July 2, 2006
Israel is now openly engaged in infrastructure warfare, the wanton destruction of the basic platforms of human survival. The bombing of the electric power plant has thrust the world’s most densely populated area into darkness; cutting off the vital flow of energy to hospitals, assistance centers, and the pumping stations which provide the city’s water. At the same time, Israel has bombed large sections of the main roads, government buildings, water lines and bridges. The Associated Press said, "Israeli tanks and bulldozers crossed the Gaza Strip and began razing farmland east of Khan Younis".
"Razing farmland" is critical in understanding the real motive behind the current aggression. The attack is directed against Palestinian civilians, not terrorists and not Hamas. Israel is purposely destroying the means for continued human survival in Gaza.
We can now see that the practical application of the Israeli axiom, "to destroy the terrorist infrastructure" actually means the gratuitous decimation of civilian life-support systems.
Officials from the World Food Program, which feeds 600,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza, have warned of an impending humanitarian crisis saying that Palestinians are already living on one meal a day and that there has been a steady increase in malnutrition, anemia and kidney problems from poor nutrition.
At a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, Dr. Riyadh Mansour, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, said that the Israeli invasion "was clearly premeditated and planned" weeks if not months before the capture of the Israeli soldier. Mansour added that the bombardment and military assault were clearly designed to "punish and terrorize the civilian population."
Members of the Security Council quickly moved to pass a resolution condemning the Israeli invasion but were blocked by the United States. As long as the US occupies a place on the council, Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians will go unpunished.
The unfolding crisis in Gaza was predicted by Uri Davis, Ilan Pappe, and Tamar Yaron in July 2005. Their statement reads:
"We believe that one primary, unstated motive for the determination of the government of the State of Israel to get the Jewish settlers of the Qatif (Katif) settlement block out of the Gaza Strip may be to keep them out of harm's way when the Israeli government and military possibly trigger an intensified mass attack on the approximately one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, of whom about half are 1948 Palestine refugees. The scenario could be similar to what has already happened in the past - a tactic that Ariel Sharon has used many times in his military career - i.e., utilizing provocation in order to launch massive attacks."(Justin Podur, znet)
Clearly, Israel’s motives for the invasion have little to do with the abduction of Gilad Shalit by Hamas militants. In fact, Israel has stubbornly refused to negotiate for the release of the 19 year old corporal; preferring instead to carry out its carefully considered plan for making life untenable in Gaza. This suggests that the invasion is actually another attempt to ethnically cleanse the land of the native people by cutting off their access to vital food and supplies.
The strategy for purging the land of its indigenous people is a recurrent theme in Israeli politics dating back to the inception of the state in 1948. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon summarized it this way: "You don’t simply bundle people into trucks and drive them away. I prefer to advocate a positive policy, to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave."
Sharon, of course, is advocating a form of "transfer" which "creates the conditions" that will drive people off the land rather than marshalling armies to achieve the same goal. This is what is presently taking place in Gaza.
Regime Change in Ramallah
Israel’s attacks on the democratically-elected Hamas government have been instructive but not surprising. Soon after the January elections, Israel resolved to remove Hamas from power regardless of the cost. Apart from the daily assassinations and incitements, Israel has spearheaded a blockade of food, medical supplies and financial resources to the desperate people in the occupied territories. Israel has also supplied Mahmoud Abbas’ loyalists in Fatah with truckloads of weapons in a conspicuous effort to destabilize the government and promote internecine warfare. The move has weakened support for Abbas and made him look like an Israeli agent. (His smiling appearance with Olmert in Jordan soon after the bombing of 7 family members on a beach in Gaza, has done nothing to restore Abbas credibility among his people)
At 2 AM on Sunday morning the Israelis bombed the offices of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya; a chilling reminder that the territories are ruled from Tel Aviv not Ramallah. Just a day earlier, Israeli Special Forces rounded up 64 members of Hamas including legislators, cabinet ministers, and officials. The illegal arrests have been roundly criticized by leaders across the political spectrum, and particularly harshly by Aengus Snodaigh, member of the Irish Parliament. Snodaigh said that the arrest of Hamas government officials "demonstrates the true nature of Israel’s commitment to 'not so democratic’ values" and that "Israel was one of the most despicable and abhorrent regimes on the planet."
Snodaigh backed up his claims noting that (according to the UN Secretary General for Public Affairs) the "in the month prior to the capture of the Israeli soldier at least 49 Palestinians, including 11 children, were killed by Israeli forces and 259 injured." It should also be added that since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September of 2005, they have fired between 7,000 to 9,000 heavy artillery shells into Palestinian civilian areas.
Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz confirmed that the arrests "had been planned several weeks ago" which proves that Corporal Gilad Shalit’s capture has been used as a mere pretext to execute Israel’s broader policy objectives. (Ethnic cleansing and transfer)
Ironically, the arrest of Hamas’ officials could be beneficial to the cause of Palestinian liberation. After months of trying to topple Hamas through roundabout methods, Israel has taken a more direct route by simply arresting those who they oppose. This underscores an important point about the realities of life under occupation. There is no democracy under occupation because all the crucial aspects of sovereignty have been foreclosed. No Palestinian leader controls his borders, air-space, military, resources, commerce, or even food and medical supplies. What good does it do to create the impression that Palestinians are free by conducting elections?
The West Bank and Gaza are giant concentration camps. Elections create the unfortunate illusion of democracy and normality. It is a cynical public relations hoax intended to assuage the world’s conscience and put people to sleep.
By arresting government officials, we can see that Palestinian democracy only exists when it suits Israel’s interests. It is a complete sham.
The reality of occupation is evident by the facts on the ground and in the photos now appearing from Gaza of bombed-out buildings, traumatized children, bereaved parents and utter hopelessness.
Israel has robbed the Palestinian people of their freedom. The elections were a fraud. The issue continues to be occupation, and occupation alone.