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Letters / Desperate times

My previous letter Send a moral message received some expected reactions.  Discussion on Israel’s recent killing of 45 people in a safety camp hardened around an imagined Hamas weapons store. Reactionaries stated the existence of this weapons store as factual, likely, then possible.

Send a moral message

The grounds for Israel’s excessive use of force, both before and after Hamas’s awful attacks on 7 October, rest on many lies, false claims and exaggerations. Demonstrate your enemy to be inhumane, hell-bent on your destruction, acting without regard for their own, and you are right to eradicate them.

In this case no evidence has been found of the alleged Hamas weapons store that was widely reported to be part responsible for the safety camp killings.

You won’t find corrections in the UK media, but the internationally respected French newspaper Le Monde published the results of their investigation on 31 May.

It used video analysts and ballistic weapons experts, who found no proof of any arms dump. It was cooking gas cylinders, some visible exploded, amongst cooking utensils, cans and pots, that sped the flames.

The English edition of the paper reports the Israeli Defence Force as stating they did not conduct any risk assessment on the spread of fire before conducting their deadly strike. That this flies in the face of International Court of Justice legal requirements and international calls for maximum restraint should go without saying, but the distracting lie of the arms dump has sped twice around the world already.

Another reactionary point raised was that Hamas seeks the total destruction of Israel, but as a point of fact, this is no longer in their charter, nor has it been since 2016.

But the lie has often been repeated, and largely passes unchecked. To point this out, or even to mention the relative ineffectiveness of Hamas’s missiles against Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system, is not to approve of Hamas tactics.

Both sides have committed war crimes, but it does no good to repeat unverified and exaggerated claims made to justify illegal collective punishment. Forty babies were not beheaded. Much disinformation has followed since. If any one side was hell-bent on the total destruction of the other, the deaths by starvation indicate which.

In a more decent world Israel’s Prime Minister would not enjoy the military support provided by the UK government through the provision of arms, and through Royal Air Force and Royal Navy deployments in the region. He would already be on trial for war crimes.

Similarly, the International Court of Justice’s instruction that Israeli troops should leave Rafah would have been immediately followed. Instead, the atrocities continue. Whatever the weasel words of condemnation coming from Shetland MP’s old chum David Cameron, Tory party and British establishment support for the ongoing slaughter remains firm.

What will happen next involves the provision of accurate information to us and our decision makers, including Shetland’s Liberal Democrat candidate Alistair Carmichael.

Tragically though, with over 100 local journalists included within those known to be killed, the operation of external journalists heavily restricted, and UN war crimes verification teams excluded, accurate information can be hard to find.

Such also is the nature of the ownership of the UK’s print media, and the pitifully cowed state of the BBC. The Israeli government’s disinformation operation has long tendrils, as many Jews in Israel, the UK and the USA are aware.

In these desperate times it would be both helpful and encouraging if Alistair Carmichael would confirm that if re-elected, he will not serve in coalition, support any power sharing agreement, or confidence and supply arrangement with a Labour government that will not immediately suspend arms sales licences to Israel.

Similarly, he can require the UK’s immediate recognition of the state of Palestine, as Ireland, Spain and Norway have just done. No recognition, no support.

The threat of a timetabled withdrawal of UK forces in the region can be linked to the need for the withdrawal of Israeli troops. They don’t get out of Gaza, we stop providing logistical support. Such preconditions, made known publicly now, would be consistent with how this Liberal Democrat wishes to be perceived on Palestine.

As appearances do not always match reality, accurate information is needed.

Peter Hamilton
Edinburgh

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