No victory for Israel

In war, the perception of who is right and who is wrong differs markedly, depending on where you are viewing the carnage.

Hostility is countered with more hostility and many die until either one side pounds the other into submission or an acceptable compromise is reached and both sides can exit the conflict with a semblance of dignity intact.

As the civilian Palestinian death toll mounts in Gaza, no face-saving strategy is imminent, and the world can only watch in horror at harrowing images of innocent men, women and children killed during the bombardment by Israel.

Israel's right to bear arms and defend itself is not disputed. Since its establishment in 1948, the State of Israel has been in almost perpetual armed conflict with its Arab neighbours. By necessity, Israel has forged an efficient military and its Iron Dome missile defence system has rendered Hamas' constant rocket attacks on its cities during the past month largely ineffectual.

In response, Israel has struck back with massive firepower, forcing 100,000 Palestinian civilians to flee their homes to escape the bombardment. However, in the congested Gaza Strip it would seem there is nowhere safe to hide. And despite Israel's tactic of warning where it will strike next to allow civilians time to escape, many are still dying.

International concern is mounting at the number of civilians killed in Gaza, especially since the shelling of several schools in which at least several dozen people have been killed.

A fragile truce at the weekend allowed Palestinians to witness the ruins of what were their homes, and let medics recover a further 150 bodies from the rubble, bringing the Palestinian death toll to more than 1000, with 6000 wounded. Rights groups say about 80 per cent of the casualties have been civilians, including hundreds of children.

Such appalling statistics only serve the agenda of the militaristic, widely despised Hamas and harm the reputation of Israel, which in the face of extreme provocation is being asked by the international community to exercise enormous restraint.

In the court of world opinion, this is a fight Israel can't win.

The Marlborough Express