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2009年1月13日 (火)

社説:ガザ地上侵攻 米国はイスラエルを止めよ

(Mainichi Japan) January 8, 2009

U.S. must stop Israel's invasion of Gaza

社説:ガザ地上侵攻 米国はイスラエルを止めよ

He repeatedly punches his adversary, claiming self-defense. Asserting that his adversary, who is now covered in blood, is resisting, he mounts and continues to pummel him. Finally, he whales away at his adversary not only with his fists but also with a bat and golf club. Passersby look on but do not intervene, and the policeman seems unconcerned, saying only that "it can't be helped because all is being done in self-defense."


Couldn't this be a description of Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip, whose air strikes are now being augmented by a ground campaign? No country or institution, including the United Nations, appears to be capable of bringing Israel's military campaign in Gaza to an immediate halt. Even the U.S., which at times has been looked to as the world's policeman, chooses to defend its ally, and President George Bush has stated that Israel has "decided to protect itself."


But Israel's military operation cannot be condoned from a humanitarian perspective. Since its offensive against the Gaza Strip began in late December, more than 550 Palestinians have died, of whom around 100 were children, according to emergency workers. If Israel's military campaign is a political performance staged with an eye on its general elections scheduled for February, then it can only be described as especially heinous.


The rockets that Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist organization that exercises de facto control over Gaza, continues to launch into Israel have reportedly killed several Israelis. While Hamas should cease its rocket attacks, Israel above all must exercise self-restraint and desist from attacking Gaza in order to prevent the death toll from rising substantially.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy's efforts to mediate have come to naught, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dismissed Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' demand to "immediately and unconditionally terminate its invasion" as a call for a compromise that would "condone Hamas' attacks."


Even under normal conditions, the Gaza Strip suffers from a scarcity of goods, but it is now experiencing shortages of drinking water, fuel, medical supplies, and other commodities, and according to a U.N. official, a "humanitarian crisis" is rapidly unfolding there. The territory covers an area of land equal to only about 60 percent of the land mass of Tokyo's 23 wards, so it has a very high population density, and the inflow of commodities into the territory is strictly controlled.


Furthermore, the inhabitants of Gaza have nowhere to take refuge. It is easily predictable that when the inhabitants of this narrow sliver of land, who have their backs up against the sea, come under attack, large numbers will come into harm's way. There are also reports that Israel has used cluster bombs in its Gaza offensive. These weapons have been targeted by an international campaign to ban them.


Israel has invaded Gaza in the past, and conducted a large-scale military campaign against the neighboring country of Lebanon in 2006. Israel has described an earlier invasion of Lebanon in 1982 as a peace offensive, but the same operation was cited by Osama bin Laden as justification for the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the U.S.


It would be difficult to conclude that Israel's military campaigns have enhanced its peace and security. Protests by Muslims in neighboring countries, who condemn the attack on the Gaza Strip as a massacre, have been spreading. The U.S should persuade its ally Israel to end its military campaign. If President Bush ignores the bloodshed and cries of agony until his term expires on Jan. 20, he may have to leave office with a heavy conscience.


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