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No winners in bloody Gaza conflict

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Taber Times

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s open support of Israel and full-out condemnation of recent missile attacks by the militant wing of the Palestinian terror group Hamas has come at a time when other western nations are urging an end to violence in the area.

“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel,” a recent statement from the PMO stated. “We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.”

Apparently this support means “by any means necessary”, as, at the time, there had been more than 300 Palestinian deaths and a laughably small number os Israeli casualties. The number of Palestinians killed in recent fighting has since climbed past 500, and is expected to continue to climb while Israel roots out their enemies. To be sure, Canada’s no-questions-asked support of Israel, as portrayed by Prime Minister Harper, puts us firmly out of lock and step with the rest of the world.

Even the United States, Israel’s biggest supporter militarily, has been put off by the continued violence against civilians in this latest conflict.

Israel ignores calls for mercy on behalf of the Palestinian people, and while other countries are awkwardly looking down at their feet as civilian deaths pile up, Canada appears to be openly cheering Israel on.

Beating the Palestinian people into submission will never work. Israel will have to destroy Palestine before they ever see peace through violence.

And for the people of Palestine, victims of both their own ruling party and lack of action from the rest of the world, there seems to be only one end in site. Their destruction by Israel is all but assured.

Israelis are  spending their summer at the beach while Palestinian deaths continue to pile up. Here’s a little perspective on terror attacks in Israel: in 2012, 263 people died in car accidents in Israel.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you would need to add up all the Israeli deaths from terror attacks for the past 10 years to get close to that number, including three straight years of single-digit deaths. How far back do you have to go to match that number with Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israelis?

Less than a week.

Hamas has long viewed civilians as targets in their war against Israel. On the other hand, Israel has never openly targeted civilians, but dropping bombs and firing missiles into heavily populated areas has resulted in scores of civilian deaths. Time and again the United Nations has condemned Israel for their heavy-handed strategies in dealing with the Palestinian issue, and time and again Western democracies have defended what they see as Israel’s right to defend itself from terror attacks.

During the Palestine War in 1948, more than 720,000 Palestinians living in the area that was to become Israel were forced from their homes. Of those 720,000, there are estimated to be only 50,000 still alive today. Their direct patrilineal descendants are estimated to be more than 5 million, however, and are also considered refugees. It amounts to a staggering number of displaced people.

Economically, the blockade of Gaza by Israeli naval forces has had a large part in the 40 per cent unemployment rate in the area. Additionally, 80 per cent of Palestinians in that area subsist on less than $2 per day, according to Oxfam. Israel maintains the blockades are necessary for keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists; the United Nations has called the blockades a form of collective punishment on the people of Palestine.

The costs associated with this long-standing conflict are nearly unimaginable. India-based thinktank Strategic Foresight Group has calculated the opportunity cost of the conflict between 1991-2010 to be around $12 trillion. In terms of humanity, some 92,000 people have lost their lives. Managing violence is no way to attain peace. And supporting one side of this conflict over the other is no way to ever find middle ground and end the violence. As long as Hamas continues this war against Israeli oppression, Israel will continue to exert its overwhelming military might on what remains of Palestine in a big, ugly circle.

The Prime Minister’s unshakable stance as an ally of Israel now puts Canada in the ugly position of parroting the “Israel has the right to defend itself” line no matter how many Palestinians are killed. The situation has become far too mired to be picking sides. Both sides have committed atrocities, and neither side is worthy of unconditional support. Israel and Palestine have a lot to answer for, if the smoke ever clears long enough for both sides to start talking.

Surely the Prime Minister realizes that no talking will ever take place if there’s nobody left to talk to.

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