After attacks that killed close to 1,900 Palestinians, including 469 children, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the audacity to say that Hamas called for it. Talking to mediapersons yesterday, an arrogant Netanyahu defended his government’s actions by saying that the militant organisation had used civilians as human shields in Gaza, and hence the destruction.
Justifying the military offensive that flattened swathes of Gaza, Netanyahu declared that Israel’s response to Hamas was proportionate. The Israeli leader’s remarks sound not only outrageous, but also ludicrous. Few would disagree that attacks on Gaza in the latest confrontation were aimed at inflicting maximum damage to life and property in the enclave.
After attacks on three UN-run schools sheltering refugees killed scores of Palestinians, Netanyahu’s government was at the receiving end of criticism by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. This madness must stop, Ban said, as Gazans counted their dead amid flattened homes and shattered dreams.
The galling attacks on schools housing hundreds of families underscored Israel’s proclivity for atrocities on Palestinians. Children have been killed, maimed or left without limbs. As if this were not enough, those lucky enough to survive are suffering hunger and malnutrition. Lack of food has multiplied in Gaza as Palestinians struggle to get over the shock of losing their loved ones or seeing their relatives seriously injured.
The United Nations has chided Israel for the brutality. Even Israel’s closest and most-trusted ally, the United States, found it hard not to rap Tel Aviv on the knuckles for the attack on a UN-run school. Addressing the 193-member UN General Assembly yesterday, Ban was scathing in his assessment of the situation in Gaza after days of shelling by Israel.
“We must spare no effort to turn the current calm into a durable ceasefire that addresses the underlying issues of the conflict. This ceasefire has come at a price that is almost too much to bear, Ban told an informal meeting of the world body.
The death and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world, Ban added. In a reprimanding tone, he said the UN will rebuild Gaza, but for the last time.
Will these words have any effect on Netanyahu’s attitude toward Gaza? The Israeli leader’s hubris will not let him accept responsibility for the attacks on Gaza.
Most destruction in Gaza has been wrought by artillery fire, which is not considered a precision strike. Artillery attacks are generally aimed at targets where the chances of civilian casualties are less and accuracy is not completely necessary. Moreover, Israel was continuously informed of the location of civilians on a daily basis. However, the high death toll in Gaza proved that the Israeli military was insensitive to civilian casualties•