At 1900 GMT on Wednesday 21st November a ceasefire came into place between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip which, it was hoped, would signal at least a temporary halt to the bloodshed. Sadly, this ceasefire looks little more likely to last than previous ones have done and it would seem to be a good moment to reflect on the latest tragic and depressing episode in the Middle East and the ‘peace process.’
Of course the refrain from the Government of Binyamin Netanyahu is that Israel has no choice, is acting in self-defence, is desperate for peace in Gaza, and is carrying out “surgical strikes” which must stop the rocket fire coming from Hamas fighters and other militants in the Gaza strip. Anybody who is even vaguely familiar with the current state of affairs in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories knows that these claims paint a very, very partial picture of the truth.
Let us remind ourselves of a few facts:
Now let us look at two statistics which will show the devastating impact of the siege on Palestinian social and cultural life.
It is important to note that Israel’s escalation of attacks on Gaza began not – as Israel and the United States usually claim – after Palestinians fired rockets toward civilian areas, but after Palestinian resistance fighters targeted and hit Israeli forces enforcing the siege and occupation of Gaza. As of the beginning of November – before the latest orgy of killing by Israel – 71 Palestinians had been killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip in 2012, and 291 injured, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In the same period 19 Israelis had been injured by Palestinian fire from Gaza and none killed.
In short it is clear that Gaza has been enduring Israeli policies of extermination and vandalism since 2006.
It is to his very great credit that, in an article for The Independent newspaper a few months ago, Nick Clegg publicly condemned the actions of the Israeli Government and stated, correctly, that they are proving to be the greatest impediment towards peace in the region. This state of affairs continues, and it has now never been more imperative that an International movement involving all progressive elements coalesces and pressurises Israel and the U.S to halt the campaign of violence before a point is reached from where there is no turning back.
* Tim Purkiss is a party member from Somerset and blogs at Nation Discussion