Posted by: adithoughts | January 18, 2009

my article on the situation in Gaza

This is the article I wrote for the student newspaper last week.

News and View: The Gaza Strip Conflict
By: Aditya Chhikara • Posted: January 14, 2009 • Category: Features

As it stands, Israel claims that it is trying to defend its citizens, while Hamas says that is fighting against Israeli control. What will be the immediate result of this gruesome and tragic affair?

I read an article saying that in news reporting, “attempts at fairness and balance in the Middle East are doomed.” I believe this to be true. Even if a reporter tries to be fair and balanced, news will undoubtedly seem biased because of the passion stoked by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That being said, I am going to try to present both sides of the story below, although I do not think I will succeed.

The latest round of fighting in Gaza has claimed over 800 Palestinian lives and wounded more than 3 000. According to UN estimates, about half of the dead were civilians and nearly half of these were women and children. About 13 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, 3 of whom were civilians.

From its perspective, Israel is fighting against an enemy that does not recognize its right to exist. Israel had no other immediate option available to stop the rockets fired at its citizens out of Gaza. In addition, elections are coming up in Israel and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is one of the contestants, is looking to change his image. He has been seen as soft and unable to deal effectively with Hamas. Furthermore, this war is an attempt to restore Israel’s capacity for deterrence after the war in Lebanon, which Israel is widely considered to have lost.

From Hamas’ perspective, it won free and fair elections in 2006, in which Palestinians gave it a clear mandate to govern. However, Israel and the international community refused to deal with Hamas and boycotted it. Severe restrictions were placed on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, where Israel controls the air, land and sea entries. Israel’s embargo has made life increasingly hard for the people of Gaza. Hamas will see that the ceasefire it had previously agreed to and observed bore no fruit. The embargo on Gaza was not lifted or eased, and Israel breached the ceasefire by killing 6 Palestinians, which Israel claimed were trying to attack it.

As it stands at the time of writing, Israel claims that it is trying to defend its citizens while Hamas says that is fighting against Israeli control. What will be the immediate result of this gruesome and tragic affair?

From the Palestinian perspective, the civilian casualties will undoubtedly cause further radicalization of the Palestinian population, which will be a big blow to the moderates. Hamas will no doubt gain in popularity because of the radicalization, and for taking a stand against Israeli aggression.

From the Israeli perspective, no one will doubt Ehud Barak’s capacity for taking tough action against the Palestinians and Ehud Barak might just win the elections in February on the back of the surge of patriotism, which such conflicts inevitably create. If Hamas is destroyed, Ehud Barak will undoubtedly claim that it has restored Israel’s deterrence after the loss of the Lebanon War of 2006. However, if Hamas survives and is able to maintain control of Gaza, the war might just be seen as a loss for Israel. In that case, members of the present Israeli government will be remembered for losing two wars.

A third and equally important consequence of the war will be its affect on international public opinion. The suffering caused to the Palestinians is far greater than that of the Israelis. People are hearing reports of emaciated children trapped in the fighting, of the lack of access to food, drinking water and medical supplies. This will not bode well for Israel. It has always projected itself as the victim, surrounded by enemies and fighting for its survival. This image will take a beating when the world sees such one-sided suffering in the present war. The last weekend was marked by pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian rallies in many of the cities in the world, but the pro-Palestinian rallies were much bigger than the pro-Israeli rallies.

Israel, like the US in Iraq, will have to realize the limitations of military power. Israel’s best hope for cordial relationships with its Palestinian neighbours is to restore order and dignity to the population of Gaza, call another election, and deal with whoever is in power.

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Responses

  1. thank you for making a serious attempt to show things in a balanced way even though i dont actually think you did

  2. Cheers.

  3. […] The busiest day of the year was April 26th with 110 views. The most popular post that day was my article on the situation in Gaza. […]


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