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Israel throws away its opportunities for peace

J M McCorkell writes (Write Back, August 5) that Hamas fired “almost 4,000 missiles and mortars” into Israel in the 12 months prior to Israel’s assault on Gaza in December 2008.

However, Mr McCorkell omits the fact that Israel and Hamas had a ceasefire in place from June 19, 2008 until November 4, 2008.

During this period, Hamas didn’t fire any rockets or mortars out of Gaza and restrained other Palestinian groups from doing so. This was confirmed by the Israeli-Prime Minister’s spokesman, Mark Regev, on More4 News on January 9, 2009.

Indeed, according to the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire” despite the fact that Israel failed to honour its obligation to lift its illegal blockade.

Sadly, this calm was brought to an end on November 4 when Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians. In retaliation, Hamas resumed rocket and mortar fire.

So, contrary to the impression given by Mr McCorkell, Israel had a solution to the rocket firing out of Gaza in 2008, but it chose to throw it away. The result of that callousness was to make both Israelis and Palestinians casualties.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza, beginning in December 2008, cost the lives of approximately 1,400 Palestinians, including somewhere between 750 and 1,000 civilians. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, also died.

All Israel had to do to protect its citizens was to stick to the terms of the ceasefire agreement it made with Hamas in June 2008. It chose not to do so.

RICHARD IRVINE

Carrickfergus, Co Antrim

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