ガザ流血拡大 本格停戦への道筋を探りたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Concessions needed on both sides to secure durable Gaza ceasefire
ガザ流血拡大 本格停戦への道筋を探りたい

The United States, European countries and the United Nations should act in concert with Middle East nations capable of exercising influence over the warring parties to bring about a long-lasting cessation to ongoing hostilities.

The shedding of blood has been escalating in the conflict between Hamas, the militant Islamic group that dominates the Gaza Strip, which is part of the Palestine autonomous territories, and Israel. Although both sides temporarily reached a brief ceasefire in the fighting, there are no immediate prospects at all for an end to the conflict.

In addition to air strikes, Israeli troops have launched a ground offensive in Gaza. This operation is aimed at finding and destroying Hamas’ large number of underground tunnels crisscrossing the Gaza border. This is because the tunnel network has been exploited for firing rockets and across-the-border assaults by Hamas militants against Israel.

As many tunnels have been constructed beneath residential and other civilian facilities, a large number of civilians have been killed. This is a matter of grave concern. The number of people who have been killed on both sides since Israel began its offensive on July 8 has reportedly passed 1,000.

The United Nations has strongly condemned the Israeli offensive in which hospitals, schools and evacuation facilities have been attacked, as well as the despicable means Hamas has of employing civilians as human shields in the conflict, as both possibly “amounting to war crimes.”

Israel, which has a firepower overwhelmingly superior to that of Hamas, justifies its offensive as “exercising our right of self-defense.” This is hardly reasonable. At the very least, Israel must avoid attacking civilian facilities. Hamas, for its part, must promptly stop responses that treat human life lightly.

More efforts essential

Such figures as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon have continued to mediate the situation. On top of their efforts, cooperation not only from the two Arab countries with diplomatic relations with Israel—Egypt and Jordan—but also from countries with influence over Hamas, such as Qatar and Turkey, is indispensable for resolving the crisis.

With many regions in the Middle East being thrown into turmoil because of the civil wars in Syria and Iraq, countries in the environs of Israel and the Gaza Strip have been unable to unite in halting the Gaza conflict. The influence of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah-Sissi, who has regarded Hamas with hostility for years, is considered limited.

Prior to the latest 12-hour humanitarian truce, Kerry came out with a proposal for a seven-day lull in fighting so consultations could be held to realize a full-fledged accord on a prolonged ceasefire.

Both Israel and Hamas turned down the proposal, but the United States and other countries concerned should persevere. They should tenaciously consider ways to work out a plan acceptable to both Israel and Hamas.

To put a full-scale truce in place, concessions on both sides are essential, with a guarantee of Israel’s security on one hand and steps to help rebuild Gaza, a chronically impoverished region because of a seven-year-long economic blockade by Israel, on the other. The impasse can never be resolved by military power alone.

The fact that Israel and Hamas reached an accord on the truce from a humanitarian viewpoint is praiseworthy, even though it is only for 12 hours. The pause in fighting makes it possible for Gaza residents, including those who have been wounded, to evacuate to safer areas and stock up on such supplies as food and medicine.

Although there is little room for optimism over what lies ahead, the mutual concessions Israel and Hamas demonstrated this time should be made the first step toward a breakthrough for resolving the Gaza crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2014)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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