Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israeli Massacres of Palestinians in Gaza:
Is This the Way to Make Peace?
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 20, 2016
Who is Winning?
WHAT WOULD history look like if it were written in the style of
the "Solid Cliff (a.k.a. Protective Edge) operation?
Winston Churchill was a scoundrel.
years he kept the population of London under the unceasing fire of the
German Luftwaffe. He used the inhabitants of London as a human shield in
his crazy war. While the civilian population was exposed to the bombs
and rockets, without the protection of an "iron dome", he was hiding in
his bunker under 10 Downing Street.
He exploited all the
inhabitants of London as hostages. When the German leaders made a
generous peace proposal, he rejected it for crazy ideological reasons.
Thus he condemned his people to unimaginable suffering.
time to time he emerged from his underground hideout to have his picture
taken in front of the ruins, and then he returned to the safety of his
rat hole. But to the people of London he said: "Future generations will
say that this was your finest hour!"
The German Luftwaffe had no
alternative but to go on bombing the city. Its commanders announced that
they were hitting only military targets, such as the homes of British
soldiers, where military consultations were taking place.
German Luftwaffe called on the inhabitants of London to leave the city,
and many children were indeed evacuated. But most Londoners heeded the
call of Churchill to remain, thus condemning themselves to the fate of
The hopes of the German high command that
the destruction of their homes and the killing of their families would
induce the people of London to rise up, kick out Churchill and his
war-mongering gang, came to naught.
The primitive Londoners,
whose hatred of the Germans overcame their logic, perversely followed
the coward Churchill's instructions. Their admiration for him grew from
day to day, and by the end of the war he had become almost a god.
A statue of him stands even today in front of the Parliament in
FOUR YEARS later the wheel had turned. The
British and American air forces bombed the German cities and destroyed
them completely. A stone did not remain on a stone, glorious palaces
were flattened, cultural treasures were obliterated. "Uninvolved
civilians" were blown to smithereens, burned to death or just
disappeared. Dresden, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, was
totally destroyed within a few hours in a "fire storm".
official aim was to destroy the German war industry, but this was not
achieved. The real aim was to terrorize the civilian population, in
order to induce them to remove their leaders and capitulate.
That did not happen. Indeed, the only serious revolt against Hitler was
carried out by senior army officers (and failed). The civilian
population did not rise up. On the contrary. In one of his diatribes
against the "terror pilots" Goebbels declared: "They can break our
homes, but they cannot break our spirit!"
Germany did not
capitulate until the very last moment. Millions of tons of bombs did not
suffice. They only strengthened the morale of the population and its
loyalty to the Führer.
AND SO to Gaza.
asking: who is winning this round?
Which must be answered, the
Jewish way, with another question: how to judge?
definition of victory is: the side that remains on the battlefield has
won the battle. But here nobody has moved. Hamas is still there. So is
Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian war theorist,
famously declared that war is but the continuation of policy by other
means. But in this war, neither side had any clear political aims. So
victory cannot be judged this way.
The intensive bombing of the
Gaza Strip has not produced a Hamas capitulation. On the other hand, the
intensive rocket campaign by Hamas, which covered most of Israel, did
not succeed either. The stunning success of the rockets to reach
everywhere in Israel has been met with the stunning success of the "Iron
Dome" counter-rockets to intercept them.
So, until now, it is a
But when a tiny fighting force in a tiny territory
achieves a standoff with one of the mightiest armies in the world, it
can be considered a victory.
THE LACK of an Israeli political
aim is the outcome of muddled thinking. The Israeli leadership, both
political and military, does not really know how to deal with Hamas.
It may already have been forgotten that Hamas is largely an Israeli
creation. During the first years of the occupation, when any political
activity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was brutally suppressed,
the only place where Palestinians could meet and organize was the
At the time, Fat'h was considered Israel's arch-enemy.
The Israeli leadership was demonizing Yasser Arafat, the
arch-arch-terrorist. The Islamists, who hated Arafat, were considered
the lesser evil, even secret allies.
I once asked the Shin-Bet
chief at the time whether his organization had created Hamas. His
answer: "We did not create them. We tolerated them."
changed only one year after the start of the first intifada, when the
Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was arrested. Since then, of course,
reality has been completed reversed: Fatah is now an ally of Israel,
from the security point of view, and Hamas the arch-arch-terrorist.
But is it?
Some Israeli officers say that if Hamas did not
exist, it would have to be invented. Hamas controls the Gaza strip. It
can be held responsible for what happens there. It provides law and
order. It is a reliable partner for a cease-fire.
Palestinian elections, held under international monitoring, ended in a
Hamas victory both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. When Hamas was
denied power, it took it in the Gaza strip by force. By all reliable
accounts, it enjoys the loyalty of the large majority in the territory.
All Israeli experts agree that if the Hamas regime in Gaza were to
fall, far more extreme Islamic splinter groups would take over and
plunge the Strip, with its 1.8 million inhabitants, into complete chaos.
The military experts don't like that.
So the war aim, if one can
dignify it as such, is not to destroy Hamas, but to leave it in power,
though in a much weakened state.
But how, for God's sake, does
one do that?
ONE WAY, demanded now by the ultra-right-wingers
in the government, is to occupy all of the Gaza Strip.
the military leaders again answer with a question: And then what?
A new permanent occupation of the Strip is a military nightmare. It
would mean that Israel assumes the responsibility for pacifying and
feeding 1.8 million people (most of whom, by the way, are 1948 refugees
from Israel and their descendants). A permanent guerrilla war would
ensue. No one in Israel really wants that.
Occupy and then
leave? Easily said. The occupation itself would be a bloody operation.
If the "Molten Lead" doctrine is adopted, it would mean more than a
thousand, perhaps several thousands of Palestinian dead. This
(unwritten) doctrine says that if a hundred Palestinians must be killed
in order to save the life of one Israeli soldier, so be it. But if
Israeli casualties amount to even a few dozens of dead, the mood in the
country will change completely. The army does not want to risk that.
FOR A moment on Tuesday it seemed as if a cease-fire had been
achieved, much to the relief of Binyamin Netanyahu and his generals.
But it was an optical illusion. The mediator was the new Egyptian
dictator, a person loathed by Islamists everywhere. He is a man who has
killed and imprisoned many hundreds of Muslim Brothers. He is an open
military ally of Israel. He is a client for American largesse. Moreover,
since Hamas arose as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,
General Abd-al-Fatah Al-Sisi hates them with all his heart, and does not
So, instead of negotiating with Hamas, he did something
exceedingly stupid: dictate a cease-fire on Israeli terms without
consulting Hamas at all. Hamas leaders learned about the proposed
cease-fire from the media and rejected it out of hand.
opinion is that it would be better if the Israeli army and Hamas
negotiated directly. Throughout military history, cease-fires have been
arranged by military commanders. One side sends an officer with a white
flag to the commander of the other side, and a cease-fire is arranged –
or not. (An American general famously answered such a German offer with
In the 1948 war, on my sector of the front, a short
cease-fire was arranged by Major Yerucham Cohen and a young Egyptian
officer called Gamal Abdul Nasser.
Since this seems to be
impossible with the present parties, a really honest broker should be
In the meantime, Netanyahu was pushed by his
colleagues/rivals to send the troops into the Strip, to try at least to
locate and destroy the tunnels dug by Hamas under the border fence to
stage surprise attacks on border settlements.
WHAT WILL be the
end of it? There will be no end, just round after round, unless a
political solution is adopted.
This would mean: stop the rockets
and the bombs, end the Israeli blockade, allow the people of Gaza to
live a normal life, further Palestinian unity under a real unity
government, conduct serious peace negotiations, MAKE PEACE.
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