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World conscience on trial

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World conscience on trial

By Ahmed Yousef

Date: 15 / 01 / 2009  

For the past fifteen days the small area of 150 square miles jammed with one and a half million Palestinians has been subjected to the most brutal military campaign against a civilian population of this new 21st century, and ranks among the most heinous of the 20th.

There is absolutely no equivalence between the limited capabilities of the Palestinian fighters and the military might of Israel’s armed forces, equipped with the most sophisticated technologies, delivering death and destruction by air, land and sea.


Their victims are the thousands of defenseless civilians, men, women and children injured, and the hundreds killed; victims of an act of unparalleled cowardice and immorality delivering death and suffering to our besieged and virtually starving people.

And the numbers speak for themselves: now approaching 1,000 dead, and over three thousand injured, many yet to be found in the rubble of buildings, residences, schools, offices and religious places.

No genuine democracy, a claim to which Israel aspires, could excuse such violence; its scale wildly disproportionate to possible harm that our simple homemade rockets which we fire as a signal of our resistance to Israel's inhumane and illegal occupation.

We cannot accept the arguments made by Israel that the reason for this massive destruction and loss of life is the continued firing of our rockets. They provoke us with the intention to justify their actions, while the rest of the world, and much of the media, continue to operate under the flag of political correctness; they are inadvertently but painfully projecting a highly distorted picture of the respective responsibilities of aggressor and victim.

Hamas governs in Gaza because our people have elected us. We may not be beloved by Israel for the moral and religious values we hold. We have been elected by the majority of Palestinians, but we were denied the chance to govern. And this denial has been underscored through imprisonment of our political leadership under the guise of war on terror.

Israel continued to devour our land while orchestrating with international support an endless and meaningless peace process. We formed a government of national unity, but those who wished otherwise chose to label us terrorists and worked systematically to isolate us. No honest and independent observer could interpret our take over in Gaza as an act of usurpation of power, when in fact it was an act of affirmation of the right to govern granted us through an internationally monitored genuine democratic election process.

From our perspective, Israel withdrew from the interior of Gaza only to enclose us in a sarcophagus, intending to suffocate our will to resist. They claim that if we were moderate and willing to meet their terms, sadly and unjustly imposed on us with the support the Quartet, we could have the privilege of joining the meaningless Annapolis process, while our lands continue to be stolen and our people humiliated, all under Israel's mindless mantra of security for themselves and their illegal settler populations.

Because we will not submit to such bullying tactics, their present goal is to bring us to our knees by wreaking havoc and destruction on the whole population of Gaza. They will not succeed in achieving this.

We are grateful to those who have understood our just cause and have shared our suffering. To them we shall be eternally grateful. In strong contrast we have been shocked and dismayed by the lack of either empathy or understanding from the international community in general.

While seeing the horror of Israel's actions, many seem to support their goal: the dismantlement of our popularly supported movement. They call for a halt in the fighting, but they place preconditions that all but ensure that the killing and destruction goes on.

We love our country and are willing to die for it. We wish harm to none. The time has come for a minimally fair path to the future that restores to our people their rights to sovereignty and independence. We shall never be slaves to any power and our struggle shall continue at whatever cost until we are free.

We welcome President elect Obama's remarks of January 11th committing his new administration to address seriously this much too long neglected conflict. We call on America under his leadership to set a new and just course that can bring peace, fairness and justice to our bleeding land.

Our people have extended their hand in peace; time and again we have offered a 'hudna'. We are waiting for the Israeli people will look beyond the shortsightedness of their present leadership and to demonstrate their willingness to make the sacrifices that are necessary for a just and genuine peace.

It is only then that Palestinians and Israeli can learn to live side by side and to lay to rest the historical horrors and sufferings of both our peoples. Thus we can look to cherish the heritage of this holy territory with which both our peoples have been entrusted, and to ensure that henceforth it will again be a place of peace on earth and good will to all.

***Ahmad Yousef is deputy foreign minister and former senior political adviser to de facto Prime Minister Ismael Hanniyah.