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Israel Urged To Seek New Way, Take Risks On Gaza

Take Risks On Gaza!

The flooding into Egypt of hundreds of thousands of Gazans that has followed the breaching of the barrier between those territories is testimony to the desperation and misery of the population of that small enclave. The events have underlined the failure of Israel's policy of putting Gaza under siege. This policy has failed to stop the firing of rockets on Israeli towns; it has failed to weaken the hold of Hamas on the territory or to obtain the release of the IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Tactics of this nature have been tried repeatedly, and have failed.

We stand with the residents of Sderot and other border communities in Israel in demanding they be protected from rocket fire from Gaza. Israel has the right and obligation to bring such attacks to a halt. But Israel does not have the right to administer collective punishment and cause disproportionate suffering on the entire population of Gaza. Such attempts are morally wrong, and indeed counterproductive. The unfolding humanitarian tragedy undermines Israel's image at home and abroad, and is arousing criticism around the world. It has created an unprecedented opportunity to smuggle arms into Gaza, and has forced Egypt to become actively involved in the dispute.

We urge Israel to seek a new way forward similar to those proposed by several of Israel's military and security advisers. This would include ending the futile blockade of Gaza, and through diplomatic channels, opening a dialogue with Hamas about achieving a ceasefire or "hudna". A ceasefire would create the space needed both to address the humanitarian problems and to establish a dynamic political process. Such a process is not without risks. But the risks of spiralling violence, desperation and despair are many times greater.

ENDS

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