The March 8 editorial titled "In their defense" used the false analogy of an unprovoked North Augusta (Gaza) launching missiles against a peaceful Augusta (Israel) to defend Israel's siege of and incursions into Gaza.
Israel's harsh military occupation of Gaza has lasted more than 40 years, during which Israel deprived Gazans of their liberty and impoverished them by destroying their trade with the outside world through arbitrary border and port closings. While the Israeli withdrawal in 2005 eased some of these problems, Israel's continued border restrictions -- which amount to an actual siege, withholding of tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority, reductions in water and fuel supplies, refusal to negotiate cease fire agreements and assassinations of political leaders with the inevitable "collateral damage" -- have denied Gazans their internationally recognized human rights, national rights of self-determination and even basic necessities of food, water, sewage treatment supplies and medicine.
These facts make the editorial's analogy of Israel to innocent Augustans ridiculous. The editorial exaggerates the number of missiles launched into Israeli territory and ignores the fact that Palestinian militias launch them in response to Israeli military incursions and air strikes that regularly kill scores of Palestinians. Between Feb. 28 and March 5, the Israeli military killed 110 Palestinians, including 51 civilians, and wounded 236, including 154 civilians. Children are being killed while playing soccer and tending livestock. Because of restrictions on movements of ambulances and paramedics, many wounded bleed to death.
Unconditional support of Israeli policies and ignoring the rights of the Palestinians are not the correct way to stop this cycle of violence. Instead, we must ask Israel to end its occupation, recognize the rights of Palestinians and stop impeding the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank alongside Israel, as envisioned by President Bush.
Hossam E. Fadel, Augusta