Tuesday 6 January 2009

A ceasefire is needed in Gaza - on both sides

Of course, there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as the Israeli army tries to stop the daily indiscriminate firing of dozens of rockets at their civilians by Hamas. And Israel could do more to avoid genuine civilian targets, though the size of Gaza and the nature of its military make civilian casualties inevitable. And, of course, a ceasefire is urgently needed. But, as Tony Blair pointed out this morning, a ceasefire can only come when there is a verifiable end to those rockets, and arms shipments through tunnels from Egypt to Hamas, as well as an end to Israeli military action in Gaza.

Not that this would be terribly clear in some reporting on British television about events in the region. Channel 4 News makes little effort to hide its contempt for Israel: last night Sarah Smith was even given time to show how she was already falling out of love with Barack Obama because he failed to condemn Israel (given that he had made his views pretty clear during the election campaign, as even Smith acknowledged, why should this be a surprise?)

Equally, President Bush has said some daft things in his day, but this statement on Gaza is hardly among them: "I know people are saying: let's have a ceasefire. (Those are) noble ambitions. But any ceasefire must have the conditions in it so that Hamas does not use Gaza as a place from which to launch rockets."

Yet this was the subject of much head shaking on the ITN News at Ten last night and in much BBC reporting of the issues. Indeed, there were attempts to contrast his approach with that of Gordon Brown (a contrast which, I accept, may not have been entirely unprompted) who said this on Sunday: "So first we need an immediate ceasefire - and that includes the stopping of the rockets into Israel. Secondly we need some resolution of the problems over arms trafficking into Gaza. And, thirdly, we need the borders, the crossings open, and that will need some international solution."

We certainly need a ceasefire quickly in Gaza, but one that lasts and one that is observed by Hamas as well as Israel. Those who have taken to the streets to protest Israel's actions in Gaza - and their media supporters - would have a lot more credibility if one thought they genuinely believed that too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People in Gaza are suffering, but will they be better off with Hamaz in power? Hamaz approved the Sharia law in Palestine including punishment by crucifiction and amputation and death penalty for "weakining the spirit of Plestinian people", as reported in Al Hayat and other Arabic newspapers. Wouldn't the Gazans be better if they just make peace with Israel and stop being hostages of Iran?