The international obligation to the Middle East
The Guardian uk
Recent events in Gaza make the need for an observation and protection force all the more urgent.
While the current siege over the Gaza Strip is being reported in every news broadcast on terrestrial television, it is difficult not to notice the difference in the stories portrayed from one channel to the next. While some faithfully reel off the Israeli government’s press releases, the Jeremy Paxmans of the world are asking deeper questions, such as the legality of this collective punishment of more than a million people and the disproportionate use of military force.
It seems long forgotten that, less than three weeks ago, the constant coverage of “Palestinian militant” activities took a temporary reverse turn after the carnage on the golden beaches of Gaza. Palestinians, for a change, were portrayed as the victims despite the fact that such brutal deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians have become a daily horror. It was only the presence of a television camera that made the world witness first hand the Israeli military machine at work. Since that day, 32 more Palestinians have been killed without the knowledge of most of us. Israeli deaths on the other hand – which are no less tragic – receive the attention of the world.
Following the Gaza beach deaths, despite the evidence from Al-Jazeera, which was catapulted across the globe, Israel took the usual steps: defending its army (Ehud Olmert confirmed that Israel had the “most moral army in the world”); investigating the events (Israeli investigator Meir Klifi concluded five days after the event that it could not have possibly been Israeli fire, and hinted that it was Palestinian munitions hidden in the sands that could be to blame); denying that any Israeli military activity took place at the time of the attack (the IDF says it fired six artillery shells between 4.32pm and 4.51pm, and the deaths occurred after this time); and generally sowing seeds of doubt about Israeli blame in the eyes of the world. Mark Garlasco, a Pentagon expert in effects of battle field weapons hired by the US based Human Rights Watch, saw the injuries first hand and concluded that only incoming artillery fire could result in such upper body injuries. Further to this, the timing of the deaths directly correlated with the IDF account of its shelling, despite IDF claims to the contrary.
Such contradictory messages have become an integral part of the war between Israelis and Palestinians. Thequestion is: how do we identify the truth and deal with this conflict with justice? Many question the morality of the IDF, which is after all an occupying army. Its investigations into Palestinian civilian deaths has never resulted in a direct conviction despite overwhelming evidence of crimes, and Israel has had many false statements exposed by the facts on the ground as in the case of the Gaza beach killings.
Despite the disproportionate sufferings and human right abuses of the Palestinians, objective reporting is lacking. Palestinians are often denied justice by the sophisticated public relations machine of the Israeli government which tells its story to the world; despite proof that they conceal vital facts, not only from the world, but from the Israeli people as well.
The result of this is a nation of people who do not know the extent of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of their “security”; with neighbours who are desperate in every way and vent that desperation through reciprocal acts of violence; although in every case these have had a lesser impact than that which they have suffered.
The history of this conflict shows that Israel, left to its own devices and expansionist ideologies, cannot offer peace; and Palestinian society has been divided and obliterated by the occupation and is increasingly becoming incapable of uniting behind a peace deal. Thus, peace is highly unlikely to be achieved from the inside, and thus perhaps it is time for it to be imposed by an international force from the outside. While international observers visit the occupied territories, they are largely civilian campaigners who are able to curb some of the aggression against Palestinians, but at a great personal risk to themselves. The stories of Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie are simply two that tell a tragic tale of life and brutal death under occupation.
The Palestinians have requested an international protection force for many years as a safeguard against the occupying forces. This has never been granted, despite the fact that it would result in security for both peoples. If an international force was present, we may not have had the tragedy on the Gaza beach nor the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. Furthermore, we would not rely on less than impartial news broadcasts for facts, and thus neither side would be disadvantaged. In this occupation, it is clear that the civilians on both sides are suffering the most, and thus it is time for the international community to intervene and provide that protection through an international force that will be empowered to intervene if necessary.
In the face of the persistent and endless cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, providing an international observation/intervention force is now a duty.
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The Guardian uk
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