Gaza Q & A by Stephen Shalom

This is an excellent resource for anyone needing an introduction and background to the roots of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, with specific reference to Gaza. Steve Shalom teaches political science at William Paterson University in New Jersey — see his:

Gaza Q&A on ZNet

In particular, these are the questions addressed by Shalom — clicking on a section title to go to that section, or on a number to see his treatment of the given question:

Introduction
1. Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself and its population from rocket attacks?

Gaza
2. While conquests in wars of aggression are clearly illegal, didn’t Israel obtain the West Bank and Gaza as the result of a defensive war against an attack waged by neighboring Arab states?

3. Hasn’t Israel withdrawn from Gaza, thereby ending its occupation?

4. Regardless of whether the occupation legally continues, didn’t Israel give up its settlements and its military bases in Gaza?

5. Why should Israel have an obligation to open its borders with or transmit electricty or fuel to Gaza? Doesn’t it have the sovereign right to close its borders as it wishes?

6. Gaza shares a land border with Egypt. Why is Israel blamed for cutting off Gaza’s borders?

Hamas
7. Didn’t Hamas just use the Israeli disengagement from Gaza as an opportunity to launch rockets at Israel without provocation?

8. How did Israel and the West react to Hamas’s election victory?

9. How could Hamas be a partner for peace? Didn’t they refuse the three U.S.-Israeli conditions: that they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to accept all agreements previously accepted by the Palestinian Authority?

10. Hasn’t Hamas refused to ever accept the existence of Israel?

11. Doesn’t Hamas support Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Semitism?

12. Is Hamas a terrorist organization?

13. How can Israel be accused of terrorism since it doesn’t intentionally kill civilians, and views all civilian deaths that it causes as regrettable accidents?

14. Isn’t Hamas’s firing of inaccurate rockets a violation of international humanitarian law?

15. Does the fact that Israel has killed civilians justify Palestinian attacks on civilians?

16. Didn’t Hamas kidnap an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit?

17. Didn’t Hamas launch a military coup against Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza?

18. Isn’t Hamas just a pawn of Iran?

The Lull
19. What were the terms of the June 2008 ceasefire with Israel?

20. What did the lull terms say about the smuggling in of weapons?

21. What happened during the lull?

22. Wasn’t it legitimate for Israeli troops to go into Gaza to destroy a tunnel being used for a planned kidnapping?

23. Why was the lull not extended?

24. Can Hamas be trusted not to break truces and ceasefires?

25. Given the barrage of rockets that was launched from Gaza after the lull ended on December 19, did Israel have any alternative to a military attack?

26. If the cease-fire had been extended, couldn’t Hamas have smuggled in rockets of longer and longer range until even Tel Aviv was vulnerable? Doesn’t that mean that any new ceasefire would have had to include a provision to prevent weapons smuggling, and hence would have been unacceptable to Hamas?

The Conduct of Operation Cast Lead
27. What does it mean to say that Israel should have responded proportionately?

28. Since Hamas places its military assets in civilian areas, thus using the population as human shields, isn’t Hamas responsible for all the harm to civilians?

29. Israel calls the homes it is planning to attack and drops leaflets warning civilians to get away from military targets. Doesn’t that meet its obligation to protect the civilian population?

30. Has Israel been intentionally targeting civilians in Gaza?

31. Haven’t the vast majority of those killed by Israel been, not civilians, but terrorists?

32. Aren’t there many things we don’t know yet? Shouldn’t we reserve judgment until all the facts are in?

33. Are Israelis unanimous in backing their government policy?

The United States
34. What’s been the role of the United States?

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