Leading article: A voice in the wilderness

Share
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

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone