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Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

So now both Hamas and Israel have declared a cease-fire of sorts.  I hope it lasts, but I am not overly optimistic.  There has been tremendous destruction in Gaza, and a very high civilian death toll among the Palestinians, maybe half of the 1200 or so killed.

And what has Israel accomplished, aside from harming its very soul? Well, it has surely damaged its reputation, perhaps irrevocably. I have heard some people say, “Everyone hates Israel anyway, so what does it matter?”  It matters.  This may be a turning point in many people’s view of the state, and it certainly doesn’t look like Israel is making many efforts in the way of peace.

Speaking of which, I have read people suggesting that this may bring a new stage of peace negotiations.  Let’s just say in theory that some negotiations are accomplished soon, what is the impact of the military action in itself?  I would expect that the Palestinians view of Israel will become even more hostile, and that possible relations between the two peoples will become more distant on a personal level.

The real question for me now is, what will be the result of all this?  Will Hamas’ popularity in Gaza and the West Bank rise after this? Is Israel setting a precedent in terms of its military responses?  Will the humanitarian situation in Gaza improve? etc.

I don’t want to make any predictions on these, but I want to note a Pew Research poll that says Hamas’ popularity was declining before the IDF assault. We can only wait to see if this decline will sharpen or reverse.

I want to end by bringing attention to the plight of Palestinian civilians in this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLUJ4fF2HN4

This might be all in Hebrew, but it is horrifying to listen to.  A doctor from Gaza, who works in an Israeli hospital, is speaking on the phone after 3 of his daughters and his niece are killed by an Israeli shell.  It’s hard for me to see how anything can justify this.

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So, after the military assault on Gaza has been going on for 19 days, bringing the death toll in Gaza to apparently more than 1000 people, Barak and Livni think their job is done. Olmert ignoring calls from Barak, Livni for immediate Gaza truce – Haaretz – Israel News.

Livni and Barak can congratulate themselves for the deaths of more than 300 Palestinian children.  However, it seems that Ehud Olmert has not had enough.  It’s hard to see how his time as Prime Minister could be more successful.  He is the first PM to start TWO wars of choice, and within 3 years.

He has had to resign his post because of corruption charges, but it seems he wants to do as much as possible before his time is up.

Additionally, this war, unsurprisingly, is not really helping Israel’s PR.  According to an article in Haaretz, Israel’s actions in Gaza may have caused the state’s reputation to hit a new low, that the country may not recover from quickly.

Personally, I have received some comments and questions from friends in Europe and the US that indicate the concern and discomfort with Israel’s actions is unusually high.  Most of my friends are supportive of Israel, or neutral, but I can understand that these last 19 days may have changed their minds.

(I will comment more on the Palestinian situation in my next post)

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What will this Lead to?

Honestly, I had wanted to start writing about a different topic today, but now that Israel has entered the Gaza Strip with ground troops, I don’t see how I could ignore it.

This is a move that could have frightening repercussions.  I am also personally worried because a friend of mine is an IDF soldier who is now in Gaza.  A couple friends of mine in Jerusalem are thinking of taking taxis now, instead of the bus.  Here is an interesting piece from ‘Open Left’, which draws from an article in Haaretz.

Open Left:: Criticizing Hamas, and a look at what is likely to replace it if Israel succeeds.

I can only hope that this operation does not last very long, but the Israeli government seems to be relying more and more on force as the tactic of choice.

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What would it take?

Think Progress » White House, Israel Reject Conclusion Of Aid Groups That Humanitarian Crisis Exists In Gaza.

Of course it is unsurprising that the American and Israeli governments would deny a humanitarian crisis, it makes me wonder, how bad would it have to be for them to say it is?

Aside from the large number of civilan deaths, the living conditions for all Gazans are deteriorating rapidly.  Do we have to wait until people are literally starving to death?  It is amazing to me that Israeli governments consistently seem to believe this strategy will help Israel’s security.

There is an unwillingness to recognize the basic humanity of the Palestinians here.  I say this because how else could one explain the assumption that the Palestinians will react differently to their situation than any other people?  There are not a specific number of terrorists that can be killed.  The actions of the IDF will encourage new people to join Hamas and attack Israeli civilians.  And this would be understandable, because the IDF will kill many civilians for one wanted man, as seen in the assassination of Nizar Rayyan.

I am not interested in whether killing Rayyan is acceptable or smart in itself – but 18 civilians were killed along with him.  Two of his wives, and four of his children were among them.

And when will these attacks on Gaza end?  By refusing a cease-fire, Israel now needs concrete results before stopping, or it will face a situation like Lebanon.  How many dead civilians do there need to be before everyone agrees it is too much?

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The Reaction

The neighborhood bully strikes again – Haaretz – Israel News .

Gideon Levy writes on the dangers of the Gaza operation, both moral and political.  I think his opening paragraph captures these dangers quite well:

Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: “Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!” 

To be honest, the issue of ‘proportionality’ never held much sway with me, but I’ve started looking at it in a slightly different way.  In the past, the idea of proportionality was distasteful because it seemed to suggest that there should always be a basically equal amount of dead.  I now see it in terms of reasonable or unreasonable response.

Israel’s response, like in the Second Lebanon War, is too much, and seems almost like a reaction of rage.  This may or may not be a good parallel, but what came to mind was, if your ‘enemy’ kills your cousin, you respond by killing his whole family and burning down his house.  I can understand that Israel wants to act to stop the rockets coming in, but that doesn’t mean that any response is justifiable.

These bombings are getting a lot more coverage internationally than anything I can remember in my 2+ years here.  For the first time, I have friends sending me emails and messages, asking, ‘what is going on over there?’

One friend told me, that upon seeing images of Gaza on television, a line from Schiller’s poem, “Song of the Bell”, came to mind.  She translated the line as meaning “woe, when they are unleashed”.  It gave me pause to say the least.  I can leave it to any readers to determine what exactly has been ‘unleashed’.

One thing I urge supporters of the current strikes on Gaza to reflect on, is that the IDF has acknowledged that these are not exclusively strikes on Hamas’ armed groups and buildings, but rather everything connected with Hamas.  This meant bombing the Islamic University in Gaza, which was a troubling act.  I know the University had many connections to Hamas, but it was still a University, and I think that regardless of association and ideology connected with an institution of learning, they should be considered off-limits as targets.

Finally, I will direct you to Wisdom and Folly from U.S., Israeli Media on Gaza | Tikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place.  There are some interesting comments in this section, and some good articles from Haaretz are discussed as well.

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IAF Strike on Gaza

 

Palestinians: At least 205 dead, over 200 hurt in IAF Gaza strikes – Haaretz – Israel News .

Israel launched Saturday morning the start of a massive offensive against Qassam rocket and mortar fire on its southern communities, targeting dozens of buildings belonging to the ruling Hamas militant group. 

 

This morning Israel attacked targets in Gaza, killing over 200 people, mostly members of Hamas.  I strongly believe that Israel has the right to defend itself, but it is worth asking, what exactly will this strike accomplish?

People can argue that this attack was justified or not, but regardless, it does not seem that this will really help Israel in any way.  First of all, I am personally worried that there will be a string of suicide bombings in response to this attack.  Secondly, within Gaza, this will likely serve to only increase the support that Hamas holds, and may motivate more Palestinians to attack Israel.  Hamas and other groups in Gaza will continue to launch rockets into Israel, and Israel will continue to bomb them.

(more…)

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