It is misguided to speak of equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian aggression in Gaza.
Nearly 1,500 Palestinian civilians died in last year’s Israeli onslaught, according to the UN, and much of the city remains in rubble, as The Independent has reported this week. The destruction wrought on the Palestinian enclave far outweighs the rockets fired across the border by Hamas.
But it should not be forgotten that there is blame on both sides. Hamas’s reckless use of unguided missiles “displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law”, a report by Amnesty International concludes. Collateral victims included 13 Palestinian civilians, killed by a Hamas rocket that went astray.
Gaza, which has been the running sore of the Middle East for as long as anyone can remember, is now political poison for all concerned. Hamas may have banked on Israel’s assault galvanising its own support in the Strip, but failure to tackle post-war reconstruction is making it increasingly unpopular there. Feuding between Hamas and Fatah, which runs the West Bank, has reignited after a rapprochement last year. Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu’s truculence, and his opportunistic rejection in the final days of the Israeli election campaign of a two-state solution, may have sealed his victory, but it has provoked the most serious weakening of US support for Israel in many years: from being a rare issue on which Republicans and Democrats agreed, it is rapidly becoming yet another bone of contention between them.
Nobody has a vision for Gaza that offers genuine hope to its increasingly benighted residents. But without addressing Gaza and its miseries, all other initiatives in the region are merely tinkering.
To anybody who proposes a solution to the Israel-Palestine imbroglio, the first question to ask is, “What do you propose doing about Gaza?” If they have no answer, or if the answer is unreal – such as the abolition of Israel – stop listening.
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