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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

The Gaza war

Anja Niedringhaus / The Associated Press

Israeli soldiers take cover as a mobile artillery piece fires toward targets in the southern Gaza Strip, on the Israel side of the border with Gaza Tuesday.

A two-sided story

Editor, The Times:

In his column “The Israel-Gaza war is not complicated: Hamas attacks must end,” Charles Krauthammer [Times, syndicated columnist, Jan. 4] reduces a tragic and complex conflict to a fairy tale of noble Israel slaying an evil force.

Unfortunately, the facts are not so simple. Israel is not only our ally, but many of us in the U.S. have personal connections with citizens of Israel. It is difficult not to have an immediate response of empathy for Israel. But, this does not excuse us from looking at the complexity of the situation in a quest for peace.

Krauthammer fails to note that since Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip, it has relentlessly isolated Gaza, choking its economy and turning it into a virtual prison for its inhabitants.

Its civilian population has been deprived of access to the most basic necessities, including adequate health care. Krauthammer paints Israel as a beleaguered victim of a relentless attack. In fact, Israel is a nation with one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated militaries.

In its justifiable aim to stop Hamas rocket fire, it is choosing to pursue a means that is inflicting death, destruction and unimaginable suffering on a civilian population that is already weakened by years of Israeli occupation and isolation.

Recall that after the war of 1967 when the victorious Israel occupied Gaza, it confiscated Palestinian land and resources in order to establish Israeli settlements. Krauthammer writes that the occupation ended in 2005 and therefore cannot be a grievance. He neglects to mention that the end of the occupation did not mean the end of Israeli control. Israel continued to keep Gazans imprisoned in its borders.

Establishment of peace requires understanding the legitimate needs of both Israelis and Gazans.

— Elaine Loughlin, Port Townsend

Long overdue

I commend Charles Krauthammer for his insightful column.

Israel’s response to seven years of life under rocket fire and suicide bombings by Palestinian terrorists was long overdue. During that time, Israel exercised extraordinary restraint in the face of the thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks on its citizens. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed from Israeli surgical strikes were Hamas terrorists, according to U.N. data.

The Bush administration is right to stand behind Israel’s right to defend itself. Equating Israeli defensive measures with Iranian-backed Hamas terrorism is neither justified nor appropriate.

Israel needs to win a decisive victory in its war with Hamas and confiscate its military equipment if there is going to be any chance of a lasting peace. Palestinians have received more humanitarian aid per capita than any other people in the world. Unfortunately, much of this aid has been used to purchase weapons for attacking Israeli citizens.

If Palestinians wish to live in peace with Israel and prosper, they need to elect leaders that will devote their financial resources to building a civil society, and give up their pipe dream of destroying Israel.

— Josh Basson, Seattle

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