Gaza violence hurts children mostThe bloodshed in the Gaza Strip from a 20-day Israeli offensive has raised the Palestinian civilian death toll to more than 800. Authorities believe nearly 100 have died since ground troops joined in the violence on July 17. An Israeli tank fired shells at a school run by the United Nations, where many took shelter from relentless air strikes that killed at least 15 and injured more than 150.
This nonstop violence has been the most brutal on children. Aid agencies condemned the attacks, which have killed about one child every hour. One aid organization said children under the age of 12 accounted for 24 percent of Palestinian deaths. The latest military clashes between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, have been described as a “war on children” due its brutal toll on the region’s innocents.
The UN Human Rights Council decided to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza, accusing both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks on civilians. But despite international condemnation and calls for a cease-fire, there has been no end to the shelling and gunfire.
Gaza, which runs 51 kilometers (32 miles) along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is a narrow stretch (about 5 to 8 kilometers wide) with a total area of 364 square kilometers - about one-fifth of Korea’s Jeju Island. Israel granted Palestinian self-governance in the region in 1994 and heavily controls and guards the airspace, territorial waters and borders around that area. Its 1.5 million-strong population is crammed into a limited space, living as if in one large concentration camp. They are defenseless against air and rocket bombardments and experiments with state-of-the-art Israeli weaponry. Hamas’ military has responded with their rockets, but they are no match for Israel.
The latest flare-up started with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas-associated Palestinians. Israelis responded angrily by kidnapping a Palestinian teenager and burning him to death. The blame game will never end between Israel and the Palestinians. But the extremists are most blamed for making matters worse. Common sense appears to be drowned by militant voices once the mood turns ugly.
The uncle of one of the three Israeli teens even stated that there is no difference between blood and blood, as murder is murder. There should be no forgiveness for violence, especially that which costs innocent lives. Israeli officials and Hamas must let their better judgment prevail for the sake of their people.