IN OTHER WORDS: Wise counsel

Even before Israeli shelling killed 19 Palestinian civilians last Wednesday in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, lucid observers on either side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could foresee the inevitability of just such a horror. Until that conflict is resolved with a mutually acceptable sharing of land and recognition of political sovereignty, it will go on producing one massacre of innocents after the other.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed regret and conducted an inquiry that concluded the killings were caused by a technical problem with the radar of the

artillery battery that fired into a residential area. But Olmert’s gesture does not go far enough. An editorial in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz stated the truth. “No excuse can justify this atrocity,” the paper said. “When artillery batteries aim their shells near a residential neighbourhood, such a disaster is inevitable, even if it is unintentional.” The Israeli author David Grossman called on Olmert to make the Palestinians “an offer their moderates can accept.”

Invoking the looming threat from Islamist radicalism, Grossman warned: “Should you delay, in a short while we will look back with longing at the amateur Palestinian terror.” This is wise counsel, and it may be the only way out of the maelstrom.