Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Voice from Gaza 

As many of you faithful readers will know, in the summer of 2002 I particiapted in an international scholarship program that cahnged my life, called the Caux Scholars Program, held in Caux, Switzerland. Its focus was international peacekeeping, non-violent conflict resolution, and personal and spiritual transformation. Recently I received an email from a fellow Caux Scholar, Ibrahim, who lives in Gaza. His words bring the current aspect of the crisis in Israel and the Palestinian Territories into sharp relief, and so I offer them to you here, more powerful than anything I could say.

"The voice of wisdom and diplomacy must be the judge of resolving the detainee Israeli soldier in Gaza. The re-invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army has transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into an even more volatile situation. It also is in danger of derailing Palestinian peace negotiating platform among the different factions that was reaching fruition. This attack probably endangers the life of the Israeli soldier held in Gaza, whilst bringing misery to over one million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It is hard to see one positive outcome from this action." The attacks on Palestinian electricity plants and water facilities constitute a war crime for which there is no excuse or justification in international law. It is a clear and grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Palestinians in Gaza were already living on the verge of a grave humanitarian crisis due to the sanctions imposed by the donor community and the siege imposed by the Israeli army. The lack of electricity is already having a massive impact on Gazan hospitals, medical centres and Palestinian lives generally. The damage to the water infrastructure has also made it difficult for Palestinian firefighters to handle the fires. The destruction of the bridges in Gaza imperils essential movement around the Gaza Strip cutting it off into three areas but making it impossible to provide proper humanitarian and medical services. A credible and honest intervention by international community should be taken immediately to resolve the crisis that the complete withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and cessation of all attacks on Palestinian civilians. Israel must facilitate and pay for the immediate rebuilding of all the water, electrical and other infrastructure destroyed in this invasion. Israel must allow the opening of the borders into Gaza allowing the free flow of people and goods.




Of the many, many questions I could ask about this, two come immediately to mind (which I hope you will understand I am asking in good faith):

1) Who are the Palestinian leaders speaking with the voices of "wisdom and diplomacy" in this situation? (I'm talking about people with the political clout to actually get Hamas to sit down at the bargaining table).

2) Do you really think that the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah has settled to a degree that would allow them to bargain with Israel for real peace?

By Anonymous David, at 12:00 PM  

Thanks for your questions, David. First of all, I can only answer your questions for myself, as I did not write the letter I posted, but only relayed it here. I cannot speculate on what my colleague Ibrahim has behind his thinking.

1) The trouble with this question is that Hamas is the government, to a large degree. I would look to Abbas for a majority of the power brokering possibilities.

2) No, their struggle has not yet reached the point that will allow them to collectively bargain with Israel. But, they need to do so.


By Blogger Ryan, at 6:13 PM  

Ibrahim, great post.
my mental status now doesnt allow me for political thinking or at least a clear political thinking. i just want to say that i liked your post and i want to join ryn and david in their important conerns and questions.

By Blogger Naj, at 3:38 PM  

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