Leading article: A voice in the wilderness

Related Topics

Yet again, a toxic combination of violence and strategic myopia is pulling Israelis and Palestinians towards the darkness. There were intense battles in Gaza yesterday. Three Israeli soldiers and four Hamas gunmen were killed in firefights, after Palestinian fighters approached the Nahal Oz crossing. This was followed by an Israeli airstrike on the Bureij refugee camp, which killed eleven Gazans, including two children.

Israel has resumed fuel deliveries to Gaza's power station, but the blockade on transport fuel continues; so does the ban on exports. Virtually all economic activity in Gaza has dried up. All that is keeping many Gazans from starvation are humanitarian aid deliveries.

Meanwhile, attempts by the Egyptian government to mediate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel have stalled. And, ominously, the Israeli government seems to have hardened its line. A few months ago Israeli ministers were holding out the prospect of an agreed ceasefire if the rockets attacks on southern Israel ended. But now they are talking up a military solution, through air strikes and incursions. The goal increasingly seems to be to crush Hamas at any cost.

An indication of this intransigence can be discerned in the cold reception offered to the former US President Jimmy Carter on his present visit to Israel. Mr Carter advocates dialogue between Hamas and Israel. In return, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has declined to meet him.

The Israeli government needs to rethink its strategy urgently. It should be clear by now that the economic blockade is hurting the Gazan population far more than Hamas itself. It is also extremely doubtful that it is going to achieve its political end. The latest opinion polls in Gaza show support for Hamas is holding up, if not increasing. And even if the blockade did succeed in dislodging Hamas, it is hard to see how this will lead to the disarming of the militants that are causing Israeli such pain. There is every reason to believe that, even if Hamas fell, the rocket attacks would continue.

As for crushing Hamas militarily, the death of three Israeli soldiers yesterday is a reminder that, if the government is intent on taking down Hamas by force, it will be anything but cost-free. Will the Israeli public be willing to see a repeat of the messy and inconclusive 2006 conflict with Lebanon?

The Israeli political establishment does not want to hear it, but Mr Carter is right: Israel needs to talk to Hamas and negotiate a ceasefire. Isolating a large segment of the Palestinian people and their political representatives is only serving to push the prospects of peace, both for the Palestinians and Israelis, further out of reach.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
Joyce Carol Oates is among 150 writers to protest that the award decision was ‘neither clear nor inarguable’  

Charlie Hebdo's PEN Freedom of Expression Courage Award is well deserved

Joan Smith
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk