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Back and forth on Gaza

If the Israeli action was a means and not a goal, then the rockets fired by Hamas fighters were also a means to an end.

November 24, 2012
  • Israeli airstrikes on suspected missile sites in Gaza City were part of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Israeli airstrikes on suspected missile sites in Gaza City were part of… (EPA )

Responding to Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab's Op-Ed article Tuesday calling Israel's actions against the Gaza Strip a "failed strategy," reader Elliott Oring of Long Beach wrote in a letter to the editor published Thursday:

"Israel's military response to Gaza is not a failed strategy because it is not a strategy at all. It is a tactic, a tactic to get Hamas to stop lobbing rockets into Israel. There is no long-term strategy that will prove successful until Hamas decides it is no longer interested in destroying Israel.

"Daoud Kuttab makes sure to mention that Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in 1948. He does not mention that they fled because of the coordinated attack by Palestinian militias and Israel's Arab neighbors on the then-much smaller Jewish homeland.

"As long as Palestinians and other Arab states continue to imagine a Middle East without Israel, there is not much chance of peace or quiet there."

Daoud Kuttab responds:

Whether the Israeli deterrence goal for Operation Pillar of Defense was a strategy or a tactic is meaningless to the more than 150 Palestinians, many of them children, who lost their lives because of what senior United Nations officials and others have said was a disproportionate use of force by Israel.

If the Israeli action was a means and not a goal, then the rockets fired on Israel by Hamas fighters were also a means to bring about an end to the illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, reverse Israel's refusal to open a safe passageway to the West Bank (as stipulated in the Oslo Accords) and eventually to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands that started after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Hamas leaders, including political chief Khaled Meshaal, have repeatedly said that their aims are a Palestinian state with these 1967 borders and a solution to the refugee problem.

In mentioning the reasons why Palestinians lost their homes in 1948, Oring confuses the reason people leave a violent area with their rights as refugees. In any conflict, refugees have the inalienable right to return to their homes. Since 2002, Palestinians as well as the Arab League have offered a peace plan that calls for "achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with" the 1948 United Nations resolution that calls for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes. The key word here is "agreed" — in other words, the solution of the refugee issue should be agreed to by Palestinians and Israel.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and in the diaspora aspire to live in an independent, contiguous state in peace with Israel. The pursuit of the peace that Israel says it desires can't include blockades or restrictions on the movement of people and goods within Palestinian territories and the rest of the world. It also can't include continued settlement activities in areas that will become the independent state of Palestine.

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