Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Many versions of the truth in Israel Gaza conflict

In any conflict situation there are many sides to the story. In the case of the current conflict in Gaza there is the Israeli version, there is the Hamas version and there are many shades in between. News reports have been accused of being one-sided by both sides. Palestinian sympathisers accuse the media of harbouring an Israeli bias. Israeli supporters have detected an anti-Israeli slant.

It is evident that the events are tragic. People are suffering and dying. The results are in fact not that different from the results of the US attack on Iraq or the UN sponsored attack on Afghanistan that preceded it. Acts of war do have the terrible consequence of loss of life.

What is behind the conflict? Israel decided to withdraw from Gaza three years ago. This was a first step in the move towards a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas gained the ascendancy in Gaza. They do not recognise Israel and saw the Israeli withdrawal in a sinister light.

Since then, Gaza has been used as a launching pad for missiles that are fired daily across the border into Israel. A little over six months ago a truce was called between Hamas – the government of Gaza – and Israel. Missile attacks continued though not by Hamas. Hamas did not attempt to stop these attacks. As a response to the continued missile attacks, Israel blockaded Gaza at various times preventing the movement of people and goods.

Through all of this many Gaza residents suffered the consequences of a siege economy.

Hamas announced that they would not be extending the truce after the six months were over. Missile attacks into Israel continued and increased.

The Israeli government eventually decided that the situation was intolerable. Four days ago, Israel began air attacks on Hamas targets. These are located in densely populated residential areas. Tunnels used for smuggling weapons and food have been attacked. There has been heavy loss of life.

The world has been presented with a picture of Israeli aggression, attacking civilian targets, and Hamas ‘responding’ by firing more missiles. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas has stated that Hamas could have avoided the situation by stopping the missile attacks.

The US launched an attack on Afghanistan following the 9/11 Twin Tower attack. There was great loss of life and seven years later the conflict continues. Soon after, Iraq was attacked under the false premise that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The loss of life has been huge and the conflict continues.

Israel’s attack on Gaza is small by comparison. The loss of life is tragic, but cannot be compared to the recent Western acts of war. Yet Israel is seen as the villain, ruthlessly attacking a helpless population. Many supporters of the Iraq invasion are outraged at the Israeli action.

How would the UK respond to daily missile attacks from France or vice versa?

Indeed, it seems that there are many versions of the truth.

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