Saturday, June 5, 2010

Israel and the tragedy in Gaza: Why humanitarian aid must be allowed

Israel enjoys a high degree of goodwill in many parts of the world and even professional critics of Israel have found much to admire in the manner in which the State of Israel conducts its no nonsense foreign policy. The world opinion be damned. As long of USA is not overly critical Israel does not seem to care. The latest outrage committed on the high sea seems to have taken even the Obama Administration by surprise and Hilary Clinton has joined the rest of the world in condemning Islaer's action in using military might against a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. The world has come to recognise that the economic blockade imposed by Israel is causing untold misery to the people of the Palestenian territory. If by following this policy Israel hopes to undermine the support base of the HAMAS, the policy is clearly not succeeding. In fact the blockade has only increased the level of public acceptability of HAMAS. The economic blokade has failed in its expressly stated purpose but has succeeded in imposing collective punishment on the people of Gaza for electing the Hamas.
Israel has used unacceptable level of force in dealing with the flotilla carrying, after all humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The boat did not carry any military equipment or even machinery. It only carried tents, blankets, medicines, school text books, toys, food and relief material. Israel could have allowed the passage of the aid flotilla instead of brutally attacking and causing the death of 10 aid workers. Video footage shows the Israeli paratroopers rappelling on to the deck of the vessels and opening fire. Israel's claim that they were attracted first carries no conviction as the aid flotilla was on international waters when the incident happened. I do agree that Israel has a very difficult security environment and also recluctantly have to concede that the security wall, often called apartheid wall has given security to the civilians as there have been far fewer suicide bombings now than before. By saying this we should not be encouraging Israel with its hard statecraft, though it is enviably successful.
The War launched against the residents of Gaza in 2008-2009 resulted, for the first time in the 65 year history of Israel in a with drawl without achieving any major strategic objective. The rockets attacks have stopped but for how long remains open to question. The degradation of the Hamas and its military capability has clearly not been achieved. Under these circumstances Israel could have been more circumspect.
There is yet another issue causing international disquiet. This is to do with Israel's nuclear programme. The Barack Obama administration is obsessed over Iran's nuclear material even though Iran has complied will all its obligations under the NPT to which Iran is a signatory. The nuclear material exchange agreement signed with Turkey and other countries effectively puts Iran's spent fuel under international scrutiny. Israel on the other hand in not a signatory to the NPT and has been carrying out a covert nuclear arms program for the past 3 to 4 decades in a facility in the NEGEV desert.The revelations of Mordechai Vanunu the Israeli expert has proved to the whole world the existence of the nuclear program. US experts believe that Israel possesses around 100 warheads just a screw driver away from deployment. Under these circumstances peace in the Middle East will look a dismal prospect.
Israel must respond to the consistent US call for a return to the Road Map and the process agreed with the quartet.

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