Missiles have been launched ‘by both sides’ – let’s take a closer look at that | Mark Steel

Missiles have been launched ‘by both sides’ – let’s take a closer look at that | Mark Steel
That’s the problem, isn’t it, both sides are as bad as each other with their missile-launching

The important point to remember if you want to understand what’s happening in Gaza is, as most reports say, “missiles have been launched by both sides”. That’s the problem, both sides are as bad as each other with their missile-launching.

It’s true that one side has missiles that are part of a $20bn annual budget, launched from one of 362 F16 fighter jets that can demolish a high-rise building in a few seconds, and the other has missiles that are bits of gunpowder from disused Catherine wheels, launched with a catapult made from dead squirrels, but they’re both firing missiles.

It was the same in Hiroshima. Someone down there threw an orange at the atom bomb as it was landing, so “missiles were thrown on both sides”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “determined to continue bombarding Gaza until Israel’s aim is met”, which seems fair enough. And Israel’s aim is that Gaza should be bombarded, so until the Palestinians agree that Gaza should be bombarded, Israel has no choice but to continue bombarding Gaza.

So far the Israeli bombs have demolished six of the tallest buildings in Gaza. This fondness for destroying the tallest buildings seems to be a technique they have borrowed from al-Qaeda, so it’s heartening to know that despite all the bad feeling between them, the Israeli government and Jihadist terrorists can put aside their differences and learn from each other.

The Israeli army refers to the deaths of 227 civilians as “unfortunate, unintended civilian casualties”. And it is terrible, unfortunate, unintended bad luck to go about your lawful business of blowing up a high rise residential building, only to discover there were residents in there.

It’s often claimed the civilians are used as “human shields” by Hamas, who place civilians in areas likely to be bombed, so it makes Israel look bad when they get killed. And that is so much more likely than the other explanation, that a housing block had people living in it.

Netanyahu said the bombs have been launched to “restore calm”, and the most efficient way to restore calm in any situation, is to blow up a block of flats. This is why the sound of a block of flats exploding is the common background on a meditation tape, as it helps you to control your breathing and find your inner calm.

There have been 20 times as many casualties in Israel as in Gaza, but the Israeli army can explain that. It says that misfired rockets from Palestinians “may well have caused the civilian casualties”. These are also the rockets the Israeli government says provide the reason for why Israel has to bombard Gaza. So Hamas are firing rockets from Gaza that land on Gaza, then Israel has no choice but to say: “Gaza is bombing itself, so we have to bomb them as well, to protect ourselves from the bombs they keep bombing themselves with.”

One of the bombed buildings included the office for Al-Jazeera, the news agency, and the office of the Associated Press. The Israeli army said Hamas were using the building, though no one has provided any evidence for this. What a coincidence, that the press agencies the Israeli government detest, happen to have offices in the same building as Hamas, making it a target.

It’s a shame we can’t all do this. If someone annoys us, such as a company that keeps calling and asking if you’ve had an accident in the last 12 months, it would be so much easier if we could demolish their building, and get away with it by saying we thought Hamas were in there somewhere.

There’s something quite sweet about the Israeli explanations, as if they come from the mind of a four-year-old: “No right, but, yeah alright, the building was knocked over, right, but they must have done it themselves, right.”

Among other military targets have been a mattress factory and an ice cream factory, and we can all see the threat posed by those sinister items. I expect next on the list will be a bouncy castle and a trifle.

This is all justified as part of the strategy to fight terrorism, and that’s why over 60 children have been killed. Because if you want to ensure a population is calm and not attracted to terrorism, blow their house up and from then on they’ll simply let life’s problems roll on by.

Luckily, there are independent referees who are willing to sort the two sides out, of which the most important is the United States. The US government claims it’s an “honest broker” amidst the squabbling, which is fair enough except it gives $3.8bn a year to Israel. To be fair it’s possible they tried to give $3.8bn a year to Gaza as well, but the money didn’t get through because there was a problem with Gaza’s sort code, as a result of the bank being unfortunately and unintentionally demolished.

Otherwise it might be tricky for the US to claim they’re completely independent. If a football referee was found to have given one side $3.8bn a year, I expect the FA would want to investigate.

But the most important aspect of the current bombing is probably its complete predictability. Once every three or four years this happens, in exactly the same way, then in between times you forget about it a bit and assume it’s not so bad and wonder if the Israeli government has developed a touch of compassion. Then you realise the reason for the gap is they’re just waiting for everything to get rebuilt so they can unintentionally knock it all down again.


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