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Former Canterbury advisor: Israel's Ramadan ultimatum will make Hamas 'dig in'

by Will Hobbs
gaza-family-in-rubble-main_article_image.jpg - Banner image

A former Secretary of Public Affairs at Canterbury has told Premier he thinks there's little hope of Hamas accepting Israel's hostage ultimatum, believing that its timing will make Hamas more likely to "doctrinally dig in."

It's after a member of Israel's War Cabinet suggested a military offensive in Rafah could take place next month unless Hamas releases its remaining hostage by Ramadan on 10th March.

Ireland's deputy Prime Minister says a ground invasion would be "absolutely catastrophic," with 1.5 million people currently sheltering in the region.

Author, priest, and former advisor to Canterbury George Pitcher believes Israel's plans don't represent hope for a solution to the conflict.

He told Premier the timing of the deadline, at Ramadan, would make Hamas even less likely to comply.

"I don't think it's a constructive tactic to make this kind of threat. And I think the way in which it's being done, just ahead of the Muslim holy season of fasting of Ramadan, is even more of an indication that there'll be a doctrinal, ideological dig-in by Hamas.

"So I think it exacerbates and escalates the conflict, rather than presents us with any kind of solution, which would be an immediate and total ceasefire and maybe the prospect of a proper negotiation with regards to a peace settlement, rather than simply trying to solve the situation by the threat of an escalation of violence, which I think is a grotesque prospect."

Pitcher also told Premier that the UN and Western leaders have been too slow to respond to the conflict.

"I think all parties in the West have been slow to do that, starting off with this position that Israel has a right to defend itself, which is a statement of the frighteningly obvious but not very helpful, really.

"And it's taken a long while for Western leaders to declare unequivocally that enough is enough.

"But if that is done solidly through the United Nations and Israel, in the form of the Netanyahu regime, are indicated that there will be consequences, there could be consequences in terms of its position in the world if it continues in this unrestrained way of meeting its ends, which those ends begin to look increasingly punitive rather than aiming at a peaceful solution, which obviously has to be the guiding principle of a just war."

Praying for the situation, says Pitcher, can only help bring peace.

"It always, every time, changes us to be agents for peace in the world. So let us pray now that the God of peace and the Prince of Peace is present in all these political deliberations and delivers us and them and everyone who suffers so dreadfully from this terrible time of trial."

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