The Jordan Times
December 28, 2008 - 1:00am

Yesterday one could feel gloom and fury in the streets of Amman, as people were following with shock and horror news of Israel’s devastating, barbaric attacks on the Gaza Strip, which left more than 200 people dead and 300 wounded, 120 of them seriously.

As soon as news of the attacks and their unprecedented toll were reported live by satellite television stations, Jordanians around the Kingdom took to the streets in spontaneous demonstrations to express solidarity with their helpless brethren in the impoverished, besieged strip.

At the same time, His Majesty King Abdullah was reflecting the pain felt in the streets by issuing a swift clear condemnation. The King and the Jordanian government were also in contact with various leaders around the world in an effort to end the aggression and to find means to help the Palestinian people.

The attacks were ostensibly triggered by rockets fired by Hamas into the Jewish state, killing one individual.

In this case, disproportionate use of force is a cliché understatement; a tired phrase that doesn’t seem to ring any bell anymore to the outside world. Vicious cruelty would come closer to the ugly reality.

The attacks, coming just one day after Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other Egyptian officials, show the extent of Israel’s hypocrisy, a state that claims it wishes to see peace in this region.

They also came immediately after the opening of border checkpoints to allow shipments of urgently needed foodstuff and medicine to the beleaguered Gazans. This makes the attacks all the more incomprehensible. If the pupil was good and compensated for it, why punish it so severely a day later?

This devious policy makes a mockery of Israel's protestation that it genuinely seeks a peaceful resolution to the conflict with Hamas.

The travesty of the Israeli policy is all the more amplified by the fact that Israeli leaders pretend to sue for peace while, in fact, they commit crime after crime in Gaza. This insults Egypt's mediation efforts and undermines all other attempts at stopping the escalation of conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israel cannot be exempted from responsibility. The siege, starvation and humiliation of Gazans, its refusal to negotiate with the Hamas leadership, do not indicate a state bent on attaining peace with its neighbour. Its land grab, disdain for the rights of the people under its occupation, clear lack of desire to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians will never be conducive to peace.

You do not constantly provoke without expecting a reaction. And this, it seems, is what happened: Israel had already made up its mind to attack Gaza, and the rocket attacks by Hamas, as deplorable as they are, provided the pretext.

Yet one stronger reason can sadly be singled out, and that is the Israeli internal political struggle. Every time elections are close, Israelis with an eye on power are “determined” to show their people how strong, assertive and unwavering they are to make their people happy and keep the troublesome Palestinians at bay.

A new cycle of violence has been unleashed in a region that cannot take any more of it.

A few sane voices could be heard amid the din of violence and bombings. One is King Abdullah’s, who again reminds all who wish to hear that Israel - any state, for that matter - cannot have peace without ending the occupation and granting Palestinians their right to security, stability and an independent state.

It’s simply the occupation. And the poor Gazans pay for it.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017