Tharman Speaks On Israel-Hamas Conflict & Need To Protect Civilian Lives
Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam has spoken on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, noting that the priority should be to protect civilian lives.
He also urged for more humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter Gaza and prevent a catastrophe.
Mr Tharman objected to the “indiscriminate taking of civilian lives on either side”, noting it defies international law and human morality.
Tharman asks to think of children affected by Israel-Hamas conflict
“Anyone with a conscience must be deeply troubled by the unfolding human tragedy in Gaza,” Mr Tharman stated at the beginning of his Facebook post on Sunday (22 Oct).
He noted that anyone should know that the cycle of violence will continue to repeat itself. That is, until there is a permanent solution for Israel and the Palestinians to live as neighbouring states with assurances of their security.
He also asked people to think especially of the children, with almost half of all Palestinians being under 18.
Source: UNICEF/Ajjour via Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Facebook
“They must have reason for hope in the future,” he emphasised.
Mr Tharman stated the urgent priority now is to protect civilian lives. He also said we must allow “vastly larger amounts of humanitarian aid” to enter Gaza.
Over 4,000 innocent Palestinian lives have been lost.
There are also two million people in Gaza trapped under a near-total blockade.
He also condemned the actions of Hamas militants in Southern Israel, including attacking civilians, killing over 1,400, and taking 210 hostages.
Tharman acknowledges deep history behind Israel-Hamas conflict
Tharman added that there is a deep history behind the current conflict that has spanned generations.
“Everyone can understand the trauma felt by Israelis following the Hamas assault — the deadliest since Israel’s founding as a nation — and the memories it brings of repeated pogroms against the Jews through history,” he said.
Mr Tharman additionally stated he understood Israel’s relentless quest for security.
He also acknowledged the trauma and desperation of the Palestinians, who have lived under a 16-year Israeli siege of Gaza. They are deprived of rights and lack clean water.
There are also armed Israeli settlers illegally encroaching on the West Bank and taking away the homes of Palestinians.
“But one thing is clear,” Mr Tharman said. “Nothing in their complex history, or the grief experienced by either, can justify the indiscriminate taking of civilian lives on either side. It offends basic human morality and flouts international law.
A permanent two-state solution must be reached
He noted that Singapore believes the “only durable and just solution” to the conflict is a two-state solution, with negotiated peace and security conditions, and with dignity.
Both he and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent condolence letters expressing their hope that all sides can find a way to work towards this goal.
However, in the interim, innocent civilians must be protected in the coming weeks and months.
“Not only because there are compelling humanitarian reasons. Not only because international law requires so. But because each round of extremism and violence against innocent people will harden hearts, and create new enemies,” Mr Tharman warned.
“It risks broadening the conflict in the region. It makes it more difficult to find a path to a future of peace, a future of hope for the young.”
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Featured image adapted from UNICEF/Ajjour via Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Facebook and Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Facebook.