NZ should send clear message to Israel says expert

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The Hamas group’s shocking attack on Israel was a bad miscalculation and New Zealand should remind Israel not to make the same mistake, Professor Robert Patman says.

More than 2000 people have been killed and more than 7000 injured, on both sides of the conflict, since armed Palestinian nationalists launched a surprise attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip last week.

Israel has responded with retaliatory air strikes and looks to be preparing a massive land invasion to fulfill Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to ‘‘destroy’’ Hamas.

The narrow 365sq km Gaza Strip is home to more than 2.2 million Palestinians.

Buildings destroyed by recent Israeli strikes in Gaza City. Photo: Reuters
Buildings destroyed by recent Israeli strikes in Gaza City. Photo: Reuters
Prof Patman, who is a University of Otago international relations specialist, says Hamas probably thought their attack would undermine Netanyahu’s leadership.

‘‘But all the indications are since this . . . appalling terror attack that Hamas have miscalculated. It has actually had the reverse effect.’’

Now, Israel, poised to attack, needed to be warned not to make an equally big mistake and New Zealand should say so, Prof Patman says.

‘‘I think New Zealand’s voice should be along the lines ‘This was a beastly and unjustified attack by Hamas’, but it should also caution Israel not to get engaged in a beastly response that does not observe international law.’’

Ultimately, there would be no military solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, only a political one, he said.

Speaking on Global Insight, Prof Patman also discussed the background to the current violence, the place of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the role of regional and global powers in the conflict.

By Bruce Munro