6 thoughts on “My IPS piece on Gaza three months on”

  1. Hamas, simply by surviving, has become stronger
    A stronger Hamas has apparently strengthened Israeli resistance to settlement.
    “Israel must make sure that the political process does not result in the creation of a second Hamastan,”– Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

  2. “It seems a mind-numbingly stupid thing for Israel to do,” Prideaux-Brune said.
    But isn’t this what Israel wanted all along? A “stronger” Hamas, which the US has condemned, less chance of settlement, no restriction on new settlements? Dumb like a fox.
    The US has prospered in its imperialism and military spending by elevating the guy in the cave to immense heights to promote expanded conflict. Israel is doing the same with Hamas, which has no army or air force or navy, and the US goes along. That’s how “great powers” work. Create an enemy, pump up the supposed threat, and then enjoy the fruits of power and profit.

  3. Dear Helena, I am uncomfortable with the word “war” in this context. I’m searching for a better word to describe the unilateral bombardment of a civilian population. Is a massacre a war?

  4. Jim, allow me to jump in.
    The bombardment of a civilian population, including cities occupied by US military forces, has been a routine staple of the US involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia — and those are only the most recent examples. This isn’t only an Isreal “Defense” Forces specialty.
    That said, I agree with your point that war, defined as a conflict conducted according to some commonly accepted rules of behavior, like the Geneva and Nurenburg Conventions, and the Laws of War, is not a good description for the wanton slaughter of noncombatants, most of them women and children. Slaughter, massacre, murder — all good descriptions for what the “national security experts” call collateral damage.
    I wrote about this general subject recently.

  5. Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, nearly all of them civilians, are still in a very tough situation…
    Yes, Helena. Nearly all of Israel’s residents are civilians. So are nearly all of the US residents, as are nearly all of the EU residents and nearly all of the Egyptian residents (who, BTW, do control the border crossing at Rafah), as are most of the residents of every country in the world. In other words, you haven’t really said anything profound here.
    Hamas, simply by surviving, has become stronger both within Palestinian politics and throughout the broader Middle East.
    Isn’t this just regurgitated spin from the 2006 Second Lebanon War? I mean, Hizballah was supposedly stronger “simply by surviving” after that encounter. Yet Nasrallah had to apologize to the Lebanese people and increase his organization’s patronage (with Iranian cash), and he still hasn’t been able to pull of a successful revenge for the killing of Imad Mughniyah. Somehow, I don’t think that “simply surviving” really counts for very much – especially in this part of the world. And that’s particularly true when everyone from the level of company commander up was literally underground.
    In the Israeli elections of early February Olmert’s party was defeated – by representatives of an even more militarist trend in Israel whose rise was fueled, in good part, by the war-fever unleashed among Jewish Israelis by Olmert’s own war.
    Twaddle. Olmert’s party was defeated by a trend? Come on! If you knew something about Israeli elections, you’d know that pretty much every one since Ben Gurion headed the list of his young loyalists under the name of Rafi, has had a flash-in-the-pan party that has done well (between 10 and 15 seats) in one election, only to lose a large number of those seats or disappear entirely in the next election. (In the previous election, Rafi Eitan’s “Gil” party of pensioners gave the surprise showing. Do you think that this was “fueled, in good part” by age-related dementia?)
    At any rate, you can’t say that Kadima was defeated by the Likud (hence Olmert’s party was defeated by a “trend”), because technically Kadima had one more seat than the Likud. No, the “trend” was, in large part, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party that garnered 15 seats. But what exactly were the key planks that Lieberman ran on? Well, I think that you can get some idea of what was truly important to his constituents by looking at the coalition agreement with the Likud. It sure wasn’t “militarist” or even “racist”. Rather, the two key issues that Lieberman insisted on were civil marriage and adoption of the “Norwegian Law” that would reduce the number of party hacks in government.
    In the U.S., unprecedented numbers of civil society groups – including Jewish groups – expressed open criticism of Olmert’s decision to launch the war, even from the war’s very earliest days.
    Can you please specify what these “unprecedented numbers” were?
    Indeed, in some of Mitchell’s early appearances on his latest trip, he has shown himself more ready than any U.S. official has been for many years to publicly adopt a position – in this case, support of an independent Palestinian state – that is very different from that espoused by the government in power in Israel.
    No Helena. It is the Government of Israel that has changed, not the position of the Government of the United States.
    Hamas’s long battle-hardened command structure in Gaza remained intact and in place.
    That’s right. They remained safely in place hunkered down under Shifa Hospital, and they only came out a few days ago when Mitchell himself was in the area.
    Instead of being broken, Hamas found that during the war its popularity rose throughout the occupied West Bank and among the five million Palestinians living in exile outside their homeland. It dipped somewhat in Gaza, doubtless because of the punishment the IDF was inflicting on the Strip’s people. But Gaza is roughly half the size of the West Bank. The overall effect was that Hamas became stronger.
    You’re spinning like a dervish here. Perhaps support for Hamas “dipped somewhat in Gaza” because they felt the full effect of what Hamas had brought upon them. It’s nice to talk about the “five million Palestinians living in exile” (a number one might question), but they are (as is Khalid Meshal) not on the front lines.
    Israeli sources have said that during the war, the military trucked in 100 heavy-duty bulldozers, especially to undertake this destruction.
    Are these anonymous sources? Personally, I doubt that Israel has 100 “heavy-duty bulldozers” available in total.
    “It seems a mind-numbingly stupid thing for Israel to do,” Prideaux-Brune said. “Where states have succeeded in suppressing terrorism, they have done so through negotiations and fostering economic development.”
    So, what Prideaux-Brune is admitting here is that he considers Hamas to be terrorists rather that “resistance fighters”. Is that correct?

  6. And here’s an interesting story on how the United Nations handled hostage situations in Somalia:
    Eventually, after long and heated internal discussion, the United Nations security team persuaded the United Nations country team that the most effective approach would be to use humanitarian aid and assistance as a lever to gain release of hostages.
    …United Nations assistance was withheld from the Somali clan or region by which or in which hostages were being held until those hostages were released. In every case there was a release, and in no case were hostages harmed or ransom paid….
    In 1995, for example, the water supply for Mogadishu, the capital, was shut off by the United Nations humanitarian agencies until a hostage who worked for another aid organization was released. On the first day of the shutoff, the women who collected water from public distribution points yelled at the kidnappers; on the second day they stoned them; on the third day they shot at them; on the fourth day, the hostage was released.
    I hope that Falk and Goldstone will consult with Wayne Long when they carry out their investigations.

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