What more horrors are in store for Gaza?
What more horrors are in store for Gaza?
A wish-list for the brave Palestinians
I wonder what Hamas and Israeli leaders are thinking as they survey the devastation in Gaza and review the death-toll and casualty figures?
Or course, neither has to live among the ruins and clamber over the devastation. Neither has the stench of death in their nostrils, nor the dust of destruction. Neither will have to pick up the tab – that’s left to hard-pressed taxpayers in Britain and elsewhere who, unwillingly, subsidise this recurring lunacy.
Netanyahu goes nowhere near Gaza so avoids witnessing the horrors inflicted by Israeli troops on his demented orders.
Khaled Meshaal, boss of the Hamas Political Bureau, is an absentee leader now living in Qatar, having blotted his copybook with the Syrians. What he actually does with his time is a mystery. If only he’d get around rewriting the dreadful Hamas Charter and produce a document more fitting for the 21st century and his movement’s aspirations, he would save his people a lot of anguish.
The day-to-day running of Gaza meanwhile is left to individuals such as Ismail Haniyeh (prime minister) and Mahmoud al-Zahar. How these two – and the rest of their team – have managed to cope throughout the cruel siege and the many assaults and crises since their election in 2006 is almost beyond comprehension.
Haniyeh famously said a few months ago: “Out of the ruins, we shall rock Tel Aviv.” Born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp, this ex-footballer graduated from the Islamic University. Following the first Intifada (uprising), he was detained, did time in Israeli prisons and was then deported to Lebanon. Returning to Gaza in 1993, he was appointed Dean of the Islamic University and became assistant to Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas.
Mahmoud al-Zahar is another remarkable character. A surgeon by trade (Masters degree in general surgery from Ain Shams Univerity, Cairo), he is a co-founder of Hamas and regarded as a “hardliner”, whatever that means in the context of Gaza’s long suffering. His personal losses in the struggle, in terms of close family members annihilated and homes destroyed, are huge.
As these two pick their way through the smoking rubble, and survey the broken and shredded bodies of the children, what goes through their minds? Maybe they’re thinking how pathetic Western Christendom is for not only letting such evil triumph in the Holy Land – of all places – but actually sponsoring it. The richly robed pointy-hatted archbishops have been very, very quiet in the face of indescribable evil. Here in Britain senior bishops have 26 seats in the House of Lords and they’ve kept their heads well below the parapet. Where is that drip [Justin] Welby [Archbishop of Canterbury] on this?
Maybe Haniyeh and al-Zahar are also thinking what a gutless shambles the Arab League is for not intervening.
So where do they find the courage to carry on in those few square miles of Palestinian wreckage called Gaza? Their extraordinary faith of course, is a huge well of strength which we in the West will never quite understand.
And what of Barack Obama and John Kerry and David Cameron? They sponsor and stand four-square behind the berserk monster that did all this, proclaiming shared values, common interests, undying admiration and unwavering support – and deflecting criticism by pronouncing justification on absurd grounds of self-defence against its terrorized and traumatized victim.
The enormity of it – the barbarity and terrible sacrifice of the last three weeks – is surely unprecedented in modern times, and the cowardice of the international community unforgivable. Seekers of justice cannot allow it to count for nothing.
What are the scenarios we might wish for to bring about change?
• A joint expedition among nations to run the blockade and land supplies on Gaza’s beach. It would likely provoke a huge international “incident” which, it can be argued, is exactly what’s needed if progress is to be made. It should not be a private undertaking, however.
• The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) to dramatically step up its worldwide campaign and widen targeting to include not only corporations but also key individuals, especially in public life, who promote and/or profit from the occupation of Palestine. And those who defend Israel and its murder machine named and shamed.
• In the UK the pro-Israel lobby to be neutralized, dismantled or at least driven to the sidelines, probably by a campaign of naming and shaming. Ditto the US.
• The Palestinian Authority (PA) keels over and dies of shame, taking its unwanted baggage with it. A new authority emerges from the shadows which isn’t interested in doing Israel’s security dirty work or acting as America’s dogsbody.
• The Palestine Liberation Organization and new PA to use all channels open to them to bring Israel’s crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and urge enforcement of international law. PressTV ran a report two days ago that Palestinian officials had actually filed a complaint in the ICC through a Paris-based lawyer covering war crimes committed by the Israeli military in Gaza over the last two months. I am still waiting for confirmation and further information from the PLO.
• Hamas claims the right of inclusion by restating its call for a fully sovereign Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as capital, and refugees’ right to return, a position that’s perfectly in tune with UN resolutions and international law. Hamas’s political wing is not listed as a terrorist organization in the UK so there should be no barrier to discussion.
• Many more Jews worldwide reject the so-called Jewish state and the implication that the Israeli regime acts in the name of Judaism. For them the classic Edmund Burke moment has arrived: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
• The European Union finally suspends Israel’s trade privileges under the EU-Israel Association Agreement. To enjoy those privileges Israel promised to show “respect for human rights and democratic principles” as set out in Article 2. The agreement also required respect for self-determination of peoples and fundamental freedoms for all. Israel hasn’t delivered. Its contempt for such basic principles can surely no longer be tolerated.
• The US suddenly finds the backbone to enforce its own laws. The Arms Export Control Act stipulates that US-supplied weapons can be used only for “legitimate self-defence”. The US Foreign Assistance Act prohibits military assistance to any country “which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”. And the Proxmire Amendment bans military assistance to any government that, like Israel, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or prevents inspection of its nuclear facilities.
Wishful thoughts indeed. But some could be “runners”. Others are waiting to be mentioned.