So Palestine is in the news again.
Ever since the end of the second war and the creation of the Israeli state the Middle East has experienced difficulties. The creation of the state of Israel over part of what was previously the state of Palestine has made peace very unlikely. An attempt at cohabitation was made but in 1967 the Israelis pushed out its boundary in a display of defiance to the surrounding Arabic nations and since then there has been an incremental grabbing of Palestinian land until now when, apart from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Palestine has gone. The land under Palestinian control today is only 11% of Palestine’s original land.
The main stream media has been fixated in reporting this dispute as a battle between two sovereign nations where each is giving as good as it receives. The reality is that what is left of the Palestinian state is on its last legs and Israel is systematically undermining and destroying Palestinian hopes for their sovereignty.
John Pilger has documented and recorded the struggle for decades. His 1977 documentary Palestine is still the issue contains the following passage:
If we are to speak of the great injustice here, nothing has changed … what has changed is that the Palestinians have fought back. Stateless and humiliated for so long, they have risen up against Israel’s huge military regime, although they themselves have no army, no tanks, no American planes and gunships or missiles. Some have committed desperate acts of terror, like suicide bombing. But, for Palestinians, the overriding, routine terror, day after day, has been the ruthless control of almost every aspect of their lives, as if they live in an open prison. This film is about the Palestinians and a group of courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle, to be free.
That documentary was released 37 years ago. Recent events make it clear that his comments are relevant now as they were then.
The body count is brutally one sided. On the Palestinian side more than 160 Palestinians had been killed including many children. More than 1,000 injuries had been caused. To date not one Israeli has lost their life because of these latest battles.
The technology being applied shows the stark difference in resources. One one side are tanks, missiles, air fighters and drones. On the other side are home made rockets that are crude and ineffective.
The comparative death rates show how one sided the battle has become. In 2002 the Palestinian Israeli death ratio was 1:2.5, in 2007 1:25, and a couple of years ago it was 1:68. Can anyone see a trend?
Clearly the Israeli authorities want to destroy the Hamas organisation. But it should reflect that people living in terror and fighting for their lives will almost inevitably respond with violence.
Customary International law requires the response of a state nominally acting in self defence to be proportionate to the threat. Israel is clearly in breach of this. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that his government would not be deflected by criticism from abroad and he vowed that there would be more air strikes. He has also refused to rule out a ground offensive.
National’s response to the crisis is unknown. I guess that Murray McCully has other things to worry about …