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The Gaza massacre in perspective

Prof. Dr. Chandra Muzaffar has yet again written an excellent piece of article in his NST Saturday column with regard to the Gaza air strikes by the Israeli regime.
To understand the issues behind the Israeli onslaught better, Dr. Chandra has outlined at least five key points of the conflict, which according to him, the mainstream media has not highlighted.
One, even after the so-called Israeli "withdrawal" from Gaza in August 2005, the Israeli army has conducted numerous raids and air strikes in Gaza in the name of fighting "terrorism" which have killed hundreds of civilians including women and children. These assaults intensified after Hamas captured the Palestinian Legislative Council in a free and fair election in January 2006. When Hamas ousted its rival Fatah from Gaza in June 2007, Israel went all out to destroy Hamas through military and non-military means.

Two, in spite of Israeli attacks, Hamas, a few violations notwithstanding, observed its June 2008 truce with Israel. Not a single Israeli was killed by Hamas rocket fire during the six-month period of the truce.

The Hamas leadership even proposed a 10-year truce to Israel in April 2008. There was no response from Israel. It was because of continuous Israeli military strikes, the closure of border crossings and a suffocating blockade of Gaza, imposed by Israel, that Hamas was forced to end the truce on Dec 19.

Three, in juxtaposing Hamas rockets with the Israeli arsenal, the media seldom mentions the tremendous asymmetry in military power between the two sides. What are Hamas's homemade rockets compared with the wide range of sophisticated lethal weaponry at the command of the world's fourth most powerful army? The death toll from the present assault tells the whole story: 375 Palestinians to five Israelis as of Dec 30 after four days of air bombardment.

Four, to grasp the significance of this asymmetry one has to place it in the context of the Israeli blockade of Gaza that began soon after Hamas won the 2006 election. By punishing the people of Gaza for voting for Hamas through the imposition of a blockade that has increased poverty and destitution and denies life-saving drugs to the critically ill, Israel has made the victims of its cruel and callous siege even angrier and more desperate. The media has made no attempt to link Hamas's rocket attacks to the siege.

Five, neither has the media explained to the people that at the root of this longstanding conflict that goes back to the beginning of the 20th century is the occupation and annexation of Palestine and the oppression of the Palestinians. [Full article]

Let's hope President-elect Barack Hussein Obama will fulfill at least parts of the global expectation placed on him for achieving peace in the Middle East. Although I am less inclined to be optimistic at this stage, I'd certainly say the Arab-Israeli never ending conflict would be a litmus test for his seriousness in bringing about 'change' and giving 'hope' for the people of the world who put faith in him in the recent presidential election.

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