...Amid their grief, Palestinians must begin to look beyond the immediate conflict to question why their leaders, especially Hamas, have delivered them little but poverty, chaos and destruction.
The answer, as US commentator Alan Dershowitz wrote in Saturday’s Inquirer, is the real enemies of the Palestinian people are Hamas leaders who love Palestinian children less than they hate Israel: “That’s why they are prepared to use these children as human sacrifices in their efforts to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people.’’
The current conflict in Gaza, the worst since 2009, escalated this week after Hamas scuttled an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement that had earlier been accepted by Israel.
Yesterday’s casualties in Gaza brought the death toll to 367 Palestinians. Seven Israelis, including two civilians, have died, a toll that would be far higher if not for the Iron Dome defence system. About 400 Israeli civilians have been injured during 1330 Hamas rocket attacks on Israel this month. Not unreasonably, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined Israel will continue its campaign until quiet is restored and Israelis are again able to go about their business without rocket attacks. Despite US insistence that more could be done to protect civilians in Gaza, Mr Netanyahu says Israel’s shell attacks and ground offensive, launched on Friday, are carefully targeted at terrorist operations.
Civilian casualties are inevitable, however, especially when Hamas puts its people at risk by operating in heavily populated residential areas.
Without a credible ceasefire, the toll will rise, especially as Hamas refuses to allow civilians to shelter in Gaza’s many tunnels, which are the preserve of its fighters. Despite the naivety of much of the Western media in seeking to blame Israel alone for the high casualty rate, some Palestinians realise Hamas is putting their lives at risk.
For years, it has also shown scant concern for their quality of life, heavily arming itself while ignoring the local economy and food production. Any legitimate ceasefire must acknowledge Hamas’s culpability in starting the conflict with its kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month. Long term, Gaza residents must understand they are on a hiding to nothing with Hamas.