It is a tried and tested recipe for dealing with a civilian population perceived as the enemy. Make them prisoners in their own houses and streets, behind walls and high wire fences. Have your army and police force guard the gates to prevent free movement of people. Blockade food and other essential supplies.

When the people behind the walls rise up in defiance, crush them with all the military power at your disposal. It worked for Nazi Germany in the Warsaw ghetto during the second world war. It's working for the Israelis today in the Gaza Strip.

It is an appropriate analogy. In their operations to exterminate Hamas in the enclosed spaces of Gaza, the Israeli forces are said to use techniques employed by the Germans in their assault on the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.

Israel will deny any similarity to Nazi strategy. But the response to the Hamas rocket attacks on Jewish settlements has been totally inappropriate.

In the last couple of years, about 15 Israelis had been killed by Hamas rockets. The death toll in Gaza last week was 430 and rising.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas but some 40 children have been killed by the air strikes. One child was decapitated on Friday while playing in the street in the town of Khan Yunis.

After the bombs and air strikes, a land invasion with tanks and bulldozers is likely to complete the task.

The indiscriminate destruction appears not so much a response to Hamas rockets, as part of a long-term plan to level the urban landscape of the Gaza Strip and drive its inhabitants into the sea.

With the sophisticated military technology available, the Israeli forces should have been able to target more surgically the rocket launchers and the Hamas leaders who ordered the attacks. The iron fist approach is preferred, providing further shades of Nazi Germany, when the assassination of one SS officer would be punished by the razing to the ground of an entire village.

These Hamas leaders and their trigger-happy rocketeers stand culpable. Their Qassam missiles have largely missed any Israeli military targets. They sometimes kill sheep and chickens. Occasionally humans, including young Israeli children, die in these pointless attacks.

From time to time, Hamas manages to land a Qassam or two on its own people. These casualties will be of little concern. The Hamas leadership must know that for every futile rocket launched at Israel, the people of Gaza will suffer 100 or 1000-fold.

Every Israeli atrocity strengthens Hamas's importance in the eyes of the populace. A state of war suits the fundamentalists. There are reports of Hamas gunmen using the chaos in Gaza last week to liquidate Fatah and other Palestinians who stand against them.

If the people of Gaza turn to Hamas, it is because the world has turned its back on Palestine. The US condones Israel's oppression of Palestine and provides the money and military equipment to expedite the genocide.

Most of the rest of the world, including Britain, merely look on. (That fellow Tony Blair, co-producer of the Iraq war and now the world's peace envoy to Palestine, has been remarkably quiet this last week on the subject of how much damage can be done by deadly weapons in the space of 45 minutes.) The world has stood idly by while Israel has set up a system of apartheid which, by comparison, makes the hated regime of South Africa's Dr Verwoerd and his fellow Boers seem like the attention of kindly uncles. With walls, fences, modern roads only for the use of Jews and ubiquitous army checkpoints, Palestinians are routinely corralled and denied access to their places of work, hospitals, homes of friends and relatives. There is little freedom of movement.

As a small but significant example of the isolation which Israel imposes, the Palestine national football team are not allowed to play any matches in their own country.

Even in times of relative peace, Palestinians can expect pretty raw treatment at the hands of the Israeli Defence Force. The IDF will normally stand by and allow militant Jewish settlers to harass and menace Palestinians at gunpoint in an ongoing process of ejecting them from land they have lived on for generations.

To the neutral observer, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that peaceful co-existence is not on the agenda. The extremists in the Israeli state will not be satisfied until only Jews occupy the Holy Land.

So, what can be done?

Nothing, while the US continues to bankroll the Israeli military machine and sanction the use of these weapons against a largely defenceless Palestinian population. Nothing, while international criticism of Israel's aggression remains muted.

Israel, a nation born out of great suffering, is rapidly depleting its reserves of world sympathy. There will be no peace until the modern Israel is perceived by the international community as an outcast and is treated as such. Just as the white supremacists of South Africa were.

This would be a sad fate for the many good and peace-loving Israelis. Like the people I have met on visits who are hospitable and welcoming.

On a balmy night on the seafront in Tel Aviv, it can truly seem to be a land of milk and honey. If you forget that a lot of the prosperity is based on the theft of land from Palestinians.

Many Israelis are active in campaigning for Palestinian rights and face opprobrium from fellow citizens for doing so. It is a faint hope and an unlikely one that the anti-war movement will have any real impact on Israeli politics. Certainly not while Hamas continues to lob missiles or send suicide bombers to kill Israeli civilians.

Palestine will never be freed by armed struggle or invasion by neighbouring Arab states. There may be a slender possibility that passive resistance could work. This would require the emergence of an inspirational leader, a Ghandi or a Mandela. Someone who could lead his people away from fighting and sufficiently shame the Israeli warmongers in the face of world opinion.

I fear these are merely the dreams of a pacifist who wants to give peace a chance. I wouldn't rush down to Ladbrokes to place a wager on such an outcome.

You would get better odds that the Middle East conflict will end in an exchange of nuclear warheads. The men of violence are well and truly in control of the biblical lands.

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