2009-01-06 23:56:07 **opinion**
Once an avid follower of and commentator on the Israel-Palestine conflict, unfortunately I haven’t been able to follow it as much in recent times. Even during the current Israel action I have been unable to follow it as much as I once was, and anytime I have felt the need to write an article it has been lost in a sense of hopelessness that, to be truthful, is probably the real reason I stopped following it so avidly.
But I just flicked the news on, Sky News was showing the UN Security Council Meeting live, and I heard the Israeli representative Gabriela Shalev say something that definitely warranted my writing about: after saying that Israel had shown restraint throughout 8 years of rocket fire, which isn’t true and I will come back to, when explaining why Israel was forced to act she said, “to grant our citizens the basic right [long pause] of a normal life.”
What about the Palestinians right to a normal life, the right to move freely around your own lands, the right to farm land that belongs to your family, the right to travel outside your own borders, the right to export and import goods, the right to run businesses, employ staff and have enough money to buy food to feed your family and fuel to heat your home, all aspects of a modern “normal life” and all impossible dreams for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. And as for the 8 years restraint, does Miss Shalev think we have forgotten Autumn Clouds and Summer Rains, not to mention all the prolonged air-only operations, arrest raids and mini-incursions into Gaza in those same 8 years?
But the Israeli representatives’ statement wasn’t even what brought me straight onto the keyboard, it was the statements of UK representative David Milliband that really shocked me into writing. He said:
“The truce between June and December 2008, in truth was less than that, rockets were fired into Israel, Palestinians died as a result of Israeli military operations, and endured months of deprivation.”
David Milliband’s statements, — not just the snippet above but his entire statement — for me, represent a fair and balanced approach by the UK to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which gives me more hope than I have had for a long time. Of course many will say it is only to be expected as part of PM Browns endeavour to be as far away from a US puppet as possible after the Blair fiasco, but for me David Milliband went a lot further than would have been necessary to distance the UK viewpoint from the US. After all the US statement parroted by Condoleezza Rice was the same statement they have made since the first bombs fell, Israel has the right to defend itself, the conflict is Hamas’ fault (they started it).
One thing that didn’t surprise me in Tonight’s news was that Israel had bombarded a UN school that was being used as a refuge for fleeing Palestinian civilians including children. Of course it was an accident, I mean a country with the sophisticated spy-planes and satellite guided bombs would have absolutely no way of knowing where a UN school was in a place the size of Gaza.
In reality the bombing of the UN school, just as they hit a UN facility during the last Lebanon conflict, and on the day when the UNSC is to meet, fulfils two aims, it says to the UNSC “we don’t care what you decide or resolute upon, we, like the US are a law onto ourselves, and also the “accidental” killing of innocent civilians, primarily children, in the hope of turning the Palestinians at large against Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
I was with my dad when I heard that Israel had begun a massive campaign of air-strikes, and I said to him “at some point in this conflict, Israel will hit a place where there is absolutely no chance that rockets or anything else had been fired from, killing Palestinian civilians and several Palestinian children in the hope of turning the Palestinians against Hamas,” and it happened tonight.
Please accept my apologies if the UN school was not the first blatant intentional killing of Palestinian civilians of the current conflict; as I said I haven’t been following the conflict closely.