Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of some inconsequential religious organization in Geneva, weighs in again on the conflict in the Gaza Strip:
The World Council of Churches is deeply saddened and gravely concerned by the continued escalation of the military operations in Gaza, human devastation on every side, and the disproportionately high number of Palestinian civilian casualties, including women and children.
The expression he’s looking for here is “human shields,” the purposeful placing of civilians in harm’s way by Hamas in order to use their deaths and injuries for propaganda. He never does come up with the right phrase, however, because doing so would suggest that Israel is not the sole cause of those casualties. Can’t have that, now.
As well as the Israeli strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, the Council condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets against Israeli civilian targets by Hamas and the positioning of rocket launchers in close proximity to civilian populations.
They put rockets in schools, for goodness’ sake. Their headquarters is currently in a hospital. Why are people like Tveit so stubbornly incapable of being precise and specific in their condemnations of Hamas’ depredations? I suppose it is an improvement that he’s finally acknowledging that Hamas is targeting civilians. What he fails to note is that Hamas hits civilians on purpose, while Israel warns civilians about their attacks in an effort to minimize civilian casualties. But that distinction seems lost in him.
The Council appeals to all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. The indiscriminate and disproportionate killing of civilians in the context of an armed conflict is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law.
That is aimed only at Israel, and says nothing about Hamas telling its people to ignore Israeli warnings so as to maximize civilian losses.
The World Council of Churches calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza, and for restrictions on the movement of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip to be lifted so that urgent humanitarian needs can be dealt with.
And if this were done, does anyone suppose that Hamas wouldn’t take advantage of it to bring in more weapons and send out more terrorists? I wonder if Tveit is even aware of the attacks that Hamas has been attempting using tunnels that open up in Israel itself.
This latest resort to armed conflict – and the consequent intolerable suffering inflicted on families and communities – can do nothing to promote a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians. On the contrary, it serves only to perpetuate the deadly cycle of violence, stoking the fires of mutual demonization and division, and further diminishing the vision of two peoples living side-by-side in peaceful co-existence.
Peace in Israel and Palestine will come only through the restoration of compassion between human beings, through seeking together common paths towards justice and peace, and through a genuine commitment to creating the basis for future generations of Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace.
Fine words. If only one of the sides in this conflict wasn’t determined to annihilate the other and kill all of its Jewish inhabitants. What Tveit doesn’t seem capable of understanding is that Hamas doesn’t want “peaceful co-existence.” It wants Israel, and all Jewish Israelis, to die. Everything Hamas does must be seen in that context, but Tveit simply closes his eyes, sticks his fingers in his ears, and cries, “peaceful co-existence! peaceful co-existence!”
Not that it matters much. No one is listening to his gibbering anyway.