Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Tragedy of Palestinian life

Israel should not and will not make any apologies for investing heavily in the Iron Dome defence system as well as bomb shelters to protect her citizens. That Hamas choose to keep its leaders safe in bunkers and bomb shelters, leaving its civilian population to look after the rockets kept in homes, schools and places of worship is a horrific war crime, one that leaves ordinary Palestinians fearful for their lives. But it makes you wonder, what exactly is Hamas hoping to achieve? Their genocidal intent is unquestionable and it seems to me that often when I read someone tell me that Hamas rockets don't kill, I sense a twinge of disappointment. Regardless of their obvious dreams to murder as many Israelis as possible, you have to feel that if they cared about Palestinian lives they would not fire rockets at a country they know will respond. It seems an obvious point, but one that is conveniently ignored whenever rockets are dismissed as (usually) ineffectual.

Whatever you think of Israel's response, you must admit that firing rockets into Israel is a ludicrously stupid thing to do - unless you are comfortable with placing every Gazan under the threat of one of the world's largest militaries. Indeed, that rockets have hit the supposedly holy should-be-our-capital Jerusalem as well as actually Palestinian cities in Hebron and Bethlehem, one is inclined to doubt Hamas has any commitment to the Palestinian cause and Palestinian life, rather they are willing to jeopardise both in order to score propaganda victories against Israel. When a Hamas rocket falls short, landing in Gaza, leaves UNRWA warehouses ablaze I think one is entitled to question Hamas' true motives. Palestinian lives are reduced to mere point scoring machines and when Israel does not kill enough, pictures from Syria that are never before seen in the western media are circulated to make a dire situation seem worse. Over 100 Palestinians, terrorists and civilians, have been killed since the launch of Operation Protective Edge. The only thing more tragic than this number is the fact that Hamas and pro-Palestinian activists on twitter do not deem this enough. Instead they must steal pictures of dead Palestinians from Syria that no one cared about because Assad, not Israel, was to blame and claim they too are amongst the Gazan dead.

No one truly cares about the Palestinians. Not Hamas and Fatah, the political entities that are supposed to represent them yet endanger their lives by firing indiscriminately at Israeli towns and cities and refusing them access to bomb shelters. Not Arab countries that surround them who either restrict their rights (Lebanon/Egypt/Jordan) or murder them (Syria). Not Western governments who are too busy falling over themselves to confirm that killing people is indeed a bad thing. Not the pro-Palestinian activists littered about on Twitter who value Palestinian life so highly that dead Palestinians outside Gaza are only worthy of mention when not enough die in Gaza for their liking. And certainly not the anti-Semites who point out that hundreds more Palestinians die than Israelis and this proves the disproportionate nature of the Israeli response, implying that if hundreds of Israelis died too, the Palestinian deaths would be less tragic.

I wish there was a way for Israel to stop rockets raining down on her people without responding with air strikes that will kill innocents. I wish equally, perhaps even more, for the Palestinian people to be represented by political entities and supported by activists that value their lives above delegitimising Israel. That they are not is the real tragedy of Palestinian life.