Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Brink of civil war in the Gaza Strip

Here in France, when I started to write this post, it was 9 o'clock in the morning. In Israel, the time was one hour later. In the Gaza Strip, during these few hours since the sun rose this morning, six combatants already died in the fighting between partisans of the Hamas of prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and the Fatah of president Mahmoud Abbas. This brought the death count over the last four days of civil fighting to 53. That's a lot of victims for such a small territory, whose area is a mere 30th that of metropolitan Sydney, with a population of 1.4 million Palestinians. [The population density of the Gaza Strip is about 11 times the density of Sydney.]

It's tempting to ask a rhetorical question: How could such a people possibly seek peace with Israel when they are capable of such deadly clashes among themselves? A similar question might be asked concerning the unlikely possibility of Bush being able to set up a peaceful democracy in Iraq. I believe that such rhetorical questions are unfair, since they fail to look at the respective situations in an objective manner. These questions imply that Palestinians and Iraqis have a predisposition to violence, to killing for the sake of killing. That's absurd. It's like suggesting that starving people have a disposition to fighting for food. They weren't born to fight, no more than you or I. Events pushed them into this style of existence. Violence breeds violence.

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