Wednesday 5 July 2006

30 years after the Raid on Entebbe

Gaza is not Entebbe

30 years ago yesterday, the Israelis would have celebrated the raid on Entebbe when Idi Amin of Uganda gave refuge to a situation where pro-Palestinian militants took over a 100 Israeli/Jews hostage in the terminal building of Entebbe airport.

The advantage the Israelis had to mounting a rescue effort successfully involved the fact that Israelis built the terminal and had enough information from blueprints and so on as to how to approach the building.

There was occasion where the Israeli government would have acceded to the demands of prisoner release especially if the planned raid failed.

In the end, the success celebrated the death of all the hostage takers and good number of Uganda soldiers and unfortunately some of the hostages and the ground commander of the operation - Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu - the big brother of Binyamin Netanyahu.

Those were a time when the bravado of Israeli daring-do was lauded and that was only a few years after the 6-day-war.

Men of war and peace

The prime minister of that time was Yitzhak Rabin who seven years later shook the hand of Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in front of Bill Clinton and on November the 4th 1995 was assassinated by a Jewish extremist.

Today, such swash-buckling days are over, the crux of the moment centres on the taking of Gilad Shalit, a 19-year old conscript with the rank of corporal.

He is probably somewhere in Gaza, but since the Israelis do not have the blueprints and plans of the ghettos of refugee desperation and suffering, it is unlikely that they have smoke him out as they did in humiliating Idi Amin and Uganda.

However, since the current fledgling government of Ehud Olmert need to prove tough, something Ariel Sharon would not have had to do, what has been smoking ahs been power plants, bridges and the main infrastructure of the deprived Palestinian people.

Conventionally flouting civil engagement

Poignantly, once again the Geneva Convention rears its head inconveniently for the United States and Israel.

First in the United States where the prisoner detention at Guantanomo bay and the suspension of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum for the inmates puts the government at variance to its constitutional remit and the 3rd Geneva Convention on the treatment of Prisoners of War - this enemy combatants moniker drew no praise from the Supreme Court.

So now, Switzerland as the depository of the Geneva Conventions has accused Israel of violating what might be the 4th Convention pertaining to the protection of civilians in the time of war. This is evident in the fact that the destruction of civil infrastructure cannot be said to provide the adequate channels that could lead to the release of the hostage.

A dead soldier for more righteous indignation

Whilst is it understandable that Israel with all its might not want to negotiate with puny Palestinians, thinking people are wondering if the release of the hostage is desired or there is an ulterior motive of harassing the Palestinians to a point of losing faith in the Hamas government.

Sometimes, it appears that Israel is interested in the return of the soldier, but has not considered whether they want him back dead or alive. Returned alive would make him a hero for days before recriminations set in; where returned dead would create a martyr for the nation, a celebration of the dead and worse treatment of the Palestinians.

I would presume the win-win situation for Israel is both to have a dead body and the rage to wreak more havoc, destruction and suffering on Palestine with the element to retain their actions as just.

So, as the Israeli Prime Minster warns of escalation of hostilities as home made rockets like home made pies land in Israel, fired by resourceful Palestinian improvisers, one only wonders how much more Israel wants to do to ensure Corporal Gilad Shalit is returned in a box.

Pray for the young man as his people sacrifice his innocent soul to a goal that brings no peace.

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