By Majed Iqbal- Minute to minute reporting, live coverage, updates and pictures from a territory otherwise known as the world’s largest prison, Gaza have hit our screens at the beginning of 2009 showing Israel’s offensive on the area with claims that Hamas, the people’s choice and democratically elected government of Palestine, had broken a truce for a ceasefire with Israel and ordered for a military incursion into the area.
The strip, home to 1.5 million people, has been already suffering shortages of power, food and medical supplies due to a two-year blockade imposed by Israel on the area and was now turning into a war zone with people fleeing their homes as airstrikes began to deafen the cries of the crippling Gazan Territory.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni defended the Israeli assault in Gaza, saying on America’s Sunday morning talk shows that Hamas, not Israel, “is the one who needs to be condemned by the international community.”
Livni said that until Hamas recognized Israel’s right to exist and ceased rocket attacks against Israel, they remained terrorists who needed to be acted against.
Aerial bombardment by Israel has destroyed mosques, Schools and hospitals raising the death toll to 531 people killed and over 2500 injured across 11 days and with more than 80 deaths since the ground offensive began three days ago.
“We are targeting Hamas, we are not looking for civilians to kill more than that,” Livni said in an interview, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Arab states have been muted in its criticism of Israel’s offensive in Gaza with mere general statements that both parties need to work towards peace. Jordan, Egypt and Turkey who have normalised relations with Israel, have voiced little concern on the events.
Instead, the statements made so far from Arab rulers seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet aired from Washington in line with Tzipi Livni’s meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier this week who said that she “holds Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza.”
Jordan’s prime minister has said his country may review its diplomatic ties with Israel in the wake of the offensive in Gaza.
Turkish government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek signalled during a news conference on Monday that Ankara was not considering retaliation against Israel through suspending the countries’ military relationship or cancelling a recent project agreement signed with Israel worth $1 billion.
Unashamedly, on the Israeli foreign ministers request in her meeting with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt dispatched a further 7,000 troops to its border with the Gaza Strip at the Rafah terminal to implement Israel’s policy on securing the borders to cut the lines for humanitarian supplies.
Adding further salts to the wounds Livni was quoted as having said in a statement during a trip to Paris that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”.
The mounting task to challenge Israel has instead been taken on by the public in the Arab and Muslim world and international rallies across Europe shouldering the responsibility to voice concern over the events and challenge the stance of Arab and Muslim governments on their silence and collusion with Israel in the massacres.
Israel’s position on the Gaza offensive was shadowed by World wide protests who instead have sided with the Palestinian narrative of events.
On Friday around 60,000 students’ protesters from universities across Jordan marched to the parliament in Amman demanding the freezing of diplomatic relations with Israel and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. One female student protester told the Reuters news agency that “we’ll continue taking to the streets, otherwise we’ll be like Egypt that is doing nothing”.
Over 50,000 Moroccans rallied in the capital Rabat, accusing Arab leaders of having failed the Palestinian people in a peaceful march to protest the Gaza offensive. The demonstrators chanted expressions of anger over “the silence of Arab regimes.”
In Istanbul, as many as 700,000 people turned out for their protest in central Istanbul’s sprawling Caglayan square accusing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of having “sold Gaza for (US) dollars”.
In Greece, More than 4,000 people marched for the second day running to protest the Israeli action outside the US embassy and the Israeli embassy in Athens, burning effigies of Bush and President-elect Barack Obama.
In Iraq, some 200 protesters staged a protest in the southern Shiite shrine city of Karbala to condemn Israel and express support for embattled Palestinians.
Britain was also home to several large demonstrations which directed their anger more at the failure of Arab and Muslim Rulers in responding to Israel’s offensive and called for the Arab Armies to rise up and respond to the aggression.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a statement defending her country’s position “Israel is a state that implements its right to defend itself and its citizens.”
International public opinion through the rallies and protests have arguably voiced the right of the Gazan’s and Palestinians with their elected government to defend their sovereignty and their citizens when challenged by aggressing forces.