Both ISIS and the IDF warn people to leave their homes or be killed #ن
— Alintisar (@Alintisar) July 23, 2014
Daniel Levy writes: Israeli self-defense does not include the right to (again) kill hundreds of Gazan civilians, to bomb hospitals or even to warn people to evacuate buildings when there is nowhere for them to go. The Israeli government’s attempt to a priori blame Hamas for all losses and thereby absolve itself of responsibility for casualties cannot be accepted.
Take a step back from this latest escalation. Most Gazans are refugees, their roots lie in the war and expulsion of 1948. From 1967 they lived under direct Israeli occupation and under blockade ever since, almost for the past decade.
Israel is not offering Gazans “quiet for quiet.” When Hamas ceases to fire, when it is “quiet,” Israel returns to normality, but Gazans remain cut off from the world, denied the most basic daily freedoms we take for granted.
Step further back to the West Bank, where the Palestinian strategic alternative to Hamas is pursued. The Fatah movement of President Abbas recognizes Israel, pursues peaceful negotiations and security cooperation. That is met with entrenched Israeli control, ever-expanding settlements, and Israeli military incursions into Palestinian cities at will.
So what would you do under such circumstances? Perhaps start by not denying another people’s rights in perpetuity, including the right to self-determination.
George Bisharat notes: [S]elf-defense cannot be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting more than 400, searching 2,200 homes and other sites, and killing at least nine Palestinians. There is no evidence that the terrible murders of three Israeli youths that Israel claimed as justification for the crackdown were anything other than private criminal acts that do not trigger a nation’s right of self-defense (were an American citizen, or even a Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed by drug traffickers on our border with Mexico, that would not entitle us to bomb Mexico City).
Hamas and other groups began to intensify rocket fire only after Israel’s provocation. Prior to that, Hamas had proved itself a reliable partner for calm along the Gaza border, withholding rocket fire for nearly two years and largely curbing attacks by other groups.
Israel is also apparently violating the principle of distinction, that requires armies to attack only military targets. By attacking civilian officials and Hamas political figures in their homes, and striking hospitals, water and sewage lines, and other civilian infrastructure, Israel has abandoned distinction. Unsurprisingly, 75 percent of Palestinian victims have been civilians.
Ghada Ageel writes: [W]hile states have the right to defend themselves, so do people under occupation. Despite the Israeli claim that it no longer occupies Gaza, Israel effectively controls the strip – particularly the air and sea – and, in conjunction with Egypt, the borders, too.
When Israel demands that Palestinians flee their homes, is it not legitimate self-defense to say Israel did this once before and will pass through my neighborhood over my dead body?
Seventy percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees. We are in Gaza because Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, including my grandmother and grandfather and both my parents from Beit Daras.
With over 600 Palestinians killed in the current assault, most of them civilians, a far-reaching cease-fire is now needed.
Hamas can hold a cease-fire just as it did in November 2012. The real question is whether Israel will give up its brutal control of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, allowing people to move and export products to grow our economy, and live with a semblance of freedom from occupation after years of Israeli siege and subjugation.