On Sunday I watched harrowing footage from a hospital in Gaza. Four bewildered children witnessed the collapse of their father, who had just learned his wife had died of her injuries.
How can anyone explain to these children why they are now motherless? Can any political or military justification mitigate their loss? Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa programme director at Amnesty International, has declared: “Unless the Israeli authorities can provide specific information to show how a home is being used to make an effective contribution to military actions, deliberately attacking civilian homes constitutes a war crime and also amounts to collective punishment against the families.”
His appraisal includes criticism of both sides in this conflict. There can be no excuse for either side failing to protect civilians, including journalists, medics and humanitarian workers.
Unfortunately, the fierce determination of victims of past persecution to avoid any future repetition of such treatment often sadly but inevitably leads to a wilful blindness to their own shortcomings. The ultimate consequence of this is a total absence of compassion towards their own victims.
Even the fully learned lessons of history do not always prevent humans from committing immoral acts.
Since Israel claims to be a liberal democracy, it can and should expect to be held to account by Western observers with similar political convictions.