Gaza War Crimes Go Unpunished: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

So that's that then, is it? Gaza is done and dusted? Very satisfying, I'm sure, for the Israeli leadership and their devoted allies at the BBC. But not so fast. For the one and a half million traumatised and wounded souls in that small strip, unendurable agony goes on. The very earth they stand on burns and cracks. And I am not here indulging a writer's tendency to hyperbole or neat metaphor.

Up to 60 per cent of the best farmland in Gaza has been systematically destroyed, livestock too. Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, a director at the World Food Programme, says this deliberately blighted land "may not be exploitable again". The lemon trees and noisy chickens must have been hiding Hamas rockets. Israel is also keeping some of the remaining arable land beyond the reach of the Palestinians who own it by making it into a buffer zone. Almost all the infrastructure has been flattened too. The resulting perpetual humiliation and dependency, one assumes, is part of Israel's strategic plan.

President Obama has sent forth George Mitchell, a skilled and respected negotiator, to start dialogues that could eventually lead to a durable settlement. We must hope he can achieve the impossible. But even if he does, that alone cannot ensure the kind of peace that all the people in that region sorely need and surely deserve.

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