July 31, 2014


Israel's stated aims in Gaza make no sense... : ...and cannot secure a just future. (Stephen Chan | 31 July 2014, MercatorNet)

"Israel has a right to defend itself". This is of course true; Israel is a recognised state and nothing will change that. Notwithstanding huge controversies as to where its state borders are, it has the same rights to self-defence as any other state. [...]

The question in Gaza, then, is: what are the objectives?

This is where the waters get really murky. One obvious objective, the destruction of Hamas's tunnel systems, has never been satisfactorily accomplished by military means; the tunnels cannot be destroyed by bombing suburbs and neighbourhoods above ground. 

Hamas's rocket-launching capacity, similarly, has scarcely been undercut by the previous Israel-Hamas skirmishes. Aside from the obvious point that the rockets kept in the tunnels are rendered all but ineffectual by Iron Dome, because they are simple systems, no amount of degradation now will prevent the rebuilding of capacity tomorrow. Secondary school children can build what Hamas builds.

The aim of undercutting Hamas as a credible governing body makes little sense either. Resistance to Israeli attacks tends to strengthen Hamas - which, after all, was democratically elected by a highly frustrated and besieged people. Degrade Hamas beyond the point of total impotence and other more radical groups will arise, just as Hamas arose to counter the corrupt ineptitude of Fatah.

The last thing Israel needs, after all, is ISIS on its doorstep.

Something must be done

The kneejerk reaction, the sense that "something must be done", is understandable - but the "something" will have consequences that will haunt the Middle East for decades to come.

"Because they started it": in fact, ever since Hamas and Fatah announced a form of unity government, Israel has been looking for new ways to degrade Hamas and its capacity to govern.

The July killing of three Israeli teenagers was immediately blamed on Hamas, even though it was more likely the work of an autonomous Hebron brigade. In retaliation, vengeful Jewish extremists burned to death a Palestinian teenager - and the stage was set for war.

If the key objective is "to teach Hamas a lesson", then it is a lesson inflicted upon over 1.8m people who have no means of escape.

Charlie Rose Talks to Hamas's Khaled Meshaal (Charlie Rose, July 31, 2014, Businessweek)
Will you pledge not to eradicate Israel? Do you want to live in coexistence with Israel?

I do not coexist with occupation and with settlements. Do you think that Palestinians who suffer from occupation and settlements can eradicate Israel? No, this is beguiling, misleading propaganda. ... We in Hamas believe in moderation of Islam. We are not fanatics. We do not fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We fight the occupiers. I'm ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians, with the Arabs, with the non-Arabs. I do coexist with other religions. ... When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian people can have their say. There are disproportionate standards, but we have the upper hand. Every single occupation ends, and the people are victorious.

Arafat couldn't accept a state because the PLO couldn't win elections.  Hamas can, so it will.

Posted by at July 31, 2014 9:00 PM

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