Gaza – lots of heat, no light


As we enter the third week of the latest Israeli assault on Gaza and the bloodshed rises to over 1400 civilians on the Palestinian side, you wonder whether it can only be the horrified stadium of global observers who are asking how the assault can possibly help secure any real change.

The Israelis say that they want security – from terrorist attacks through tunnels, rockets from the sky and the narrow-minded threats of Hamas. Their immediate aim is to destroy all the tunnels that protect these tools of terror.

Yet even a small amount of consideration of what possible end stage outcomes can be would show that the destruction, bloodshed and opprobrium that this assault is generating is simply not worth it. 2 Israeli civilians killed in recent years by rockets have been exchanged for what? Thirty times that many Israeli soldiers killed and a new generation in Palestine that hates the Israelis.

There is no scenario that can be envisaged that provides a lasting security solution, other than one where both sides sit down and negotiate a settlement that allows both sides to live in some sense of freedom. The current stalemate is unstable and unsustainable.

It is easy to see how the assault starts: an opponent who wants to wipe your nation off the map, who continually attacks you and whose violent rhetoric equally refuses to work out a stable solution. The sense of rights infringed and injustice provokes an aggrieved nation.

The emotion.

Words about rights and justice.

All sound reasonable and can be said by both sides.

But there is no end game here. Gaza cannot just disappear. It cannot remain the open air prison that it is today. Similarly Israel cannot just disappear and is one of the few stable democracies in the Middle East.

The limitations of the violent talk of Hamas are evident in the ineffectiveness of its attacks.

The sadness of the current position and the events of the last few weeks is that it demonstrates graphically how real change is only possible when those involved really want it and are prepared to face the difficulties that will be encountered in achieving it and sometimes that is still too much.

In this case it still seems to be the case … for both sides.