Israel's actions not reasonable

MATHEW GROCOTT - DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF
Last updated 12:00 04/08/2014
Gaza
Smoke rises after an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli border.

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OPINION: Israel's invasion of Gaza has entered its fourth week, with little sign of hostilities coming to an end.

The number of Palestinian dead has reached an estimated 1700, of which about 80 per cent are civilians, innocent people, including many women and children, caught in a war from which they have no means of escape or shelter.

Thanks to social media outlets such as Twitter, Gaza residents have been able to tell the world about what is happening to the Palestinians.

One such Twitter user is Farah Gazan, a 16-year-old witnessing the third invasion of Gaza in her lifetime.

On Friday she described "huge, random shelling from warships or tanks" and said her family were staying in one room and were unsure if they would be hit.

Another tweeter, a doctor, is describing daily the scenes from the hospital where he works.

On Friday he too reported shelling, saying Israel was ramping up its attacks ahead of a planned ceasefire that day.

Thanks to first-hand reports from people such as Belal and Farah, people on the other side of the world can fathom what is happening in Gaza.

So shocking are the reports, so one-sided the conflict, that more than 200 Manawatu residents marched through Palmerston North on Saturday in solidarity with Palestine.

The good that will do as an individual act of protest is infinitesimal but it adds more voices to the growing condemnation around the world.

That condemnation included a unanimous vote in Parliament decrying the shelling of a girls' school in the Jabaliya refugee camp on Wednesday.

Some 3000 people were taking refuge in the school and the attack killed 16 people and wounded dozens more.

The Israeli ambassador to New Zealand responded on Radio New Zealand, defending his country's actions and saying Hamas should also be criticised. Of course Hamas' actions - the firing of rockets into Israel - should also be condemned, but the confrontation is so one-sided at the moment that Israel should not be surprised at the global outcry.

Both sides need to lay down their arms.

Given the imbalance in power and weaponry between the two sides the onus is on Israel to step back first.

The invasion of Gaza has gone far beyond a counter-terrorism operation and the price being paid by the Palestinians is far too high.

It's time for peace.

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- Manawatu Standard

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