Monday, February 23, 2009

An Eye for an Eye: Is It Really Worth It?

Human rights groups have been investigating the Gaza attacks for violations of international law. There is no doubt that the Hamas has intentionally fired its Qassam rockets at civilian areas. However, Israel regularly asserts its stand of 'targeted attacks' on Hamas areas. What I fail to understand is that how can anybody claim to know exactly where the Hamas is hiding and isolate them through the use of 'shrapnel bombs'? Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. How 'sophisticated' or should I say 'accurate' is the Israel weaponry?

According to Amnesty, studies reveal the Israeli forces used 'unfair' weapons. By 'unfair', they refer to weapons that cause harm to civilian population as well. White Phosphorus (WP) bombs, tank shells, anti-tank Hellfire missiles (popularly known as 'fire-and-forget' missiles, fired from unmanned aircrafts) and shrapnel bombs were used to target 'Hamas supporters'.

One does not really need to explain what shrapnel bombs are all about...but just in case you think the 'pipe bomb' is a home-made explosive used by small time terrorists/criminals...you are mistaken. These insidious devices have been part of military warfare since the Chinese created gunpowder. In the Gaza conflict, Israel used U.S.-supplied munitions to drop bombs that exploded in air blanketing an area with sharp-edged metal objects. White phosphorus, on the other hand, is supposed to play the part of a 'white blanket.' The thick white smoke is supposed to cloud enemy fire and obfuscate infantry movements. However, its secondary characteristics seem to be more preferred. Used from the days of the Vietnam war (or should I say, Police Action?) the WP bomb is capable of burning and smoking till the end, poisonous and can cause second/third degree burns. Apart from the burns, the body may absorb Phosphorus leading to organ damage or failure.

Most of the victims have been civilians including working men, women and children. According to Amnesty International the ammunition is U.S. made. This is because of a "10-year agreement to 2017, the USA is due to provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel, a 25% increase compared to the period preceding the Bush administration."
Effectively — "paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money."
The Hamas is reportedly to have used or assembled ammunition components made abroad and within Israeli areas.

I have been sporadically reading about the Israel-Palestine conflict...I own a 'journalistic comic' called Palestine by Joe Sacco — that book opened my eyes to see a side of armed conflict that is so influenced and dominated by "popular" Western media. I do not know the answer to this conflict. I do not know who is right and who is wrong...I don't think many scholars can claim to do so either...
But I do know that if there is one way to resolve this conflict, it will have to be through adjustment, lots of it. Everyone wants their kids to see a better tomorrow but we all know that the compromise will alienate a whole bunch of people who will continue to be disgruntled for the rest of their lives and fill future generations with the same sense of suspicion and hatred. After all, the compromise will not bring justice to the ones who lost their loved ones in the blink of an eye.

What is amazing is the uncanny ability for a conflict-torn area to procure weapons to carry out large-scale destruction under the pretext of protecting its own land. (If Africa is considered for a moment, you only need to watch Lord of War to get a basic idea.) How effective is a "neutral" organisation like the U.N. in ensuring that neither side is able to source weapons? At the end of the day does it always depend on the veto power? And what are the vested interests of all the nations that covertly support and fund the conflict?

2 comments:

Helena said...

I think what happened was almost a genocide. Horrible and unfair. I felt so sorry for especially the children.

Aristarkhos said...

Yea. Directly or indirectly...suddenly realized they suffer either way...

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