Nearly a month of bloody conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip has inflicted insufferable pains on Palestinian civilians rather than the militant group.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday vowed to make Hamas pay “an insufferable price” for continued cross-border rocket fire. But Israel’s disproportionate and increasingly indiscriminate attacks have been called into more serious question in the international community.
The Palestinian death toll from the conflict that began on July 8 has risen above 1,800, most of whom are civilians, including more than 600 children and women. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai farm worker were killed by rockets and mortars fired at Israel by Gaza militants in the past four weeks, while 64 soldiers were killed during the operation in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.
The mass killing of Palestinian civilians apparently goes far beyond being justified as inevitable to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks. Israel should take more responsible measures regarding Sunday’s attack on a U.N. school in Gaza, which left 10 Palestinians sheltering there dead.
Israel and Hamas have shown no signs of letting up in the confrontation, but they should no longer shun efforts to negotiate an end to the bloodshed that has turned into a humanitarian tragedy.
It was an unwelcome development for both South and North Korea to be reported last week to have been involved in arms delivery to Israel and Hamas, respectively.
The local branch of Amnesty International, a global human rights group, asked Seoul on Thursday to immediately halt the transfer of conventional weapons to Israel. It also launched a campaign to collect signatures to deliver the message to the South Korean government.
According to the group, South Korea has sold 22.7 billion won ($22 million) worth of weapons to Israel since 2008. Though the arms sales might be small, the unexpected implication of Seoul in the conflict seems to have embarrassed some people here. Consideration may be given to suspending arms transfers to Israel until the fighting in Gaza is settled on a permanent basis.
Two days earlier, North Korea vehemently denounced allegations that it supplied missiles to Hamas as “sheer fiction” and a “sinister” attempt to link Pyongyang to Middle East disputes. It would be good if their denial were proven true.