Stop violence in Gaza
The new year bodes ill
for prospects of Middle East peace going by the current
happenings in Gaza with Israeli fighter planes bombarding this
tiny strip of land killing over 300 people and maiming several
hundreds while causing massive destruction to Palestinian
The unfolding mayhem as shown on satellite TV of mangled
bodies and devastated buildings has once again raised the
spectre of a dangerous conflagration in this most volatile
corner of the earth where enmities date back to biblical times.
Israel says it was responding to Hamas rocket attacks into
Israel territory. Whatever the provocation it is apparent that
Israel has overreacted and overreached itself judging by the
scale of the carnage and the destruction wrought.
The attacks and the violence coming as it does in the teeth
of attempts by the international community to end the Israel
Arab conflict is alarming to say the least particularly in the
midst increasing tensions in the region.
It is certainly going to affect the prospects of peace
negotiations which were painstakingly put to together by
countries such as France and the EU. That is why the UN in an
emergency session has called for an immediate end to violence in
the Gaza and Southern Israel.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his "deep
alarm' by the worsening situation in Gaza and Southern Israel
and called for an immediate halt to all violence.
While recognising Israel's security concerns regarding the
continued firing of rockets from Gaza, the UN Chief has
reiterated Israel's obligation to uphold International
Humanitarian and Human rights Law and condemned excessive use of
force leading to killing and injuring of civilians.
That Israel has been flouting UN resolutions with impunity is
plain for all to see. What is worse is that it has been allowed
to get away with it all this time and spared those sanctions
that would normally have visited lesser nations that flouted
such resolutions with much less frequency.
It is therefore incumbent on the UN to intervene speedily to
bring a halt to this massacre and put in place a mechanism for
an enduring peace in the Middle East which at the moment is a
powder keg with foreign powers manipulating the situation.
What is even more alarming is the danger of the situation
degenerating into a full blown conflagration given the
proliferation of modern military hardware and its fall out on
the rest of the world. The developing scenario in the Gaza was
the result of a chain of events that undermined the authority of
the Hamas regime that was elected by its own people.
It was plain to all that the new Hamas regime that was
elected by popular vote at a referendum was thwarted at every
turn in attempts to forge a peace, by the insidious designs of
interested parties. All ceasefires called became non starters
and it was apparent that these extraneous forces were only
desirous of fomenting conflict.
This is why it is hoped that the UN would take into account
all the ramifications that has led to current state of play in
approaching the situation. It is also hoped that the world body
would play a more assertive role in bringing about a peaceful
resolution to the conflict, giving full play to the radical
reforms that has blown through the world body in recent times.
The latest development in the Gaza would no doubt be a major
issue that will confront the new American President Barack Obama
who is due to be sworn in on January 20. He will doubtless be in
the world spot- light vis-a-vis his handling this first major
challenge of his Presidency. So far all US President's who
intervened to forge a negotiated settlement had failed in their
It is expected that the new US President would comply and
abide by the UN resolutions unlike his immediate predecessor who
overrode the UN particularly in the Iraqi invasion. Because any
open defiance of the UN at this stage can only make the
situation more combustible leading to escalation of the
This, at a time when the world economy is in it's worst
recession since the great depression of the 1930s and the
financial edifices of many developing nations crumbling before
their eyes driving people into penury. A full blown conflict in
the Middle East is therefore a harrowing prospect which the
world powers should come to grips with before it is too late.
Hence the need for treading cautiously without plunging into any
precipitate action that could only worsen the overall situation.
This is why the UN which is the only credible world body in the
area of conflict resolution between states should be allowed to
act without impediments to douse the raging flames and revive
the peace process in the Middle East which was stymied by vested
interests all these years.
Sri Lanka has every reason to be concerned by the plight of
the Palestinian people in Gaza. Lankan-Palestine relations go a
long away and was reinforced by the recent visit of Palestinian
leader Mahaumud Abbas to the country. Also being a country
stalked by a different kind of terror all Sri Lankans no doubt
would empathise with suffering of the hapless civilians in the
Gaza. Sri Lanka has already added her voice to the sea of
condemnations pouring from nations against the genocide and for
the immediate intervention of the UN to quell the anarchy. It is
hoped that this collective voice would carry enough resonance
for the perpetrators of this atrocity to realise their folly and
call a halt to the carnage and sit down for talks.