Letters: There is only one Gaza – and it is being destroyed

These letters appear in the July 17 issue of The Independent

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Having met, once, Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Taub  at a meeting in 2003 to “exchange evidence” on the shooting of my son, Tom, in Gaza, I feel compelled to respond to his deeply disingenuous article (“We believe Hamas prevents Gaza prospering in peace”, 16 July) in which he frames his points by dividing Gaza into three.

I’m not going to answer the inaccuracies, half-truths, misrepresentations and cruel logic but will leave this to others.

Mr Taub, there is only one Gaza, currently being bombed to pieces by the might and sophistication of Israel’s military as a “response” to the incomparably cruder Hamas rockets coming out of Gaza.

Fortunately, Israel has the infrastructure, funds and basic materials to build bomb shelters for its people.  Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank continue to suffer: an internationally recognised, illegal military occupation, extreme provocation brought about by settlement-building on Palestinian land in spite of international condemnation, the utter thwarting of prosperity due to closed borders and blocked coast, grossly disproportionate civilian deaths and injuries, the destruction of thousands of homes, and a lack of food, water and medical supplies.

It shows a breathtaking lack of empathy to refer to the “third Gaza that could have been” had they built a “prosperous society with tourists flocking to its beaches”.

Given the history of this conflict, it would take a lot to convince me of Mr Taub’s words that Israel “sought to avoid confrontation altogether”, that it acts with restraint, and that “quiet would be met with quiet”.

Jocelyn Hurndall
London NW5


Daniel Taub makes a carefully constructed argument that Israel is only against Hamas’s underground world in Gaza of rockets and tunnels. That part is understandable; firing rockets at Israeli civilians is wrong and a war crime.

But Israel has also hit Palestinians in Gaza above ground, civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, homes and medical facilities. 

Taub promises “quiet for quiet” yet this is not on offer at all. A ceasefire cannot come soon enough, and then Israelis can return to a life we can all recognise as normal.

Palestinians in Gaza will remain in hell, under siege, deprived of basic liberties and rights, with power cuts 12 hours a day and water not even fit for animal consumption. They will have no port, no airport, and cannot trade and travel freely.

Some Dubai-like dream world was never on offer and would take decades to create, even in the finest circumstances.

Chris Doyle
Director, Council for Arab-British Understanding
London EC4


It is no surprise that Hamas has rejected the Egyptian peace proposal. Hamas cannot have peace with Israel because its strategic culture calls for a constant conflict. The group defines its raison d’être as fighting the Israeli right to exist, not its occupation.

Its war against Israel is, therefore, not about winning, as Hamas cannot possibly win, but to keep the anti-Israel war hysteria boiling – which means that mounting causalities, civilian deaths, destruction of infrastructure etc are of no consequence to Hamas’s strategic calculus.

It is a shame that the West has allowed this state of affairs in Gaza to continue for so long. The Gazans will surely benefit from not having to live under rulers who are constantly driving them into pointless and destructive wars.

Instead of merely denouncing Israel for its military action, is it not time the West also took notice of the plight of Gaza’s besieged citizens and helped free them from Hamas’s quasi-legitimate rule?

Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Ilford


Israel refers to Palestinians who take armed action against the Israeli forces as “terrorists”. However, the Palestinians are simply reacting against an army of occupation and siege.

We do not refer to the French Resistance during the Second World War as “terrorists”. And we admire the Jews in the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto against the occupying Nazi soldiers – we would not describe them as terrorists and the Israelis certainly don’t.

John Lohrenz
Godalming, Surrey


Does Ambassador Taub think the British are stupid enough to believe his propaganda? Many countries were quick to impose sanctions on Russia because of interference in Ukraine. Why not the same sanctions on Israel?

Michael Pate
Preston, Lancashire


Daniel Taub implies that Israel’s actions in Gaza are proportionate to the firing of Hamas’s utterly ineffective missiles. Let’s be absolutely clear: they are not.

When the IRA bombed Canary Wharf, Warrington and the Arndale Centre in Manchester, killing scores of people, the UK didn’t order the RAF to heavily bomb the Bogside.

Mark Holt
Waterloo, Merseyside


Gove dismantled our education system

There have been only two Conservative education ministers who have radically reshaped the English education system.

One was Rab Butler who in 1944 forged a system out of disorganised fragments shattered by war; the other was Michael Gove who dismantled a functioning system, shattering it by rhetoric and calumny.

With all its faults Butler’s system lasted 70 years; will Gove’s non-system, with its still greater fault lines, last even seven?

Professor Colin Richards
Spark Bridge, Cumbria


Richard Garner writes (16 July): “Mr Gove was certainly the most ideologically committed and zealous Education Secretary I have come across.”

I would question whether a free and democratic country should have someone in charge of education who is informed by ideology and is a zealot.

Having been a teacher in the UK state system for 33 years and a teacher in China for 10, I would urge every parent and taxpayer to be extremely wary of mixing ideology with any child’s schooling, unless there is a very wide consensus on the understanding and correctness and, most importantly, the wisdom of the ideology.

Is it not ironic that  during the watch of the ideological Mr Gove some schools have been found to  have governors whose ideology is deemed to be unacceptable?

Patrick Wood
Hong Kong


David Cameron apparently reckons that he will improve his election chances by moving Michael Gove after “Lib Dems warned they would exploit his unpopularity” (16 July). Wouldn’t it have been better if they had kept that to themselves?

Kate Francis


New data law based on bogus argument

The fact that the Data Retention and Investigative Powers Act was being voted through Parliament over just three days this week is a travesty. David Cameron’s justification for the emergency legislation is events in Iraq and Syria and the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK. This is bogus.

Before the invasion of Iraq and the bolstering of the anti-regime forces in Syria by Washington and London, there was no terrorist threat emanating from these countries. Moreover, the Western powers have been actively aiding opposition forces in Syria as part of their goal of regime change.

Once again, the “war on terror” is being employed to abrogate civil liberties.

Alan Hinnrichs


What is the cost of weight-loss surgery?

You report that the NHS could offer weight-loss surgery to people with type 2 diabetes (report,  11 July). Has a survey been conducted of the long-term benefits? I have met people who have had a gastric band fitted and, after losing a huge amount of weight, they have gradually returned to their former size. Before billions of pounds are spent on these operations we should be assured of their long-term value.

Mike Stroud


When are people going to get it into their fat heads that obesity is not necessarily the fault of the sufferer? Yes, it might come from personal greed or be a result of years of allowing the food industry its pernicious head, but it may also be the result of illness: a metabolic failure.

I gained weight relentlessly for some 20 years. The belief that it was somehow my own fault was one of the reasons why my illness wasn’t diagnosed until I was very ill, my career and social life had been wrecked, and I had had a stroke.

You can imagine how my mental health was affected by the moral judgement I encountered almost daily.

Eventually I found a doctor who actually listened to me and believed me when I told him I could starve myself to death and I would still die fat.

He sent me to a man who knew what he was doing and bariatric surgery has not only saved my life, it has given me back a good quality of life.

Sara Neill
Tunbridge Wells, Kent