Article 33 of the Geneva Convention, of which the United States is a signatory, states that "No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they can not be regarded as jointly and severally responsible." Both Hamas and Israel are in gross violation of Article 33.
Since June 2007, the Israeli government has instituted an economic, material and food blockade of the Gaza Territory, an area the size of Mesa with 1.5 million inhabitants, which has devastated their economy and undermined access to water, medical treatment and food security. Many Gazans have died as a consequence and 46 percent of their children suffer acute anemia from malnutrition, according to the United Nations.
Israel instituted the blockade after Hamas took control of Gaza and continued intermittent rocket attacks into Israeli territory. After a five-month Egyptian-brokered cease fire ended in late November, Hamas rocket attacks resumed with the range of the rockets growing, sometimes exceeding 20 miles into Israel; fortunately, a relatively few people have been killed and injured. In return, Israel unleashed a rein of terror with U.S. supplied F-16 fighters and missiles upon the inhabitants of Gaza, killing hundreds, including civilians, and wounding more.
While every nation has a right to defend its territory and people, Israel's intensive bombing reinforces an image of brutality that feeds support for Hamas. The Bush administration endorsement of Israel's actions is disgraceful and continues eight years of failure to recognize the politics, needs and desires of the region's inhabitants.
The incoming Obama administration must restore the United States as an honest broker in Middle East peace. A more secure future cannot come through violent intimidation, but must embrace the human dignity of all sides, including Hamas and the Israelis.
Dave Wells of Tempe is president of the Arizona Institute for Peace Education and Research.