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US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Next Israeli Terrorist Onslaught on Gaza:
the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 11, 2016
Scenes from the Israeli terrorist war on
Gaza in July-August 2014
It is not true that only three wars have taken place since Hamas won
parliamentary elections in 2006 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Other wars that were deemed insignificant or ‘skirmishes’ also took place.
Operation Returning Echo in March 2012, for example, killed and wounded over
100 people. But since the death toll, relative to the other major onslaughts
seemed trivial, it was not cited as 'war', per se.
this logic, so-called operations Cast Lead (2008-9), Pillar of Defense
(2012) and the deadliest of them all, Protective Edge (2014) were serious
enough to be included in any relevant discussion, especially when the
prospective new Israeli war on Gaza is considered.
It is important
to denote that most of the media, mainstream or other, adheres to Israel's
designations of the war, not those of Palestinians. For example, Gazans
refer to their last confrontation with Israel as the ‘Al-Furqan Battle’, a
term we almost never hear repeated with reference to the war.
Observing the Israeli war discourse as the central factor in understanding
the war against the Resistance surpasses that of language into other areas.
The suffering in Gaza has never ceased, not since the last war, the previous
one or the one before that. But only when Israel begins to mull over war as
a real option, do many of us return to Gaza to discuss the various violent
possibilities that lie ahead.
The problem of relegating Gaza until
Israeli bombs begin to fall is part and parcel of Israeli collective
thinking - government and society, alike. Gideon Levy, one of the very few
sympathetic Israeli journalists in mainstream newspapers wrote about this in
a recent article in Haaretz.
"The addiction to fear and the
eternal wallowing in terror in Israel suddenly reminded one of the existence
of the neighboring ghetto," he wrote in reference to Gaza and sounding
of Israeli war drums. "Only thus are we here reminded of Gaza. When it
shoots, or at least digs ... (only then) we recall its existence. Iran
dropped off the agenda. Sweden isn’t scary enough. Hezbollah is busy. So we
return to Gaza."
In fact, Israel's exceedingly violent past in
Gaza does not hinge on Hamas' relative control of the terribly
poor and besieged place, nor is it, as per conventional wisdom, also
related to Palestinian
factionalism. Certainly, Hamas' strength there is hardly an
incentive for Israel to leave Gaza alone, and Palestinians' pitiful
factionalism rarely help the situation. However, Israel's problem is with
the very idea that there is a single Palestinian entity that dares challenge
Israel's dominance, and dares to resist.
Moreover, the argument
that armed resistance, in particular, infuriates Israel the most is also
resistance may speed up Israel's retaliation and the intensity of its
violence, but as we are currently witnessing in the West Bank, no
form of resistance has ever been permissible, not now, not since the
Palestinian Authority was essentially contracted to control the Palestinian
population, and certainly not since the start of the Israeli military
occupation in 1967.
Israel wants to have complete
monopoly over violence, and that is the bottom line. A
quick scan of Israel's history against Palestinian Resistance in all of
its forms is indicative that the Israel vs. Hamas narrative has always be
reductionist, due partly to it being politically convenient for Israel, but
also useful in the Palestinians’ own infighting.
Fatah, which was
Palestine's largest political party until Hamas won 76 out of the
legislative council’s 132 seats in the early 2006 elections, has played a
major rule in constructing that misleading narrative, one that sees the past
wars and the current conflict as an exclusive fight between Hamas, as
political rival, and Israel.
When seven of Hamas fighters were
recently killed after a tunnel collapsed - which was destroyed during the
2014 war by Israel and was being rebuilt - Fatah
issued a statement that appeared on Facebook. The statement did not
declare solidarity with the various resistance movements which have operated
under horrendously painful circumstances and unremitting siege for years,
but chastised the 'war merchants' – in reference to Hamas - who, according
to Fatah, "know nothing but burying their young people in ashes."
But what other options does the Resistance in Gaza actually have?
The unity government which was agreed on by both Fatah and Hamas in the
Beach Refugee Camp agreement in the summer of 2014 yielded no practical
outcomes, leaving Gaza with no functioning government, and a worsening
siege. That reality, for now, seals the fate of a political solution
involving a unified Palestinian leadership.
Submitting to Israel
is the worst possible option. If the Resistance is Gaza was to lay down its
arms, Israel would attempt to recreate the post-1982 Lebanon war scenario,
when they pacified their enemies using extreme violence and then entrusted
their collaborating allies to rearrange the subsequent political landscape.
While some Palestinians could readily offer to fill that disreputable role,
the Gaza society is likely to shun them entirely.
scenario in which Gaza is both free and the Palestinian people’s political
wishes are respected is also unlikely to materialize soon, considering the
fact that Israel has no reason to submit to this option, at least for now.
This leaves the war option as the only real, tragic possibility.
Israeli analyst, Amost Harel highlighted in his article, “Hamas'
Desire to Increase West Bank Attacks Could Trigger New Gaza War” the
reasoning behind this logic.
"To date, Israel and Palestinian
Authority security forces have succeeded in scuttling most of Hamas’
schemes," he wrote, referring to his allegations that Hamas is attempting to
co-opt the ongoing uprising in the West Bank.
In one of several
scenarios he offered, “The first is that a successful Hamas attack in the
West Bank will spur an Israeli response against the group in Gaza, which
will lead the parties into a confrontation.”
In most of Israeli
media analyses, there is almost total disregard for Palestinian motives,
aside from some random inclination to commit acts of ‘terror.’ Of course,
reality is rarely close to Israel’s self-centered version of events, as rightly
pointed out by Israeli writer Gideon Levy.
most recent visit to Gaza, Robert Piper, UN envoy and humanitarian
coordinator for the Occupied Territories, left the Strip with a grim
assessment: only 859 of homes destroyed in the last war have been rebuilt.
He blamed the blockade for Gaza's suffering, but also the lack of
communication between the Ramallah-based government and Hamas movement in
"There's no changes to the underlying fragility of Gaza," he
told AFP, and the situation "remains on a frankly disastrous trajectory of
de-development and radicalization, as far as I can tell."
blockade, he said, “It is a blockade that prevents students from getting to
universities to further their studies in other places. It's a blockade that
prevents sick people from getting the health care that they need.”
Under these circumstance, it is difficult to imagine that another war is not
looming. Israel’s strategic,
political and military tactics, as it stands today, will not allow Gaza to
live with a minimal degree of dignity. On the other hand, the history of
Gaza’s resistance makes it impossible to imagine a scenario in which the
Strip raises a white flag and awaits its allotted punishment.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years.
He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author
of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books
include ‘Searching Jenin’, ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada’ and his latest
‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’. His website is: www.ramzybaroud.net.
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