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Hamas and Israel must stick to new treaty to protect their citizens


The world breathed a huge sigh of relief when the guns of war in the five weeks Israeli-Hamas conflict finally fell silent and a truce designed to forge permanent peace between the two antagonists was reached.

I, like millions of others around the globe who want to see peace prevail in the decades old feud are hoping that the combatants would be cognizant of the huge suffering inflicted on their innocent civilians and adhere to the terms of the treaty.

Both parties want their demands to be met by the other; Israel wants security guarantees from Hamas; it wants the militant group to demilitarize and give up all its weapons and stop shooting missiles into Israel. Hamas on its part, demands that the economic blockade imposed on the Gaza strip by Israel should be lifted.

This recent conflict is the second in five years, but what triggered the latest round of hostilities? Of course, Hamas constant firing of rockets into Israel may have pushed Israel over the brink, but the abduction and eventually murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian hardliners in June in the West Bankwas the catalyst though Israel won’t readily admit it.

As Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces slugged it out on the streets of Gaza it was Palestinian civilians who paid the price. The number of the dead and wounded was staggering; 2000 Palestinians including 460 childrenwere reportedly killed and 10,000 others reported wounded. 68 Israelis were reportedly killed, most of them IDF soldiers.

Gaza’s infrastructure wasn’t spared from the IDF’s onslaught; whole neighborhoods have been destroyed and schools, hospitals, roads and the city’s only power generating plant have been demolished. 425,000 Gazans are displaced.

Israel has made it abundantly clear to its adversaries that if you spill Israeli blood you will pay a heavy price. It will unleash the world’s fourth most powerful army on you.Your cities and neighborhoods will be decimated. Israel will always protect its citizens at all cost.

Hamas has always been a thorn in the side of Israel and for a variety of reasons. Its militancy and ideology are repugnant to the government and people of Israel.  It does not recognize the existence of the Jewish state and has vowed to destroy it and push it into the sea. 

So, eight years ago when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, the world’s reaction was one of stunned surprise. Palestinians had roundly rejected Fattah, the hard-boiled corrupt political outfit of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

But this exercise of their democratic rights did not sit well with the power brokers in the international community. How could a terrorist group be given the reins of power? Hamas was immediately ostracized.

Predictably,Israel, with the tacit support of the United States decided to punish Hamas by imposing an air and sea economic blockade on the Gaza strip. Economic activity on the strip has been brought to a halt as the people of Gaza are prevented from traveling and importing goods and services. The only things allowed are limited supplies of concrete and basic construction material as well as medical supplies.

And there are other factors making life miserable for Gazans; there are 1.8 million people in Gaza and half of them live in poverty, half receive humanitarian support from the United Nations and one out of three residents is unemployed.

No one likes to be prevented from engaging in economic activity that will promote wealth and prosperity. I want readers to see Hamas reaction in this context. The blockade has practically brought Gaza to its knees and largely prevented it from thriving.

The IDF and Hamas fighters may have temporarily put away their deadly weapons, but it is important to stress that adhering to the terms of their truce should be their utmost priority for the simple reason that each time they slug it out, it is innocent civilians who bear the brunt.



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