'How did the current mess in the Gaza Strip begin?'
Feb 19, 2009
In recent years, life had become more and more unbearable in the area which once was called Palestine. Palestinians today, under a Jewish state that allows them no autonomy, suffer from miserable living conditions in a land that was theirs more than 60 years ago.
Jews, separated by huge concrete walls from the Palestine population, are scared of continuous rocket fire and the notion of being a victim of another devastating suicide attack. And now, Palestinians, expelled from their former homeland, crammed and trapped in a ghetto in the Gaza Strip, are the victims of a criminal military campaign.
Let's get it right; we should respect people's wish to live in peace, no matter in which country they live, whether they are Jews, Muslims or Buddhists. The brutal murder of civilians is a crime, the summary execution of people that are not involved in military operations and the deliberate shelling of U.N. buildings, convoys, hospitals, media installations and mosques are war crimes.
Over a period of 22 days, covered by the complicit apathy of the U.S., which is leading a disgraceful war in Iraq which it started illegally, the Israeli military operation in Gaza had claimed over 1300, at least half of them are civilians.
Thousands are wounded and traumatized. The attacks were meant to destroy the "infrastructure of terror," yet they are ruining the social and cultural infrastructure of a community that has already been suffering under a harsh blockade Egypt and Israel imposed nearly 18 months ago.
Similarities between the current onslaught and the Lebanon War are evident. More than two years ago, Israel concocted a casus belli to attack Lebanon, half the size of Israel, with overwhelming air power, in utter contempt for civilian life and international institutions. Remember the deadly bombing of the apartment building in Qana and the destruction of the U.N. post that killed four U.N. observers.
And yet this small, relatively prosperous land, Lebanon, has nearly 30 times the landmass of the Gaza Strip, where desperate population is hiding and trembling between shattered walls, waiting for the next fatal blow, unable to sleep, drink clean water, eat or seek refuge in mosques or hospitals.
Even clearly marked international buildings are intentionally shelled. More than 40 people died after an Israeli attack on a U.N. school in the Jabalya refugee camp, where there were no fighters. In the Shifa and other hospitals, the situation is disastrous.
The recent mass executions by the Israel Defense Forces (IDFs) were not meant to destroy a well equipped enemy, as Israeli commanders suggest, but they knocked down an impoverished population administrated by Hamas, a political organization with a militant ideology, which was elected democratically in January 2006.
What are the underlying reasons for Israel's assault on Gaza? Mark Regev, spokesman for the prime minister of Israel, repeatedly claims that the IDFs want to stop the firing of rockets, which fly out of the Gaza Strip everyday, flying deeper and deeper into the south of Israel.
If so, why is the best equipped army in the Middle East, which receives billions of dollars in military aid and uses the latest weapons from its American ally (including precision-guided munitions, phosphor bombs and depleted uranium shells) incapable of preventing these crude, homemade, and mainly inaccurate rockets from firing?
The IDFs, therefore, seem to pursue other aims: restoring their prestige, damaged by the Lebanon war, by demonstrating their strength regardless of civilian causalities.
More likely, the hidden agenda of this operation is aimed at removing Hamas from the Gaza Strip and finally, as the Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky puts it, terrorizing and expelling the Palestinians from their land.
How did the current mess in the Gaza Strip begin? The standard narration » shared by mainstream media outlets and declared by the Israeli government, George W. Bush, his biased German colleague, Angela Merkel, and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy » blames Hamas alone.
Yet the EU presidency conceded that "even the undisputable right of the state to defend itself does not allow actions which largely affect civilians." United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860, intended to resolve the 2008-09 Israel-Gaza conflict, has yet to bear fruit.
But who really broke the last ceasefire? According to various sources in Western newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian, The Economist and the U.S. News and World Report, the truth is that Israeli commandos killed six Hamas fighters during a raid on a tunnel they suspected was being dug for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers at the beginning of November.
According to The Guardian, "Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into southern Israel." Israeli newspaper Haaretz claims that operation "Cast Lead" had been prepared six month earlier and, coupled with a carefully staged disinformation campaign, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.
- Marc Herbermann, full-time instructor at Dongduk Women's University in Seoul, works occasionally as a journalist and lectured on methods of political science at the University of Trier. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org .