Paul Estrin is the President of the Green Party of Canada. He recently shared his thoughts on the current fighting in Israel and Gaza.
I thought his comments were worth going over in some detail, if only because they’re so incongruous with what I believe to be some fundamental ‘Green’ principles: namely equality, social justice, human rights and self-determination.
So without further ado . . .
On the Israeli ‘withdrawal’ from Gaza in 2005, Estrin writes:
‘Israel decided to leave, fighting its own citizens, showing once more that it sticks to its word about the settlements not being permanent, but instead something to be removed painfully if peace is achievable to be had’.
But Alvaro De Soto, who was the U.N.’s Peace Envoy to the Middle East at the time, gives quite a different version of events.
In a leaked U.N. report from 2007, he writes that:
‘I don’t think the disengagement marked in any way a conversion by Sharon to the idea of an independent and viable Palestinian state – on the contrary, it was basically a spectacular move that killed and put into ‘formaldehyde’ the Road Map, to quote his key advisor. Sharon used the disengagement to gain vital concessions from the U.S. – including the Bush letter of assurances on retention of settlement blocs and non-return of Palestinian refugees to Israel – while proceeding with the construction of the barrier and the implementation of more settlers in the West Bank’.
The number of settlers living in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has increased by over 100’000 since 2005, giving credence to De Soto’s analysis.
The De Soto report also disputes that the Israeli occupation of Gaza ever ended, saying that:
‘Since, as I recall, the test of occupation in international law is effective control of the population, few international lawyers contest the assessment that Gaza remains occupied, with it’s connections to the outside world by land, sea and air in the hands of Israel’.
On how Hamas came to be the dominant political force in Gaza, Estrin writes:
‘And then Hamas took power. It has nearly been ten years. Since August 2005, Gazans have been in control of their own destiny’.
It might be worth mentioning here that Hamas actually won parliamentary elections in 2006.
The usual narrative is then to say that Hamas went on to wrest complete control of Gaza in a coup in 2007, driving Fatah out in the process. But that isn’t the full story.
Another facet to the story is that elements in Fatah, working alongside Israel and a George Bush/Condoleezza Rice/Elliot Abrams axis in the U.S., had themselves planned a coup to overthrow Hamas – the democratically elected government of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, remember – and Hamas had simply got wind and pre-empted it.
This is according a lengthy Vanity Fair article based on leaked documents and the testimony of some of those involved.
Either way, to say that Hamas simply ‘took power’ is to remove some important context (and the claim that ‘Gazans have been in control of their own destiny’ since 2005 is just downright false, for reasons already mentioned).
On the state of the economy in Gaza, Estrin writes:
‘instead of showing openness to the world, or managing, or caring . . . Gaza has instead shown that it is not interested in peace, in building a stable economy, in a secure future’.
Notice here that he’s stopped referring to ‘Hamas’, and is openly referring to Gaza as a whole. And Gaza as a whole is not ‘interested in peace, in building a stable economy, in a secure future’, apparently. Is he implying a kind of collective guilt?
But it is no secret that, since 2007, Israel has been deliberately trying to strangle the Gazan economy, as a means of inflicting collective punishment on the population of Gaza. That’s what the so-called blockade is expressly designed to do.
As the International Committee of the Red Cross put it in 2010:
‘The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is about to enter its fourth year, choking off any real possibility of economic development . . . The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law’.
Estrin is quite simply engaged in victim blaming here. Lambasting Gazans for not building their economy, while Israel has been deliberately implementing policies to prevent them doing so.
And I just wonder how the U.S., U.K. and Canada would manage their economies if a near total ban on imports and exports was placed on them, and their means of production were destroyed via aerial bombardment every couple of years.
On the Hamas charter, Estrin writes:
‘In Canada and elsewhere, national charters protect the people. In Gaza, the first article calls for the death of Israel and the Jew. (Let me quote just a bit: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”‘.
Personally, I’m more perturbed by the fact that whole areas of Gaza are being obliterated right now, than I am about what a Charter written in 1988 says.
And there are in fact real questions over just how relevant to Hamas’ political program the 1988 charter is anymore.
In January 2009, Jeremy Greenstock – who is a former U.K. ambassador to the U.N., and who has negotiated with Hamas leaders as part of his work with the Ditchley Foundation – told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Hamas:
‘ . . . are not intent on the destruction of Israel. That is a rhetorical statement of resistance . . . The charter was drawn up by a Hamas linked Imam some years ago, and has never been adopted, since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in January 2006, as part of their political program. This is a grievance based organisation desperate to end the occupation’.
Greenstock is Establishment to the bone, and yet even he recognises that the focus on Hamas’ charter is a red herring while Israel continues to build settlements in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, thus making a just two-state solution a virtual impossibility.
On Gaza Vs Syria, Estrin writes:
‘It looks very bad for Israel. 800+ Gazans dead. 1000s injured. Lots of destruction. Meanwhile, in Syria, how many hundreds of thousands of people, including so many Palestinians, are dead or injured … where are the inflammatory protests …’.
This is basically a claim that Israel is being unfairly singled out as compared to Syria.
First and foremost, it’s worth pointing out that the regime in Israel is heavily supported by the governments of the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. That support takes the form of military sales, economic aid, general praise and diplomatic protection (e.g. the U.S. using its veto to thwart attempts by the U.N.S.C. to hold Israel accountable for its serial war crimes).
I suspect that protests against Israel in the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada are as much designed to get the respective governments in those countries to stop facilitating Israeli crimes as they are designed to express outrage at Israel itself.
Such support for the Assad regime, however, hasn’t been forthcoming from said same governments, and so there have been no protests designed to stop it.
You could argue that there should still have been more protests against the Assad regime regardless, but that doesn’t change this basic context.
And indeed, in other important ways, Israel is actually being given highly preferential treatment as compared to Syria. There is no talk of formally sanctioning Israel, for example. No talk of ‘no-fly zones’ or ‘humanitarian intervention’, and no talk of equipping Palestinian rebels with high-tech weaponry so they can better defend themselves and their people.
Compare that to Syria now or Libya in February 2011, when some or all of those things were put on the agenda pretty much straight away, and were then carried out to a greater or lesser degree (for reasons that had nothing to do with humanitarianism or human rights, obviously).
Israel is literally getting away with mass murder scot free, for the third time in five years, and so the idea of Israel being singled out is simply untenable.
On the people who have attended protests against Israeli state violence over the last couple of weeks, Estrin writes:
‘if it is anti-Israel it is an easy band-wagon to get on, to get their anti-Israel war-paint on and join their friends between potlucks, veggie smoothies and coffee breaks’.
Seriously, why didn’t he just call them Long Haired Hippy Freaks and have done with it?
On Israel’s military tactics, Estrin writes:
‘Military experts look at Israel’s military strategy: No carpet bombing, no quick actions, but instead pinpoint strikes whilst warning the enemy in advance of what their plans are, and slow movements . . . What other military calls up the enemy on their phone to tell them that their building will be bombed, to kindly leave, yes, you have enough time to leave, just thought it would be the neighbourly thing to do … anyone else in war, and that is what Hamas is calling this time in Gaza, would simply bomb, kill and destroy’.
Once again, research carried out by mainstream human rights organisations belies this claim that the IDF is a profoundly moral army that tries its hardest to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.
On July 16th, Human Rights Watch published a short report documenting how:
‘Israeli air attacks . . . have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war . . . Recent documented cases in Gaza sadly fit Israel’s long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties’.
On July 21st, Amnesty International published a short report documenting how:
‘Israel’s continuing bombardment of civilian homes in several areas of the Gaza Strip, as well as the shelling of a hospital, add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation’.
Also on July 21st, Medicins Sans Frontieres published a short report documenting how:
‘Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, the majority of the dead and wounded in Gaza are civilians and medical workers are also coming under fire’.
Circa 1,000 Palestinian civilians now lie dead, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and over 100’00 civilians have been displaced. ‘Hell of a pin-point operation’, as John Kerry said.
I am absolutely certain that when international investigators get into Gaza and research these attacks in more detail, they will conclude that Israel has indeed been wilfully targeting civilian infrastructure, and systemically as well, to the extent that both war crimes and Crimes against Humanity have been committed by them.
On ‘Gaza’s’ respect for human life, Estrin writes:
‘And that is it in a nutshell: Whilst Israel does all that is in its power to protect the lives of all its citizens and the lives of those it is attacking, Gaza does all in its power to have all the more die’.
Once again, Estrin is engaged in shameless victim blaming here, and once again he is referring to ‘Gaza’ as a whole. They are trying to get themselves killed in large numbers, see, to make Israel look bad.
But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, as on previous occasions, the claim that Hamas uses Palestinians as ‘human shields’ turns out to be without foundation – Israeli propaganda, in other words.
For example, the BBC’s senior middle east correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, recently wrote in an article for the New Statesman :
‘I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields’.
And as they are doing now, Israeli spokespeople also continually accused Hamas of using ‘human shields’ during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009, but the Goldstone Report found:
‘ . . . no evidence . . . to suggest that Palestinian armed groups either directed civilians to areas where attacks were being launched or that they forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks’.
They did, however, uncover:
‘ . . . four incidents in which the Israeli armed forces coerced Palestinian civilian men at gunpoint to take part in house searches during the military operations . . . The Mission concludes that this practice amounts to the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and is therefore prohibited by international humanitarian law’.
So if anything, it is the IDF, and not Hamas, who have form for using Palestinians as ‘human shields’ in this kind of operation.
Only in the bizarro world inhabited by apologists for Israeli state violence is Gaza free from occupation, and Israel keen on ending the settlement enterprise in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Only in the bizarro world inhabited by apologists for Israeli state violence are Gazans responsible for the ruination of their own economy, and desperate to get themselves killed.
And only in the bizarro world inhabited by apologists for Israeli state violence does the IDF make strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties.
In the real world inhabited by the rest of us, the complete opposite is true, and demonstrably so.
Estrin has apparently chosen to firmly ensconce himself in that bizarro world, and its to the detriment of the Green Party of Canada.
On Friday, a draft of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal was shown to Israeli officials. The draft apparently called for the opening of border crossings between Gaza and Israel and included measure to ensure “the economic livelihood” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
According to Haaretz, the document, which was titled “Framework for Humanitarian Ceasefire in Gaza,” also said that a lasting truce would make possible the “transfer of funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees.”
The proposed ceasefire would also “address all security concerns”, stipulating that Israel would not be allowed to continue destroying tunnels during the initial ceasefire and making no explicit mention of the demilitarizing Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials were apparently shocked after reading the draft, according to Ma’an, saying that it ignored Israel’s security concerns.
“We succeeded in foiling that document and now we are discussing other options,” Haaretz quoted officials as saying.
One of Kerry’s associates is said to have responded:
“There is no paper and no proposal. The draft was based on the Egyptian proposal that Israel wholeheartedly supported. So if they are opposed, they are opposed their own plan.”
Israel refused to work with the ceasefire proposed on Friday, agreeing instead to a 12-hour humanitarian truce which started Saturday at 8am.
Israel resumed its assault on Gaza for the 20th day on Sunday afternoon, killing ten Palestinians in attacks on Sunday.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal spoke Sunday with PBS interviewer Charlie Rose. In the interview, Mashal stressed that the group was ready to “coexist with the Jews” but would not tolerate “occupiers.”
During a continuation of Saturday’s temporary ceasefire, the Israeli army killed at least ten Palestinians.
Israeli forces have also killed a number of Palestinians in solidarity protests across the West Bank over the past several days, jailing even more.
This afternoon, after the expiration of the previous temporary ceasefire, Hamas announced that all militant groups would be respecting a 24-hour ceasefire, beginning at 2pm.
Israeli airstrikes continued, however, as officials announced their rejection to any permanent ceasefire deal currently on the table and, thus, resistance rocket fire resumed from the Gaza Strip as well.
One Israeli civilian was injured. 43 Israelis have been killed during “Operation Protective Edge”, all of them soldiers apart from three civilians.
Over a thousand Palestinian deaths have been reported in the past 20 days, with many still unidentified , most of which are accounted for by heavy, indiscriminate assaults on civilian neighborhoods, municipal facilities, end even hospitals.
Hamas insists that any lasting ceasefire must begin with lifting the blockade on Gaza, with leader Khaled Mashal warning that Palestinians cannot coexist with their neighbors while their land is occupied.
Gaza has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006, leading to frequent humanitarian crises. Backed by Egypt, Israel tightened the blockade in 2007, following an election victory by Hamas. Israel does not even respect their own impositions on Gaza’s fishing industry and frequently fires on Palestinian fishermen, often damaging or even confiscating their equipment.
Charlie Rose asked Khaled whether he could foresee [Hamas] living beside Israelis in peace. He responded that only a future Palestinian state could decide upon [Hamas'] recognition Israel.
“We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers…
I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs. However, I do not coexist with the occupiers.
…Palestinian people can have their say when they have their own state without occupation.”
Further pressed on whether Palestinians could recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state, Mashal reiterated Hamas’ position — the group does not recognize Israel.
“When we have a Palestinian state then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you,” he said.
A full version of the interview is to be broadcast late Monday.
Here’s a hugely significant story that I suspect will get almost no play outside Palestinian solidarity sites. Mickey Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, has told BBC reporter Jon Donnison that there are no grounds for believing Hamas ordered the abduction of three Israeli teens on June 12. Rather, the police say, it was carried out by a rogue cell from Hebron with a loose political affiliation to Hamas.
It was those abductions, and Israel’s response in blaming Hamas and rounding up and jailing hundreds of its activists in the West Bank, that triggered Hamas rocket fire that in turn was used by Israel to justify its attack on Gaza, which is currently killing hundreds of civilians.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated at the time that he had cast-iron evidence that Hamas was behind the abductions and the movement would pay a “heavy price”. He never produced that evidence. But now Israel’s police force itself concedes that Hamas was not involved.
Many of us, of course, suspected that Netanyahu was using the abductions as a pretext to destroy the unity government Hamas and Fatah had recently set up after years of conflict. Now we have official confirmation.
I wonder why, given the great scoop he has, Donnison appears only to have tweeted about this. It’s now more than 24 hours since he went public with the information. Is he waiting for another news outlets to beat him to the story? Or is he tweeting it because he knows the BBC isn’t interested in running a story so embarrassing to Israel?
Anyway, kudos to him for getting the scoop, even if no one seems interested in it. Another one down the memory hole.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday praised the Palestinian resistance defending Gaza from Israel’s ongoing assault on the besieged strip, saying that Israel was failing in its war and headed on a path of suicide.
“Gaza today is holding funeral processions for its martyrs, and has achieved victory in resistance,” Nasrallah said in a rare live appearance from a complex in Beirut’s southern suburbs to mark the annual Jerusalem Day.
“When we reach day 18 [of the Israeli assault] and the Zionists together with the world are incapable of achieving any goal in Gaza, it means the resistance has achieved victory in Gaza.”
“[Former defense minister] Ehud Barak … had said in any future war waged by Israel in Gaza will lead to a very quick and decisive victory.”
“Gaza today is responding and saying ‘You the cowardly people who hide behind warplanes and kill children, if you confront our heroes you will be defeated and your army will be defeated’,” Nasrallah said.
“I say to the Zionists, You in Gaza are working within the circle of failure. Don’t go beyond Gaza to the circle of suicide,” Nasrallah added.
Over 800 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them civilians, have been killed since Israel launched its terror campaign against Gaza on July 8.
“The Israeli army didn’t go to war as an army which is fighting. It went as an army which kills children. This is the army we knew in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said.
“We must salute the souls of the martyrs of Gaza and the wounded of Gaza and the mujaheddin and heroes of Gaza and the people of Gaza who are standing with steadfastness on this day,” he added.
Palestinian fighters in Gaza have vowed to press on with the war until Israel ends its eight-year-long land, air and sea blockade of the strip, which prevents the movement of people and goods, including the importation of basic necessities and medicine.
Nasrallah said those demands were just.
“The siege means death on a daily basis for the people of Gaza, not for 18 days but for years. I must repeat, there must be political, media, financial, material support and support with arms,” he said.
“We must remind everyone here, Iran and Syria together with the resistance in Lebanon, and especially Hezbollah in accordance with its capabilities, for many long years never spared any efforts in supporting the Palestinian resistance — politically, on media, morally, financially, from material angles, weapons, logistical support and expertise.”
Nasrallah also said despite all the attempts by Israel to divide Palestinians and force them to abandon their cause, they remained strong willed to return to their land.
“Despite all their pain and suffering and wounds and massacres and all the factors of despair and frustration, they did not surrender and they did not forget,” Nasrallah said.
“Palestinian people in and out of Palestine and in refugee camps, despite harsh living conditions and incentives for emigrating to Canada and Australia and Europe in order to fragment and divide this Palestinian human body, despite all this the Palestinians held on to their land and cause and farms and fields, and they rejected to surrender and to bow down.”
Does Israel Really Want Peace?
Ever since Israel started bombing Gaza on July 7, Israeli propaganda mills, with support from the Western media, are working overtime to justify the attack. The justifications are not new, though. They repeat the ‘Hamas-as-terrorist’ narrative and that the attack is nothing but “self-defence”. The Americans and most European nations endorse this “right to self-defence” of Israel, and deflect any meaningful international pressure to stop the violence it’s unleashing on the people of Gaza. Critics of this violence are often painted as “biased” or even anti-Semites. Let’s take a look at their key arguments one by one.
Did Hamas trigger the Israeli attack?
No, it didn’t. Well before the abduction of the three Israeli boys on June 12 and their subsequent murder, relations between the two sides were tense. Almost a month prior to the kidnapping, on May 15 to be precisely, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in Ramallah, which the international mainstream media still refuse to discuss. Soon after the Jewish kids went missing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it’s a Hamas act, though till date no evidence is provided to substantiate the claim. Subsequently, Netanyahu ordered a “rescue operation” in West Bank that saw the Israeli troops killing at least six Palestinians, carrying out mass arrests, including those released from prison in 2011, demolishing houses, etc. And then a Palestinian boy was burnt alive by Jewish extremists. It’s after all these that Hamas started firing rockets into Israel, which the latter used as a pretext to start its latest attack on Palestinians.
Hamas wants Israel’s destruction
Think twice. Hamas wants an independent Palestinian state. Hamas emerged out of the failure of the PLO in securing nationhood for the Palestinian people after decades of struggle. True, it’s a politico-military movement, but don’t miss the fact that Hamas is resisting the continuing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel. Despite this, Hamas has a number of times expressed willingness to reach long-term ceasefire and peace agreements with Israel. The best example is the incumbent unity government in West Bank. The government, formed after a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Fatah party in April, has Hamas’ recognition. President Mahmoud Abbas had said the unity government would recognise Israel and respect the past agreements between the two sides. The government had even continued its military cooperation with IDF. Israel, however, rejected all these overtures and started attacking Hamas after the kids went missing.
Israel has the right to defend itself
Well, according to international law, as lawyer Noura Erakat argued in Jadaliyya, Israel doesn’t have the right to self-defence against occupied Palestinian territory. One can argue that it ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, so it has the right to self-defence against rockets from Gaza. But effectively, what Israel has won after disengaging from Gaza is a licence to massacre Gazans. What Israel is now doing to Gaza will not come under any definition of self-defence. It has attacked Gaza thrice since Ariel Sharon pulled out troops and settlements from the strip in early 2005. In the first attack, in 2008-09, Israel killed around 1,500 Palestinians and systematically destroyed the public infrastructure in the strip. The New Yorker says 14% of the buildings in Gaza were partially or completely destroyed, including 21,000 homes, 700 factories, 16 hospitals, 38 primary health centres and 288 schools. In the second attack, in 2012, Israel killed around 150 Palestinians in a week. The current attack is already into the third week, and has killed more than 700 Palestinians, with a huge majority being civilians including a big chunk of kids. Is this self-defence or genocide?
Israel is going to wars because of Hamas
Who said so? Not even the idea of Hamas was born when Israel attacked Lebanon in 1978, and then again in 1982. At that time, the Israeli leadership said they were attacking the PLO and wanted to destroy the PLO’s military infrastructure. And then they went on attacking the Lebanese people. They do the same thing now. Israel always wanted one or the other excuse to continue its aggression. Even if Hamas demilitarises itself now, there’s no guarantee that Israel will stop attacking the Palestinian people. Look at the West Bank. There are no weapons in there. Hamas is not in power. Did Israel stop its military bullying in the West Bank? It didn’t. Instead it expanded its military presence, encouraged more Jewish settlements, grabbed more Palestinian land turned the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah into a paper government. This is what Israel does when resistance recedes.
Does Israel want peace?
Its own recent actions suggest otherwise. The frequent invasions of Gaza, the continuing settlements and the subjugation of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, disregard for international law and organisations and the absolute rejection of discussions on the border of a future Palestinian state all point to Israel’s not-so-secret strategy to deal with the Palestinians militarily than agreeing to peace with them. Israel knows that it will have to make some compromises to reach even a pro-Israeli peace agreement. It doesn’t want to do that. It doesn’t want to end the occupation of West Bank, it doesn’t want to pull out the Jewish settlements from Palestinian territories, it doesn’t want to give the land it grabbed back to the Palestinians, it doesn’t want to discuss the status of Jerusalem and it doesn’t want to talk about the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. This is what wise people call Zionist colonialism, and it explains why Israel is attacking Gaza again and again.
Is Hamas a terrorist outfit?
Hamas is fighting for one of the most disadvantaged peoples of the post-War world. They represent the victims, not the aggressor. To be sure, it has attacked the Israeli civilians and is firing rockets into Israel. But if violence against civilians is the yardstick to call Hamas ‘terrorists’ what would you call the state of Israel, given the number of civilians dead in its wars and invasions since its inception? Look at the ongoing Gaza attack. The UN says more than 75 per cent of the Palestinian casualties are civilians, including at least 140 children. Is someone around the corner calling Israel a terrorist nation?
Is Stanly Johny biased?
You are asking the wrong question. The right question is which side you are on, with the bombers or with the bombed? Yes, I am with the bombed.
Stanly Johny is an Indian journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Buttu, Human rights attorney, Ramallah-based analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators, and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
George Bisharat, Professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, and former legal consultant to the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Q – What caused this latest outburst of violence?
DB – “As soon as the Palestinian Authority national unity government was announced in April, Israel set its sights on destroying it. It did so by first pressing for the government’s isolation and, when that failed, it used the deaths of three Israelis (kidnapped in an area of the West Bank that is entirely under Israel’s control) to demonize Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Within 18 days of the Israelis going missing, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank including 11 Parliamentarians and 59 former prisoners who were released in a prisoner exchange three years ago. These people were arrested without any proof that these individuals were in any way involved in the deaths of the three Israelis. In addition, Israel killed 10 Palestinians, including three children in the West Bank and demolished three houses. Israel launched air raids on the Gaza Strip, as documented by the UN, killing two, including a 10-year-old child. This happened before a single Hamas rocket was fired from Gaza. When Israel failed to break up the unity government diplomatically, it turned to a brutal military attack. What is clear is that the status quo is not the answer. Returning to the 2012 ceasefire will not work as it was easily abused by Israel.”
GB – “Israel instrumentalized the tragic deaths of three Israeli youths, abducted and killed on June 12, to attack Hamas in the West Bank and disrupt Palestinian national reconciliation – a goal it had failed to achieve diplomatically. Israel arrested more than 400, searched 2,200 homes and other sites, and killed at least nine Palestinians in the process. We now know that Israel concealed evidence the youths were killed virtually immediately after abduction, and incited Israeli public opinion to a frenzy, directly leading to the brutal immolation of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. These cynical acts led to the escalation of violence along the Gaza border.”
NH – “Israel used the June 12 kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenage settlers to launch a brutal Israeli crackdown on the West Bank and East Jerusalem that human rights organizations have condemned as collective punishment. Israel particularly targeted Hamas members despite the lack of evidence and the organization’s denial of responsibility. The real target was the national unity agreement achieved by Hamas.
“The truth is, though, that this all-out Israeli assault on Gaza would have happened sooner or later. Israelis call their approach to Gaza “mowing the grass”. That is, they must attack and weaken Hamas every two or three years, even though Hamas has proven willing and able to respect a ceasefire, including by reining in other factions. This is one of the ways Israel “manages” its occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its occupation and siege of Gaza.”
Q – Is Israel acting in self-defense?
DB – “No. Israel cannot claim self-defense owing to the fact that it initiated the assault on the Gaza Strip and continues to maintain a brutal military occupation over the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank). Rather, Israel has an obligation under international law to protect Palestinians living under its military rule.”
GB - “Self-defense may not be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its violent assault on Hamas in the West Bank.”
NH - “No. A member state of the United Nations that has signed international conventions pledging to respect the laws of war has no right to indiscriminately attack civilians and civilian infrastructure. The very high number of Palestinian civilian casualties – men, women, children – give the lie to Israel’s claims to self-defense, as does Hamas’ proven willingness to uphold a ceasefire.
“Moreover, Israel cannot claim self-defense against a people whose land it has been militarily occupying and colonizing for decades, part of whose population it has placed under siege. Only a ceasefire can protect Palestinians and Israelis alike, and only an end to the occupation and siege can pave the way to a permanent peace.
“Hamas should also refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure but it is not a UN-member state and has not signed conventions binding it to uphold international law.”
Q – Is Israel attacking “Hamas targets”?
DB – “No. Israel appears to be attacking civilian homes and civilian infrastructure. To date, according to UN estimates, 80 percent of those killed are civilians, including over 150 children. Israel has bombed hospitals, schools and mosques – all illegitimate targets under international law. More than 2,000 homes and entire neighborhoods have been destroyed by Israel’s attacks. This is inconsistent with international law. Civilian structures, such as homes, are only lawful targets when they are being used for military purposes. The Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Convention on the Law of War provides that, ‘in case of doubt whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.’ While Israel has argued that Palestinian homes are command centers, Human Rights Watch has dismissed those claims.
“Attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants are illegal. Using Israel’s logic, this also means that any home of any past or present Israeli soldier or police officer is a legitimate target or any civilian area where military is present (such as the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv). Clearly, this is not acceptable.
“This is not a video game in which the Israeli army is allowed to hunt down anyone associated with Hamas, irrespective of whether they are a combatant and without regard for civilian infrastructure.”
GB - “Israel appears to be categorizing any upper-level Hamas member as a ‘combatant,’ regardless of function. For example, it deliberately targeted Gaza police chief Taysir al-Batsh, injuring him and killing 18 members of his family, while he visited his cousin’s home. Police are civilians in international law, and this, on the face of it, appears to have been a clear war crime. So, likely, are the many other attacks that have been launched against private homes, although definitive conclusions must be left to further investigation. Israel has also attacked hospitals, water treatment facilities and sewer lines, and other civilian infrastructure that has nothing to do with Hamas. In fact, despite Israel’s claims to respect the international legal requirement of distinction between military targets and civilians, its actions speak of a policy to deliberately kill civilians as a means of weakening Hamas politically.”
NH - “No. The figures of civilian dead and injured undermine this claim. Compare the 433 Palestinian civilians killed by July 22 according to UN figures, out of an overall total of over 640 Palestinians killed, to two Israeli civilians killed.”
Q – Why has Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire?
DB - “Hamas and other factions were not consulted on the ceasefire proposal; Egypt was. Egypt does not represent or speak on behalf of Palestine or Palestinians; only Palestinians do. It is silly to think that any progress can be made without a major party to the agreement present at the table. Moreover, Israel has currently rejected a humanitarian cease-fire to allow much-needed supplies into the Gaza Strip and to allow Palestinians to bury their dead.”
GB - “Hamas declined to accept a ceasefire offer about which it had not been consulted and which failed to meet basic requirements of fairness. Within 24 hours, however, Hamas and other Palestinian groups offered Israel a ten-year truce that would have ended Israel’s siege against the Gaza Strip, thus guaranteeing long-term stability in the region. Israel had not responded to that offer, but appears to prefer to periodically ‘mow the lawn.’”
NH – “Hamas is willing to accept a ceasefire, but one that would be respected by Israel and that would lift the siege on Gaza. The Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are civilians, as well as the members of Hamas or other factions, have since 2007 faced the choice between a slow death or a quick one. Either they die through ill health and disease due to lack of potable water, poor nutrition, and lack of medical care as a result of the draconian siege imposed by Israel on Gaza that has also been upheld by Egypt. Or they die quickly when Israel decides to ‘mow the lawn.’
“Until the border crossings are open for the movement of people and goods, the Gaza Palestinians will be forced to live without the most basic rights.”
Q – Does Hamas use Palestinians as human shields?
DB - “The Gaza Strip is an area that is 26 miles (40 km) long and seven miles (12 km) wide at its widest point. With nearly 1.8 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Moreover, prior to this attack, 35 percent of the Gaza Strip was off limits – by threat of death – to Palestinians with Israel maintaining a ‘no-go’ zone in these areas. That said, while Hamas fights from within this small area, it does not use Palestinian civilians as cover. To date, international investigations have concluded that there is no evidence to substantiate these long-made Israeli claims and yet the claims continue to be accepted by many, unchallenged. Ironically, the converse has been well-established: Israel has used Palestinian civilians as human shields when carrying out its military operations.”
GB – “Hamas fights from within inhabited areas, as it must in the densely populated Gaza Strip. But few allegations that Hamas deliberately endangers civilians in order to escape attack have ever been substantiated. The claim seems designed to ‘blame the victim.’ Certainly, Palestinians themselves are perfectly clear that it is Israel that is spilling Palestinian blood.”
NH – “Israel has declared 44% of the Gaza Strip – an area less than half the size of New York City – a military “buffer zone.” Who is using whom as a human shield?”
Q – Does the Israeli military take all possible precautions to prevent civilian casualties?
DB - “No. The ‘knock on the roof’ procedure – dropping a missile on a house in advance of its bombing – has resulted in deaths. According to Philip Luther of Amnesty International, ‘There is no way that firing a missile at a civilian home can constitute an effective “warning.” Amnesty International has documented cases of civilians killed or injured by such missiles in previous Israeli military operations on the Gaza Strip,’ he said.
“In addition, while Israel claims that it distributes leaflets, these leaflets do not tell people where they are to go to be safe. As noted by Israeli human rights organizations, ‘Dispersal of leaflets does not grant the military permission to consider the area as if it were so-called “sterile,” assume that no civilians were left in the area and then proceed to attack civilian sites. The military must not assume that all residents have indeed left their homes.’
“Moreover, Israel claims that the Iron Dome defense system has been effective at preventing Israeli civilian deaths. Given this claim and given that the number of Israeli civilian casualties is 2 (as compared to 650 Palestinian deaths), it is clear that there are alternative means to address any rockets launched toward Israel without harming civilians in the process.”
GB – “Of course not, as several responses above indicate. Warnings to civilians to leave areas when they have no effective refuge are meaningless, and a number of Palestinians, including three boys of the Shuhaibar family, have been killed by Israel’s practice of ‘knocking on the roof’ – that is, firing what is supposed to be a warning missile before heavier ordnance is used.”
NH - “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. It is impossible to hit it from air, land, and sea without killing hundreds of civilians. The only way to prevent the killing and injuring of Gaza civilians is a ceasefire – and Hamas has honored past ceasefires. And the only way to achieve peace is through an agreement that ends Israel’s occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza and respects other Palestinian rights long denied.”
And what The Goldstone Report found the last time Israel fired on hospitals in Gaza, and then accused Hamas of using them as military bases:
‘The Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes. On the basis of its own investigations and the statements by UN officials, the Mission excludes that Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat activities from UN facilities that were used as shelters during the military operations’.
The Israeli government are proven liars in this regard, and no-one should be surprised if they are lying this time around as well.
That they are proven liars in this regard apparently isn’t enough to stop The Times taking the Israeli government at their word, and then publishing cartoons which can only have the effect of helping to justify war crimes.
Senators Sanders & Leahy Join in Deeply Flawed Resolution Supporting Israel
All 100 Senators, including Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, joined in passing a Senate resolution on July 17, 2014 supporting “the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”
However, the facts differ.
A report issued by the authoritative “Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center” (ITIC), a private Israeli think tank that “has close ties with the country’s military leadership,” unintentionally debunked the Senate resolution more than a week before its unanimous consent vote in the Senate. The weekly ITIC reports regarding rocket fire are frequently quoted on the Israeli government’s own web site.
The ITIC July 8, 2014 report,“News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 2 – 8, 2014),” states: “For the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense [November 2012], Hamas participated in and claimed responsibility for rocket fire [on July 7, 2014].”
Thus, Hamas rocket fire only re-started on July 7 after a 19 month cease-fire. As we will see, this was nearly a month after Israeli forces launched massive military operations in the West Bank and Gaza starting on June 12. But those Israeli military operations were not the only provocation.
First, about the cease fire that was in place: Operation Pillar of Defense was an 8 day aerial assault on Gaza in November 2012 that ended with a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt. Graphs presented on the ITIC website show that the cease-fire was effective. In the weeks and months following that agreement, the ITIC consistently reported the absence of Hamas rocket fire. In addition, a May 2013 article in the Jerusalem Post, “IDF source: Hamas working to stop Gaza rockets,” reported that Hamas was policing other groups to prevent rocket fire.
The July 8 ITIC report also divulged why Hamas launched its first rocket fire at Israel in more than 19 months on July 7: On that night Israeli forces had bombed and killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza. The ITIC report includes a picture of the six Hamas members. Thus, a report from an authoritative Israeli source described the provocation for the resumption of rocket fire: Hamas rocket fire began only after Israeli forces had engaged in nearly a month of military operations in violation of the ceasefire agreement and had killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza.
The Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) also issues weekly reports, these reports focus on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories, including the West Bank and Gaza. In its July 10 weekly report, PCHR gave further details of the events that immediately preceded the July 7 Hamas rocket launchings: PCHR reports:
Between 01:00 and 16:00, the bodies of 5 members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) were recovered from a tunnel dug near Gaza International Airport in the southeast of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. They were identified as: Ibrahim Dawod al-Bal’awi, 24; ‘Abdul Rahman Kamal al-Zamli, 22; Jum’a ‘Atiya Shallouf, 26; and Khaled ‘Abdul Hadi Abu Mur, 21, and his twin brother, Mustafa. Another three members were recovered alive, but one was in a serious condition. It should be noted that the tunnel was repeatedly bombarded by Israeli warplanes and tanks. According to medical sources, the deceased inhaled toxic gases. The ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades declared in an online statement that 5 of its members were killed as a result of airstrikes that targeted places of resistance activities.
The facts show that Israeli forces had to work quite hard to get Hamas to end its cease-fire. The killing of the six Hamas members was not an isolated event. Israeli forces and settlers had gone wild on the West Bank starting on June 12 after the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. Israeli forces had also attacked 60 targets in Gaza during those three weeks of June. Then, on the night of July 7, 2014, the Israeli Air Force had attacked approximately 50 more “terrorist targets” in the Gaza Strip, as described in the ITIC report.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on July 3:
Israel’s military operations in the West Bank following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers have amounted to collective punishment. The military operations included unlawful use of force, arbitrary arrests, and illegal home demolitions.
The HRW report also states that:
Israeli forces have arrested about 700 Palestinians since June 12, 2014, and are currently detaining at least 450, some during the large-scale military incursions and others who are known supporters or leaders of the Hamas Reform and Change Party, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, according to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner’s rights group.
Giving more details, several of the weekly reports from the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) indicate that Israeli forces and settlers killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 51 during 369 incursions into the West Bank between June 12 and July 2 and that Israeli forces raided hundreds of houses on the West Bank each week. Israeli forces also launched the 60 bombing attacks on Gaza and one ground incursion, wounding 27 people in Gaza during those three weeks.
While all these attacks in the West Bank and Gaza did produce rocket fire from other groups in Gaza during June–which the ITIC reports had been almost zero during the previous month–the attacks did not provoke Hamas itself to fire rockets. To predictably accomplish that feat, Israeli forces had to go further and kill the 6 Hamas members on July 7.
The Senate resolution names Hamas in nearly every one of its deeply flawed paragraphs. Yet it fails to mention any of the facts about Israel’s military operations in the West Bank and Gaza.
Let’s turn this around for a moment: Had the Israeli public been subjected to a massive military crackdown including 369 military incursions into Israel and 110 bombing attacks on Israel during which 11 Israelis had been killed, 78 wounded, and 700 arrested, and then had six Israeli soldiers been killed in a single air and ground military operation, would the Senate have omitted mention of all such facts and voted by unanimous consent that responding Israeli forces were “unprovoked?” Would the Senate have voted that the one attacking Israel was defending itself and that Israeli forces were the ones engaging in “belligerent actions?”
Why did the Senate get this so wrong? Why did Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy allow their names to be used for pro-war propaganda so at variance with the facts?
James Marc Leas is a Vermont attorney and is a past co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee. He collected evidence in the Gaza Strip from November 27 to December 3, 2012 as part of a 20 member delegation from the US and Europe and co-authored several articles describing findings. He also participated in the National Lawyers Guild delegation to Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in February 2009 and contributed to its report, Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law.
GAZA – Palestinian resistance factions have proposed a ceasefire initiative presented with Qatari and Turkish support.
The ceasefire initiative includes an end to all armed hostilities, an end to Gaza siege, and the release of all Palestinian detainees who were recently arrested in the West Bank. The initiative states that the ceasefire must be reached under US supervision.
The initiative was delivered by Qatar to US Secretary of State John Kerry who in turn conveyed it to Israel.
The ceasefire initiative includes:
1. Mutual and immediate cessation of fire.
2. Mutual cessation of military and security operations.
3. Total lifting of the siege of Gaza and opening the border crossings for goods and people and allowing in food, industrial, fuel and construction supplies, expanding the maritime fishing zone to 12 miles, in addition to removing the buffer zone and implementing reconstruction projects.
4. Full commitment to the prisoners’ swap deal reached on 1/10/2011 under Egyptian mediation, and the release of all the Palestinians detained since 12 June 2014 mainly Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Dr. Aziz Dweik, in addition to the reopening of public institutions and improving the conditions of Palestinian prisoners.
The ceasefire implementation mechanism:
1. Determination of a zero hour for implementation of all requirements of the ceasefire.
2. Full commitment to the ceasefire under US supervision.
3. Mutual cessation within 6 hours of its announcement.
The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas hailed on Friday the Ecuadorian decision to withdraw his country’s ambassador to Tel-Aviv in protest against Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Speaking to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Resalah, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “This is a very advanced position, to which the countries in the region have not arrived at.”
Barhoum described the withdrawal of the ambassador as a “courageous” decision.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the Ecuadorian government condemned the Israeli invasion on the Gaza Strip.
“We condemn the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian territory, we require cessation of operations and indiscriminate attacks against civilians,” Patino said.
Barhoum also called for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to lift the eight-year siege on Gaza and stop Israeli aggression on Gaza, which has continued for 13 days.
“At the heart of the blame approach is a system of warfare, which centers on the outcome of moral or legal battles rather than on the resolution of conflict and the prevention of future violence. As such, it neither reduces pathology nor protects the victim.” – Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
Once again, the Zionist entity has unleashed a massive bombing campaign on Gaza, killing over 200 people and injuring 1500, supposedly in retaliation for being targeted by “an ever-escalating number of missiles.”
The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, by responding with over 1,000 rockets aimed at targets within the Zionist entity, is being portrayed as the aggressor and “Israel” as an innocent victim that even agreed to a cease fire while its “terrorist” adversary did not. U.S. President Obama has justified Zionist assaults on Gaza since “there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”
To clarify who is the victim and who is the perpetrator here, we must briefly examine history to see the pathology of the Zionist entity, which has repeatedly launched similar assaults on Gaza under the pretext of its right to defend itself. Most news coverage of the current carnage points to the deaths of three kidnapped teenagers as the immediate cause, falling in line with the allegations of Zionist Prime Minister Netanyahu, who insisted on blaming Hamas for the tragedy. However, taking such a short-sighted perspective can only yield a distorted view of this ongoing colonial confrontation whose roots date back to before the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
To understand what led to the current onslaught, we can begin with the unilateral withdrawal of Zionist occupation forces and settlers from Gaza in August 2005. Engineered by Ariel Sharon, the butcher behind the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, the “disengagement” from Gaza was an excuse to circumvent Zionist responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention as the occupying power, as was clarified in a letter sent to then U.S. President George Bush. The letter stated that, upon completion of the withdrawal, “there will be no basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory.”
By cooperating with Sharon’s disengagement plan, Palestinians expected the Zionists to live up to their word and allow Gazans “to breathe the air of freedom and begin rebuilding their shattered lives.” However, this did not happen: Gaza’s borders remained closed, its airport remained shut down, the sea was still off limits to fishermen, and entry into and exit from the coastal enclave remained a virtual impossibility, subject to the whims of the Israeli entity. Based on the Hague “effective control test,” Gaza remained occupied territory under international law, as research professor of law at the University of London Iain Scobbie wrote, “When we also take into account the views that have been expressed on control of the territory from the air, it is clear that Israeli withdrawal of land forces did not terminate occupation.”
Before the disengagement, Hamas had announced their intention to participate in the May 5, 2005 legislative elections, which resulted in Fatah winning 50 seats and Hamas winning 28, mainly in the major urban areas. Fatah contested the election in court, which ruled in their favor, necessitating a second election that was delayed until January 25, 2006. However, as the date approached, it became increasingly clear, much to the chagrin of U.S. and Zionist officials, that Hamas stood a good chance of winning over the disputing Fatah factions. Their worst fears were born out when Hamas won big, taking 74 seats to Fatah’s 45, something which reportedly surprised even the Hamas leadership.
As a result of the sweeping Hamas victory, rival Fatah, of course, became bitter, but the Bush administration flatly refused to accept the outcome, and announced that they would neither engage the victors in dialogue nor grant economic aid until Hamas met three conditions: First, recognition of the Israeli entity; second, disarming and renunciation of violence; and third, acceptance of all previous Palestinian agreements with Tel Aviv. By placing these conditions on Hamas, the American officials, who, incidentally, were among the staunchest proponents of holding the elections, effectively signaled that, rather than supporting democracy, they were unwilling to accept the will of the majority of the Palestinian people.
In one of the first acts of the newly-elected government, political bureau head Khaled Mish’al unilaterally extended the Hamas truce with the Zionist regime, but instead of welcoming this gesture, the U.S. exerted pressure on countries worldwide not to recognize the incoming Palestinian administration. While Turkey and Russia extended invitations to the newly-elected government, Mahmoud Abbas played no small role in sabotaging meetings between the Hamas leadership and South Africa and Malaysia. Moreover, the outgoing Palestinian Legislative Council gave Abbas sweeping executive powers which gave him the authority as president to have the final word in any disputes arising with the new Hamas government.
The security situation in Gaza became increasingly chaotic due to poor response by Fatah police under the command of Abbas, who himself had a personal security force of 10,000, financed and trained by the U.S. in Jordan with Zionist collaboration. Then, Washington and Tel Aviv imposed economic sanctions and virtually cut off all financial channels by which aid could flow to the Hamas government. Next, armed provocateurs were dispatched to stir the growing unrest into a full-blown confrontation between Hamas and Fatah. Lastly, the U.S. and the Zionist entity resorted to armed conflict in an attempt to bring down the Hamas government.
As the political struggle between Fatah and Hamas intensified, the Zionist regime fired shells into Gaza, allegedly in response to rockets fired from there, and continued to assassinate Palestinian activists from both factions in an obvious attempt to escalate the conflict. Then on June 9, 2006, a Zionist artillery bombardment killed seven Palestinians, one of whom was the father of a ten-year-old girl named Huda Ghalia. The photos of Huda running in tears toward her father after her entire family had been annihilated by an Israeli shell galvanized Gazans, who demanded a response to this Israeli provocation. At that point the Izzadin al-Qassam brigades appealed to Hamas leadership, which finally relented and ended the truce. Nevertheless, Abbas continued to meet with then Zionist prime minister Ehud Olmert, whom the Hamas leaders justifiably referred to as a “terrorist.”
A critical point in the escalating conflict came soon afterward when on June 24 Zionist troops entered Gaza and kidnapped two Hamas members, the brothers Mostafa and Osama Muammar, after severely beating their father who required hospitalization. In retaliation, members of various resistance factions tunneled under the border to the Zionist outpost of Keren Shalom, neutralizing four soldiers and kidnapping corporal Gilad Shalit. The Zionist regime used the abduction, for which Hamas was not directly responsible, as an excuse to bomb bridges, main roads, water plants, power stations and other services in a vicious attempt to dislodge Hamas by destroying Gaza’s infrastructure.
For a time in the summer of 2006, the world was distracted from Gaza while Hezbollah successfully repulsed a full-scale Zionist assault on Lebanon, which killed 1,109 Lebanese civilians and wounded 4,399. Explaining his perspective on cause of the so-called War of Tammuz, one Hezbollah fighter explained, “The Israelis did what they could to destroy our humanity. As a result, the people rose up and resisted. Isn’t that normal?” This statement exposes the Zionist pathology: the desire to destroy the humanity of Palestinians, which is precisely what we see in Gaza, as the victim is blamed for resisting the oppressor.
By 2007, an agreement for a unity government brokered by the Saudis was derailed by the United States, which tasked Lieutenant General Keith Dayton with toppling the Hamas government with the help of Fatah. This act of American adventurism led Hamas to expel Fatah forces from Gaza. In response to Hamas with the backing of the U.S., western allies and Egypt, the Israeli entity launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27, 2008, killing 1,400 during the bloody three-week operation. As if this were not enough, the Zionist regime struck Gaza again in March 2012 for five days, killing another 25 Palestinians in a series of air assaults.
This brings us to the present attack on Gaza, which began on July 8 and so far has claimed the lives of over 200 men, women and children, destroyed 500 homes and cut off water to hundreds of thousands. The Zionist pathology remains the same as it was in Lebanon: the desire to destroy the Palestinians’ humanity. Even more macabre were the actions of some citizens in Sderot who gathered on a hill to watch the bombardment, cheering raucously as each Israeli bomb exploded in Gaza. This is all part of the morbid Zionist pathology.
“Of course, let us not think for a moment, God forbid, that we can be indifferent to the death of innocents. The death of any child, Israeli or Arab, Muslim or Jew, is an unspeakable tragedy that rends the heart,” Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, confided sanctimoniously. This is while three teenage Zionists have confessed to murdering a teenage Palestinian boy by burning him alive. This oxymoron is also part of the Zionist pathology.
The Israeli security cabinet reportedly agreed to a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday proposed by the Egyptian government, but leaders with the Palestinian resistance said that no one had contacted them to negotiate any ceasefire.
According to Israeli military reports, the alleged ceasefire proposal would require the Israeli military to end its aerial and naval bombardment of the Gaza Strip that has been constant for the past week, while Palestinian armed factions would be required to stop firing homemade shells into Israel.
Despite claims of having agreed to a ceasefire, Israeli bombardment continued to pound Gaza on Tuesday morning.
The armed wing of the Hamas party, the Izz-al Deen al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that the ceasefire agreement amounted to a ‘surrender’, and that no representative of Hamas or any other armed resistance group had been involved in the negotiations. Therefore, the group said, they would continue their resistance to Israeli aggression in Gaza.
The supposed agreement does not meet the four key elements reiterated by Hamas leaders in recent days. These requirements include the lifting of the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which has led to the unemployment rate of 80%, the sealing of all borders and the prevention of aid, construction materials and fuel, as well as staple goods, from entering Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh, the elected Prime Minister of the Palestinians people who has not been recognized by Israel because of his association with the Hamas party, said on Monday, “The Gaza blockade must be lifted so that our people live in freedom like all other peoples around the world.”
Egyptian officials negotiated with Israel, apparently without involving Palestinians in the negotiation of the proposed ceasefire. Despite the lack of involvement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the Fateh party urged rival parties to accept the agreement.
Hamas officials stated over the weekend that Egypt was an unacceptable negotiator for any ceasefire negotiations, and only Turkey or Qatar could be considered as potential negotiators of a ceasefire.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has kept the Egyptian border with Gaza closed over the last week, apart from one opening to allow critically wounded patients through. This has led to widespread disapproval of Egypt as a negotiator among the Palestinian populace of Gaza, who have not had any way to escape the near-constant bombardment that began on July 8th.
In the two weeks prior to July 8th, 13 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
In the week since, 195 Palestinians have been killed, including three babies under age two, and several families that were totally wiped out.
2 Israeli girls were wounded on Monday night by a Palestinian shell, the first such injuries in the week of escalation. One of them, age 10, was wounded critically, according to Israeli sources.
Over the past week of escalation, at least 1,385 Palestinians have been wounded, many with head injuries, amputated limbs, permanent disabilities and embedded shrapnel. They include a four-day old infant, who was critically wounded by Israeli forces on Tuesday morning.
More than 180 Palestinians have been killed and 1,385 injured since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza exactly a week ago.
Early on Tuesday evening, as Operation Protective Edge entered its second week, Israeli air strikes and rocket continued to strike Gaza even while reports of the ceasefire began to emerge.
Hamas rockets also continued to fly toward Israel where they have largely caused minor injuries and damage. Monday evening saw the most serious incident of the week-long conflict so far with two sisters – aged 10 and 13 – being hospitalised following a rocket attack. The younger sister, 10-year-old Maram Wakili remains in critical condition.