Commentary | Hyde Park: Israel’s moral high ground

It has been two years since 1.5-million-plus residents of Gaza have been under siege. With points of entry by land, air, and sea blocked by Israel and Egypt, Gazans have been reduced to “smuggling” in bare necessities of food and fuel through tunnels under the Egypt-Palestine border.

All facets of life for the Gazans have degraded to deplorable states. Parents cannot feed their children; more than one in four Gazan children are malnourished, almost 50 per cent under age two are anemic due to the denial of basic medical supplies. Gazans suffering from chronic illnesses are denied adequate care and are rarely allowed to travel for life-saving medical treatment. Those who are allowed out of Gaza suffer interrogation and coercion to collaborate against their community by the Israeli military before given treatment. Tragically, most never receive treatment; 245 of these patients have died in the past 12 months alone.

Without the ability to obtain necessary raw materials, the Gazan economy has been decimated such that there is no way to earn a wage, and scarce amounts of food and fuel to buy. As a result, nearly half of Gazan households are below the poverty line, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Electrical utilities require fuel, so basic services such as water and sewage pumps sit idle. This is only a small sample of the deplorable conditions that Gazans have been put through in the past two years. This is on top of the four-decade long Israeli military occupation that preceded this current siege.

The quality of life that I have described up to now was what life was like for Gazans before Israel’s massive bombing campaign began just a few weeks ago and ground invasion which started only a few days ago. Since then, hundreds of Palestinian civilians have been murdered by every flavor of modern weaponry, which Israel can buy with over $3-billion of military aid it receives annually from the U.S. This includes one-ton (2000-pound) bombs, Hellfire rockets, medium artillery, heavy machine guns, and possibly chemical and depleted uranium munitions, which Israel has used in the past in Gaza and Lebanon.

The Israeli government claims to be at war on Hamas which, by some stretch of the moral compass, includes targeting bureaucrats, police, rescue workers, and recently UN-run school and aid convoys. Attacks on UN-run schools, which are being used to shelter thousands of Palestinian civilians from Israeli attacks, have killed 43 and wounded 100 – all refugees desperately seeking safety.

So, what exactly is Israel’s moral high ground? Isn’t it obvious? A small minority of the starved, bombed, shelled, and desperate Gazan community is firing make-shift rockets into Israeli towns. These rockets have killed five Israelis during these most recent hostilities.

Over the same time period, the Israeli military has ended the lives of almost 763 Palestinians, over 200 of them children, and wounded over 3,121. This includes at least four paramedics who were killed by Israel’s bomb-wait-bomb tactic that targets rescue personnel. The obvious conclusion is that Israel has no moral high ground; it is a regime that continually commits terrorist acts, no better than the “terrorists” they claim to be fighting…although unarguably more effective.

Nasser Mohieddin Abukhdeir is a PhD4 Chemical Engineering student. You can reach him at nasser.abukhdeir@mcgill.ca.


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