Singapore netizens call for end to Gaza conflict

Singapore netizens call for end to Gaza conflict
Heavy smoke and fire billow following an Israeli military strike in Gaza City on July 29, 2014.

The distress and destruction in Gaza have touched Singaporeans.

Many, including top political leaders, have gone on social media to call for an end to the Middle East conflict, which has killed over 1,200 people.

Netizens, particularly those in the Malay-Muslim community, want Israel to end its ground offensive and bombing of Gaza. They also called for the Hamas militant group to stop firing rockets at Israel.

Facebook user Samuel Guo echoed the sentiments of many when he said: "War in reality has no winner. Innocent children are dying on both sides."

Mr Kelvin Lee, another user, wrote: "It doesn't matter which 'side' you're on, but as humans, can't we see that targeting civilians is wrong?"

Some netizens, however, blamed Hamas. "If someone keeps on shooting rockets at you, you will surely respond. This is human behaviour," said Facebook user Raj Kiran.

Israel claims it is responding to rocket attacks by Hamas on its soil.

But netizen Norsiah Mohamed Asni wrote: "I am annoyed people think it is okay to kill these innocent civilians in order to get rid of Hamas."

The violence of the past three weeks prompted a sit-in at Hong Lim Park last Saturday. About 300 people attended the event to show solidarity with Palestinians.

The issue, however, is complex, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in a Facebook post last Wednesday. He said the conflict was an "endless cycle of violence and retribution" and called for restraint by both sides.

He also encouraged Singaporeans to support the victims by donating money for humanitarian aid to Gaza.

His sentiments were echoed by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in a Facebook message to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Monday.

"The violence is no solution. It only deepens enmities, and risks even greater dangers in future," he wrote.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim noted that the crisis has affected Singapore's Malay-Muslim community and, like Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, called for calm.

Mr Masagos also urged his community not to take "irrational action".

This article was first published on July 31, 2014.
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