“Ceasefire: Hindrance to Peace”

‘All Palestinians are targets’.  Can anybody outside of the wildest fringes of the conspiracy theory movement imagine any Israeli leader saying such a thing? No. Yet the flipside is exactly what a Hamas spokesman declared this week. A couple of days into Israel’s surgical strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, a Hamas spokesman declared that ‘All Israelis are now targets.’

Not that this is anything new, of course. Hamas remains a political terrorist movement dedicated from its foundation to its every current action, to eradicating the Jewish state and the people within it.

For much of the world this conflict is a groundhog day in which they have little interest. To them, looking casually at the situation, three Israeli teenagers were murdered, the Israelis retaliated with airstrikes against Gaza and a larger confrontation now once again looms. This is how most press reports lead people to think. The routine landing of rockets inside Israel – fired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others – has become part of the wallpaper of our time. Nobody seems to notice it, and if they do, few seem to care.

There is no other explanation as to how it can be that the BBC and other news media only report Israeli strikes on Hamas targets as news.  But this is not the only part of the psychology of this reporting or of the wider international community’s views, which are revealing.

For instance there is the fact that there is clearly some frustration at an international level that Israeli civilian losses are so few. This a lingering part of the ‘proportionality’ argument. Tragic though any death is, the numbers of Gaza residents killed in targeted strikes is tiny by the ordinary standards of the region, nevermind the standards being put in place everywhere other than in Israel at the moment. Israel has spent years building bunkers in which its people can shelter during the routine rocket attacks. Gaza residents do not have bomb shelters because their ‘government’ builds shelters not for its citizens but for its weapons. Nevertheless, there seems a strange atmosphere in the international coverage, as though it is somehow outrageous that Israel should ‘cheat’ in this way, avoiding a wholly ‘level’ playing field against the terrorists.

But the other international response is more interesting and in the long run more dangerous. On Thursday the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined other world leaders in calling for a ceasefire. It is high time that this call was exposed for the actually war-mongering call that it in fact is.

Because in the endless exchanges between Israel and Hamas one thing should have become clear long ago. Ceasefires are part of the problem. Every time Israel attempts to prevent rocket-fire from Gaza the international community calls for a ceasefire. Before they know what Israel’s operational objectives are and before they have even bothered to find out which – if any – of these have been achieved. Perhaps this time will be different. But it seems unlikely. It looks like this will be the same as 2012, as 2008-09, as 2006 and so on. All of which brings to mind one particular thought that might help more than any other.

People who are interested in peace in the Middle East should stop continuously calling for a retention of the status quo. The status quo is the problem. If the international community is ever truly going to give peace a chance, they have first to give Israel a chance to win.

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