Ahad, 3 Ogos 2014

Charles Santiago

Charles Santiago

Palestinian Massacre: Looking at Gaza and Beyond

Posted: 03 Aug 2014 08:48 PM PDT

Pic Courtesy of Malaysiakini.com

Pic Courtesy of Malaysiakini.com
















It has been three weeks since the massacre started.

Close to two thousand Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing Gaza conflict, 80% of them civilians. Most of them were women and children. Some 9,000 have been injured and almost half a million Palestinians have been displaced.

Israel continues to target civilians. It has shelled one UN-run school, shelters and homes.

There are long, tedious debates as to who started the onslaught, who killed the Israeli teenagers, who fired the first rocket and equally many questions.

Israel blames Hamas for violating a 2012 ceasefire agreement, kidnapping and killing three Israeli teenagers. Hamas points the finger at Israel for capturing 50 Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank, some of whom were earlier released in a prisoner swap deal.

US President Barack Obama has, once again, shamelessly come to the aid of Israel, saying it has the right to defend itself. While governments like Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina have vehemently condemned Israel, others are dithering, especially since it involves Hamas.

I am no fan of Hamas. But neither can we conveniently shift the blame on to them.

Most Western media have splashed their news bulletins with reports of the killings of the Israeli teens as that which sparked the slaughter. It's however important to note that just a day before, a ten-year-old kid and a Palestinian man were killed in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike.

And recently Israeli officials have said that Hamas was not responsible for the kidnapping of the Israeli teens, completely contradicting their Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel has always hinged the failure of the peace process on a divided Palestinian leadership. But it was completely thrown off balance by the working pact clinched by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in June.

It prompted Netanyahu to frantically lobby the West to boycott the new Palestinian leadership. He became even more bitter when the US decided to work with the unity government.

Therefore, did Israel premeditate this violence to prevent the peace process? Or was this massacre started to push the US into backtracking on its earlier plans to work with the new power-sharing Palestinian government?

While we may never get answers for these questions, some facts are glaring. Israel is the occupying power and as such does not have the right to self-defense in International Law against the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel has over decades imposed an Apartheid system through illegal land grab and the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

Under the Occupation Law, Israel has an obligation to ensure the security and well-being of the Palestinians. It also has a duty to protect the Palestinians living under Occupation.

Israel's refusal to recognize the occupied status of the territory plus US' support has left the people of Gaza starving and devoid of basic necessities.

And once again we have the massacre.

Can there be a solution to this violence? The answer is yes but in order to start the process of reconciliation, the US must pressure Israel to lift the siege of Gaza and seek a viable, durable and realistic political solution.

In the home front, it has been heartening to see Malaysians come together to condemn the ongoing Israeli aggression.

But I have also noticed the disturbing trend where we seem to have no qualms bashing Israel but stay silent when it comes to human rights violations and killings in other parts of the world.

President Bashar-al-Assad's regime killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslims in two years. More than 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils were killed in the 30-year civil war.

Close to half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. Militant group, ISIS, killed thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria over a span of two months. Tens of thousands of people have been killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Closer to home, we treat the Rohingya Muslim refugees and other refugees like sub-humans. The government's adamant refusal to ratify the 1951 UN Refugee Convention means they will continue to be persecuted in Malaysia, hunted by the police and immigration and languish in poverty as they cannot be employed. Their children face a bleak future as they cannot be absorbed into public schools.

So let's unite to fight all transgressions on basic human rights.

It simply means we will stand up for justice and condemn violence, irrespective of where it happens or who the perpetrators are.

Charles Santiago

Member of Parliament, Klang

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