~ 18 January 2024 ~
Peace is a call to action. It’s intentional. You cannot bomb your way to peace. You cannot bomb people into liking you. It’s a choice – to live in peace with your neighbors, whether they are next door, the next country, or a territory within your country’s borders. It’s an irrevocable decision that rather than take up arms in protest or revenge, we work out our differences, our “conflicts”, through dialogue, working together for the common good. These are things we must do if we are to achieve a world of peace and security.
For more than a decade, warring parties around the world have taken to bombing their adversaries into submission. The people who suffer the most in these instances are the civilian populations. Time and again, this has been the case in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Sudan, and now Gaza. The central theme in these cases is that after there has been enough bombing, there will be peace. However, the reality is that after everyone is dead, there is only land.
Defend or Destroy?
In the debate over the war between Israel and Hamas, there is a conflict between the view that Israel has a right to defend itself and the limits to that defense. Israel argues that defense forces must destroy Hamas’s military capabilities to ensure that the terrorist group can never attack Israel again. And since Hamas embeds itself in civilian infrastructure, Israel has determined that it cannot defeat Hamas without killing thousands – possibly tens of thousands – of innocent civilians. But this reasoning is faulty.
Reducing Gaza to rubble and killing all of its citizens does not make Israel safer. It will only help to increase the recruitment for more violent extremism, further destabilizing the region, and ensuring that violence continues. You cannot bomb (or terrorize) your way to peace. Hamas is a problem, no doubt, just as Hezbollah is in Lebanon, and the Taliban is in Afghanistan, and so on. To hold all Palestinians accountable for Hamas’ actions is no different than holding all Afghans responsible for the Taliban’s (or Al Qaeda’s) actions.
Intelligence analysis indicates that the level of airstrikes in Gaza City is the same as those imposed on Mosul and Raqqa combined. It is an incredible number of strikes, especially in a small area. Intelligence sources indicate that approximately 45% of the 29,000 air-to-surface munitions dropped on Gaza City by Israeli forces have been “dumb bombs” – unguided munitions that pose a greater threat to civilians, especially in densely populated territories. Satellite imaging shows that craters in Gaza City are likely to be from a 2,000-pound bomb.
IDF spokesperson, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus recently reported that Israeli forces have killed as many as 7,000 Hamas terrorists. However, the total number of civilian casualties in Gaza has reached 24,102 civilian deaths – 78% of the dead are children and women. (Note: The civilian death toll yesterday at the time of the TGR article was 23,938. However, 164 more civilians were killed this morning bringing the count to 24,102.) This is not taking into account that at least 8,000 more Gazans are believed to be dead and buried under the rubble. There is an obvious disparity between the number of people targeted (Hamas terrorists) and the disproportionate number of people killed who are not supposed to be targeted (civilians). Israel’s tolerance for civilian harm compared to expected operational benefits (proportionality) is exceedingly different than what is acceptable by other standards.
It is a delusion to believe that Israel can bomb Gaza to death and that Israel is safer in the end. Right now, the eyes of the world are on what is happening in Gaza. It is the most surveilled place on earth. Nothing is happening there that is not being covered by every form of technology in existence. Every single atrocity is being recorded and remembered.
Internal Displacement and Humanitarian Catastrophe
Some 2.3 million Palestinian civilians are internally displaced in Gaza, cut off from access to humanitarian relief, with no electricity, no clean water, and no medical supplies. Hospitals are filled with the injured and homeless, but even hospitals are not safe from airstrikes or ground fighting. Ice cream trucks have been turned into morgues. TGR logistic chief, Chad Thornson said, “It is horrific. Everywhere there is some level of suffering.”
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening hour by hour. Water, a very basic human requirement, is minimal. The Biden administration said Israel would restore water to southern Gaza, but that has not happened to the fullest extent. It is important to understand that under normal circumstances most of the water in Gaza is not safe for human consumption. In most cases, people rely on bottled water, and that is very limited in times like these. For the few that have any supply, that supply is running out. But the lack of water is just one of the crises Gazans face.
But in the case of the Palestine Territory, at the heart of the matter is the issue of Palestinian independence and freedom. The majority of Palestinians, and most observers, support a two-state solution as a viable step to peace. This is the best way for Israel to ensure peace and security, not only for Israel but for the rest of the region. The situation between Israel and Palestine is not resolved by mass killing. It will only be resolved when the underlying political grievances are addressed. However, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has been firm in his position that Israel is only interested in a one-state solution, with Israel in the leadership role. Mr. Netanyahu’s policy has been and continues to be, that it wants all of the land within Israel’s borders, especially the Palestinian Territories. So where does that leave a solution for peace?
The indiscriminate and unaccountable bombing of Palestinian civilian communities creates greater resentment towards Israel, as well as the countries lending support to its mission. A better approach would be to focus specifically on peace, and less on military offense, and to work more closely with civil society.
It’s been 100 days since the start of the offense in Gaza, with no hint of a ceasefire on the horizon. I remember saying the same words, ‘You cannot bomb your way to peace”, more than a year ago when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, and as we near the two-year mark… there is no end in sight to that war either.
You cannot bomb your way to peace. You cannot bomb your way out of bad governance, or human rights and humanitarian law violations. Just because you want what is not yours to take; it does not give you the right to bomb your way to ‘more’. War is not the answer. We must keep pushing for diplomatic solutions and continue to call for a permanent ceasefire. Peace and diplomacy is the only way to peace.
With gratitude… Lara
Photo Credit: Damage in Gaza Strip, by Wafa (Q2915969) in contract with a local company (APAimages) is licensed under CC by SA 3.0.
#thinkingoutloud #larakajs #peace #Gaza #ceasefirenow