The war has stopped. At least for now. First Israel called unilateral ceasefire and then, the Hamas, giving Israel one week to withdraw its forces and lift the economic blockade. If Israel does not, will Hamas re-start firing rockets at Israeli citizens? Hence, an uneasy calm prevails in Gaza.
There has been huge destruction and loss of human lives. Gaza has been flattened by Israel bombs. The war has been catastrophic for Gazans. At least 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians and 13 Israelis have been killed.
The international community has a gigantic task ahead towards reconstruction and providing basic humanitarian assistance including food, water and medicine in Gaza.
According to UN estimate, four thousand homes are ruined and tens of thousands of people are homeless. Half a million people had been without water since the conflict began. There has been acute shortage of medicines due to the blockade even prior to the attack.
Israel has defended the recent Gaza episode, without any remorse for hundreds of innocent lives cut short. On 19 January 2009, I posed a question to the Israeli Ambassador to India, Mr Mark Sofer during a live chat hosted by IBNLive news channel.
I asked: “Mr Ambassador, you have defended Gaza strikes on the ground that you want to make Israelis secure from Hamas rockets. Do you think Israeli citizens will be more secure after the end of the war given the fact that Hamas have not been disarmed? Do you have any remorse for the indiscriminate killings of civilians including women and children in Gaza?”
Mr Mark Sofer answered thus: “I do not know for sure whether Israeli citizens will be more secure today but it would be impossible for them to have been less secure than they were prior to today. In the last eight years almost half a million innocent men, women and children had been forced to live no more than 15 seconds from a bomb shelter. This is an untenable situation for any people and everything that had been tried by Israel and the International community failed. These are terrorists and for them terror is a way of life.”
Clearly, as you see, he has deliberately avoided my question as to whether he felt remorse for “indiscriminate killings of civilians including women and children in Gaza”.
I thought he would give a standard answer: "unfortunately, lives are lost in any war", or the like.