A sad ending to 2008 is the start of a full-scale war between Israel and the Hamas, the ruling Palestinian political party in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel launched its deadliest campaign in decades against the Palestinians in response to rocket fired on civilians at southern Israeli towns. The Palestinian attack was implemented following the end of the agreed ceasefire on Dec. 19, 2008. Hamas leaders likewise threatened the increase of suicide attacks inside Israel.
On the third day of its Gaza assault, Israel’s air force turned to rubble symbols of Hamas power, striking next to the Hamas premier’s home, devastating a security compound and flattening a building at a university linked to the Islamic group. Death toll has reached 315 while 1,400 are wounded. According to the UN, 51 of the dead are civilians with 8 under the age of 17. Since midday Saturday, Israel has launched about 300 airstrikes on Gaza.
Israel received criticism from various groups for the attacks, but their defense minister said his military is fighting a “war to the bitter end” against Hamas. A rise in civilian casualty will eventually increase international pressure for Israel to abort the offensive. Meanwhile, the conflict has driven oil prices up to almost US$40 per barrel which has continued to decline the the past weeks.
Some believe that war is necessary to maintain peace. But when when innocent people and children are dying, regardless on which side, is war really justified? Maybe war is only between leaders greedy for power — yet, it is civilians who are dragged into the conflict while we listen to them make their speeches about fighting for their people.
As the year ends, I pray that God grant the leaders in this conflict the wisdom to decide what is right and may He watch over the innocent and keep as many as possible safe. For the rest of us safe in our homes, may the new year bring us better luck and better news.