Palestinian activist dubs Gaza 'open-air prison'

Reporter discusses the ongoing conflict in Gaza which has left over 2,000 dead

The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas was put in serious jeopardy yesterday after rockets were fired from Gaza, triggering a swift military and political reaction from Israel.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it was targeting "terror sites across the Gaza Strip" in retaliation, and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, pulled out his negotiating team from the talks on finding a durable ceasefire agreement in Cairo.

Following three weeks of incessant bombardments, Gaza was relatively quiet for the past eight days as two successive ceasefires were in place to allow negotiations to be conducted.

A further 24-hour ceasefire – due to expire at midnight last night – was agreed in Cairo late on Monday night. However, yesterday afternoon, Israel accused Hamas of breaching the ceasefire after three rockets fell near the city of Beersheba in southern Israel. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

But despite the death of almost 2,016 Palestinians – mostly civilians – the silence and refusal of EU countries to mediate between Palestine and Israel speaks volumes: 2,016 Palestinians have died while 56 Israeli troops died in battle, and on the other hand, Gaza has been constantly targeted by heavy bombing and rockets, with its hospitals, schools, and infrastructure reduced to rubble. 

The conflict was discussed on TVM’s Reporter, hosted by MediaToday’s managing editor Saviour Balzan.

Palestinian activist Sanaa El Nahhal stressed that notwithstanding the “constant deaths of Palestinian children and civilians,” Israel’s bombing highlights the true reality of Palestine on an international platform.

El Nahhal explained that “Gaza and the West Bank are like a prison, there is no work, no medical attention, and there has been no improvement along the years. People are dying everyday, so this war (somewhat a poignant irony) will highlight the standards of living and daily ordeal that Palestinians live everyday.”

Asked whether Israel’s bombing is justified in light of Hamas’ rocket attacks, El Nahhal was adamant that violence can never be justified – more so because 2,016 Palestinians have been killed in revenge for the death of 56 Israeli soldiers who died in combat. 

MaltaToday journalist Jurgen Balzan held that officially the conflict was triggered due to the abduction of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank, however it has now emerged that Hamas was not responsible for the abduction and Israel is using it as an “excuse” to target Gaza.

“During peace negotiations, Netanyahu said he will not negotiate with Hamas and Fatah, claiming that neither of them represents the Palestinians. When Hamas and Fatah formed a unity government Netanyahu said he will not negotiate with terrorists,” Balzan said.

Asked what role Malta should play, Balzan said that the current Labour administration should follow in the footsteps of successive governments which supported the Palestinian cause. “I hope to see this government demonstrate that its vocation is not to make money by signing agreements with Israel but to achieve peace and stability in the Mediterranean by bringing the two sides together.”