I’ve learnt a lot in life about making assumptions about incidences not to dabble into things I know little or nothing about, but on this occasion, I will make an exception.
For as long as I can remember, there’s always been conflict in the middle east. Even when I was too little to know which particular countries were involved in the conflict, it was clear to me that life was hard and dangerous in this part of the world.
Things haven’t changed much since then and while I don’t claim to be an expert on the region, I’m of the opinion that what’s going on in Gaza right now is not right. It’s just wrong on so many levels.
I also believe that while both sides are to blame, Israel has been heavy-handed in its handling of the situation.
I guess the telling moment for me was when a BBC report featured an Israeli pilot- one of whom fly over Gaza daily searching for Hamas hideouts in the hope of wiping them out before another rocket attack, said that he believed he was doing the right thing.
Asked ‘how he slept at night’ knowing some of the explosives dropped by him and his team killed countless civilians many of whom were children, the soldier replied, ‘I sleep very well actually.’ He said he believed his efforts were saving dozens of lives…but at what cost?
Undeniably, both sides have suffered losses and there’s no premium on anyone kind of life. Every life lost in conflict is a waste and while it may seem like the world is in support of the people of Gaza because their losses are far greater, it’s more the sheer impunity with which Israel pummels Gaza that has outraged the world.
The rise of social media has totally redefined how conflicts are reported in recent times with access to images and videos you won’t see on TV because they’re too gruesome and many journalists and bloggers now give real time reports on events from the embattled region.
Israel seems so obsessed with Hamas that it is incapable of seeing anything else but a threat from the strip. It shells beaches suspected of housing Hamas tunnels and rockets even though it can clearly see children playing nearby. I watched a video capturing the said attack and it was crushing to watch those boys running away from the mortars drop dead one by one as the unrelenting Israeli army shelled the beach.
The IDF claims it had warned residents of an imminent attack and blamed Hamas for using civilians as human shields as if that somehow absolved them of killing the children. On one online forum, I saw someone ask why the parents allowed their kids to play on the beach during a bitter conflict in the first place…valid point, but again, nothing is straight forward in this war and that video will haunt me for a long time.
The IDF has now shelled two UN schools housing families who have fled the conflict killing scores of women and children in the process, because it observed Hamas activity close to the locations.
In their blind rage and hatred for Hamas, it would seem Israel doesn’t really care who dies as long as their precious Hamas tunnels are destroyed.
Now, I don’t agree with Hamas firing rockets into Israel, and deplorable as that may be, the occupation of the west bank by Israel as well as the 8 year blockade of the over populated strip are big factors stoking up frustration and encouraging sympathy for Hamas.
Israel is indirectly responsible for the insurgency and it’s fed it for years with its unfair treatment of the people of Gaza. It’s defence that the military offensive is necessary because of the threat from Hamas is just not good enough excuse for killing civilians and breaking international laws that were put in place to protect innocent people from being caught up in conflict.
What is even more annoying is the inability of the international community to do anything about the carnage as Israel has the all important United States as its main ally and it knows it will mostly get away with any atrocity as long as it blames it on the threat of terrorism.
A quick scroll through the #Gaza hashtag on twitter and remarks by relatives of those who have died clearly show that rather than discourage extremism, Israel’s actions have only served to strengthen the resolve of many Gaza residents to revenge the injustices meted out to them.