Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Israeli offensive in Gaza

Israel has been relentlessly pounding targets in Gaza   for well over two weeks now. The assault has by some accounts claimed close to 900 lives and injured thousands. There have been massive protests throughout the Arab world and parts of Europe and US. The doves of this world  are urging an immediate ceasefire but pleas to ceasefire have fallen on deaf  ears. The media has termed the Israeli response "disproportionate".

I have always been amazed by the media's ability to coin jargons. eg. Monkey gate to describe the Andrew Symonds - Harbhajan flare up , slap gate ( Sreeshant-Harbhajan slap affair) and the horrible "Enough is Enough" drama that badly backfired on Barkha Dutt and NDTV. Now, it is "disproportionate" response.

I wonder what kind of response are the critics of Israel advocating. If Hamas fires 3 rockets into Israel, should Israel count the number of rockets falling into its territory and fire rockets in multiples of 3 back into Gaza?  What proportion are these people talking about? This is a war.  Israel is surrounded by neighbours who have vowed to wipe it from the face of the earth.  Agreed, Israel is occupying land that is claimed by Palestinians, but does this give Hamas the license to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israeli territory?

Israel is no India. Its Prime Minister and Defence Minister wont stop with shedding crocodile tears . They won't say that acts of aggression against the state will not be tolerated, they show their zero tolerance through actions. Surrounded by hostile neighbours with nuclear capabilities, but for a mighty army, Israel would have ceased to exist. Imagine India and Israel swapping positions on the world map and Israel's neighbours treating India the way they now treat Israel. How long do you reckon would India have survived ?

Israel, no doubt is hyper aggressive. But you cannot expect every country to deal with an assault on its citizens the way India does. It is better to earn international wrath and protect the citizens than to get drenched in all round praise for remarkable restraint while the nation bleeds to death.

 The circumstances may be different. But the Israeli leadership doesn't hesitate to declare war even if one citizen is killed in a rocket attack. The government there cares for its citizens. Every life matters. That is a man of a nation. I wish the Indian political leadership too draws a lesson from the Israelis and understand that protecting the life of citizens is more important than earning the goodwill of western powers.

Israel's detractors may point out the massive civilian causalities to denounce Israel. They must first answer the following questions:

How did the civilians die - Israeli air strikes

Why did Israel strike-to stop  Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. 

(The questions can continue.. Why did Hamas fire rockets etc etc. The history of this issue is reserved for  a later post)

So, if Hamas hadn't fired the rockets, Israel wouldn't have struck. As someone who grew up watching loads of Indian movies, the  cliched   instigator- of a crime deserves a harsher punishment than the perpetrator) principle holds good here too. I see nothing wrong in the US and the Israeli contention that Hamas is responsible for the current flare up. Also, as one reader pointed out in The Hindu,  there weren't many Israeli civilian casualities in Hamas's rocket attacks not because Hamas respected civilian lives, but because it is militarily incapable of doing so. It is high time we all understood this and realized that Hamas is a terrorist organization.  The fact that it won elections does not make it a lesser evil. There is a difference between a democratically elected government engaging in military combat and a dreaded terrorist organization winning an election.

Israel's response is harsh. But, given its geographic vulnerability, its reaction is understandable.

1 comment:

Dirt Digger said...

Israel is a battleground for the 2 sects of Islam. Beyond the talk of humanitarianism there is the larger scope of how Iran supports Hezbollah the Shiite faction and the remaining groups covertly.
Both groups have similar but different motives in seeing Israel humbled.
Do check out this article for details on this angle.