Middle East: must Israel do more to protect civilians?

The high number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is fighting radical Islamic Hamas, is drawing growing criticism from the international community. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority more than 13,000 people have already been killed. Israel has stressed that it wants to avoid civilian casualties, but that the tunnels where Hamas is hiding hostages as well as weapons and supplies run under civilian facilities. Europe's press reflects the widespread controversy.

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Times of Malta (MT) /

"Human shields" are human beings

The Israeli military is clearly going too far in the Gaza Strip, criticises political philosopher Kenneth Wain in the Times of Malta:

“The excuse that Hamas is using civilians as 'human shields' can never justify the indiscriminate massacre of the men, women, elderly and children of Gaza, the patients in the hospitals and so on. ... Being used as human shields doesn't strip a people of their humanity, it doesn't turn them into objects or legitimate targets. On the contrary, it qualifies them more strongly for the protection of their human rights. It obliges the exercise of the greatest caution to minimise the risks to their lives and limbs.”

El País (ES) /

No political strategy

El País sees Israel's dilemma:

“Why does the Israeli government refuse to show even a modicum of humanity? Perhaps because it has no political strategy, only military force. ... It wants to conceal an internal crisis which frightens many of its own inhabitants. One option is to integrate all the occupied territories by force. This would require either the expulsion of all Palestinian inhabitants, which would be unacceptable to the neighbouring countries, or imposing a strict apartheid regime. ... This would be unacceptable to the international community and for part of the Israeli population. The other option would be to accept the creation of a Palestinian state. But there are already 500,000 settlers armed to the teeth and perhaps willing to start a civil war.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Blatant double standard

In an article in the Kleine Zeitung, philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann criticises a double standard vis-à-vis Israel and Hamas:

“From the UN Secretary-General downwards, Israel is being called upon to comply with the humanitarian rules of international law and the laws of war, to spare civilians and to offer a ceasefire. Quite apart from the fact that this request flies in the face of Israel's right to self-defence and to protect its population from further acts of terror: when have such appeals ever been made to Hamas? When has it been called upon to respect human rights in its actions?”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Don't forget who started this

The Islamists started this war, Kristeligt Dagblad reminds readers:

“When Western university students and other fledging activists wrap themselves in Palestinian flags and express their sympathy for Hamas - or at least for Hamas's cause - they should remember who attacked whom and who holds the key to ending the war and preventing the terrible number of civilian casualties, at least in the short term. It is logical that the calls for an end to hostilities are directed at Israel, which, unlike Hamas, is a rational actor and can be expected to respond to international pressure. ... But we in the West have lost our moral compass when we focus solely on Israel's responsibility.”

Expresso (PT) /

War can't bring security for Israelis

Nadav Weiman, a former Israeli soldier and director of the NGO Breaking the Silence, calls for a political solution to the conflict in Expresso:

“The horrific attack on 7 October has made it clear that the defence of Israel requires a different approach. We must question our assumptions: the lesson we need to learn from past conflicts is that force alone cannot provide us Israelis with the security we deserve. A political solution that addresses the roots of the conflict is the only way to defend Israel's borders and citizens. We must reach binding agreements that guarantee the rights, security and freedom of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the self-determination of both peoples.”