There are many Israeli citizens who oppose their government’s brutality against Palestine, many brave young people who refuse to serve in the Israel Defence Force or disobey orders on the grounds of pacifism, antimilitarism religion or political disengagement with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Opinion polls undertaken by newspapers such as Haaretz and other polling organisations in Israel show a growing opposition and unease amongst the nation to their government’s forced settlement policy and to continued aggression in the occupied territories and yet the killing goes on.
Of course there are atrocities on both sides, the taking of life from every single Israeli or Palestinian is to be condemned and should be punished in law, and yet as an individual who abhors all violence and as a member of a “pro peace” Green Party I still often find myself struggling emotionally when trying to balance the need to promote a calm response from both sides of the conflict against an ever growing body of evidence proving increasing brutality from the IDF on behalf of an Israeli Government.
Like many I welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbass’s denouncement of those responsible for the tragic kidnapping of three since murdered Israeli teenagers. His call for both sides to refrain from violence and his instruction to Palestinian security forces to promote restraint and to stop the PA from being dragged into factional responses were the words of a statesman.
But where is the balance from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in approving operation protective edge? Where is the constraint in continuing the escalation of operations within the occupied territories and preparing for a ground offensive in Gaza.
These actions perpetuate this viscous circle of violence. They will not stop Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel, they will simply act as recruitment agents for those intent on engaging in a military solution and ensure a supply of foot soldiers for further unrest in the future.
Israel’s insistence that Hamas are personally responsible for the original kidnappings despite claims from terror group Ansar as-Dawla al-Islamiya that it was they who were responsible for these heinous teenage murders shows the government to be far less interested in carrying out justice and more determined to dish out collective punishment on the Palestinian people. Punishing the innocent will as history teaches us only escalate the bloodshed as revenge takes precedence over the desperate need for dialogue
So how can we so many thousands of miles away respond and make our voices heard? Well for a start we can all lobby the British Government to condemn Israel’s retaliatory actions in Palestine and to call for military restraint from the Israelis in return to a ceasefire from Hamas. And more important we can lend our individual support for international calls for a military protection force to be based in Gaza and the West Bank
We should also lobby the Foreign Secretary to press the Israeli government to immediately instigate a ceasefire and to practice more restraint.
At present and uncharacteristically William Hague seems to have lost his voice, his usual behaviour when learning of such atrocities elsewhere in the world is to travel the news studios talking tough and warning those responsible for taking civilian lives that Britain will not stand idly by, but this time his restrained utterings seem to be limited to supporting the Israeli Governments actions in bringing those they see responsible on both sides to justice Has he not worked out yet that Israel is an occupying force, and that their justice is not accepted on the West Bank or Gaza and increasingly it is not acceptable to a world population waking up to the savagery and double standards of the Israeli Government and the complicity of the west in turning a blind eye and suppressing the truth”
He should also be condemning the actions of the United States who have continually vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israel for its military operations in Gaza. The has now over the years used its veto power nearly 100 times on Israel/Palestine, far too often to shield Israel from censure.
As a result Israel’s military machine continues to pound Palestinians civilian areas indiscriminately taking innocent lives on a daily basis. In addition Palestinian teens are now being targeted, killed and left to defend themselves against the anger of both state sponsored death squads and from vigilantes from the Occupied Israeli Settlements.
When I was in the Gaza strip during the second Intifada and I visited Netzarim Junction the day after the murder of Muhammad al Durrah. He and his and his father Jamal were shot whist seeking cover behind a concrete cylinder. The moving TV footage had shown the pair holding on to each other, Muhammad crying, his father waving calling for the Israeli troops to stop firing. During my visit more Palestinians were shot and killed, in my presence, and I travelled to Gaza City Hospital to witness for myself the butchery that the IDF mute out in the name of self-defence. I was told I was never in danger, I believed those who told me as it was clear this was not cross fire it was assassination.
And now it is happening all over again
The world mustn’t think that the murder of Palestinian civilians is simply a vigilante response from radical settlement dwellers, the State of Israel itself is now using the full force of its advanced military arsenal to strafe and blitz civilian populated areas, destroying homes, apartments, mosques and public services. The Palestinian Authority has no army, no air force, no air defence and no way of protecting their civilian population. Israel believes that’s its actions are a proportionate response for the acts of terrorists, they are not they are simply the state sponsored cold blooded murders of innocents”
We all have a duty to speak out and act not just on behalf of the powerless, not even just on behalf of a powerless Palestinian nation, but also on behalf of the growing number of good peace loving people in Israel who increasingly are declaring their governments brutality to be “not in our name”