This week’s column was supposed to be a celebration of my 34th anniversary writing for the Orléans Star and my seventh anniver-sary since buying the paper, but instead I feel compelled to write about what’s going on in Israel and Gaza. And what better time to write about war and strife than in the days leading up to Remembrance Day?
First, I want to make it clear that I unequi-vocally support the existence of the state of Israel. I also condemn in the strongest manner possible the actions of Hamas and their unprovoked attack on Israel on Oct. 7 during which more than 1,800 innocent Israelis were killed and 200 hostages were taken. It was a despicable act and Israel had every right to retaliate against Hamas, its fighters and its leadership.
Unfortunately, they have done so in the worst, most indiscriminate way possible with
an endless barrage of airstrikes on Gaza and its civilian population, half of whom are children under the age of 18.
Although exact numbers are impossible to determine, it is believed that by the end of October, more than 8,000 Palestinian civilians had been killed, including over 3,000 children.
On Nov. 1, the Israeli air force launched a planned air strike on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza with the intention of killing a Hamas leader they suspected was hiding in a tunnel complex under the camp. They believe they got their man, but they also managed to kill more than 100 men, women and children in the camp. To the Israeli leadership, they were little more than collateral damage.To their wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers they were family mem-bers who were deeply loved.
By now some of you may be questioning why a columnist in a community newspaper is writing about a sectarian war half a world away? The answer is simple. As someone once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
In this case I could no longer sit idly by and see report after report about the carnage that is being inflicted on the civilians living in Gaza, and especially the children, without using my platform to say something.
At the time I am writing this column, the international community was already trying to convince the Israeli government – and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular – to enact a temporary ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to get through to the civilians trapped in Gaza. Up until I wrote this, Netanyahu totally ignored their pleas. Hopefully, by the time this is published, he will have had a change of heart. If not, who knows how many more Palestinian children will have died from the Israeli airstrikes?
I am honestly at a loss to explain the difference between what Hamas did and what Israel is doing in retaliation, except for the fact that the Hamas attack was entirely premeditated while Israel’s actions are in response to the Hamas raid in which more than 1,800 men, women and children were murdered. But no matter the provocation, it does not justify killing more than 3,000 children who have nothing to do with Hamas or the initial attack.
In my own personal opinion, I believe the use of massive force against Gaza and its population is an attempt by Netanyahu to cover up his failure to protect Israel’s southern border with Gaza.
According to reports, large numbers of Israel Defence Force (IDF) members were moved from southern Israel to the West Bank during the past number of months to protect Jewish settlements and quell escalating demonstrations there, which left the border area with Gaza vulnerable. A lack of meaningful intelligence meant that the IDF was totally unaware of Hamas’ plans. The result was the bloodiest day in Israel’s history.
The Israeli government’s response has been to try and make Gaza completely unin-habitable, without any regard for how many Palestinian lives are lost in the process. The only thing they are doing in trying to eradicate Hamas is to create Hamas 2.0. It may seem effective in making Israel safer in the short term, but in the long term it will have the completely opposite effect.
What is needed is an immediate ceasefire followed by multilateral negotiations to find a way to oversee Gaza. Ultimately, a two-state solution needs to be found. What has transpired over the past three weeks will either accelerate that process, or set it back years, if not decades.
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