IN THIS EDITION: Hikers Under Fire At Nablus - Hypocrisy In The Middle East
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Sludge Report #36
Hikers Under Fire At Nablus - Hypocrisy In The Middle East
This morning the apparent easing of hostilities in the Holy Land has been sharply interrupted by a fire-fight near the Palestinian town of Nablus.
The four hour fire-fight involving Israeli gunships has left a Palestinian and an Israeli dead.
The conflict started after what has been described as a “group of hikers including children” made an attempt to visit the holy site of Joseph’s Tomb with an armed escort.
Joseph’s Tomb has been over the past two weeks of fighting a flash point in the conflict. Originally the Israeli’s tried to defend it. Eventually it was surrendered and the Israeli’s were greatly angered when a synagogue on the site was torn down by a Palestinian mob.
After the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount it is arguably the location in Israel most likely to make the blood of both sides to the conflict boil over.
And thus the question begged by this latest incident is what the hell is going on!
Just as peace appears close a deliberately provocative act by the Israelis is running a risk of turning the tide back again towards chaos.
Israel has been arguing, with some moral justification, that the Palestinians should not be placing their children in the line of fire.
This morning even the respected humanitarian organisation Amnesty International has also accused the Palestinians of dramatising the street protests.
However, it seems that when it comes to risking the lives of children for political gain, for some Israelis as well it is very much a case of do as I say but not as I do.
Putting children in the line of fire – intentionally - is exactly what this group of hikers – and its armed escort – was engaged in doing this morning.
In the circumstances trying to hike to Josephs’s tomb with an armed escort was no less provocative – and calculated to harm the chances of peace - than opposition Israeli politician Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount. This visit, where he went to the mosque accompanied by 1500 armed police and soldiers, was the incident that started the resumption in conflict.
And the fact that the “hikers” had an armed escort, just like Sharon, is a clear indication that some elements within the Israeli Defence Force are deliberately attempting to destroy the chances of peace.
According to the Palestinians the group of settlers started the fire-fight. In the circumstances this would appear likely but is not really all that relevant. Had they not been there this would not have happened. And had they not had an armed escort they almost certainly would not have been there.
An outraged Israeli General was broadcast on the radio this morning saying he had contacted the Palestinian authorities about the fire-fight but nothing had been done. This he considered outrageous.
And Israeli PM Ehud Barak has described the incident as a very serious breach of the cease-fire.
He is right. It is a breach. But by who?
Barak must get his own house in order if he intends to start preaching to the Palestinians about their alleged breaches of the peace.
Barak also now needs to acknowledge that the obstacles to peace in the Holy Land appear on both sides of the divide.
If IDF officers involved in this latest incident in Nablus manage to evade taking responsibility for this turn of events then Barak will succeed only in giving a green light to all extremists on his side to torpedo his peace plans whenever and however they wish.
Earlier Sludge On The Middle East Crisis:
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