Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Update on an Assymetrical Conflict

As of today, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza has resulted in an estimated 213 Palestinians dead versus one Israeli dead. As with other Israeli assaults on Gaza, the conflict is grossly asymmetrical. Canadian for Justice and Peace in the Middle East explains:
"Israel is a military superpower, with F-15 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, sophisticated missiles, an anti-rocket defence system (and nuclear arms.) Hamas and other militant groups have primitive and ineffective – often “home made” – rockets." 
Indeed, Hamas rockets have killed one Israeli man who was delivering food to Israeli military personnel. But Israel seems to ignore the international law of proportionality, which permits countries to respond to threats, but the response must be proportional to the threat faced. If the rockets coming from Gaza have killed one person and Israel's response has killed over 200, then Israel's response should be questioned by the international community.

Of course, firing rockets from Gaza violates international law as well, for Hamas is certainly targeting civilians as well as military targets. And UNRWA found that Hamas stored 20 missiles inside an abandoned school in Gaza, which is also a violation of international law. But the brutal strikes on Palestinian civilian homes, cafes, and other civilian sites (whether or not Israel provided warnings to the inhabitants) violates international law too. For example, today, four young boys were killed by Israeli bombs while playing on a beach in Gaza. The New York Times photojournalist Tyler Hicks wrote a short piece about his experience photographing the event surrounding their deaths, noting

"A small metal shack with no electricity or running water on a jetty in the blazing seaside sun does not seem like the kind of place frequented by Hamas militants, the Israel Defense Forces’ intended targets. Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes, running from an explosion, don’t fit the description of Hamas fighters, either."
Below is a photo from the Middle East Children's Alliance of a Palestinian mother reacting to news that her son was among the four children killed on a Gaza beach. I don't usually like to post photos of such visceral pain and suffering, but I think it is important in this context, where Palestinians can be dehumanized through media reports and Israeli news conferences.

Photo: Ayman Mohyeldin
The fear/anger/sadness was also reported upon from another New York Times editorial written by Rula Salameh describing her experience in East Jerusalem, which has been threatened by long-range missiles from Hamas as well as other sites throughout Israeli.

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