For the past forty-five years the state of Israel has been dispossessing millions of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, confiscating their lands, destroying homes, bulldozing orchards and setting-up ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements serviced by highways, electrical systems and water works for the exclusive use of the settlers and occupying soldiers.
The process of Israeli territorial expansion throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem has greatly accelerated in recent years, converting Palestinian-held territory into non-viable isolated enclaves – like South Africa’s Bantustans – surrounded by the Israeli soldiers who protect violent settler-vigilantes as they assault and harass Palestinian farmers at work in their fields, beat Arab children on their way to school, pelt Palestinian housewives as they hang their laundry and then invade and defecate in Palestinian mosques and churches.
The Rage and Rape of Gaza and its Apologists
Israel’s strategic goal is to impose ‘Greater Israel’ on the region: to take over all of historical Palestine, expel the entire non-Jewish population and subsidize ‘Jews-only’ settlements (for settler-immigrants, often from the US and former USSR). While bulldozers and tanks have dispossessed Palestinians in the West Bank for decades, the launching of thousands of missiles and bombs have become the ‘weapons of choice’ for uprooting and eliminating the Palestinians in Gaza. In just eight days, Israel’s latest blitzkrieg resulted in the killing of 168 Palestinians (42 children and 100 civilians), the wounding of 1,235, the destruction of over 1,350 buildings and the further traumatizing of over 1.7 million children, women and men fenced in the world’s largest concentration camp. According to the Israeli Defense Minister, the Jewish State dropped “a thousand times more bombs onto Gaza” than the Palestinians fired back into Israel.
The current Israeli offensive began with the gruesome assassination of a prominent Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari, and immediately escalated into an assault on the entire Palestinian population of Gaza. Secure in the knowledge that the Palestinians had no capacity to retaliate with similar weaponry, the Israeli High Command ordered the systematic destruction of civilian life, workplaces and densely populated neighborhoods. Over 75% of the casualties have been non-combatants; almost half are children, women and elders.
The Israeli propaganda machine and its ‘Fifth Column’ in the US fabricated and repeated the Big Lie: that the Jewish state was ‘defending itself’… Right… with only six (mostly military) deaths and 280 wounded versus the nearly 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, slaughtered. The US Zionist power configuration (ZPC), embedded in the policy centers of the US Executive, the Congress and both political parties, parroted this line. All the major US TV networks and print media reproduced verbatim Israeli Foreign Office press handouts about Israel’s ‘defensive’ … genocide … while entire Palestinian families were being buried under the rubble of their bombed apartments.
Death and destruction, planned and executed with the unanimous support of all the major Israeli political parties and leaders, enthralled the mass of its Jewish citizens: Indeed, over 80% of Israeli Jews supported the terror blitz against Gaza. As the Russian media outlet (RT) reported: “A new wave of hatred towards Palestinians is sweeping through Israel from public figures to the man (person) in the street”. The Israeli Interior Minister declared that “Gaza should be bombed into the Middle Ages”. Israeli demonstrators in Tel Aviv shouted; “they (the Palestinians) don’t deserve to live, they must die”, “may your children die” and “now we must go back there (to Gaza) and kick out all Arabs”. The prominent Israeli Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the son of a former chief rabbi, made a speech in the Cave of the Patriarchs in occupied Hebron where he blessed the Israeli soldiers and urged them “to slaughter their enemy”.
Even more to the point, Israel Katz, Israel’s Transport Minister, demanded “Gaza be bombed so hard the population will have to flee into Egypt (the Sinai desert)”. Avi Dichter, the Minister of Home Front Defense, incited the Israeli military to “re-format” Gaza – that is to erase its population with bombs.
Almost half of Israeli Jews considered Netanyahu’s terror bombing of Gaza insufficient: According to the independent Israeli Maagar Mohot poll, half of Israelis opposed the cease fire and demanded the bloody assault against the Palestinian population of Gaza continue. The same poll reported that almost a third of Israeli Jews though their government should have sent ground forces into Gaza, an invasion which would have led to tens of thousands of Palestinian casualties and total destruction of their vital infrastructural life-lines. Netanyahu and his allies in power now confront a new, totalitarian mass opposition that openly embraces a genocidal ‘Final Solution’ to the Palestinian problem.
Genocide at the Service of Greater Israel
The parallels between the pronouncements and actions of Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel are overwhelming. The blood lust in Israel goes far beyond psychopathic raving of a few deranged rabbis and marginal politicians: it extends from the top Cabinet members to the average citizen.
In Israel, almost an entire people – over 80% of Jews – support, with varying degrees of intensity, the terror bombing and slaughter of the people of Gaza. Setting aside the profound sociopathic disorders of the raging and racist multitude in Israel, what is politically more significant are the totalitarian rants of leading Israeli public figures, published as editorials, in such newspapers as the respectable Jerusalem Post: “We need to flatten all of Gaza. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing,” writes Gilad Sharon and the statements of prominent Knesset members, like Michael Ben-Ari , “There are no innocents in Gaza … mow them (all) down”. These outbursts reveal Israel’s strategic goal: Genocide at the service of Greater Israel – the bloody purge of 5 million Palestinians, the creation of a 100 percent ‘pure’ Jewish State. Overseas (mostly US) Zionist-Jewish media moguls, Ivy League university academics, billionaires, US Congress people and government officials finance, underwrite, propagandize for and promote with single-minded perseverance the defense of Israel’s most heinous war crimes, its violations of international law and its ongoing crimes against humanity.
During the entire period of the recent Israeli blitzkrieg, Israel’s Fifth column, the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, the New York Times and the rest of the major US press rose to the dirty task of giving unconditional support for Israel’s war crimes. Vocal support from the US White House and by extension the leaders of the European Union echoed Netanyahu’s lies. In order to grasp the media white wash of these ongoing crimes against humanity one could compare the US press reports on Israel’s bombing of Gaza to those which would have appeared in the leading fascist newspapers at the time of Hitler’s ‘defensive’ attacks on Poland and Belgium and the bombing blitz of civilians in London.
The true purpose of Israel’s terror bombing raids and assassinations in Gaza and the cutting up of the West Bank is to make these territories uninhabitable for the Palestinians. The daily humiliation and destruction of the basic conditions for normal life are designed to force young, educated, ambitious Palestinians to abandon their land, homes and families for less grotesquely barbaric sites, where they might achieve a normal civilized existence, free from foul-mouthed Jewish settlers, unending military incursions, Israeli soldiers pistol-whipping their fathers or breaking the legs and arms of stone-throwing Arab schoolkids.
The Logic of Public Flogging
This obscene Israeli-Jewish behavior is intentionally open and flagrant: Flaunting Jewish military superiority over the defenseless Arab is a vital part of the psychological war reinforcing the idea of Arab inferiority and of Palestinians as aliens in their own country. Israel’s underlying slogan “Arab Raus!” (Arabs Get Out!) echoes the Nazi screed, “Juden Raus!” (Jews Get Out!). The message is clear: “If you are not a Jew then you do not exist! Your very alien presence is an abomination in the eyes of the Zionist God. So if you won’t leave politely we will hasten your departure with a few thousand bombs, missiles and a rain of white phosphorous.” That is the deeper meaning of Israel’s rape of Gaza.
The Impact of Israel’s Genocide on US Society
Leading journalists in the most politically influential US newspapers, academics from the most prestigious universities and ‘experts’ from the leading research institutes have systematically defended each and every Israeli war-crime, including the rape of Gaza, the demolition of Palestinian civil society and the cruel blockade of 1.7 million Palestinians in the biggest ‘open air concentration’ camp in the world.
As usual, the Uber-Zionist Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz and his acolytes provide a legal gloss on the savage bombing of essential public services and private communication and media centers. Not to be outdone by the loudmouths in Harvard Square, Yale and Princeton professors, with tribal loyalties to the Jewish state, describe the Israeli killing machine as a righteous citizen army defending its eternally victimized people. “Experts” at the Brookings Institute, Hudson Institute and dozens of other ‘research’ (read propaganda) centers provide ‘scientific’ explanations regarding Israel’s unique right to dispossess millions of Palestinians. The experts’ justifications of Israeli war crimes permeate the mass media, penetrate the homes of millions of Americans and fill the heads of elected officials. Meanwhile they ‘convince’ and/or browbeat thousands of non-tribal school teachers and educators into complicity or silence, thus perverting and hollowing out what residual humane and democratic values remain embedded in the citizenry. It is precisely the much-vaunted ‘high achievements’ of so many Israel-Firsters that has led to their rise to the most influential positions in US society and state and makes their support of terror bombings, ethnic cleansing and genocide so deeply destructive to the US political culture. In spite of this, some of the same expert-academic apologists for Israel’s terror against the Arab civilians are the most vociferous defenders of human rights everywhere else in the world – including the US (piously condemning US war crimes whenever and wherever they are not explicitly aligned with the interest of the Jewish State). These ‘experts’ have perverted the concept of universal human rights in the minds of the US public.
As the US mass audience and political class watches the smoke, debris and wreckage of Gaza – and even catch glimpses of a child’s dismembered small body – they are told by the tribal loyalists that this destruction is morally justified, that the target is really “Hamas” – even over the piercing cries of Palestinian mothers for their slaughtered children. US citizens are told that Israel’s aggressive aerial bombing and mass shelling from warships off-shore is really a “defensive” maneuver against a “terrorist” regime – one which just happens to lack a single airplane, warship, tank or missile capable of hitting a single major Israeli military or civilian installation.
The Zionist Academic –Journalist Propaganda Complex
The Israeli academic-journalist propaganda complex in the US has pushed the entire US political narrative even further to the fascist right. It has perverted our political vocabulary, equating mass slaughter with national defense; equating the ‘anxiety’ of Israeli Jewish civilians with the homeless, jobless and traumatized widows and children emerging from their devastated densely-populated urban neighborhoods.
The tribal scholars and mass media pundits excel in transforming executioners into victims and victims into executioners. The Liberal-Zionists, peace-time critics of Israel, remove their peace buttons and pick up scripts defending ‘just wars’, as soon as Israel starts bombing another Arab population or adversary. For the liberal (human-rights-spouting) Zionists, bombing civilians is always illegal – except when it is Israel launching the missiles. Propaganda zealots for Israel saturate the media attacking any human rights activist critical of Israel with charges of “anti-Semitism”. They smear, threaten and blackmail each and every dissenting voice daring to oppose their narrative.
The entire mass media and the most prestigious universities censor any mention of Israeli crimes against humanity. As bombs rained on Gaza not one single Congressional voice denounced the odious American President Obama when he defended Israel’s eight-day “Guernica” against a defenseless population. Unlike the citizens in Nazi Germany, we, in the US and Western Europe, cannot claim that we did not know about Israeli war crimes as they were happening. On the other hand, how can the mass of semi-literate TV viewers in the US really ‘know’ what is going on when Israel-Firsters have so thoroughly ‘framed the context’ – claiming it’s all defensive, that only Hamas “terrorists” are targeted … despite the images of children being frantically pulled from the wreckage of their homes. However, the educated classes in the US do know about Israel’s tradition and practice of mass civilian bombings; they do remember Lebanon 2006 as well as Gaza 2008-2009 (and countless Israeli massacres in the late 20th century). At the same time, they also “remember” the vicious reprisals and vitriolic attacks the Zionist ideological attack-dogs launched against the critics. Having ‘learned their lessons’ from the Zionist ‘thought-cops’ they conveniently remember … to forget and walk away… from the whole ‘Middle East mess’. Worse still, they sanctimoniously blame the Palestinians for their efforts to retaliate in the face of Israel’s blatant murders of their most prestigious leaders as well as their stubborn refusal to surrender.
There are a few Left-Zionists who actually praise the ‘resilience’ of the Palestinians and their refusal to surrender to the dictates of Israel and its occupying army. They note how the Gazans ‘celebrate’ their ‘victory’ amidst the rubble after having secured a very tenuous cease fire. Any reasonable observer could reply to this sentimental nonsense: Is survival in an open air concentration camp for another day, the daily prospect of Israeli drone flights overhead and a brutal land and sea blockade any “victory”? There is no cause for celebration: Transforming Israeli war crimes into Palestinian virtues is a cheap liberal Zionist sideshow. An eight-day Israeli assault, which had successfully destroyed every major and minor public office responsible for providing the people of Gaza with essential services, and the savaging of the water and sewage systems, power and electrical grids and media offices (not to mention perishable food and medicine) is nothing to celebrate. In fact the underlying strategic goal of the Jewish state – to make the remains of historical Palestine uninhabitable (a modern ‘howling wilderness’) for its people – has been advanced by leaps and bounds. Surviving another day in order to bury loved ones and scrounging among the burnt ruins of a home for a birth certificate or photograph is hardly the noble “Hamas victory” proclaimed by Norman Finkelstein and Uri Avneri.
Why NATO/Washington Support Israel’s Genocidal War
Unlike in the past, where some international organizations and European states raised tepid objections to Israel’s military assaults against Palestine or Lebanon, this time around nothing took place. The White House immediately embraced Israel’s terror bombing as did the governments of Western Europe. Meanwhile, Turkey, the Gulf States, the Arab League and the pan-Islamic organizations did nothing concrete, offering no arms, no boycotts, no oil embargoes – only shallow symbolic gestures.
Netanyahu timed his assault to take advantage of the western imperial offensive against independent countries and leaders who had historically supported the Palestinian liberation struggle for decades. Since NATO states had invaded and bombed the sovereign nation of Libya back into the Stone Age, Netanyahu’s Cabinet Ministers must have reasoned, “Why can’t we send the Gazans back to the Middle Ages with our bombs”? When NATO and the Gulf States now arm, finance and support a prolonged terrorist-led assault against the secular regime, people and infrastructure of Syria, Netanyahu reasons, “Why don’t we do the same to the Palestinians”?
With the EU, Washington and the Gulf States engaged in covert and overt wars against all of Palestine’s staunchest allies (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran and the Sudan) and against the people’s movements in Yemen, Bahrain and Pakistan, Netanyahu’s plan to ethnically purge Palestine has advanced with total impunity – indeed with overt Western approval and without concern for any international ‘humanitarian’ sanctions or even protest.
Netanyahu’s murderous war on Gaza, with full US complicity, has unmasked the collaborationist-nature of Egypt’s Islamist President Morsi. Morsi, together with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, secured a cease fire only after Netanyahu had accomplished his immediate goal of destroying the public institutions of civil society and undermining the vital public functions of the Hamas government.
Against the protests of the blood-thirsty Israeli public, who wanted their bombers and army to ‘finish the job’, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu negotiated and signed an agreement overseen by Morsi on a cease fire where Israel will pay no indemnity to the devastated civilians of Gaza while confirming the Mubarak-era Israeli– Egyptian treaty and starvation blockade of Gaza. Right after the ‘cease-fire’, President Morsi assumed dictatorial powers over the Egyptian state. With the shameful terms of the cease fire and Morsi’s assumption of dictatorial powers the ‘Arab Spring’ has come to a tragic end.
The people of the Middle East, especially the Palestinians, are in their worst position ever. Palestinians have lost the political, financial and military support of the independent, secular regimes of Libya, Syria and Iraq. And Iran, the principle source of arms for the Palestinians, faces a US Naval armada off its coast. Israel is accelerating its naked land grabs in the West Bank. The PLO continues to be Israel’s front-line ‘cop on the block’ – jailing resistance fighters and dissidents by the hundreds. Israel’s Fifth Column in the US ensures unconditional support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing of its non-Jewish population. Above all, as the terror bombing of Gaza reveals, Israel, as a state and as a people, is free to bomb and destroy Gaza in order to force a mass exodus of the Palestinians so that they may establish a ‘pure’ and unadulterated Jewish state on historical Palestine.
Less than 24 hours after the so-called “cease fire” Israeli soldiers murdered an unarmed Palestinian protestor and wounded dozens with live ammunition on the Gazan side of the border. Israeli storm troopers raided West Bank homes and arrested 55 Palestinians accused of supporting Hamas. Scores more Palestinians in the Beit Lahia area of the West Bank were summarily arrested and jailed as suspected Hamas members. Jewish vigilante settlers near occupied Hebron uprooted 400 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers from the village of Hawara. As the missile murderers take their break, the bulldozers rev up their engines: Israel’s leaders pursue their strategic objective of a “pure” Jewish state with their inexorable and destructive juggernaut. The ‘cease fire’ merely changed the methods and the terrain of dispossession for the time being.
Israel’s assault on Gaza has totally demolished its vibrant recovery and growth since the previous war of destruction. In 2011 the economy of Gaza grew by 20%; after the recent Israeli attack who would dare consider Gaza as a place to live and invest?
- Refusing to Acquiesce in Gaza (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Origins of Israel’s Anti-Arab Racism (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- stories from the border, where donkeys and carts are potential threats to Zionist security (ingaza.wordpress.com)
- 15th Violation of truce by #Israel | Israeli gunfire injures 2 in Gaza (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
In life, some phenomena cannot be explained by ordinary logic or technical language, let alone official discourses. How did Gaza manage to fight back with such ferocity and undying vigor in quelling the latest Israeli war despite years of a bloody siege and one-sided war in 2008-9? It simply cannot be explained by the outmoded language of today’s media analysts. Notwithstanding, a new reality is about to emerge.
During the 2008-09 ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ Israel killed over 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000 others. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Most victims were civilians as is always the case in such wars of ‘self-defense’. A United Nations investigation published in September 2009 concluded there is “evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.”
Back then there was no shortage of indictments and condemnations, as will surely emerge from its latest 8-day war on Gaza. Many spoke of how the tide of public opinion is turning against Israel, how the self-declared Jewish State was losing its command over an ever-skewed narrative of David vs. Goliath, of how the US will no longer be able to shield Israel against the profound anguish of millions of besieged people imploring the world for help and solidarity.
Much of this was in fact true, but equally true was that Israel succeeded in dragging Gaza and the rest of Palestine back to the same status quo – despite the heinous crimes committed four years ago -that preceded the war. Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, told journalists on January 12, 2009 that her country was deliberately ‘going wild’ in Gaza to “restore … Israel’s deterrence. Hamas now understands that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”
It certainly was good enough for the United States, but also for many European powers who giddily wined and dined with Livni in Brussels, shortly after the war, as if thousands of people had not been killed and wounded or that whole families hadn’t just perished for no fault of their own and as if a whole nation was not still in mourning for its lost children, men and women.
It is not that Israel was particularly crafty in restoring its standing among official western circles in the last four years, thus giving it the needed confidence to assault Gaza once more. The fact is that Israel never lost that standing to begin with. These very powers (starting with Washington and London) never ceased backing Israel with the latest killing technology, bolstering Israel’s economy despite their own economic woes and of course, supporting Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ at every available opportunity.
The 22-day war on Gaza of 2008-09 was in actuality a continuation of another long war, which is difficult to demarcate by specific dates and times. Palestinians in Gaza (as in the rest of the occupied territories) have been dying at rates that decelerate and accelerate depending on the political mood in Tel Aviv. In 2008, embattled Kadima party officials sought war to boost their rating among a war and security-obsessed public. In 2012, national elections in Israel are upon us once more. In both cases, Palestinian blood had to be exacted in that same bloody game of Israeli politics. And all rising stars in Israeli politics needed to be there to impress the ever-approving public.
When “more than 90 percent of Israeli Jews support Gaza war” (Haaretz, Nov 19), it becomes less shocking to read Gilad Sharon (son of former Israeli Prime Minister and repeatedly accused war criminal Ariel Sharon) writing in the Jerusalem Post: “There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire … We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”
Yet what was thought of as another hunting season of Gaza’s civilians and fighters alike didn’t turn out as desired. ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ was meant to present Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak with ample opportunities so that they may wave their fingers in threatening gestures and score as many political points as they could before international pressure mount. Instead, it ended up being a political debacle of historic proportions.
Israel’s trial balloons were downed by hundreds of Palestinian rockets that reached as far as northern Tel Aviv and even west Jerusalem. What was meant to break the resistance, so that Palestinians may never dare complain of occupation, of Israel-imposed political isolation and suffocating siege, along with Israel’s ‘deterrence’ wars, resulted in a new strange reality that sent Israelis everywhere seeking shelter. When sirens blared, Israel came to a halt as Israelis experienced bloody glimpses of what Palestinians experience too often. 167 Palestinians were killed and over a thousand wounded. 6 Israelis were killed, including a soldier who died from his wounds after a ceasefire was achieved through Egypt on Nov 21. But it was not the amount of spilled blood that made this war different, for the ratio of horrific deaths remains tilted. It was different because of the nature of the message that Hamas and other resistance factions delivered. Even starved and besieged Gazans are capable of fighting back after six long years of a hermetic blockade that forced them to dig hundreds of tunnels seeking salvation through neighboring Egypt.
In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority, with little credibility to begin with, became more irrelevant than ever before. Mahmoud Abbas tried to impose himself as a party in the conflict by speaking of a popular but peaceful resistance in a televised speech. He conveniently explained the Israeli war as an attempt to coerce him not to seek the UN vote on a non-member state status for Palestine. And as Israeli leaders struggled to understand the new variable in their unfair war equation with the Palestinians, Arab officials poured into Gaza signaling that this time around things would be different. The Americans took notice too. Just as the US media spoke of a shift in US foreign policy focus to East and Southeast Asia, the alarming nature of the new war forced Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to rush to Israel to offer its support and solidarity. European leaders did the same. The lines were being demarcated once more. This time Gaza was a dividing point of regional and international politics, its resistance being the main factor behind a seismic shift.
Many in Israel tried to distort the facts by explaining that a ceasefire for Hamas would be good for Israel as it would bring “quiet” to border communities. Thus the Israeli objectives were achieved in a roundabout sort of way. Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel labored to soften the blow by saying “The art of measuring the level of deterrence power is far from an exact science. Nobody expected that failed actions against Hezbollah in 2006 would lead to six-and-a-half years of quiet (which for the time being persists) on the Lebanon border”.
However, Israel’s intentions were not exactly about achieving peace and tranquility. For decades, Israel’s sought to have complete monopoly over violence, thus the right to punish, deter, intervene, occupy and ‘teach lessons’ to whomever it wanted, whenever it wanted. Its recent targeting of Sudan, its past strikes against Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, appalling wars in Lebanon, and constant threats against Iran are all cases in point.
Certainly, something big has changed. Not that Palestinians managed to narrow the imbalance of power, but that they succeeded in imposing their resistance as a factor in Israel’s ‘security’ equation that was exclusively determined by Israel.
Despite their heavy losses, thousands of Palestinians danced with joy throughout the Gaza Strip. They knelt and prayed among the rebels, thanking God for their ‘victory’. Masked armed men were crowded by jubilant Gazans cheering for resistance. Israel and its benefactors began assigning blame by pointing the finger mostly at Iran. But their words drowned in the echoes of Palestinian chants. All parties know that something fundamental has been altered, although the battle is anything but over. A war of a different kind is about to begin.
The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas hailed the UN General Assembly’s vote to grant the Palestinians an upgraded status of non-member observer state, calling it a “victory.”
“This is a new victory on the road to the liberation of Palestine and return and we congratulate ourselves,” said a senior Hamas official, Ahmed Yussef, on Friday.
“We in Hamas consider this a shared achievement that casts joy on our people,” he added.
On November 26, Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Meshaal voiced support for acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in his bid for an upgraded status at the United Nations.
On Thursday, the 193-member General Assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions at the United Nations for a resolution approving the upgrade. Nine countries, including Canada, ‘Israel’, and the United States, voted against it.
Hundreds of Palestinians streamed out into the streets of the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank to celebrate the upgrade.
Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas also said that, “Indeed today is a historic day. Today we have really taken a step on the path to Palestinian independence.”
“We have a long road and difficult road ahead of us. I don’t want to spoil our victory tonight but the road ahead is still difficult,” he said, adding, “Tomorrow we begin the real war.”
The UN General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to make Palestine a non-member observer state, inflicting a major diplomatic defeat on the United States and the Zionist entity.
Palestinian Authority Chief Abbas considered the move at the UN a “birth certificate” for a Palestinian state and got the backing of 138 countries in the 193-member assembly. Nine voted against and 41 abstained, while five did not participate.
A Palestinian flag was unfurled in the General Assembly as the victory was pronounced.
The vote lifts the Palestinian Authority from an observer entity to a non-member observer state”on a par with the Vatican.
Palestine has no vote in the General Assembly but can now join UN agencies and potentially the International Criminal Court (ICC), where it could ask for a probe of Israeli actions, including during the recent offensive against Gaza.
Abbas said he hoped to use the status upgrade as a launch pad for renewed direct talks with the Zionist entity — frozen for more than two years — calling the resolution “the last chance to save the two-state solution.”
In a 22-minute speech Abbas said time for an accord is running out. “The rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering.”
Afterwards, he said the vote had been “historic.”
“Tomorrow we begin the real war,” Abbas said at a celebration reception. “We have a long road and difficult road ahead of us. I don’t want to spoil our victory tonight, but the road ahead is still difficult.”
WASHINGTON, TEL AVIV CONDEMN
The United States and the Zionist entity immediately condemned the vote, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “counterproductive.”
US Ambassador Susan Rice sternly told the General Assembly that the resolution would be “an obstacle to peace” because it would not lead to a return to direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded,” she said.
The United States blocked a Palestinian application for full UN membership — made by Abbas in September 2011 — at the Security Council.
For his part, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Abbas’s address. “The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda,” his office said.
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said recognizing Palestine “will place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace,” and could even lead to further violence.
View country by country recorded votes here.
On 18 November, the Israeli armed forces bombed a house and killed the al-Dalou family, all ten members that were present and two neighbors. When the dust and fires settled, it became clear that amongst the dead were five children and five women. Among them was Mohammed Jamal al-Dalou, 29, who his neighbors said worked at a grocery store. The Israeli military said at the time that there was an error: either its ground operatives failed to laser-paint the correct target or its munitions misfired (as reported by Gili Cohen at Ha’aretz). Hamdi Shaqqura of the Palestine Centre for Human Rights in Gaza noted, “There is now a complete disregard for human life, shown by the attack on the Dalou family home in the middle of a residential area. This was not the home of a militant.”
Now, with the ceasefire in place, the Israeli military’s spokesperson Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich has reversed the Israeli view. “There was no mistake from the IDF,” she noted. “It’s tragic when a terror operative is hiding among civilians but unfortunately it is part of Hamas and Islamic Jihad tactics.” The Israelis now say that al-Dalou was a member of the police unit of Hamas charged with the security detail for high-level officials. In other words, al-Dalou sounds like a functionary of the Hamas organization. The Israelis are not saying that he was part of the military wing, let alone was part of any unit that had either done or planned to undertake any kind of operations in Israel. At most, al-Dalou was a Hamas bodyguard and driver. His terror level is even lower than that of Salim Hamdan, Osama Bin Laden’s driver who was acquitted by a US appeals court in mid-October.
It is contrary to the customs of war to bomb civilian areas. The jargon of warfare (Proportionality and Distinction) makes it clear that the threshold for prevention of civilian casualties must be very high and the imminent threat from the person being targeted must be demonstrable. The attack on the Dalou home meets none of these tests. Mohammed al-Dalou was at home, not “hiding among civilians,” as the Israeli spokesperson put it. The IDF bombed his home, knowing that his family would be inside. To have bombed a family as they cowered in their home is reminiscent of the Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine, so baldly enunciated by Israel’s General Gadi Eisenkott, “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.” To bomb civilian areas, then, is part of the Israeli government’s plan – and it is a violation of the international rules of war.
Why did the IDF kill and injure so many children during this bombing run? Seventy-five percent of the population of Gaza is under 25. This means that if the IDF attacks civilians, it is more likely to kill or maim children than adults. Israeli officials conceded by the fourth day of the bombing that there was a “decline in the number of quality targets available to Israeli intelligence and Israel Air Force” (as reported by Avi Issacharoff in Ha’aretz). Israel took to “bombing real estate” – empty Hamas facilities – and bombing secondary and tertiary targets, which included residential areas and UN facilities (the Palestine Chamber of Commerce estimates that the damage amounts of $300 million, a fortune in the impoverished Strip). In congested Gaza no amount of “precision” bombing is going to prevent the “flattening” of the civilian population and its infrastructure. Whether Mohammed al-Dalou is a member of Hamas or not, Israel was prepared to attack his home in a residential area. This was not a “quality target.”
Among the “secondary targets” were the media center, which was bombed because of the presence of a Hamas media unit in the building, and it bombed a car owned by the Hama-run al-Aqsa television channel (Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama, cameramen for al-Aqsa, died in this attack). Lt. Col. Leibovich said, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.” The al-Aqsa car also had Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of al-Quds Educational Radio, and the car in front of them was carrying the New York Times’ translator. Israel did not care for freedom of speech and the freedom of journalists to travel in war zones. It sent out a tweet, “Advice to reporters in #Gaza. For your own safety, stay away from #Hamas positions and operatives.” In other words, Israel declared it a terrorist act to talk to Hamas during its bombardment. One of those who made the mistake was Omar Misharawi, age 11, son of Jihad Mishrawai, a BBC cameraman. Their house in Gaza City drifted too close to Israeli positions.
Concern for the human rights of the Palestinians is minimal. No wonder that Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestine Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, came on Democracy Now and said quite plainly that Palestinians are entitled to protection, that “Geneva Conventions are not for the intellectuals or academics; it’s for civilians to have it on their skin, to be protected at the time of war, not peace.” To have rights on the skin is a decisive image: it is on the skin that the bombs begin their intrusion into the world of the civilian. Impunity delivered to Israel from one callous US administration after another provides the bombs with permission to break the skin of the Palestinians. “We are the targets of this war,” said Sourani, meaning that it is civilians, and children, who carried the weight of the cynicism from the Israeli and US governments.
The noise, the stress and the danger of the war take its toll on children. UNICEF’s Communications officer in Gaza, Sajy Elmughanni says, “My one year old son Kamal has not been the same since the air strikes started. He used to be a happy baby, but now he sits and stares blankly. It makes me feel powerless.” Meanwhile, in a classroom in Gaza, children gather for their first day. Desks have been left empty for the dead. One desk has a sign. It reads: The Dear Martyr Sarah al-Dalou. She came too close to a terrorist.
Will the truce last?
On Wednesday, November 12, Israel deliberately provoked Hamas by breaking a two day long truce, carrying out some 20 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the heaviest barrage on the Palestinian territory in four years, and, for good measure, to make sure the provocation worked, assassinating Gaza’s supreme military commander Ahmed Jabari.
It killed him even though it was he that was mainly responsible for arranging the release of Shalit, even though his interest in entering into a long-term truce agreement had been communicated to Israeli authorities.
When Gaza, as expected, responded with a fresh barrage of rockets, Israel used that as an excuse to continue its murderous attack on Gaza and launched its Operation Pillar of Defense.
It pummeled Gaza – again, barely four years after it infamous Operation Cast Lead – for eight straight days, day and night, launching well over 1500 deadly airstrikes, shelling targets from tanks and gunboats, killing 161 Palestinians, including a large number of innocent men, women, children and even babies, wiping out families, injuring at least 840, flattening residential buildings, Hamas leader’s headquarters, police stations, several other infrastructures, targeting and damaging dozens more, including a hospital and the international media center.
Then, on Wednesday , November 21, under intense international pressure, Israel signed with Hamas a truce agreement.
The agreement provides, for Hamas: an end to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations of Hamas militants wanted by Israel. For Israel the agreement provides a halt to rocket fire from Gaza and attempts at cross-border incursions into Israeli territory from Gaza and especially from the Sinai area.
However, the agreement left the door open to a possible ground incursion of Gaza at a later date.
People all over the world heaved a sigh of relief. Gazans celebrated by firing guns into the air, dancing in the streets, distributing sweets and waving Hamas flags.
It is to be hoped that the truce will last. Unfortunately all indications are that violence will flare up once again.
To begin with, already there are differences as to what the agreement provides, especially with reference to the opening of checkpoints.
According an Associated Press report on November 22, the agreement provides for Israel “discussing easing an Israeli blockade constricting the Gaza Strip.” Khaled Mashal, Gazan leader in exile, insists that “the document provides for the opening of all crossings.”
According to a copy of the agreement obtained by AP, the agreement provides, after a 24 hour cooling off period, for “opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movement.”
Under the Israeli blockade, Israel continues to restrict the movement of certain goods through Israeli controlled crossings. There is a near complete ban on exports, limited movement of people leaving the territory and limits on construction materials that Israel says could be put to military use.
The agreement is vague on what restrictions Israel would lift.
There is also the question of Gaza’s southern passenger terminal on the Egyptian border, not to mention whether Israel will have the right to continue intercepting and seizing, in international waters, aid flotillas headed for Gaza or limiting Gazans from fishing in their own waters outside or even within the three mile water rights, as it now does.
On any of these points a difference can be interpreted as a rejection/violation of the truce agreement and violence can restart.
But these are details.
The main point to note is that, notwithstanding claims to the contrary, Operation Pillar of Defense was NOT a response to the recent escalation of rocket firing by Hamas. The rockets being fired from Gaza has very little to do with Israel’s repeated deadly military operations against Gaza.
Consider this. During the present conflict, Hamas rockets killed five Israelis, injured not more than a couple of dozen people and partially damaged two buildings. Hardly figures to invite a massive military operation that lasted eight days, killed 161 Palestinians and inflicted unimaginable misery and destruction on the Gazans.
The reasons for Israeli operations go beyond the rocket firing activities of Hamas. Israel’s reasons and objectives go much, much deeper.
Put simply, behind it all is Israel’s objective to have all of Palestine. It wants to establish Eretz Yisrael on all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, complete with biblical Judea and Samara.
Israeli leaders have long maintained that Jordan is the homeland of the Palestinians and Palestine, all of it, is the God given homeland of the Jews.
Several Israeli leaders have openly stated that their aim is to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that they will eventually flee to neighboring countries.
To ensure that Palestinians never have the ability to stand up against or challenge Israel, Israel is committed to preventing any arms coming into Gaza (even as shiploads of arms keep flowing into Israel from the USA and other countries!), preventing Gazans from manufacturing any such arms, even primitive rockets, and destroying from time to time any rocket making facility that Gazans may put up, and also destroying periodically all stockpiles of such arms that Gazans may accumulate.
Another goal of Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza is to cow the Gazans and beat them into submission.
None of Israel’s military operations has succeeded in weakening Hamas. After every Israeli military operation, the Gazans, though suffering huge human and material loss, have emerged stronger.
Operation Pillar of Defense has made them stronger than ever. Arab leaders, taking a lesson from the Arab Spring, and sensitive to the sentiments of their people about Israel and Palestine, for the first time came together to try and save Gaza from further death and destruction. World leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, Turkey’s foreign minister, a delegation of Arab foreign ministers, Khaled Mashaal, the top Hamas leader in exile – all of them converged on the region.
The UN Security Council held closed door consultations at the request of Russia. A resolution would have emerged but for the feet dragging by one of the members.
In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, is now in power in Egypt and Tunisia and Hamas is also getting support from Qatar and Turkey.
The political situation has changed dramatically.
As to the spirit of Gazans, it is best illustrated by a message given by a 13 year old girl from Gaza who sustained shrapnel injuries throughout her upper body, with some pieces still in embedded in her chest. Here is her message: “I say, we are children. There is nothing that is our fault to have to face this. They (the Israelis) are occupying us and I will say, as Abu Omar said, ‘If you’re a mountain, the wind won’t shake you.’ We’re not afraid. We’ll stay strong.”
Trying to beat the Gazans into submission apart, the Israeli attacks on Gaza are, as pointed out by Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, a continuation of Israel’s “policies of war, illegal occupation of Palestine, siege of Gaza, carrying on building illegal settlements and confiscating Palestinian land”, not to mention transferring a large number of its citizens onto occupied West Bank, bulldozing Palestinian homes and razing Palestinian villages.
This is a legacy of Israel’s policy of dispossession that precedes the creation of Israel.
With Hamas having become stronger than ever, more defiant than ever, instead of docilely submitting to Israel, and with Israel’s goal of eliminating all rocket manufacturing facilities and stockpiles of rockets in Gaza not having been accomplished, and with the truce eliminating any further attempts by Israel to strike Gaza again, the indications are, given Israel’s history in this regard, that Israel will, as soon as it can, create another incident to provoke Hamas once more into retaliating and use that retaliation as an excuse, once more, to mount a better planned and more massive attack that will inflict massive destruction in a short time, before the world starts putting pressure on Israel once again to agree to a ceasefire.
The words of Israeli President in a recent CNN interview are ominous. He let it slip that “You don’t negotiate with terrorists. You strike” Perhaps even more ominous is what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I know there are citizens that expected a wider military operation and it could be that it will be needed. But at this time, the right thing for the state of Israel is to take this opportunity to reach a lasting cease fire.” (emphasis added)
Gulamhusein A. Abba is an 83-year-old writer with more than 50 years in journalism. Originally from Bombay (now Mumbai), he has been in the USA since 1982. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
One Palestinian was killed and another critically wounded Sunday morning in an Israeli strike on southern Gaza.
The two men, who were reportedly members of Hamas’ Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, were on a motorbike near the southern town of Khan Younis when they were hit.
Israel confirmed the airstrike, claiming the attack was in response to Palestinian fire on Israeli tanks that had crossed into Khan Younis earlier that morning.
Palestinian fighters launched at least four rockets into southern Israel later on Sunday in retaliation for the killing.
Israeli forces frequently cross into Gaza, prompting retaliatory fire from Palestinians.
The latest fighting took place following a three-day lull in violence after an Egyptian brokered truce went into force at midnight on Wednesday.
The agreement was aimed at ending a 72-hour spike in cross-border fighting, which began on Monday, with Israeli strikes killing eight Palestinians.
The fighters responded by firing more than 100 rockets across the border, seriously wounding two Thai workers.
NABLUS – Israeli forces detained the secretary-general of the Palestinian parliament Mahmoud al-Ramahi on Saturday afternoon as he passed through a northern West Bank checkpoint.
Al-Ramahi was driving south from Nablus when he was seized at the Huwwara checkpoint. His car was also confiscated.
The MP was last released from Israeli jail less than four months ago.
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the detention and said he is “suspected of involvement in illegal activity,” without elaborating.
Months after al-Ramahi was appointed to the leadership the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, he was seized by Israeli forces in his hometown of al-Bireh, near Ramallah, as part of a sweep of arrests after Hamas won elections.
Al-Ramahi, a medical doctor, was elected on the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform list.
He was jailed from August 2006 until March 2009. The MP was again arrested in November 2010, and held in administrative detention until July 4 this year.
Al-Ramahi has brokered talks between Hamas and Fatah, and Hamas officials said his last detention was an Israeli attempt to disrupt reconciliation talks.
According to latest statistics, 13 Palestinian MPs are being held in Israeli jails.
- Al-Ramahi: PA has to protect citizens or let the resistance do so (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- PA arrests eight Hamas members and summons teachers who returned to their work (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
KHARTOUM – The speaker of the Sudanese parliament, Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Tahir, declared on Thursday that the Israeli attack on Al-Yarmook arms factory will not deter his country from continuing its support to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
During an emergency meeting of the parliament’s affairs committee in the capital Khartoum, Al-Tahir stressed that the “Israeli aggression” will not prevent Sudan from fulfilling its duties towards the causes of the Arab and African people.
“If Israel is targeting Sudan because of its stand on the side of the Palestinian resistance, then Sudan will continue down that road as dictated by the religion, history and fate it shares with the Palestinian people” he added.
Israel neither denied nor confirmed responsibility for the airstrike that Sudan says caused the destruction of AL-Yarmook military factory in the capital Khartoum on midnight of Tuesday, 23 October. But it is known that the Jewish state sees the Muslim east African country as an ally of its arch enemy Iran as well as a conduit for arms smuggling activities toward the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Al-Tahir warned that by this attack Israel has rendered itself in “a state of war” with Sudan and that the latter will respond in kind. The parliament later issued a statement condemning Israel for “using high-tech to execute a criminal deed that violated all laws”
For its part, Hamas issued a statement on Thursday condemning the alleged Israeli attack saying it proves that Tel Aviv “continues to violate international laws and international norms, and to exercise state terrorism not only against Palestinian people.” The statement reiterated Hamas’s support to the people and government of Sudan, and praised their backing of Palestinian people and their rights.
In a related development, Sudanese authorities alleged on Thursday that the attack, which Khartoum says was executed by four fighter jets that used high-technology to jam the country’s radars and violated its airspace, could have had worse effects if it was not for their quick response.
The commissioner of Khartoum State, Omer Nimir, said that the competent authorities managed to contain the damage inflicted on the factory and defuse many bombs before they explode.
Meanwhile, Sudanese officials continue to fulminate against the attack which Khartoum also alleges killed two people.
Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir, in a speech before the emergency meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday, accused Israel of targeting Sudan because of its position against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
He also said that the attack’s aim was to weaken Sudan’s defense capabilities and stop its progress in the field of military production.
Sudan claims the factory was only used for the production of light weapons. The country’s media minister Ahmad Bilal Osman said on Wednesday that Israel attacked the factory based upon false intelligence that it was being used for the production of nuclear arms.
A Sudanese opposition daily was shut down in 2010 after it published a report alleging that a military factory in Khartoum was being used to manufacture and supply arms to Hamas, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Al-Shabab in Somalia. Sudan and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement in 2008.
Al-Yarmook is affiliated to Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation (MIC) whose website says it also runs two other military factories, both located in Khartoum. MIC claims its products conform to the international civil and military standards.
The Sudanese president acknowledged that Sudan will not be able to import defense systems to prevent jamming of its radars or counter the high technology with which the attack was carried out. He however said that the only hope is to continue their reliance on “local minds” and support of scientific research in order to reach high military technology.
Al-Bashir promised that the authorities will compensate the citizens who lost properties as a result of the attack, and lauded the joint stand of Sudanese people against the attack that targeted their gains and those of the country as a whole.
Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha told a gathering of supporters in front of the cabinet building in Khartoum following Wednesday’s meeting that “it’s time for this state [Israel] be put in her place”
The leadership bureau of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) also held an emergency meeting that lasted until the early hours of Thursday under the chairmanship of President Omer Al-Bashir.
Following the meeting, the NCP issued a statement urging world powers and friendly states to condemn the attack in the strongest terms and apply international law against the perpetrators.
The statement maintained that Sudan reserves the right to respond to the attack and called on the government to wage an international outreach campaign to condemn it.
- Israeli official: Sudan a “dangerous terrorist state” (Al Akhbar)
- Israel strikes Sudan military facility: minister (Aletho News)
GAZA CITY – The Qatari government on Tuesday invited tenders for four construction projects, in the first stage of a $254 million project to rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip.
Qatar’s ambassador to Gaza Muhammad al-Imadi is heading a committee overseeing the work.
Consultants have been invited to submit designs for a city to be named after Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani. The $30-million development will include 1,000 residential units in five-story apartment blocks, schools, stores, clinics, parks and entertainment facilities, the ambassador said in a statement.
Companies were also invited to bid for the repair of three major roads in the enclave. The 35-kilometer coastal highway al-Rashid Street will cost around $50 million to repair, and $18 million has been allocated to reconstruct the 10-kilometer al-Karama Street.
The 28-kilometer Salah Addin Street will be repaired first, at a cost of $60 million, as the plans and designs are ready, al-Imadi said.
In the coming days, consultants will be invited to bid for several agricultural projects, budgeted at $12.5 million.
Housing projects worth $32 million will also be announced this week to house needy families and to re-home those who were evicted for building on public land.
- Hamas Asks Egypt To Transfer Qatar Fuel To Gaza (eurasiareview.com)
A senior Hamas official has confirmed that the group’s leader, Khaled Mashaal, will not be seeking re-election. Mashaal will, however, remain a member of the Islamist party.
Mashaal, who has led Hamas from various Arab capitals since 1996, told a meeting of senior officials in Cairo last week that he had no desire to remain its chief and that his decision not to run in the election was final, a diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post earlier Sunday.
“When Mashaal said he was not seeking re-election, a message was sent to him from the movement’s leaders, unanimously asking him to change his mind,” senior Hamas official Salal Bardawil told Ma’an news agency.
The diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post that Mashaal was tired of policy changes from the group’s leadership.
“Mashaal has grown impatient with some of his Gaza officials who recently tried to undermine decisions he took on behalf of the group,” the source said.
The leader angered Hamas’ leadership earlier this year when he agreed that its main rival, the Fatah movement, could lead any future unity government.
Mashaal has made no public comment on his future leadership or on the Cairo meeting.
The announcement comes after reports earlier this year that Mashaal will not seek re-election.
Khaled Mahaal has been the head of Hamas’s political bureau since 1996, after his predecessor, Mousa Abu Marzook, was arrested in the United States and imprisoned there for two years on suspicion of terrorism.
Mashaal was known as a vocal critic of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, often refusing to follow directives issued by the PA regarding ceasefires with Israel.
In 1997, the Hamas leader became the target of an assassination attempt by the Israeli intelligence service. Mossad agents posing as Canadian tourists injected him with poison on a street in Amman, Jordan. They were later captured by Jordanian authorities. Jordanian King Hussein demanded that Israel hand over the antidote to save Mashaal, who was in a coma. Under growing political pressure and with US President Bill Clinton’s intervention, Israel did so, and its agents were released.
In 1999, Mashaal was expelled from Jordan, with authorities accusing him of illegal activities. He later moved to Damascus, where he stayed until the Syrian civil war intensified, forcing him to move to Qatar.
The date of the election of the next Hamas leader remains secret. Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s leader in the Gaza Strip, and Moussa Abu Marzouk, who headed Hamas in the early 1990s, were the top candidates to replace Mashaal, a source told Reuters.
It all began on 5th of August when masked gunmen attacked Egyptian border guards in Sinai Peninsula killing 16 of them and injuring many others. The attackers then sneaked into Israel, six of whom were killed in a firefight with the Israeli soldiers. No Israeli was injured.
Tel-Aviv said the incident is a “wake up call” for Egypt in dealing with it QUOTE “terrorists”.
The Egyptian President vowed to retake the Sinai Peninsula and declared three days of mourning. Hamas accused Israel of planning and executing the terrorist attack.
But who would benefit from such an attack?
- August 5 Sinai Attack Bears All the Hallmarks of an Israeli False Flag (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Two Land Cruisers filled with about fifteen well-built gunmen in ski masks and all-black outfits appear seemingly out of nowhere. Behind them is vast, open desert. They approach a group of soldiers huddled around a simple meal as they prepare to break their Ramadan fast. The gunmen open fire, leaving the soldiers with no chance of retrieving their weapons.
This is not an opening scene out of a Hollywood action movie. The massacre actually took place at an Egyptian military post in northern Sinai on August 5th. The description above was conveyed by an eyewitness, Eissa Mohamed Salama, in a statement made to the Associated Press (August 8). The gunmen were well-trained. Their overt confidence can only be explained by the fact that “one militant got out a camera and filmed the bodies of the soldiers.”
One is immediately baffled by this. Why would the masked militants wish to document the killings if they were about to embark on what can be considered a suicide mission in Israel? “The gunmen then approached the Israeli border,” with two vehicles, one reportedly a stolen Egyptian armored personnel carrier. The BBC, citing Israeli officials, reported that one of the vehicles “exploded on the frontier,” while the other broke through the Israeli border, “travelled about 2km into Israel before being disabled by the Israeli air force” (BBC News Online, August 7). According to the BBC report, citing Israeli sources, there were about 35 gunmen in total, all clad in traditional Bedouin attire.
Their mission into Israel was suicidal, since, unlike Sinai, they had nowhere to escape. But who would embark on such a logistically complex mission, document it on camera, and then fail to take responsibility for it? The brazen attack seemed to have little military wisdom, but it did possess a sinister political logic.
Only 48 hours before the attack, the media was awash with reports about the return of electricity in the Gaza Strip. The impoverished Strip’s generators have not run on full capacity for about six years – since Hamas was elected in the occupied territories. The Israeli siege and subsequent wars killed and wounded thousands, but they failed to bend Gaza’s political will. For Gazans, the keyword to their survival in the face of Israel’s blockade was ‘Egypt’.
The Egyptian revolution on January 25, 2011 carried a multitude of meanings for all sectors of Egyptian society, and the Middle East at large. For Palestinians in Gaza, it heralded the possibility of a lifeline. The nearly 1,000 tunnels dug to assist in Gaza’s survival would amount to nothing if compared to a decisive Egyptian decision to end the siege by opening the Rafah border.
In fact, a decision was taking place in stages. Hamas, which governs Gaza, was a branch of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The latter is now the lead political force in the country, and, despite the military’s obduracy, it has managed to claim the country’s presidency as well.
In late July, a high level Hamas delegation met in Cairo. All the stress and trepidation of the last 16 months seemed to have come to an end, as Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, his deputy Musa Abu Marzouq and other members of the group’s politburo met with President Mohammed Morsi. The country’s official news agency reported Morsi’s declarations of full support “for the Palestinian nation’s struggle to achieve its legitimate rights”. According to Reuters, Morsi’s top priority was achieving unity “between Hamas and Fatah, supplying Gaza with fuel and electricity and easing the restrictions on the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.”
Juxtapose that scene – where a historical milestone has finally been reached – with an AFP photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak, standing triumphantly next to a burnt Egyptian vehicle that was reportedly stolen by the Sinai gunmen. The message here is that only Israel is serious about fighting terror. Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s accompanying article started with this revelation: “Israel shared some of the intelligence it received with the Egyptian army prior to the incident, but there is no evidence Egypt acted on the information.” This was meant to further humiliate Egypt’s military.
Naturally, Israel blamed Gaza, even though there is no material evidence to back such accusations. Some in Egypt’s media pounced on the opportunity to blame Gaza for Egypt’s security problems in Sinai as well. The loudest amongst them were completely silent when, on August 18, 2011, Israel killed six Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. Then, Israel carried out a series of strikes against Gaza, killing and wounding many, while claiming that Gaza was a source of attack against Israeli civilians. Later the Israeli media dismissed the connection as flawed. No apologies for the Gaza deaths, of course, and AP, Reuters and others are still blaming Palestinians for the attack near Eilat last year. Then, Palestinian factions opted not to escalate to spare Egypt an unwanted conflict with Israel during a most sensitive transition.
None of that seems relevant now. Egypt is busy destroying the tunnels, continuing efforts that were funded by the US a few years ago. It also closed the Gaza-Egypt crossing, and is being ‘permitted’ by Israel to use attack helicopters in Sinai to hunt for elusive terrorists. Within days, Gaza’s misfortunes were multiplied and once more Palestinians are pleading their case. “Haniyeh calls on Morsi to open border crossing closed since Sunday’s Sinai attack, say(ing) ‘Gaza could never be anything but a source of stability for Egypt,” reported Reuters.
Israeli officials and analysts are, of course, beside themselves with anticipation. The opportunity is simply too great not to be utilized fully. Commenting in Egypt-based OnIslam, Abdelrahman Rashdan wrote that according to the Israeli intelligence scenario, “Iranians, Palestinians, Egyptians, and al-Qaeda operatives all moved from Lebanon to attack Egypt, Israel and defend Syria.”
In Western mainstream media, few asked the question of who benefits from all of this – from once more isolating Gaza, shutting down the tunnels, severing Egyptian-Palestinian ties, embroiling the Egyptian military in a security nightmare in Sinai, and much more?
The Muslim Brotherhood website had an answer. It suggested that the incident ‘can be attributed to the Mossad.’ True, some Western media outlets reported the statement, but not with any degree of seriousness or due analysis. The BBC even offered its own context: “Conspiracy theories are popular across the Arab world,” ending the discussion with an Israeli dismissal of the accusation as ‘nonsense.’ Case closed. But it shouldn’t be.
Before embarking on a wild goose chase in Sinai, urgent questions must be asked and answered. Haphazard action will only make things worse for Egypt, Palestine and for Sinai’s long-neglected Bedouin population.
- Analysts say Sinai attack attempt to strain Egypt-Gaza relations (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel evacuated military outpost near Rafah hours before Sinai attack (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- August 5 Sinai Attack Bears All the Hallmarks of an Israeli False Flag (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Former Fatah strongman Dahlan accused of taking part in Sinai attack (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel should retake Philadelphi – Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
- Muslim Brotherhood: “Israel Is Connected To Sinai attack” (alethonews.wordpress.com)