IN his letter (January 23) Martin Stern accuses me of having incorrectly asserted that Hamas was not responsible for breaking the recent ceasefire that resulted in the bloody Israeli assault on Gaza.
As with your columnist Steven King before him, Mr Stern will need to do some checking himself.
Israel ended that ceasefire with the killing of six Palestinians — a ceasefire which, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Hamas was careful to maintain”.
The ministry said “the lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shellfire carried out by rogue terrorist organisations”, but it was “in some instances in defiance of Hamas”.
Not only was Hamas careful to maintain the ceasefire but they were in good faith trying their best to prevent others from breaking it.
Meanwhile, unknown to Hamas (who are the democratically elected government of Palestine by a landslide majority in internationally observed elections), Israel was planning a detailed campaign of assault on Gaza.
In an interview with a More4 journalist, Mark Regev, a spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted Israel knew and had officially recorded the fact that Hamas had not broken the ceasefire, saying that “between June and November only 20 rockets were fired from Gaza and by organisations other than Hamas”.
He also confirmed that the documentary evidence from the Israeli foreign ministry described above was correct. Mr Stern can access the More4 archives on the internet to see that interview for himself — he need not take my word for it. The simple fact is that the attack on Gaza by Israel was premeditated and unprovoked — its objective was to destroy the civil infrastructure of Gaza such as schools, mosques and police stations, which it has done with appalling loss of life and injury inflicted on a virtually defenceless and trapped population.
How much longer must the Palestinians be made to suffer these assaults from Israel while the world wrings its hands and invents justifications for them?
Do Palestinians not enjoy a right to self-defence against violently enforced dispossession from their homes and lands and against punishing blockades?
What would the reaction be if they had attempted to reclaim one of the illegal Israeli settlements using similar methods to Israel’s?
Why is it one law for the Israelis and another altogether for the Palestinians?