Shanmugam Opposes Bilahari Views On Israeli Government In Gaza
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has penned a Facebook post responding to an op-ed by retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan about the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.
In the post, he explained that Mr Bilahari had failed to emphasise the illegal actions the Israeli government has committed over the years.
Mr Bilahari had published an opinion piece on the conflict via The Straits Times (ST).
Over the past month, the escalating violence in Gaza amidst conflict between Israel and Hamas has been the subject of much debate across the world, as the Israeli government has ordered a ground invasion.
Shanmugam says Israeli government went against international law in Gaza in response to Bilahari op-ed
On 11 Nov, Mr Bilahari published a piece via ST titled, “Hard truths about Gaza war’s cruel and complex dilemmas”.
He said that the 7 Oct attack by Hamas was unjustifiable “by any reason”.
As such, the response from Israel was not a “war of revenge.” Instead, it was an exercise of Israel’s right to self-defence to restore deterrence.
Mr Shanmugam then addressed the piece via a Facebook post on Saturday (18 Nov), stating that his views differed from Mr Bilahari’s.
Describing the 7 Oct attack as “unacceptable”, he agreed that it was unjustifiable and had to be condemned.
“However, Bilahari’s op-ed does not emphasise the illegal actions by the Israeli Government, over many years,” he noted.
Their actions included establishing settlements in the West Bank and preventing a two-state solution. In addition, the government had imposed severe restrictions on Gaza’s population.
This, in effect, denied “any hope to the Palestinians”.
Says both Israeli and Palestinian leadership are responsible
Mr Shanmugam went on to describe the Israeli government’s actions as “contrary to international law” and “oppressive to the Palestinians”.
“One can say this while also accepting that parts of the Palestinian leadership have acted very badly,” he said.
Both the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership have responsibility for the current situation, and the peace process not progressing.
In the context of the current violence in Gaza, he said that Israel had the right to self-defence.
“But this right does not extend to indiscriminate killing of civilians or mass displacement of entire populations,” Mr Shanmugam caveated. “Collective punishment is also illegal.”
Praises Singapore for donations to humanitarian effort
Mr Shanmugan then stated that the scale of the tragedy in Gaza was “immense”, with the conflict resulting in the deaths of thousands.
“Devastation in this scale is very difficult to accept,” he said.
He added that local lawyer Ahmad Firdaus Daud had responded to Bilahari’s op-ed, providing another perspective on the matter.
“[It] is also worth reading,” he stated. “Firdaus helps me on and off at my Meet the People Sessions.”
Mr Shanmugam ultimately concluded his post by sharing that the Kong Meng San Monastery in Singapore had donated S$50,000 to the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) for Gaza.
“Very heartening,” he praised. “This is Singapore.”
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Featured image adapted from K Shanmugam Sc on Facebook.
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