Sir John (just call me “John") Holmes - the Under-Secretary -General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator - is on a five day visit to Gaza and Israel.
Not unsurprisingly he has found that life in Gaza is “grim and miserable”’ as Israel progressively closes down Gaza - a declared “enemy entity” - in response to never ending rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian population centres using weaponry and materiel smuggled into Gaza through Egypt.
As Mr Holmes acknowledged himself at his press conference on 18 January 2008 - 150 Qassam rockets had been launched into Israel from Gaza between 16 and 18 January 2008 following another 150 or more that had been fired off during December. Scores more have followed since - provoking responses from Israel targeting those in Gaza who continue to perpetrate their cowardly attacks from within Gazan population centres.
Mr Holmes said that the United Nations understood Israel’s security problems and the need to respond to them. However he said collective punishment of the people of Gaza was not the appropriate way to do so. Closing the borders had been caused by the rocket attacks but it was not justified.
In the best traditions of United Nations’ diplomacy, Mr Holmes was strong on criticism but could furnish no advice to Israel in January on what its proper response should be to this assault on its sovereignty and the collective punishment being visited on the people of Israel from a neighbouring territory ruled by a Government whose avowed aim is to totally destroy Israel.
Visiting the region just four weeks later Mr Holmes sounds a little more concerned and relatively proactive as the prospect strengthens for a ground invasion of Gaza by Israel.
“You can’t justify the firing of these rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel,” Mr Holmes said on his arrival in Gaza.
Mr Holmes said he wanted to see if he could find new ways to ease the lives of civilians on both sides, but noted he does not have the authority to make changes.
“Obviously we don’t have the power to enforce solutions, but we can make suggestions,” he said.
Coming up with the right suggestions will not be easy.
Until the Hamas Government takes effective action to end the incessant mortar and rocket barrage emanating from its territory, the situation in Gaza is only going to worsen.
Until the Gazans indicate their disagreement with what is happening in Gaza, the situation will continue to deteriorate. Whilst Gazans openly applaud terrorist attacks in Israel and hand out sweets to beaming citizens celebrating the news, the situation will continue to deteriorate.
Whilst the funerals of terrorist leaders are attended by tens of thousands of hysterical followers shouting “death to Israel” and firing guns in the air, the situation will continue to run out of control.
Gazans are not innocent citizens held hostage by a terrorist regime. They elected Hamas to power and what is now happening is the direct consequence of their collective decision to do so. If they don’t like what is happening then demonstrate, get on the internet, voice their disapproval wherever and whenever they can. Has Mr Holmes seen the slightest signs of any public disapproval or heard the whiff of a protest whilst walking the streets of Gaza?
Have Gazans protested at the perversion of the education system with its anti-Jew curriculum? Have they stopped their children watching Disney like characters on television spewing out hatred and venom of Jews? Have they tried to wipe off the graffiti daubed on houses and public places throughout Gaza glorifying the death and martyrdom of their own children?
Gazans need to expose the underground tunnels through which the weapons are smuggled, the factories being used to manufacture and assemble the rockets and mortars, the owners of motor vehicles being used to transport and launch rockets, the secret hiding places where these weapons are cached, those who leave their homes at night to launch the rockets on their deadly trajectory.
Those who have suffered enough privation need to agitate for the border between Egypt and Gaza to be reopened to enable food and supplies to be transported into Gaza. They need to demand the right to emigrate through Egypt to one of the 57 Moslem countries around the World to escape the hardship they are presently enduring. Innocent Gazans need to be offered a haven where they can live free of the trauma currently being engendered by their fellow citizens who seem hell bent on destroying Gaza and everything and everyone living there as they try to destroy Israel.
Gazans may be too weak, too frightened, too scared to speak out. Hopefully Mr Holmes will do so for them.
One thing is certain - Mr Holmes needs to come up with his suggestions and speak out very soon.
Those suggestions will be awaited with bated breath. Hopefully he will surprise us all and come up with the right answers just as Sherlock Holmes was always able to do.
Gaza cries out for the interference by this modern day Holmes which has “the unquestionable effect of preventing a serious international complication.” - to use the words of Dr Watson in “The Final Problem”.
If he fails then the consequences for the region will be disastrous and make the current humanitarian situation pale into insignificance compared to what awaits Gaza and the Gazans.