Sunday, September 21, 2014

175.2 - Footnote: Israel and Hamas both under criticism

Footnote: Israel and Hamas both under criticism

As a quick footnote to that, it's worth noting that there are other forces pushing on both Israel and Hamas that may have something to do with those slivers of daylight which may be appearing.

One pressure point is that Israel has been condemned by a number of sources for various human rights violations in its war on Gaza. Most recently, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of committing war crimes in three specific cases involving attacks on UN-run schools in Gaza while at the same time expressing skepticism about the investigations announced by the Israeli military. "Israel," the group declared, "has a long record of failing to undertake credible investigations into alleged war crimes."

That position was echoed by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, which said in a statement that based on past experience, it isn't holding out hope that the military investigation will lead to anything other than a whitewash.

For its part, under pressure from international news reports, Hamas has admitted that "mistakes" were made during the summer war in launching rocket attacks on Israel from sites too close to residential areas or civilian facilities. The group insists that usually rocket launchers were placed 200-300 meters (about 220-330 yards) from sites such as schools and hospitals but admitted that sometimes they were closer, sometimes too close. And the UN sharply criticized Hamas for two instances where rockets were stored inside schools. The schools were closed for the summer, there were no students there, but still they were schools, civilian facilities where those rockets simply should not have been.

So both sides have been smarting under international attention in the wake of the war, so maybe both feel the need to at least try to make nice for a little while. I fear it will simply dissolve into another missed opening because, as I have said so many times before, I believe that the Israeli government does not want peace because that would hinder the goal of a "greater Israel" encompassing all of the West Bank - but I can still hope that I am wrong and that by some combination of war-weariness and political boldness on either or both sides this will turn into a Sadat-goes-to-Israel moment.

Like they say, hope springs eternal.

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