People Make Gaza

BuDRsU2IUAANeNp.jpg-largeBy Dominyka Bačanskaitė

“Stop the War” coalition has been involved with doing work around Palestine for a long time, and has now set up an emergency organising committee involving fifteen different organisations to coordinate the work done in Scotland. They are behind the collection of money and aid sent over to Palestine, and, of course, the demonstrations in Glasgow and Edinburgh that were attended by thousands of those wanting to express solidarity for people in Gaza. I talked to one of their members, Josh Brown, about the conflict, its media coverage, reactions of the international community, and what each of us in Scotland, or anywhere else, can do to help.

Josh grew up in America, where, he explains, the confusion created by biased media coverage has caused many Americans to think that Palestinians are occupying Israel: they have it completely backwards. He believes the situation is not as bad in the UK, but the media coverage is still very poor in representing the situation for Palestinian people, and mainstream media has been very biased against Palestine.

Many demonstrations tried to highlight the BBC lack of coverage from Palestine, but Josh thinks that the BBC follows the line of the government: the UK government is close friends with Israel, with such parliamentary groups as Labour Friends of Israel, and Conservative Friends of Israel. If the government suddenly became very pro-Palestinian, he imagines the BBC’s coverage would improve, but he does not see that happening soon.

The one mainstream exception in the UK media has been Channel 4’s coverage.  Jon Snow has done a remarkable job: one could see that visiting Gaza profoundly affected him and he has honestly reported what he saw, challenging the Israeli government officials to the best of his ability and exposing the contradictions and the lies that they use to promote the Israeli side of the story. 

That side of the story tries to justify the killing of men, women and children, blaming everything on the Palestinian people or on Hamas. They never want to talk about the fact that the Hamas was the elected government of the people of Gaza in the last election and that Hamas and Fatah, the two ruling parties in Palestine had come to peace with one another and made an agreement to work together in negotiations.

“That, I think, was one of the main reasons why Israel started its most recent war on Gaza, because as soon as Hamas and Fatah are working together, Israel is forced to go back to the negotiating table, and they do not want that. The Zionists in the Israeli government do not want to negotiate with Palestinians, they do not want Palestinians to have a state, and they do not want Palestinians to be in the Holy Land anymore, at all. So when Hamas and Fatah came to an agreement together, that was, I believe, one of the key motivating factors in Israel attacking Gaza, to break that unity and try and stay away from the negotiating table.”

Many of those who support Israel or try to remain neutral on the topic, talk about how people in Gaza are notified when their houses are about to be attacked, and about Hamas using civilians as human shields. When asked about it, Josh tells me of when he visited Palestine, and was in a house when the phone rang, with the Israeli army on the other end saying that residents have 5 minutes to leave the house. When civilians who had done nothing wrong know the house is going to be destroyed, some families insist on staying to save their homes because they would not have the money or the materials to build the house again. Because of the blockade, there is no access to concrete, wood, or iron, so people’s houses are extremely precious to them, and in 5 or 10 minutes they would not be able to take all of the precious things with them. They attempt to save the history of their family.

When it comes to Hamas using civilian populations as human shields, Josh asserts that as a ridiculous accusation: Gaza is completely blockaded, people are not allowed to come and go from there, it is the size of North and South Uist combined (139 sq mi), and in that area, there are 1.8 million Palestinians living. Almost every inch of land there is populated, there is no such thing as a war zone separate from where people live.

“People are so packed into this small place that when Israel bombs Gaza they should be answering for what is, in crude terms, bombing fish in a barrel: there is nowhere for them to go to avoid being hit, and you can see that with the death toll that is there, there are over one thousand Palestinians dead now, at least one third of those people are children. The average age in Gaza is 17 years old, so the Israelis know that they are going to be killing civilians, they know that they are going to be killing children, but they are willing to do that in order to stay away from the negotiating table, and in order to try to hurt Hamas. They are willing to kill children to do that. Being one of the most advanced militaries in the world, they are well aware of what they are doing.” 

When I ask whether the international community has been doing enough in response to the events, Josh points out that while Israel always talks about how Hamas does not recognise Israel’s right to exist, Palestine as a place and as a group of people that are looking for recognition, that are looking for a nation, has been completely ignored until very recently, and progress is needed. For example, Palestine received official recognition from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and the UN General Council has always been in majority supportive of Palestine. However, the UN Security Council seems to veto anything that helps Palestine while allowing Israel to get away with violations of various conventions: calling for Palestinian right to return, or saying that building settlements in occupied territories is illegal. American support helps to veto these things, so getting past the block and letting the international community decide more democratically would result in Palestine gaining a much faster recognition in the world.

However, one thing that Josh says he has learned having travelled a lot of countries in the world, including many Middle Eastern countries, is that you always have to make a distinction between the ideas and the opinions of the people, and the ideas and the opinions of their government.

“I would not want to be held responsible for George W. Bush, even though I lived in America at that time, and I think people living in Scotland certainly would not want to be held responsible for the ideas and the actions of Tony Blair. You always see more progress and more potential amongst the people, amongst the citizens, than you do amongst the governments.”

The governments, he believes, get too caught up in wrangling over power, money, trade, arms deals and geopolitical maneuverings, whereas people think as human beings and have sympathy for the suffering of others, wherever they may live. That is often the starting point for building solidarity and for building demonstrations to support people like in Palestine, especially when there is a massive onslaught like there is at the moment against people of Gaza. Ordinary people, being decent, good, kind-hearted, and understanding, caring about their family, their friends, their community, will extend that support to people in other countries who are in need. There is a natural tendency for people to be supportive and to offer solidarity, so activists try to coordinate and channel that support into large demonstrations and activity that allows people in Gaza to see to see that they are not alone.

“People in Scotland, using our local example here, support them, and we are thinking of them, and when they hurt we hurt, and we want the war to end, we want peace.”

He sees a general solidarity in Scotland for Palestinian people, despite people not necessarily having a lot of information about the details.

“Most people don’t really know what it means to be an occupied land or to be an occupied people, and if you don’t know what that means it has a huge impact on what you think the solution can be for peace in the Middle East, or for peace in the Holy Land.”

What people forget is that despite the Holy Land, the area of Israel and Palestine, being the home to the three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, making it a very contentious place, the area has a long history of people living together in peace, people from all the different religions and different backgrounds. The latter is what gives him, and many others, hope for a peaceful future as well.

As Josh speaks positively of Scotland and mentions how the opinions of the government might dictate the media coverage, I ask him if things would change if Scotland became independent. He answers with a firm belief and hope: according to him, Scotland has already proven that it has a more progressive stance in support of Palestine than most Western nations, and it was, after all, the first country in the world to recognise Nelson Mandela as hero. He tells me about a meeting the Gaza emergency coordinating committee had with the Minister for External Affairs Humza Yousaf, where they spoke to him about what the Scottish government could do to further improve on the position for Palestine.

“He sat and listened very respectfully to our suggestions, and he will meet with us again soon to discuss the government’s response. I think it is quite unique, I cannot imagine getting an audience with the foreign minister at Westminster as a group of left organisations that are pro-Palestinian, I cannot imagine ever getting that opportunity at Westminster, but we have had that here in Scotland and we hope to see further progress for Palestine. That is why I think that independent Scotland would be better than most countries.”

One of his ideas is establishing a Palestinian embassy in Scotland: something that he admits might sounds like a small, tokenistic, or merely symbolic thing, but would allow breaking the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and America, one that was established between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and reinforced between Tony Blair and George Bush in the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. The establishment of a Palestinian embassy could separate those two paths and help start Scotland on a path towards being a country that focuses on making friends rather than intimidating enemies.

“One of the main reasons why people support Scottish independence is that you get rid of Trident nuclear weapons. Scotland is moving in a direction towards decommissioning the weapons; Israel has nuclear weapons but refuses to have them inspected and gets away with because of support from America. At Westminster, Theresa May has recently given herself new powers to make British people stateless, to strip them of their British citizenship if they go to Syria, we want to go in the opposite direction of that and we want to recognise the stateless people of Palestine. An independent Scotland could set itself apart from the pro-war, pro-nuclear, pro-American policies of Westminster and establish a path towards peace and send hospital ships instead of war ships. This is the kind of foreign policy that means you do not have to spend very much money on a military; you can spend money on food aid, on medical aid, and sending doctors abroad instead of sending soldiers. It is a very different way of conducting yourself as a nation.”

The demonstrations that took place in Glasgow and Edinburgh were initiated by a small core of people, and Josh is one of them. In his words: when you see what is happening to the people in Gaza, you need to do something; you could sit in your house, cry and be broken-hearted about it, but that would not help anyone, so the immediate instinct is to think what you can do despite living so far away.

The people of Gaza are blockaded inside an open-air prison since 2007 by the Israeli government and the Israeli military, but they are very connected by the Internet, so when seeing photos and videos from demonstrations they know they are not alone, that they are not suffering in silence, and that people are angry at their suffering. We have to help whatever small way we can, and that is also important for us as individuals. Sometimes a demonstration is the best you can do, and then maybe you can gather some money or medical supplies to help, maybe some people will go there to help in person: it is just trying to find something to do so that we do not feel powerless and so that Palestinian people know that we do not agree with our government, or the BBC ignoring what is happening there.

And people do, indeed, try to express such growing discontent: the first demonstration in Glasgow, held on the 5th of July, was attended by about 250 people, which was already surprising taking into account the extremely short notice. There were about 2,000 or 2,500 people there on the 12th of July, and on the 19th, the numbers went over 4,000. Josh remembers how nobody seemed to notice the rain; it was a fantastic, heart-warming view.

Thousands of people have come out to the streets in Tel Aviv, the largest city in Israel, to show the same discontent. Josh finds that crucially important and inspirational, and says we have to give due recognition to the Israeli people who stand up against war and call for peace and reconciliation of Palestine, because it is not easy for them. At the demonstration in Tel Aviv, there was a small counter demonstration: the people who were in favour of the Israeli occupation, force and the war were chanting “death to the leftists”. Despite such level of violence and intimidation they are facing, a small but important group of people inside Israel are committed to peace, reconciliation, and living together with Palestinians.

Outside Israel, there are also many Jewish voices for Palestine and against Zionism. The media might try to conflate Zionism and Judaism, but Zionism is a very small minority ideology amongst many different viewpoints of the Jewish people. The pro-Palestinian Jews that Josh personally knows would say that Zionism is the biggest enemy of the Jews, because instead of making a safe haven for Jews in Israel it has made the most dangerous place in the world for Jews, and the worst representation of Judaism as something that is about colonialism, occupation, war, violence, racism, segregation and apartheid. Such manifestations of Zionism are the complete, pure opposite of what left, liberal Judaism is about.

As an example of proud Jewish activism, Josh mentions the Jewish people that were a part of the American Civil Rights movement, went to the Southern states and helped to win voting right for black Americans. The same kind of Jewish activists today are campaigning against Zionism and for peace with Palestine. This goes against the belief that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about Jews versus Muslims. The media and governments love to use religion as demarcation in conflicts, and probably play a large role in creating it as a line of difference, but this, imposed from outside, is just an example of divide and conquer strategy.

“Palestinian people are Jews, Christians, Muslims, and people of no faith, that is another thing that the media never wants to talk about. The first Intifada, the first uprising against the Israeli occupation, was led by the Christian community in Palestine, centred around Beit Sahour and places around Bethlehem, in the West Bank. Second Intifada was led by Muslim Palestinians. We cannot simplify it to being about Judaism versus Islam because it is more mixed than that, and people used to live together, side by side in peace before this sectarian religious divide was amplified, and used to justify colonialism.”

Having recognised how important demonstrations can be, Josh also talks about something that is more than a symbolic act: boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS. He compares the situation in Palestine to that of South Africa in the past: there, BDS was extremely important in helping to end Apartheid regime as the international community was able to put a massive amount of economic and political pressure. In the situation of occupied Palestine, it is even more important, because Palestinian people have been removed from the Israeli economy and deprived from the economic power that South African workers had. They cannot hurt the government by going on strike. BDS is also about political pressure, because when the number of people, organisations, and countries supporting Palestinians is exposed, it forces the Israeli government to either respond, or intensify the occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

Cultural boycott is taking place at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, too: shows by two theatre and dance companies got cancelled as a result. They receive Israeli government funding, and Josh believes Israel gives money to such projects so it can create some positive PR that would counterbalance what they are doing in Gaza. Cultural ambassadors, so to speak, come here to redeem the image of Israel, and so cultural boycott exposes that strategy. It is not directed against the artists themselves, Josh emphasises, and he adds that an Israeli stand-up comedian’s shows will not be a part of the boycott since he receives no Israeli government funding, and the boycott is not against Israeli or Jewish artists in general.  Cultural boycott is one of the current activities, and there are more demonstrations to come.

“We have to keep demonstrating, to keep raising awareness, until Israel stops attacking Gaza. We need to help make an end to the killing. Whatever small things we can do here, we will keep doing them to the best of our ability.”



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31 replies

  1. I’m getting very hacked off with Bella & RIC assertions that as a Scottish independence supporter I should support Hamas and work against Israel. The people of Israel have a right to live in peace; Hamas are still commited to driving the Jews into the sea, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is mandated reading in Gaza schools. The Palestinians worst enemies are their own leaders and the cynical Arab states that pretend to support them. If we’re looking to support anyone in the middle east, we should be looking to help the victims of ISIS in Syria.

    • You’re entitled to your view – the indy movement is broad and diverse – but Bella makes no apology for making solidarity with the Palestinian people. Discussing and exploring a new foreign policy is an essential part in looking at what values a new Scotland should be based on beyond ‘punching above our weight’.

      • At what stage does humanitarian solidarity with the exploited people of Gaza or Palestine morph into the kind of pernicious Israeli-free, ie Judenrein sentiments, of George Galloway. Many Jews detect the resurgence of anti-semitism per se regardless of the state of levantine politics. That is certainly the case in France and is becomimg more articulate even in Germany. In both cases Jews are believed to be rich, influential in “too many sectors”, pushy, arrogant and even genetically incapable of living in peace with other nations and peoples. Not so far remove from the racist theorising of the Nazis. I trust Scots, who have never been purveyors of this evil are not about to dance to this sick tune. Reading the charter of Hamas, preferably the Arabic version, provides the full flavour of what they intend for Jews; the so-called Islamic State would be in full agreement. Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is happy to use liberal sentiment in the West for its own particular ends. It cares nothing for “enlightenment” values. As Islamists they have a specific worldview. A worldview that would clash dramatically with that of most of the supporters of the Palestinian cause. When I read in the Arabic press of millionaire and billionaire residents in Gaza (how did they get so rich?) its citizens need more than Jews out rhetoric, they need liberation from the suffocating normative political order. On the latter we might certainly feel solidarity with Palestine.

    • You are right, Jaffa. Whilst not agreeing with the disproportionate attacks on civilian areas in Gaza by the Israeli forces I think that people have to live in the real world and see Hamas for what they are are. They are mysogynistic, homophobic islamists who not only hate Jews and want to drive them into the sea but hate western values and democracy. True, they won the elections but only at the barrel of a gun. They are scum and human rights abusers, like all the other islamists in that chaotic region. Many people here have absolutely no solidarity with terrorists and abhor the naivete of the ‘solidarity’ mob.

  2. This article is not going to win any YES votes. My priority is to see a YES vote in September which is now becoming less likely by the day as I see different parts of the YES campaign fighting each other and arguing about what and how and by whom an Independent Scotland should be Governed and what it stands for. The whole thing is falling apart at the seams with this in-fighting. to the delight of the NO camp.
    You now also want to alienate every Jew in Scotland ? Most of the people who live around me think that Gaza used to be a Rangers player.
    I am beginning to realise that Scotland is indeed “too stupid”

    • Unfortunately, as any student of politics would tell you, that gap in the polls at this point is unbridgeable come polling day. That explains Alex Salmond’s subdued demeanour in Tuesday’s debate, and it also explains Bella and the RIC embracing all things Palestinian: they realise they’re going to need an alternative line of business after September 18.

    • Que? What you have said does not make any sense. There is no division in the Yes vote. That is a completely different question.

  3. People make Scotland too and when it comes to the 18th. they will vote Yes for many different reasons I’m sure. The Scottish people I’ve known and lived with come with all kinds of prejudices and insights so will have different views on the carnage that’s going on in Gaza. The article is important for we don’t live just in our own backyard anymore if we ever did I wonder. Persecution should bother us wherever it occurs but I guess its not that unusual in this world dominated by greed and power politics.

  4. A great article, thank you Dominyka and also Josh for contributions to the article. It sums up so well and eloquently so much of my own thoughts on this.

    The boilerplate troll post that heads the responses is a pretty dreadful farrago of lies and racism. Don’t bite on the ISIS distraction it’s only a convoluted demand for intervention in support of ISIS’ covert aims of Balkanisation favouring Israel. Any victims of ISIS are victims of the same perpetrators as the Gaza massacres, as ISIS is a construct of Israel, the US, UK and gulf states -mainly now just the vile Saudi regime.

    Israel is a vicious oppressor and genocidaire, tormenting the Palestinian people they have robbed and dispossessed.

    This sickening attack, with UK and US unfathomable support is only the most recent in a long series of inexcusable war crimes committed by Israel against the beleagured, starved and incarcerated inmates of what is Israel’s biggest concentration camp at Gaza. We must not forget those too in the occupied by Israel West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    Peace. Love.

    • The best bit of your entire post, after accusing me of lies and racism, calling Israel genocidal and blaming it for ISIS, has to be your “Peace. Love.” signoff. Oh and by the way, the victims of ISIS may consider it to be more than a mere “distraction”, and may struggle to see the Israel connection when Islamists kill them.

    • Good God! How can anybody be so naive? ISIS a construct of Israel. Utter and absolute total nonsense. There is no proof that that is the case.

  5. Is anybodt going to get out on the streets and support the Yazizi people and the long-suffering Christians of Iraq. Solidarity with those poor people…now I could support that.

  6. It is ironic, to put it mildly, that this puff piece of propaganda is entitled “People make Gaza,” given that the content completely whitewashes the very same people of Gaza – Hamas – who are responsible for the dreadful state of their population.

    It puts in context the joke: what’s the difference between Bigfoot and a Hamas fighter? There are more pictures of Bigfoot in the media than there are of any Hamas fighters. Funny that. What was that nonsense you spouted about the UK media being pro Israel? Nonsense, indeed.

    It’s also unfortunate, amidst the wide ranging coverage, that there was no room to mention Hamas missile attacks, or terror tunnels, or the diversion of ‘humanitarian aid’ to facilitate the terror infrastructure rather than improving the welfare of citizens, or the enrollment of UNRWA as a terror facilitator, or that the missile attacks came before any blockade, or that Hamas broke the odd ceasefire in the current conflict, or that the organization’s main aim remains the ‘obliteration’ of Israel. You don’t think, perhaps, its refusal to renew the last ceasefire gives you a teensy weensy hint about its lack of care for the welfare of its own people and its suicidal agenda?

    As for the actual content, it’s truly difficult to know where to begin. It is full of nonsense. It’s demonization and defamation. And it is either woefully naive or downright dishonest.

    Let’s take one example: “They never want to talk about the fact that the Hamas was the elected government of the people of Gaza in the last election and that Hamas and Fatah, the two ruling parties in Palestine had come to peace with one another and made an agreement to work together in negotiations.”

    Care to back that assertion up with facts? Bet you cannot.

    I’m happy to talk about the elected government. What difference does it make if they were democratically elected? (There is a historical precedence for another Jew hating political group that was democratically elected. Do you really want to go there?)

    The two ruling parties had come to peace with one another? Really? If that is the depth of your analysis, then you are as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

    Fact: Hamas and Fatah tried to have it both ways, namely the PR benefits of unity and assurances to the world at large that they accept all previous agreements. That’s in English. Whereas, in reality, the position is the exact opposite.

    Fact: in Arabic, Hamas says they reject all previous agreements with Israel.

    Fact: The PA – the ‘unity PA’ – is a front. It does almost nothing. It reports, not to the people, but the PLO. It is the PLO – not the PA – that makes all the major decisions.

    In short, that unity was a PR front.

    And even for the purposes of debate, we assume that unity was not a front, what ‘credit’ should it get when part of that self same unity front (Hamas, of course) funded and ordered the kidnapping (that became a murder) of three young Israelis?

    It remains incomprehensible why a free pass is given to a terrorist group that also manages to be homophobic, Jew hating, undemocratic, disdainful of basic human rights, opposed to women’s rights, and as clear a repeat offender of actual war crimes as you could possibly get. Is that the agenda for an independent Scotland? Heaven help you if it is.

    If you actually want to be pro Palestinian, as opposed to one of the anti-Israel hate mob, why not promote some peaceful initiatives? Why not point out that if Hamas stopped firing missiles, progress towards a meaningful peace might actually happen? Why not call for free and fair elections (given the mandate of democracy has long since expired)? Why not ask for protection for Gaza citizens from Hamas? Or are you in favor of kangaroo court justice? Why not ask for protection of free speech? Or are you in favor of censorship? Why not support initiatives that get ordinary Israelis and ordinary Palestinians to meet, engage, and start building bridges?

    Stop. Think. Be pro peace, if you truly want to help.

  7. I would say that the Israeli response has been totally disproportionate, utterly ruthless, and cold blooded, and that the underlying political questions which have led to the rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, have almost been completely forgotten. There is no context provided by the mainstream media, no wonder people don’t understand what’s going on half the time.

    The IRA used to bomb its way around England in the 70’s but not even London, for all the dirty tricks it played in Ireland, would ever have ordered the British Army to send fighter jest on bombing missions over West Belfast to reduce it to a pile of rubble, where they had Sinn Fein MPS remember. And of course the IRA did not believe in the existence of Northern Ireland either, just like Hamas in Israel.

    Basically, all the apologist for the Israeli govt state sponsored terror campaign in Gaza, are regurgitating the argument of the Israeli government which is a) Hamas are the bad guys really b) we have the right to defend ourselves.

    But the right to self defence is not carte blanche to do exactly what you want regardless of international law. If the Israeli govt wants to appear reasonable they should start acting like reasonable people. Launching hundreds of 1000 lb bombs into built-up civilian areas is not reasonable behaviour, it is utterly barbaric as anything Hamas could ever dream up.

    And this Israeli government is about as interested in a political solution as Hamas are, which is to say, not at all. Netanyahu has never endorsed a two state solution and the land grab goes on without pause.

    I support the right of Israel to exist in its 1967 borders, not its right to “do whatever it takes” to dismantle a few terror tunnels when it means the loss of life so many civilians and children and the complete terrorization of a whole people over more than a month, enough to drive anybody insane.

    Netanyahu and the hawks are the best recruiting officer in town for Hamas and in my opinion, elements of the Israeli government already talk about the Palestinian as if they were subhuman.

    You might not like their politics, but Islamic extremists who use terror are also human beings and, for all that they have no respect for human rights themselves, we do.

    That is why we tried the leading Nazis at Nuremberg instead of just shooting them on the spot, and that is why Saddam Hussein should have been brought before an international court and that is why Bin Laden should have been too.

    I would say both Israel and Hamas show complete contempt for international law and basic human rights, and of course, so do the governments of the UK and the US as soon as it comes to the Middle East.

  8. An Israeli voice from the Left:

    ” I’ve said to some of my friends: [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is not the sin, Netanyahu is the punishment—for the left of center and the Left’s complete political failure in Israel and regarding Israel in the last thirty years. The majority of Israelis: They’re not doves, they’re not pure liberals, they’re not idealists, they’re not highly moral. But they’re not that crazy, they’re not that brutal, they’re not that chauvinist, and they’re not that conservative. And I think that the success of the Israeli Right in the last generation has been a result of the political and ideological failure of the Left to reinvent itself, to adjust itself to a new reality.”

    https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/from-left-field/&sa=U&ei=f37oU4GRHsSj4gSe8oCACQ&ved=0CBgQFjAJ&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNGVJgBoqk0DcW227lB8F3fQsKcY4A

  9. Douglas, in the nicest possible way, you are way off base – especially when it comes to stuff like this:

    “I would say that the Israeli response has been totally disproportionate, utterly ruthless, and cold blooded…Launching hundreds of 1000 lb bombs into built-up civilian areas is not reasonable behaviour, it is utterly barbaric as anything Hamas could ever dream up…”

    The IDF has taken every reasonable measure to avoid civilian casualties. Every one is horrible. Every one is to be regretted. But the incredibly low figures – even accepting the figures from within Gaza – is proof that stuff like your fantasy scenario didn’t happen. If the IDF wanted to, it has the capacity to – for example – mimic the British in Afghanistan, or the USA in Iraq, where the acknowledged death of civilians is far higher, as is the ratio of civilians to fighters.

    And if you don’t believe me, believe Richard Kemp. The former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan has repeatedly confirmed what Israel and the IDF have said about trying to minimize casualties. And he has also rightly lampooned politicians for the moral cowardice for not totally rejecting nonsense about war crimes. Every Hamas missile is a war crime. Every Hams breach of a truce is a war crime. Why do you think the Palestinian leadership will not sign up to the International Criminal Court?

    Here’s a challenge for you. Where does proportionate come into it? Where in the laws of war does it say Israel has to be proportionate in what it does? Let me tell you:

    “Proportionality is a principle under international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict, whereby belligerents must make sure that the harm caused to civilians or civilian property is not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated by an attack on a military objective”

    In other words, there is no law that says Israel (or any army) has to respond with some ‘proportionality’. No. It’s all about the force needed to attack a military objective.

    Fact: a school with a terrorist in it is a military target. As is a mosque, a hospital and so on.

    Fact: if Hamas fires from areas with civilians, it is Hamas that endangers the civilians. Would you prefer Israeli soldiers just allowed themselves to be fired at? Get real.

    Bear in mind, Kemp is a military man with real knowledge and expertise about war, fighting terrorists, and war crimes. He is no empty talking head. Can you point me to anyone by way of a military expert who contradicts what Kemp says? You cannot. And why? Because Kemp is right, and the IDF is fighting the good fight. It may not fit your blinkered, comic book narrative, but it’s true. Do yourself a favor and look at the facts, not the political slogans. It’s easy to swallow the dreadful pictures of casualties with bile and condemn Israel. But if you can muster a bit of awareness of how you are being brainwashed, you will see who is responsible for the terrible state of the Gaza people.

    Lastly, when it comes to facts do be aware that taking information from the Health Ministry in Gaza or the UN, as factual is a risky business. (Polite mode on!)

    • Ellis Simpson,

      I don’t accept that Israel’s response to the missile fired by Hamas is proportionate at all. Proportionality is one of the virtues – moderation is another word for it There are plenty of Israelis who agree with that. I do not conflate the people of Israel with the Israeli state.

      You say that a school or a hospital where terrorists/military targets are hiding is a legitimate target. I say that under no circumstances is a school or hospital a legitimate target.

      The terrorists/military targets will eventually leave the hospital and/or school where they are hiding, surely? You have to kill everybody in the building to get your target? What do you think this is? A computer game? These are real people who are being killed everyday by one of the best equipped armies in the world, people who deserve protection under international law.

      It is this contemptuous attitude of yours and disregard for civilian casualties which seems to me typical of what has happened to the State of Israel. You stopped caring about the Palestinians a long time ago. The hatred of too many Israelis for Palestinians is all too apparent.

      The people responsible for these strikes should be charged with war crimes. The attitude is “We can kill all of the Palestinians we want if Hamas fire rockets at us”. This is totally unacceptable. There is no trial, no due process, nothing like justice. How do we know these people are even “terrorists”? This is mass extra judicial murder campaign carried out on a terrifying scale by the Israeli State, again and again.

      We lived in Britain for many years with the IRA bombs. In Spain they lived for years with ETA. But neither Madrid nor London ordered Belfast or Bilbao to be bombed to the ground. All of the Israeli causalities are soldiers killed in the fighting in Gaza. Nobody has even been killed by these missiles Hamas are firing. More British civilians were killed in one or two years of IRA terror in the 70’s than Iraelis have been killed by Hamas rockets.

      As for Hamas, I condemn them, but there is no interest in a two state solution from Netanyahu, he has never endorsed the two state solution deal. So unless you have a political process, you will get violence. This is obvious.

      By the way, it can hardly escape the attention of any observer that this state sponsored terror fiesta in Gaza is carried out just a few months after the coup against Morsi in Egypt definitely killed the Arab Spring. Gaza is the confirmation that nothing has changed in the Middle East.

      Egypt is once again a corrupt military dictatorship backed by Blair, Israel and the West and which kills and imprisons thousands upon thousands, including Al Jazeera journalists. The Palestinian have their country destroyed totally by the state of Israel again and again. Young Muslims move towards extremism and fire rockets. Where is the surprise?

      By the way, as for ISIS, they were financed and funded by the US during the illegal occupation of Iraq, and moved from there to the war Syria, not the other way around as the media here like to say, so another US/UK Frankenstein stalks the earth…

  10. “You say that a school or a hospital where terrorists/military targets are hiding is a legitimate target. I say that under no circumstances is a school or hospital a legitimate target.”

    Wrong in law, fact, and military necessity.

    I strongly reject your nonsense about playing a computer game. I will back the IDF to do everything it can, within the laws of warfare, to kill the enemy and protect themselves. Anything else is bleeding heart liberal nonsense.

    Or, to put it another way, get real.

  11. “We lived in Britain for many years with the IRA bombs. In Spain they lived for years with ETA. But neither Madrid nor London ordered Belfast or Bilbao to be bombed to the ground. All of the Israeli causalities are soldiers killed in the fighting in Gaza. Nobody has even been killed by these missiles Hamas are firing. More British civilians were killed in one or two years of IRA terror in the 70’s than Iraelis have been killed by Hamas rockets.”

    This is a nasty, specious argument. Would you prefer more dead Israelis?

    Sorry if we refuse to line up (once again) to meet the preferences of our enemies.

  12. “It is this contemptuous attitude of yours and disregard for civilian casualties which seems to me typical of what has happened to the State of Israel. You stopped caring about the Palestinians a long time ago. The hatred of too many Israelis for Palestinians is all too apparent.”

    This is projection and wrong. I do care for Palestinians. I do care for their welfare. I do not want any to die. I would like them to be happy. (Happier?)

    I am contemptuous of critics who are intellectually dishonest and offer no recognition of the party to blame. I disregard civilian casualties to the extent there is sod all I can do about it if the enemy sacrifices its own citizens. Reap as ye shall sow.

    “The people responsible for these strikes should be charged with war crimes. The attitude is “We can kill all of the Palestinians we want if Hamas fire rockets at us”. This is totally unacceptable. There is no trial, no due process, nothing like justice. How do we know these people are even “terrorists”? This is mass extra judicial murder campaign carried out on a terrifying scale by the Israeli State, again and again.”

    The fact you ignore the law, the fact you disregard the reality of war, and the fact you seem to want to condemn Israel is as good a case of self condemnation as I have seen. The facts don’t fit your world. The law doesn’t fit your world. But still you inhabit it, defaming, denouncing, and decrying. That’s you in a bad, bad, place.

    • I condemn the military response of Israel in Gaza over the last month, like the UN Secretary General has done along with many others. and I support a total embargo of the state of Israel henceforth.

      I don’t think Netanyahu wants a two state solution. I think the blitzkreig on Gaza was a carefully planned and timed attempt to wreck any chance of the two parts of the Palestinian territories working together in a meaningful way. It has everything to do with the coup in Egypt, which it also consolidates.

      It suits Netanyahu and the Israeli right to be in perpetual war with Hamas. Under the cover of the smoke of the bombs and all the terrible, bloody headlines about children being killed by US supplied arms, the land grab goes on quietly, the armed settlers continue to steal land from the Palestinians, and the people of Gaza continue to live under a blockade in terrible conditions.

      Do the Israelis want peace? I don’t think they do. Which makes them quite like Hamas.

      The only hope is that the Left in Israel connect with moderate Palestinians. But maybe it’s too late. If you go and destroy Gaza every 7 or 8 years, there can hardly be any moderates left,

  13. According to Wiikipedia, 28 Israeli citizens have been killed by the firing of rockets from Palestinian territories since 2001, for which, in return, thousand upon thousands of Palestinians have been murdered by the state of Israel….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel

    The Omagh bomb in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland in 1998 alone killed 29 people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omagh_bombing

    But nobody in Britain suggested bombing Republican areas of Belfast.

    I condemn the violence on both sides, but there is much more violence inflicted by Israel than Hamas, that is the statistical reality,..

    And just because somebody votes for Hamas, that doesn’t mean that they lose their fundamental and inalienable human rights as human beings protected under international law.

    It’s time to shut Israel out all international forums and organizations…enough is enough.

    • Douglas, what you have posted is irrelevant. Israel is fully compliant with the laws of warfare. Counting dead bodies may make for good propaganda, but it is nothing to do with the law. Like it or lump it.

      So far as shutting Israel out, that is selective injustice. Do you propose Britain is shut out for its “warcrimes” or the USA? Their “record” is far, far worse. To do otherwise makes you a hypocrite or an antisemite or both.

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