© AP Photo by Lefteris Pitarakis
The dome of a mosque, destroyed by Israeli strikes during the war, is seen in Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Aug. 11, 2014
Former federal justice minister Irwin Cotler says if people want to prevent further tragedies like the current conflict in Gaza, they need to ask some fundamental questions about the root causes of that conflict.
Speaking to a fundraising luncheon for Charlottetown MP Sean Casey on Tuesday, the Liberal critic for rights, freedoms and international justice placed the blame for this conflict squarely on the shoulders of Hamas.
Hamas, which has long been recognized as a terrorist organization by countries like Canada, Israel, the United States, the U.K. and the countries of the European Union, is committed to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be, Cotler said.
That commitment, he noted, is clearly set out in the Hamas charter.
He recounted that in 2005, Israel disengaged from Gaza, removing all its soldiers and its citizens, leaving behind some 3,000 greenhouses and other pieces of infrastructure that Palestinians could take advantage of and make use of.
But Hamas destroyed those greenhouses, brutalized the Palestinian people and ramped up its attacks on Israel instead of using those resources to help build a state.
Cotler said Hamas has fired 14,000 rockets into Israel since 2000, some 3,000 of them this year alone.
He said the real root cause of the troubles in Gaza is Hamas’s unwillingness to recognize Israel’s right to live in peace.
“Hamas is a uniquely evil expression of genocidal anti-Semitism.”
Cotler said there have now been eight ceasefires, every one of which has been broken by Hamas.
For there to be a comprehensive and enduring ceasefire, several things must happen, he indicated.
Included on that list is the demilitarization of Gaza so it cannot be used as a staging ground for attacks on Israel; the disbanding of Hamas’s terrorist militias; the dismantling of Hamas’s weapons infrastructure; and the recognition of Israel’s right to live in peace and security.
Cotler supports the right of peoples in the Middle East — Israelis and Palestinians alike — to live in peace and security, free from any threats or acts of force.