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Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

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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It’s hard for me to know exactly how to express myself.  I am becoming more disturbed the longer the assault on Gaza continues.  The number of dead now stand: Palestinians 800>: Israel: 13.

Who can say that this is a reasonable response to rocket fire that has killed very few people?  I am sympathetic to the people of Sderot and the other areas being his by rockets, but the IDF operation does not serve their interests.

This article on Daily Kos  is worth reading. There are some in Israel (although an unfortunately small number) who oppose the current military action.  There was a joint peace rally held in Israel, with both Jews and Arabs.  And there are some peace groups, such as Taayush, that try to cultivate relations with Palestinian.  But, as I said, the number is not as large as it should be.

Recently, the IDF shelled a UN school, killing at least 30 people.  Initially, the IDF said they were being shot at from the school, but the UN says IDF officers admitted there was no gunfire from Gaza school.  So we have an example now of the IDF lying about a mistake.  Honestly, I prefer that it was a mistake instead of an intentional action.  However, this kind of mistake is what becomes inevitable in urban fighting, and with militaries in general.  This is a major reason why the IDF should not attack Gaza.  It is guaranteed – as we are seeing – that there will be high civilian casualties.

Human Rights Watch is reporting that the IDF is using phosphorus munitions in Gaza, which is illegal.  I really don’t understand.  A major problem here is that the IDF feels like it is trying to avoid killing civilians – such as when they drop leaflets warning people – but obviously many civilians are still killed.  In this kind of scenario, the end result matters more than intention.

Avi Shlaim has a powerful article in the Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-palestine What Israel is doing is ultimately doing more damage to itself than it is to the Palestinians.  I want to stress, and hope people can internalize it, THERE IS NO MILITARY SOLUTION.

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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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