Civilian deaths will breed more violence
Israel has turned a just war, defense from rocket attacks, into an unjust war, indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Collective punishment is not the answer. It will only create more victims, and is unlikely to subvert the Hamas regime.
Israeli officials say they are just attacking Hamas targets, but heavy civilian casualties seem to belie this. Are Israeli lives worth more than Palestinian lives? Apparently so.
Western media are barred from Gaza so the facts cannot be learned. Transparency is necessary for truth and reasoned opinions. The same spokespersons say necessary humanitarian aid is being permitted to cross the border into Gaza, but on-site reports say otherwise. Traumatizing civilians only bolsters Hamas and breeds future violence.
As Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid, the United States should use its influence to broker a cease-fire in conjunction with other countries seeking a cessation of hostilities.
Paul McCarthy, Largo
While the relentless renewal of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians again dominates the news, buried in the A section Sunday was an article about Kenyan villagers of different tribes who had butchered each other after the disputed December 2007 presidential elections, a conflict that quickly escalated to include disputes over land and natural resources (Kenyans forgive, ask to be forgiven).
The government's response was to create a commission to address tribal issues, but it remains bogged in bureaucratic stages of formation.
So the tribes decided to take matters into their own hands, reluctantly socializing and focusing on ending the violence. As one female member who overcame considerable intrafamily conflict to be involved said: "We are all here for the right reasons: to forgive and to be forgiven."
Maybe the Israelis and Palestinians could benefit from listening to the poor tribes of Kenya.
Bill Ackerman, Homosassa
Wider war in Gaza not the answer | Jan. 6, editorial
Israel only seeks to protect its citizens
The goal of the Israeli military operation in Gaza is to prevent Hamas from continuing to launch rockets into southern Israel. The objective is not to remove Hamas, but to protect Israel's citizens. Nine hundred thousand Israelis live in the "emergency area" where they have a 15-second warning to go to a shelter when sirens go off.
Hamas has put thousands of innocent Palestinians in harm's way, but Israel is trying to do its best to avoid civilian casualties. The Israel Defense Forces have made more than 100,000 phone calls, sent text messages, and dropped leaflets to warn citizens to move out of the area. But still, Hamas is using schools, mosques and hospitals to store rockets.
As to the issue of proportionality, Hamas rockets have for years put Israel's citizens in mortal danger. The fact that Israel has been successful at limiting the casualties from these rocket attacks is not something for which Israel needs to apologize.
Judith Keltan, Tallahassee
End the killing
There should be no doubt that all human life is sacred. The fact that as many as 600 fellow human beings, including more than 100 women and children, have lost their lives in the past week due to the attacks in Gaza should be an outrage to anyone.
Israel needs to stop punishing the entire 1.4-million people of Gaza because of the actions of a select few. The Israeli government needs to do more to allow medical supplies and food to enter Gaza. Considering the United States is the only country that has the influence to discontinue the massacre taking place in Gaza, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice need to immediately negotiate a cease-fire so that we can prevent the continued loss of innocent human lives.
Bilal Farooqi, Tampa
I have long been active in the peace movement both locally and nationally, and the advance into Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces with its unacceptably high numbers of noncombatant civilian casualties is certainly not something I approve of.
That said, neither can I in good conscience stand with those — some of them good friends — who are protesting Israeli actions but will not take a concomitant stand against Palestinian terrorism.
It was indeed the rocket-bombs of Hamas killing Israeli civilians that provoked the Israeli military response. Some of my friends in the local peace movement will undoubtedly want to decry my saying this, but genuinely peace-loving people must stop indulging the moral hypocrisy of a one-sided pacifism. Hamas is an aggressive militant movement openly committed to the destruction of Israel, so it raises the question whether a pacifist who does not oppose terror in the same breath that she or he opposes military invasion can be called authentic.
For my own part, it is difficult to be unduly critical of a government that views itself as taking steps deemed necessary for its self-defense without also being critical of Islamic extremists who continue to advance their agenda at the point of a gun.
John Feeney, Tampa
A perilous pick
Do you feel safe, America? The answer should be a resounding "No" in view of Barack Obama's nomination of Leon Panetta to be head of the CIA.
Sacrificing national security for political correctness, Obama has is appeasing the "loony left" with this appointment of a man totally inexperienced in the intelligence field. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., certainly no hawkish conservative, was surprised by Obama's pick, saying an "intelligence professional" would be her choice for the agency.
Terrorists worldwide who seek to destroy us must be rubbing their hands in glee with a neophyte as U.S. president and a greenhorn as CIA chief.
Anne M. Lossing, Spring Hill