As someone who protested the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, I read with sadness your report on the Maryland National Guard's scheduled departure for that country ("Md. National Guard making final deployment to Afghanistan," Aug. 6).

The money wasted in Afghanistan on military madness could have been used in Baltimore and other cities to keep open recreation centers and fire stations and to protect the pension funds of government workers. I sincerely hope the members of the Guard return safely, unlike what happened to Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene.

And as someone who has long protested the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, I am devastated that close to 1,900 Palestinians have been massacred. Unfortunately, many Sun letter writers lack any empathy for the Palestinians and trot out ridiculous talking points to justify the attacks on schools and hospitals.

Some of those arguments include:

Attempts to deny that the occupation is unjust and illegal when actually the people of Gaza live in an outdoor prison.

Claims that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Tell that to the Palestinian family who lost eight members after their house was bombed.

Informing the world that Israel has the "right to defend itself" — conveniently avoiding the fact that its attacks on the civilian population are war crimes.

Yes, the firing of the Hamas rockets, primitive and ineffectual as they are, is also a war crime. But there is no comparison between the casualty figures.

The catastrophic devastation of Gaza has left the people there with very limited access to water, electricity and other human needs. Until the illegal occupation ends and rebuilding is underway, peace with justice is impossible.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

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