Monday, 29 December 2008

Crisis in Gaza

Like me, you may have been watching in horror at the escalating crisis in Gaza. The death toll is already around 300, with over 1,400 wounded. A Palestinian doctor in Gaza has told the BBC nearly all the casualties he had seen overnight and on Monday had been civilians.

It was only last month that I was standing on the border of the Gaza strip looking out at the Gaza city skyline while the sun shone down on the Mediterranean sea.

I can remember the moment we sat with Israeli's in a Jewish kibbutz in Sderot. As we arrived, our host told us that if we hear a siren with the words "COLOUR RED", we had about 40 seconds to rush to the bomb shelter. I later found out that it was nearer 15 seconds and the announcement is in Hebrew. Sderot has been one of the main targets of Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza.

Whilst we listened to their stories of community life, less than a mile from the Gaza border, we heard a loud rushing noise as an F16 fighter plane flew directly overhead. Our speaker stopped talking and the whole room fell silent. During our time at the kibbutz we heard several other jets flying overhead. Our Jewish friends told us that this activity from the Israeli Air Force was not normal. At the time we discussed whether these were intimidation tactics by the Israeli Defense Force towards the Gazans but in hindsight it seems that they may have been preparing for the recent attacks.

When asked whether they felt protected by their government, the Israelis said "No" and furthermore that the Israeli government needed holding to account by the US and international community.

The ongoing rocket attacks from Hamas have been used to justify the latest military campaign. The Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said that the aim of the strikes is to "stop rockets and missiles being launched on Israel". However it is already clear that the recent attacks on Gaza will not only strengthen the resolve of Hamas to destroy Israel it will serve to increase the bombardment of rockets into Israel. There has even been talk of Hamas resuming the campaign of suicide bombing.

Our Israeli friends are now undoubtedly less safe as a result of the recent Israeli military campaign. I only hope and pray that as Israel prepares the next stage of the attacks it doesn't seek to recapture the Gaza strip or indeed trigger a third Intifada.

Please sign the petition calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza or follow the other actions on Rachel's blog post.

1 comment:

Martha said...

It's great to hear celebrities demanding Britain take responsibility for a situation we have helped to create too. See for their statements.