The only exit from Gaza is death
Israel claims that it was defending itself from
attacks by Hamas. But does the war against Gaza which has already come
under siege due to sanctions and embargo justified or is Israel using
security considerations as an opportunity to pursue other aims?
Gresham’s Law briefly states “Bad money drives out good money.” A
corollary has: “Bad news analysis drives out good news analysis.”
Reports and dialogues on the events in Gaza give the impression that a
mighty Hamas has wantonly attacked Israel, pulverized its Southern
cities with missiles and a patient Israel ran out of patience and
GAZA CITY : Palestinians walk through the rubble of a
destroyed building following an Israeli air strike in the
Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City on January 14.
Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants in the Gaza
Strip’s main city early Wednesday and bombed the enclave’s
southern border with Egypt as the death toll from the war on
Hamas neared 1,000. AFP
The drama has subtext; undisclosed reasons for Israel’s attack,
unstated significance of the escalated conflict, and a non-clarified
future for its final denouement. Search the entire landscape and we
encounter happenings beyond the horizon. Missing from the debate are the
disastrous consequences to the world community due to Israel’s
Media references to President-elect Barack Obama’s July 2008 speech
during a visit to Israel in which he stated, “If somebody was sending
rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do
everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing,”
incorrectly inferred he was speaking in late December 2008.
If the president-elect expressed himself in late December 2008, he
might have said: “If my land was being blockaded so that my children
were being impoverished and intermittently starved, their parents unable
to find employment, all of them caged in a fenced area and not permitted
to fish, fly or travel more than a few miles, while supersonic planes
disturbed each night of their sleep and created a daily fear of a
military incursion that could kill them, I would do everything to stop
that and expect the Palestinians to do the same?” He could add, “I
certainly would refrain from making things worse and ask for a
continuation of the truce,” which is what Hamas did.
The media has not properly related the fact that Hamas did not stop
the truce; the truce expired and not solely due to Hamas.
In order to continue the truce, Hamas issued two responsible demands
(1) Israel halt its devastating economic blockade of Gaza, and (2)
Israel observe a truce in the West Bank as well as Gaza. When Israel
refused to meet these humanitarian demands, Hamas refused to continue
the truce, an event Israel, who reluctantly agreed to the first truce,
knew would happen. During the years 2001-2007, the PLO and Fatah, who
controlled Gaza, fired unguided rockets and mortars at Israel and
increased the launching numbers each year.
Those same years witnessed Israeli incursions into Gaza that
destroyed Palestinian infrastructure; Arafat’s headquarters, airport,
roads, factories, homes and also lives. Sanctions and a crippling
blockade followed the mayhem. So, why did Israel accuse Hamas of
incitement and escalate its punishment when the pattern had been the
same for years? Did Israel welcome the aggressive behaviour so its
military could have reasons for more aggressive retaliation? Certainly
seems that way. In addition to the casualties, the shocking Israeli
actions have had a disastrous political consequence.
The Bush administration heralded a new dawn for a Middle East that
was willing to accept the democratic process. The Palestinians responded
with the election of Hamas to authority. And what happened? Hamas faced
a ‘heads’ you lose and a ‘tails’ you cannot win game, engineered by the
Western democracies. If Hamas remained out of the political process, its
cadres might have been routinely attacked.
By being part of the democratic process and winning an election,
Hamas and the Palestinians have been pulverized, which informs the Arab
world and its Islamic organizations: No matter what you do, whether you
stay out of the political process or enter the political process, you
will be pulverized. What behaviour can we expect from people who know
they are going to be pulverized? Noting the decimation of Hamas after
its application of Bush’s concept of democratic participation, won’t
they react more aggressively?
Due to Israel’s aggressive attacks, the world can expect to suffer
increases in terrorism and rebellion. Jewish communities will be
targeted. Without neglecting the intensive killing, this is the major
derogatory result of Israel’s war on Gaza.
The launching of 200 unguided rockets and mortars to Israel, although
they did not inflict human damage and did not have Hamas’ name on them -
the projectiles are fired by several militant organizations - is
inexcusable. Isn’t there a question here that demands an answer?
Why were projectiles that inflicted no great damage fired into
Israeli territory? Showing potential force without inflicting damage
signals a threat.
The strong signal intends to force an adversary to a negotiating
table for a compromising truce and serves as a call to the world to note
the seriousness of the situation.
Why didn’t Israel try some form of negotiation, some form of indirect
contact that would have not compromised Israel security? Would it not
have made its people more secure by signifying it did not intend to
suffocate the Palestinians with an illegal embargo and was willing to
compromise? Why didn’t the world bodies immediately intervene and
propose a compromise that would ameliorate the explosive situation? The
reason: Nobody recognizes Hamas and therefore won’t talk with the
authority Result: The only other route to resolve the situation is
violence and casualties.
An honest presentation would include the observation that the initial
200 launches after the ‘truce’ ended caused no human damage and
insignificant physical damage. Nevertheless, more emphasis has been
given to artillery shells that damaged Israeli sidewalks than those that
tore apart the bodies of 250 Palestinians. Videos show the rockets from
Gaza mainly puncture without generating much explosive power. Secondary
damage results from shrapnel and some structure collapse. A single
Israeli missile has reduced buildings and their occupants to dust.
Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, January 2, 2009, verified the observations:
“The threat that Hamas’ ballistic capabilities pose to the people of
the Negev is less serious than initially presumed and the residents of
the targeted areas are not demonstrating signs of panic, according to an
interim analysis by the Israel Defense Forces of the situation nearly a
week after the launching of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.”
Too often, we have mendacious and “plugged in” reports, such as that
from Bob Joseph of CNN. From a CNN transcript;
BOB JOSEPH, REPORTER: As strategically targeted as Israel is, because
of what Hamas is doing and because of them putting their missiles in
playgrounds, near schools and hospitals, they have created an
environment where they ensure that some civilians can get hurt. And what
they target themselves is, they target children and schools and
hospitals. That is what makes Hamas the most evil entity - one of the
most evil entities on this planet.
According to Bob Joseph, rockets and mortars that have no guidance
system or explosive power and have not struck any hospitals or
playgrounds and might have slightly damaged one school, are targeted
missiles. Israel’s massive number of well guided missiles that have hit
universities, mosques, UN schools, children playing in fields and
apartment buildings are not evil and are excusable.
In one attack on a UN school, The Guardian, January 6, 2009 reports:
“The civilian death toll in Gaza increased dramatically today, with
reports of more than 40 Palestinians killed after missiles exploded
outside a UN school where hundreds of people were sheltering from the
continuing Israeli offensive.”
Israel insists that mortars were being launched from the school
Despite the threat and charged emotions, wouldn’t a humane invading
military exercise care before sending shells into a school because some
person was supposedly shooting from a schoolyard adjacent to where
hundreds of innocent persons had taken shelter? Israel has lowered the
bar to where completely one-sided warfare that includes harming and
terrifying innocent civilians to any limit becomes acceptable.
Israel, for 60 years, has used security considerations as a reason
for warfare and has not gained ‘security.’ Either Israel is using the
wrong tactics to achieve security or security is a cover for other
Considering that Israelis, most of whom only arrived in the past 40
years, live prosperously while Palestinians who tilled the land for
generations live at subsistence levels, something must be skewed in the
debate of who is doing what to whom.
A militarily and economically strong Israel, which shows no damage to
its infrastructure or property, poses as the victim, while the
militarily and economically futile Palestine territory, which has had
its infrastructure and property expropriated and often reduced to rubble
by Israeli attacks, is labeled the aggressor.
Hamas might be an obstacle to peace, but the organization is not the
The principal impediments to peace are the illegal occupation and
settlements, seizures of Palestinians lands, abusive checkpoints and the
blockade of Gaza. Does Israel have a security problem that can only be
ameliorated by overpowering military force or is Israel using security
considerations as an opportunity to humble the Palestinian people before
consolidating its territorial gains and expansionist aims?