Blatant disregard

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Blatant disregard

Israel seems to have decided to close its eyes and ears to criticism and condemnation from international society. How else do we explain its strikes on the United Nations buildings and hospital?

The Israeli military Thursday shelled the United Nations Relief and Works Agency buildings, including a hospital, in central Gaza, where around 700 civilians had taken shelter. The attack killed more than 15 people.

Ten days ago Israel bombed three United Nations schools, killing around 40 young students. These attacks are war crimes and an undeniable violation of international law.

Israel’s 21-day offensive on Gaza has killed some 1,100 and wounded more than 5,000 people so far. It is estimated that more than half the casualties are civilians, 355 children, around 100 women and 120 elderly citizens.

Israel says that its target is only Hamas, the Islamic armed resistance movement in Palestine that occupies Gaza, and that it is trying its best to protect civilians. But these explanations ring empty.

As Hamas’ armed agents hide among civilians, collateral damage is inevitable to some extent, according to the Israeli government.

However, strikes against United Nations buildings, hospitals and schools can under no circumstances be sanctioned.

In particular, the attacks took place when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in Jerusalem to mediate a possible cease-fire.

Israel’s actions show the government ignored and didn’t care about international society’s opinions and the UN’s authority.

The United States stands behind Israel. The U.S. has constantly sided with Israel, saying that the fundamental responsibility lies with Hamas, which fired rockets toward Israel.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said he would seek new ways to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine as soon as he takes office.

Let’s hope he does. So far he has been silent over the issues and civilian casualties have snowballed in the meantime.

Israel must stop its attacks immediately and negotiate long-term cease-fire terms with Hamas.

Obama will be inaugurated in three days. The Ehud Olmert administration must be aware of this urgency, as well as the fact that international society is not on its side.

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