As in the two previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, it’s unclear who began the reciprocal rounds of shelling. Palestinians claim Israel broke what had been a successful, 18-month cease-fire; Israel claims Hamas fired first.
In fact, the latest conflict was likely begun by rockets launched against Israel by the militant Islamic Jihad movement to avenge an air attack by Israel on its members. Israel knows just how to provoke the Palestinians to violence.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic movement, replied to Israeli air attacks by launching salvos of home-made and smuggled rockets at Israel. These unguided weapons have proven militarily useless, little better than rocks. But they gave Israel an ideal pretext to attack Gaza and try to crush the elected Hamas government, which Israel considers its bitterest foe after Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The Palestinians made a grave mistake resorting to rockets and mortars. Firing back at Israel certainly makes Palestinians feel good, but doing so has allowed Israel’s powerful worldwide supporters to portray the Gaza siege as a battle between equals, rather than what it really is – Israel shooting fish in a barrel.
It matters not that Israel is violating US law – the Arms Control Export Act – by using US weapons against Gaza’s civilians. Nor that the assault on Gaza violates international law and the Geneva Convention. Or that much of the world sees the assault on Gaza as a crime against humanity. US elections are on the horizon and the US/Canadian government and media have taken Israel’ side.
Hamas rejected the fraudulent US/Israeli engineered truce presented by Egypt, Israel’s new best friend. On Thursday night, Israel launched a major ground offensive into Gaza, strongly backed by Washington. Palestinians have been starved and denied basic materials for years by the Israel-Egyptian siege of Gaza. The 1.7 million Gaza inhabitants live in a giant open air concentration camp on the verge of malnutrition.
The current Israeli attacks have shut down Gaza’s sewage, water and power grid, a tactic the US used in Iraq in 1991 that caused the deaths, according to the UN, of 500,000 Iraqi children. These attacks are designed to break the will of Gaza’s people, and cause them to overthrow Hamas.
It’s worth recalling that Israel helped give birth to Hamas. Israel security forces turned a blind eye to Hamas activities, and may have secretly funded it, in hopes the Islamic movement would split the Palestinians (it did) and rival the PLO. This was, of course, before PLO chief Yasser Arafat was murdered and the current PLO leadership brought under US and Israeli control.
Today, Israelis can’t even say the word ‘Hamas” without scowling and making a spitting sound…hhhhhhhhhhhamas.
Hamas has played right into Israel’s hands by launching its rocket barrages, which have proven worse than useless. Israel will now receive a half billion dollars more from the US to acquire more of its excellent Iron Dome anti-missile systems.
Meanwhile, PM Netanyahu has managed to portray Palestinians as rabid terrorists with whom no negotiations are possible. Any Palestinian state next to Israel, warns Netanyahu, would become another Gaza, shooting rockets into peaceful Israel.
Netanyahu used the Gaza crisis to repeat he would never accept even a Palestinian mini state on the West Bank. Israel must forever control the eastern border of Palestine – the Jordan River Valley. Palestinians will be left with self-governing tribal reservations. To many Israelis, Palestinians are simply wild animals who must be caged up.
By again attacking Gaza, Netanyahu has made any Israeli-Arab peace deal all the more impossible. He has also shown that his patron, the United States, has little say in the matter. Ever-timid President Obama offered to mediate between Israel and the PLO (not Hamas) while the world was waiting for him to order Israel to cease fire.