On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Lobby for end to Gaza killings


IT’S sheer madness. The Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip which have killed more than 400 people and wounded 2,000 others are a shocking start to the new year.

Something is tragically wrong when innocent people in homes, places of worship, schools and even ambulances are hit.

We are told of the sophistication of the Israeli intelligence and its precise targets against Hamas fighters. They talk about the so-called safe targets and the use of drone planes, detailed maps, balloons fitted with cameras and up to the minute phone calls.

Yet, the casualties of the attacks include children coming out from schools and women in their homes.

At the last count, over 25% of the deaths have been civilians, and not quite the targets the Israelis wanted. But we will hear the same defensive res­ponse – Hamas fighters hiding inside mosques.

The United States has reportedly demanded the disarmament of Hamas, which Israel says has been smuggling weapons through tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt, as the first step to a truce.

The threat is the air attacks, the deadliest over the last 30 years, is just the first stage. Ground attacks, using tanks, could roll into the Israeli blockaded Gaza Strip.

The White House has reportedly said the ground offensive is entirely an Israel option and for many, it would mean approval. The only condition set is to avoid civilian casualties and the free flow of humanitarian aid.

It’s really pathetic and laughable because the world knows that’s not going to happen.

President-elect Barack Obama has stayed clear of the issue, using the logic of “one president at a time” but it would be naive for the world to expect Obama to react differently.

Let’s remind ourselves that his constituency is the US, and its powerful Jewish lobbyists, not the rest of the world.

Personally, I find it disappointing that he has not come out with a strong condemnation of the attacks. Politicians always have something to say and his excuse is pretty pathetic.

Despite the outcry by the Arab world, the harsh reality is that these Arab countries, with their national self interests and rivalry, have not done enough to help the 1.5 million Palestinians stuck in the conflict.

For the rest of the world, the organised killings must be condemned. It is not just about Palestinians and Hamas fighters. It is about the killing of innocent people and, certainly, it is an issue that transcends all races.

In fact, there should be more protests involving all faiths as this is not merely a Muslim issue.