Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Why Israel Attacked Gaza: Bibi Stirring Trouble
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 19, 2012
The first Israel missile sped down to its target, scorching the
Gaza earth and everything in between. Palestinians collected the body parts
of two new martyrs, while Israeli media celebrated the demise of two
Zuhair Qasis was the head of the Popular Resistance
Committee. He was killed alongside a Palestinian prisoner from Nablus, who
had recently been freed and deported to Gaza.
Then, another set of
missiles rained down, this time taking Obeid al-Ghirbali and Muhammad Harara.
Then, a third, and a forth, and so on. The death count began on
March 9 and escalated through the day. The Hamas government urged the
international community to take action. Factions vowed to retaliate.
In these situations, Western media is usually clueless or complicit.
Sometimes it’s both. The Israeli army was cited readily by many media
outlets without challenge.
The first round of attacks was justified
based on a claim that Qasis was involved in the planning of an attack that
killed seven Israelis last year. The Israel army didn’t even bother to
upgrade that claim – which already resulted in the killing and wounding of
many Palestinians. Even Israeli media had drawn the conclusion that the
attack then originated from Egypt, and no Palestinian was involved.
Al Jazeera reported that some of the victims were decapitated, a familiar
scene in most of Israel’s unforgiving atrocities.
Palestinians fired back. “The national resistance brigades, the DFLP's armed
wing, the Al-Aqsa brigades, and the armed wing of the PRC, the An-Nasser
Salah Ad-Din brigades, have all claimed responsibility for rocket fire,”
reported Maan news agency.
The incessant Israeli provocations would
not have been enough to end the months-long truce. Palestinians know that
Israeli provocations are often, if not always, politically motivated. This
time however, the people killed were leaders in al-Muqawama, the local
resistance parties. Neither Hamas’ might nor diplomacy could persuade Gaza’s
many factions to hold their fire. Israel knows this fact more than any other
party. This is why it sent such unmistakably bloody messages. Israeli needed
Palestinians to respond, and urgently so.
But why did Israel decide
to ignite trouble again?
To answer the question, one needs to make a
quick stop in Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had
recently tried to articulate a case for war against Iran there. Unlike the
successful effort to isolate and strike and invade Iraq in 2003, the Iran
war campaign is not going according to plan.
The Israelis are
desperate to see Iran’s nuclear facilities bombed by American bunker buster
bombs - some of which weigh up to 13600 kg. Israel’s former head of military
intelligence, Amos Yadlin, assured the ‘free world’ – a term often
manipulated by Netanyahu – that a bombing campaign can succeed if it’s
followed by the right measures. “Iran, like Iraq and Syria before it, will
have to recognize that the precedent for military action has been set, and
can be repeated,” he wrote (as cited in CNN, March 9).
growing consensus in Israel that ‘something has to be done’ - at least to
set back Iran’s uranium enrichment by few years, per the assurances of
deputy director of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies,
Ephraim Kam. Republican candidates in the US, and even President Obama
himself, agree. But Obama, despite his groveling at the recent AIPAC
conference, dared to question the timing and the way in which Iran must be
brought to its knees. The US president is becoming increasingly isolated
within Washington because of his stance on Iran.
It is election
year, and Israel knows that a window of opportunity will not be open for
long. “Netanyahu won a crucial battle in Washington this past week. No one
brought up the Palestinians. Netanyahu has quite masterfully shifted the
conversation to the subject of Iran,” wrote Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic
(March 9). He is right, of course, but only within the context of ‘peace
process’ and conflict resolution.
The Palestinians were mentioned
in a different context, and repeatedly so. Ephraim Kam, for example,
expected that thousands of rockets would rain on Israel from Hizbollah,
Hamas and Iran itself. The Associated Press quoted Vice Prime Minister Dan
Meridor as saying, “The whole of Israel (is vulnerable to) tens of thousands
of missiles and rockets from neighboring countries. If there is a war…they
are not just going to hit Israeli soldiers. The main aim is at civilian
populations” (Feb 20).
Per this logic, the only way to prevent
rockets from reaching Israel is by attacking Iran. An independent Israeli
commentator, Yossi Melman predicted that a weakened Iran “would undoubtedly
have an impact on Hamas and Hezbollah” (CNN, March 9).
Palestinians were infused plenty in Israeli war rhetoric. They were
liberally presented as the jackals who would pounce on vulnerable Israel.
Who would dare challenge this tired victimization narrative? Who would have
the audacity to point out the fact that Israel has the region’s strongest
army, equipped with hundreds of fully-functioning nuclear heads, while
Palestinians fighters – who had until recently respected the truce, although
Gaza’s siege was never lifted – are armed with light weapons?
one in the mainstream media, of course. But then, as the supposed threat has
reached an all time high, Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum told AP:
“Hamas weapons and the weapons of the Palestinian resistance, in general,
are humble weapons that aim to defend and not to attack, and they are to
defend the Palestinian people…that does not give us the ability to be part
of any regional war.”
Hamas has its own calculations independent of
Israel’s war momentum. But losing Hamas would jeopardize the very equation
Israel has been constructing for years. The ‘radical camp’ must remain
intact, as far as Israel is concerned. No political polarization caused by
the so-called Arab Spring will be allowed to endanger the Israeli narrative:
the radicals, the evil alliance, the threat facing the ‘free world’ and all
the rest. Great resources were spent on spinning the perfect story to
justify a preemptive war.
Then, on Friday, March 2, less than two
days after Barhoum made his comments of ‘humble weapons’, heads began to
roll in Gaza. Literally. And the media machine resumed its work
unabashed. “Gaza Rockets fire disrupts life in Israeli south,” read a
headline in Israel’s Haaretz. “IDF strikes Gaza terror targets following
rocket barrage,” declared another in the Jerusalem Post. It’s war all over
again. Israeli civilians run to shelters. Sirens blare. US media reports the
fate of ‘besieged’ Israelis and Palestinian ‘terrorists’.
matters little to them that it was Israel itself that stirred the trouble,
broke the truce, and fanned the flames.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).