Independent Thinking

An Independent columnist scratches her head with a pen and tries to figure out who’s to blame for the latest round of Middle East violence.

Supporters of Israel’s action are fond of reiterating Israel’s narrow justification for its action. Who else would put up with regular rocket attacks from a neighbour, it asks? No one suggests that they would be happy to. It is accepted that Israel has the right to defend itself, and so it should be. Yet few would acquiesce without protest to a swingeing two-year blockade by a neighbour either, though no Western leader ever seems seriously to ask that highly pertinent question.

Fair point, if the question of causation is being ignored let’s address that now.

Which came first? Islamist rockets being fired at Israeli civilians, or an Israeli economic blockade affecting non-combatants in Gaza? Knowing the answer to that highly pertinent question might help us reach a conclusion as to where blame might be laid for the fighting.

What does the headline to the article say?

There wouldn’t have been Gaza rockets without the blockade

Well, that seems fairly clear.

According to the Independent, the blockade came first, then the rockets followed…that could mean Israel was guilty of  provoking Hamas into firing the rockets, mightn’t it? It would put the politicians in Jerusalem squarely in the wrong, not Hamas.

It would also keep the writer of the comment piece well within the range of opinions permissible for a member of the metropolitan commentariat to hold, ie that Hamas, as a tribune of the oppressed should be given the benefit of the doubt, and that Israel’s actions should always be viewed with suspicion.

But what if the rockets came first?

Let’s look up the facts:

The Qassam rocket was first launched into Israeli territory on March 5, 2002, by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades

A total of about 450 Qassam rocket attacks were launched against Israel over the two years 2003 and 2004.

During 2004 HAMAS was responsible for an increase in Qassam rocket attacks. A rocket attack on Sderot on June 28 was the first fatal attack against Israelis using Qassam rockets. Two Israelis died in the attack. In September, two Israeli children were killed in Sderot from another Qassam rocket attack.

Etc, etc,

You get the picture. According to those actually paying attention to developments the rockets were first sparked into life in 2002, the first Israeli children kids were buried two years later and rockets have continued to be lobbed over the border on a regular basis since then.

On the principle that Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks (which the author of the article expressly agrees to) that would mean…


That Israel has some justification for attempting to halt the rockets? That Hamas are at least partially to blame for the violence that is engulfing Gaza?

Ow, my head’s hurting.