Re: Ray Friesen's Open Letter in the August 14 Southwest Booster
The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has once again focused, for a few weeks at least, the world’s attention on the Middle East. The challenge of bringing peace to the Middle East will not be easily resolved and certainly are not helped by the extreme actions of the terrorist group, Hamas. As Mr. Friesen is well aware, Hamas does not represent the aspiration and interests of the vast majority of Palestinian people. But, because they control the weapons, they are able to force their agenda onto the people of Gaza. And their agenda is clear - it has at its core a negative and cruel agenda revolving around the desire for the complete destruction of Israel.
Hamas’ focus is not on what is good for the Palestinian people, it is on advancing an urban guerrilla war against Israel that will continue interminably. While others are trying to find a peaceful solution Hamas has used Gaza and its civilian population as a war theatre and arms depot. They have militarized Gaza by placing tunnels throughout civilian neighbourhoods and rocket launching stations throughout civilian areas. They then use those same locations to launch attacks into Israel. They are well aware that any response to try to deal with this aggression will impact the local civilian population. If Israel makes any offensive move to defend itself, Hamas knows that will result in civilian casualties. And yet they do it anyway.
Mr. Friesen needs to separate support for Hamas from support for the Palestinian people. This is the distinction our government has made. We have helped, and continue to work to help, the Palestinian people. But we will not support either Hamas or Palestinian leaders who insist on using their own families and children as human shields in a conflict that cannot be resolved by violence.
In January 2014, we committed $66 million in additional support for the Palestinian people to help advance the peace process, promote security and the rule of law, stimulate sustainable economic growth and deliver humanitarian assistance.
Hamas’ terroristic activities are not just an Israeli issue. I should point out that the present government of Egypt has been very strong in their opposition to the activities of Hamas on Gaza and area as well.
And yes, we have supported Israel’s right to respond. No one wants to see children or civilians injured or killed in a military conflict. Israel has never dedicated itself to the extermination of the Palestinian population as Hamas has done towards them. The reality is that military conflict too often results in civilian casualties. Neither side should be deliberately and callously putting its own civilians in jeopardy.
The United Nations officials on the ground need to maintain the United Nations’ supposed principles of neutrality. To hear that Hamas was using UN facilities and schools as arms depots destroys the credibility of the UN. More than that, it again highlights the danger created for civilians who should expect that UN sites will be safe neutral sites to which they can turn for protection.
While I understand Mr. Friesen’s strong interest in this conflict, his extreme language does nothing to contribute to a long lasting solution to this problem.
MP David Anderson - Cypress Hills-Grasslands