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Middle East: Both Sides Twisting the Truth
The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, Jul. 8, 2006
Both sides in the worsening conflict between Israelis and Palestinians are asking the world to accept preposterous public relations fabrications.
Hamas, the militant faction that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, wants people to believe that it is really two distinct entities - one with military goals and the other with purely political objectives.
Hogwash. Even if that claim made a tiny bit of sense when Hamas operated mostly in Gaza, it is absurd in the context of Hamas as the governing party of the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas as an official governing agent for the Palestinian people may already be doomed, but if it has any hope of surviving the current meltdown in the Middle East, it must sever ties completely with the terrorist wing led by Khaled Meshaal in Damascus. Meshaal's forces have claimed responsibility for the raid that killed two Israeli soldiers and took Corporal Gilad Shalit hostage.
The only credible way the Hamas-led government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh could disavow connection to the Syrian terrorists of the same name would be to officially recognize Israel's right to exist and agree to negotiate terms of a two-state solution with Tel Aviv. Otherwise, Israel has every right to consider 'both' elements of Hamas as one in the same for military purposes.
On the other side of the conflict, the Israeli government is doing its best to portray its response to the kidnapping and the continued Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza as measured and not meant to harm the broader Palestinian population. But this, too, is an absurd twisting of the truth.
When Israel bombed the power plant in Gaza that provides electricity to 700,000 Palestinians, it violated the Geneva Conventions prohibition against 'collective punishment' of civilians. Forced to endure sweltering heat without fans or functioning refrigerators, soon families in besieged Gaza will be faced with dwindling supplies of safe drinking water, which requires electricity to be purified and pumped.
This is not anything approaching a 'measured' response, and it subjects Israel to legitimate criticism for hypocrisy. Israelis cannot continue to claim the moral high ground in a conflict in which they ignore the suffering they willfully inflict on innocent civilians.
Hamas cannot be both militant and political, and Israel cannot be both measured and indiscriminate.