverage. A report yesterday morning began with the sentence: "Rockets have continued to be fired from both sides..." Then, to illustrate this, we saw a demolished building in Gaza in which 11 people had perished, and a woman in Israel standing next to her car with a smashed windscreen. Which goes to show everyone's suffering, what with three generations of a family getting wiped out on one side, and a woman having to ring Autoglass on the other. Honestly, they're all as bad as each other. We'll see the funeral for the Palestinians, followed by the car owner wailing "O my beautiful laminated darling" as her windscreen gets tipped into a bin.

The reason so many get killed, says Benjamin Netanyahu, is that Hamas "hides behind civilians". Because it's the duty of anyone who gets assassinated to make sure they're in a clear open space at all times so the missile aimed at them doesn't hit anyone else. That's basic health and safety, that is.

But some Israelis are working for a solution. For example ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son, Gilad, wrote in The Jerusalem Post: "To accomplish victory, you need to achieve what the other side can't bear. The Americans didn't stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren't surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing." Even if they did drop a nuclear bomb, Netanyahu would say: "The reason so many were killed is Hamas hid Gaza behind its civilians. If they'd moved Gaza to somewhere safe like Greenland, the population would hardly notice a thing, but, as usual, Hamas cared only about propaganda."

Then The Jerusalem Post would report "We've done Gaza a huge favour. Now none of their vehicles can move, so they're spared the misery of trying to repair a broken windscreen."

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