Balance of power, blame falls on Israel
The Gaza Strip is 4 to 8 miles wide and 25 miles long, and 1.7 million people reside there. What comes into question first is not whether Gaza deserves the assault, but how Israel expects to respond to rocket fire with their artillery, and avoid heavy collateral damage at the same time. Among the newly deceased are a 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, which would be tragic enough if Ahmed Jabari, leader of Hamas’ military wing, was indeed involved in planning terrorist attacks at the time of his death. However, this is not the case. In fact, hours before his sudden assassination, he had received a draft for a permanent truce with Israel.
Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist known for negotiating the deal that released Gilad Shalit and Palestinian prisoners, maintains that senior Israeli officials knew that such a step toward peace had been taken, but still approved the assassination. He said, “I think that they have made a strategic mistake. ... This blood could have been spared.” Furthermore, a timeline by the Institute Middle East Understanding indicates that, in assassinating Jabari on Nov. 14, Israel was the first to violate the tentative truce that Palestinian factions had agreed to two days prior to the incident.
Israel even broke an unofficial ceasefire Nov. 8, when soldiers invaded Gaza and a 12-year-old boy was killed amid the gunfire. And now that a vicious fight is in effect, one cannot help but comment on Israel’s irresponsibility. The instigation of such a conflict means loss of life on both sides, and innocent Palestinian civilians, as well as Israeli citizens, are paying the toll for such a heinous gamble. When one takes into consideration that Jabari was in contact with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence to devise a truce, and there was no initial incitement of violence on the Palestinian side, one wonders whether Israel is really after peace.
On top of that, Gaza is so densely populated that it is nearly impossible to avoid civilian injury and death. It brings to mind Israel’s last ground invasion of Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, which took place less than four years ago, and resulted in 1,400 deaths, more than 300 of which were children. There is no context where that is acceptable. Palestinian armed groups retaliated, killing three Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli soldiers. It is lamentable that the innocent become statistics, but these numbers demonstrate where the balance of power lies — and consequently, where the burden of blame should go.
Sara Zayed is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.