It’s always hard to write something by committee, which we needed to do. This is most of what was scrapped when we suddenly learned that Israel was launching its ground offensive, necessitating a re-write of the statement we finally issued late on Friday (click here to read PPI’s actual statement):
There are plenty of issues to resolve. For example, peaceful Gazans should have the right to freely exit and reenter their tiny enclave, while Israelis have the right to safeguard their country from attack. But these cannot be settled at the point of a gun.
We hasten to add that there is no justification for the thousands of rockets and other munitions fired from the Gaza Strip, now and in previous times, at Israeli civilians. Not only do these attacks unlawfully endanger non-combatant Israelis, but, as we’ve seen repeatedly, they also cause Israel to respond with its much more formidable military arsenal to inflict massive harm on the lives and infrastructure of Gaza. Hence, this constitutes the opposite of self-defense for the people of Gaza as claimed by its Hamas rulers.
The deletion of these two paragraphs reflected changed circumstances on the ground, not any rejection for reasons of principle. There was also some sentiment for and against mentioning all Hamas demands, which at least a few of us saw as reasonable, even as we deplore Hamas’s decision to attack Israel in the first place, not to mention its rejection of a long-term ceasefire last week. These demands include releasing the Hamas-affiliated prisoners who were freed as part of the U.S.-brokered peace negotiations that were suspended recently, only to be detained anew in Israel’s sweep of the West Bank in connection with the kidnap-murders of the three Israeli boys.
There was also some thought given to the Hamas demand to end the blockade of Gaza, which would include reopening the Rafah border crossing — actually best addressed to the government of Egypt, which controls that crossing point. Israeli security forces have a responsibility to prevent the importation of weaponry and munitions into Gaza; at the same time, some how, this interest needs to be exercised in a way that does not imprison most Gazans within the narrow confines of this tiny enclave, nor subject them to the constant indignities of restricted food, fuel and electricity because of the sporadic acts of violence committed by extremist factions.