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Published On: Mon, Aug 4th, 2014

Gaza conflict: ‘The world stands condemned’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuTuesday Column by Wumi Akintide

The quoted part of the headline of this piece was part of a statement made by a UN official,Chris Guinness accurately describes the hopelessness of the Gaza situation as we speak. The man was showing his revulsion on the terrible bombardment by the Israeli forces of the Refugee Camp at Jabaliya in Gaza where a school took a direct hit despite 17 prior warnings from the UN to Israel to not target the Refugee Camp. 19 people, mostly women and children, were killed on the spot and no less than 90 people injured in just one blast.1, 367 Palestinians, 315 out of them children and babies have been killed. Israel’s casualty rate is 59 dead, mostly soldiers.

Hospitals, schools, refugee camps, mosques, churches, UN offices and fuel depots have not been spared. There is so much misinformation going around that you no longer know who to believe because both sides tell blatant lies about what they are doing but pictures don’t lie. 225,000 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes and most of them are living in shelters and refugee camps. There has been a total blockade of Gaza for 8 years and the current siege has lasted 3 going into 4 weeks. The international community has, by and large, looked the other way while all of these painful developments were going on.

Where is the outrage, for God’s sake? So far, Israeli forces have destroyed 32 tunnels which according to them represent roughly 50 percent of the total number of tunnels around Gaza City and their mission is to destroy all of them with or without a cease fire. Israel only seemed to have moved a little bit away from their earlier announcement to completely demilitarize Gaza before they would consider a cease fire. The situation is dire beyond description and the world appears totally incapable of putting pressure on both sides to give peace a chance in the name of humanity and compassion.

What is going on in Israel and Palestine right now on both sides of the isle should prick the conscience of the whole world. The conflict has escalated to a full-blown war while the whole world watches in total amazement and helplessness. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu  hasjustified the carnage by saying that Israel has the right to defend herself and he is right on this one.  No country can tolerate having more than 3000 rockets fired at their major cities without doing something about it. I get that.

The difference between the Israeli forces and the Palestinian fighters in Gaza according to Netanyahu is that “while Israel uses her iron domes and sophisticated missiles and weapons to protect their people, Hamas uses their own  people as a shield  to protect their crude weapons and rockets”  While that may be true at some level,  the greater truth, however, is the fact that Hamas is throwing stones and firing close to 3000 home-made rockets that are easily neutralized by the Israelis before they reach their targets. That advantage alone should have calmed the nerves of the Israeli people a little bit. Israel on the other hand, is firing surface to air missiles and laser-guided smart bombs that Hamas does not have the capacity to neutralize mid-air before they inflict serious damage.

The devastation and the bombardment on Gaza are beyond description and totally inexcusable. The impunity has to stop on both sides but moreso on the Israeli side which definitely has the upper hand in the confrontation so far. One can see their armored vehicles moving freely with little to no resistance from Gaza because they have superior weapons. It is a total mismatch to have Hamas believing they can ever defeat Israel.

That this carnage is happening at a time the whole of Europe and America are bent on using economic sanctions to change Vladimir Putin’s behavior for aiding and abetting the Russian separatists in East Ukraine makes the situation in Gaza totally indefensible and cruel in my judgment. What Russia is being condemned for and rightly so is a far cry from the devastation currently going on in Israel and Palestine right now and the whole world could do but very little about it beyond shedding crocodile tears here and there or looking the other way in the hope and expectation the problem will just go away. Somebody has to muster the courage to tell Israel to give peace a chance by not insisting that Hamas alone should take full responsibility for what is happening.

If the whole world had looked the other way while Adolf Hitler was putting 6 million Jews ingas chambers just because he could, there would have been little left of the Jews as we know them today. When the Israeli  forces were asking the close to 2 million people that live in Gaza to leave before they are hit, where exactly do they  expect them to go when the whole area has been under  blockade for 8 years. Moving to UN protected Refugee camps shelters would have been the only choice left for some of them. But the world now knows that those Refugee Camps are not safe for them either. Right now, Gaza has no water and no electricity supply. Very soon serious epidemics like Cholera are bound to set in to compound the reality on the ground. The Palestinians in Gaza are like sitting ducks or prisoners in their own homes because nowhere is safe in Gaza. Israeli’s quest for total demilitarization of Gaza is asking for too much. That is not seeking a middle ground the other party can accept. Where are the world leaders to mediate this disastrous war?

Pope Francis could not help but shed a fear tears as he prayed for peace in all of the war zones around the world. Queen Elizabeth the Head of the British Commonwealth who is seen but not heard has left her British Prime Minister to be the one doing all the talking. China has completely stayed out of the fray leaving Israel and Palestine to sort out their problems. Ban Ki Moon the UN Secretary-general who would have more credibility making the type of statement Chris Gunness has made appeared to be too scared to get on the wrong side of America and Israel. Russia, the other super power is totally embattled and isolated and in no position to influence the carnage going on in Gaza. The United States which wants to be seen as the peace maker between the two warring factions has had her credibility badly shaken or compromised by openly declaring herself a permanent ally and friend of Israel. Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims all over the world have to know that the friend of their enemy is their enemy. How could they completely trust Americans as bona fide peace makers when they know America is joined in the hips with Israel, so to speak and when most of the weapons used by Israel are supplied by America?

The Arabs/Muslims as a powerful bloc are in no position to help the Palestinians because they too need America. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran and other countries like Jordan and Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia which could possibly broker peace have their own internal problems.  Iran is embattled over her nuclear weapons. Iraq is in turmoil and so are Libya and Syria. Those Muslim countries are just too timid to stick out their neck for Palestine at this time. The countries of the third world most of them in Africa all have their own problems cut out for them and they are in no position to talk and be listened to. Nigeria one of those countries is currently in disarray due to poor leadership and the country’s inability to even take on the rag tag Army of Boko Haram talk less of the panic and pandemonium the Ebola outbreak may yet cause in Nigeria, God forbid!

I love and admire Israel and their history and resourcefulness as a nation. I totally buy their argument that they have a right to defend their country and people in the face of aggression but two wrongs don’t make a right. The question the whole world must answer today is what if America has not helped Israel to develop and fund the manufacture of the iron dome device that has actually helped to neutralize most of the rockets fired at Israel from Gaza before they reach their target?  What if Hamas has been able to freely hit Israel and to perpetrate the same carnage and devastation the State of Israel has been doing in Gaza in the last 4 weeks or so?  Would Israel have insisted on wiping Gaza out of the surface of the Earth? It is a legitimate question to ask.

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