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Time to break from Gaza reruns


Gaza invasion is 'Likely', The Age

The Palestinians in Gaza are unable to seek refuge. Unlike international visitors they have no route of escape. They must hide, run, survive the barrage of attacks from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The reason for their predicament is simple: they are Palestinians. It is a status that they cannot escape, a label they are burdened to carry through no fault of their own, but which nevertheless threatens their lives.

The latest round of attacks on Gaza is not an isolated incident or bout of violence. It is part of a larger ongoing trend that has persisted for over 60 years. Thus it will come to an end soon, and the Palestinians (of Gaza) will begin the process of rebuilding their lives. Like the violence, it is a process to which they have unfortunately grown unaccustomed.

This is not all that Palestinians have grown accustomed to. For those living in the West Bank there are also the regular interruptions to water, electricity and telecommunication services. There's the incursions of the IDF into Palestinian cities, cities which are notionally under the full authority of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Then there are the travel restrictions placed upon Palestinians. As noted above, from Gaza, there is no leaving (unless the need for emergency health care arises). From the West Bank, only those in possession of the requisite Jerusalem residency ID card or a special permit are allowed to leave. The official reason for these impositions upon the lives of the Palestinians is 'national security'. 

It is a rationale that has been repeatedly invoked by Israel during the latest conflict. While security concerns have their place, and national security provides (but one) raison d'être for the existence of the state, it has its limits. The mass arrests that have occurred (totalling more than 1000) and deaths in Gaza are but the most recent examples of how Israel has crossed the line of actions permitted under the pretence of national security. 

Such actions cannot be justified on these grounds indefinitely. It seems clear that the real goal is not national security but to weaken the PA and the morale of Palestinian people in preparation for the next round of peace talks that will inevitably take place. Weakened, the PA will have little choice but to accept what it is offered. 

Israel may obtain what it seeks, a weakened negotiating partner. This will not be an entirely new development. The PA has been battling a crisis of legitimacy vis-à-vis the Palestinian people for some time. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the PA simply kowtows to the demands of the international community, seeking to appease the demands of donors rather than the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.

As long as Israel invokes national security for its actions, and the international community concurs with its judgements, the PA will continue to be weakened both at home and abroad. But this eventuality should not be welcomed either in Israel or abroad. It may actually undermine genuine efforts to resolve the conflict.

With the PA unable to act, hamstrung by the competing demands placed upon it both locally and abroad, and the international community pacified by Israel's invocation of national security, the Palestinians have been left abandoned. This too is something to which Palestinians have grown accustomed. It is just more of the same. 

What is needed is a circuit breaker, something that will change the dynamics of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. This could take the form of a new approach by Israel that sees them abandon the national security rationale and the associated actions; an approach that recognises the great majority of Palestinians, their national aspirations and desire for peace. To act otherwise may just lead to more of the same.

Raff PiccoloRaff Piccolo is an Australian living in Ramallah, Palestine, and working in Beit Hanina (East Jerusalem).

Topic tags: Raff Piccolo, Israel, Gaza, Palestinians



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Existing comments

Can we come together as one people of one planet and one with God? War is not working. Only Love & Respect can repair this. Nobody deserves more food to eat, more water to drink, or more air to breath than your brother or sister. We are all children of God. Created equal. Man is creating the illusion of artificial division. God Bless...Amen...

Michael Piacentini | 18 July 2014  

No mention of Hamas starting the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. I would have thought if Palestinians want peace, then this must include Hamas, otherwise it will never happen. Somewhere I read that Hamas is using their civilian deaths for PR i.e. look at what Israel is doing and Israel's aim is to stop Hamas rockets i.e. dropping leaflets to warn civilians and aiming for known Hamas leaders. For a balanced perspective I suggest reading: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/hamas-not-winning-war-of-public-opinion/story-e6frg6zo-1226988816632

Jane | 18 July 2014  

can you really write about this situation without mentioning Hamas?

Joe Woodward | 18 July 2014  

Nobody seems to mention that most of the strife comes from misleading traditions. The 'They did this to us, so we are just paying them back' makes no mention of self-blame although there is plenty of blame to go around. The greatest of the misleading Tradition is - 1. Everyone, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, et al., think they alone are beloved of God and 'others' are either in error or perverse. If we could all only realise that God is calling Everyone to find their own personal path up God's 'Mountain', we could all find peace, harmony, and progress.

Robert Liddy | 18 July 2014  

What is needed is for Hamas to stop continuously attacking Israel. Hamas use its own citizens as human shields. Raff, remember Golda Meir "We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us". Raff, your article has only one side of the story, how about the other side?

Ron Cini | 18 July 2014  

It is good to see a factual article from an Australian who is actually living in Palestine. It goes some way to explain why Palestinians feel the need to fire rockets into Israel in retaliation for the way they are treated by the Israeli occupiers. Israel does not want peace. It wants an excuse to build more illegal settlements and dispossess more of the and dispossess more of the Palestinian population.

Jamila Hussain | 18 July 2014  

So, of course, Israel should say "More rockets, please, after all our air-raid sirens are there because we like the tune, not for national security. And though your charter calls for the destruction of our country, naturally, this has nothing to do with our national security."

Beatrice | 18 July 2014  

Land stolen, homes stolen, homes demolished, olive groves ripped up and chopped down, families turfed out of their homes in the middle of the night while soldiers ransack them, people killed and injured, beaten up, in their thousands, delayed, if not actually barred, from getting to work, hospital, worship, family visits, the list could go on. If it were happening to me I honestly don't know if I'd slash my wrists or fire a rocket. Israelis don't have to make that decision either. But Palestinians do. Every single day of their lives. And when you're in a state of despair, all hope lost, sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. If we want balance we have to hear and listen to Palestinian voices. But we don't. The Western press is dominated by pro-Israel reporting. __ The treachery of Zionists, Israel and the US is clearly spelled out in “Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents” by Charles D. Smith, Bedford/St Martin's,8th ed. 2013. An article in The Australian simply doesn't cut it.

Margaret Callinan | 19 July 2014  

I believe there are many Jewish Israeli citizens, including many IDF veterans, who are against their government's current policies re increasing the settlements in the West Bank so that the Palestinians will not be able to have a viable state. Many of these are Holocaust survivors, their descendants or close relatives. These Jewish Israelis may not be "religious". In fact, it is often the "religious" Ultra-Orthodox settlers - who, strangely, often speak with an American accent - who can quote chapter and verse of the Bible (in their interpretation) to "justify" their settlements and the gross inequity with which the Palestinians are treated. Sadly, Robert Liddy, what the Middle East needs now is not more religion, but less and more practicality. The nutters: Ultra-Orthodox Jews; extreme Sunnis (Hamas); extreme Shia (Hezbollah) and Messianic Christians (with a strong base in the USA) drown out good, decent people of all belief and none. The Pope (a Catholic); the Archbishop of Canterbury (an Anglican) and the Dalai Lama (a Buddhist) don't have much traction with the belligerents who are mainly radicalised Jews and Muslims. Meanwhile, decent, ordinary people in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza all suffer.

Edward Fido | 19 July 2014  

Maybe Israel could take it's eye away from the gas off the Gaza coast. Abbott should censor his new 'best' friend Israel .

Jude Silber | 20 July 2014  

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