The Israeli warship lurking off the Gaza coast immediately after seven Palestinian civilians, including women and three children, were massacred in a shelling incident, was picked up by the cameras. Israel however refuses to claim responsibility for the attack, claiming the explosion on the beach could have been a shell that went astray, or else explosive devices which were lying in the sand and went off.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, has called for a full enquiry into the incident.
Meanwhile the attacks by Israeli aircraft in Gaza and the shelling incident on the beach have caused the militant wing of Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigade, to call off its self-imposed 16-month truce and launch three waves of rocket attacks, although it is claimed by local sources that these attacks did not reach Israeli soil.
It appears to be, for the time being, a measured response to what can only amount to an act of state terrorism, another massacre by the IDF against civilians, whether purposeful of by gross negligence.
While it is difficult to imagine that an Israeli warship would purposefully target Palestinian families enjoying themselves on the beach, it is also difficult to understand how such an act could happen without orders from a senior official, whether on the warship or higher up the chain of command. Or is it a fact that commanders of Israeli warships have the liberty to fire at will against anything that moves?
Whatever the cause of this massacre, a massacre it is and what an irresponsible way to handle affairs at such a delicate moment in history, when the international community is trying to get behind Mahmoud Abbas in building a Palestinian State, when pressure is being placed on Hamas to recognize Israel, whose attacks have caused outrage, shock and awe.
50 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces and hundreds have been injured since Hamas swept to power in a democratic election earlier this year, in January. Not only does this type of disproportionate response to security issues constitute a war crime but it also weakens the hand of the moderate Palestinians and strengthens the hard-liners in Hamas.
If many Israeli human rights groups and MGOs are horrified at this type of incident (although the existence of such pressure groups within Israel does not make the headlines) it is also true that the authorities seem to be blinded by hatred and obviously some of them make more money through the continuation of war than by the institution of peace.
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