By Rahat Khan
Israeli occupation forces stormed the Gaza city after finding the dead bodies of three disappeared Israeli teenagers. Hamas has reiterated denial of being behind the kidnapping and killing of the teenagers. The group has accused Israel of exploiting the situation to wage war against Palestinians.
The majority of the martyrs in Gaza so far have been civilians, also identified as “collateral damage” by Israel, which blames them for living in Hamas-governed Gaza. Any of the 1.8 million Palestinians living on Gaza’s 365sq km are potential victims to collateral damage. The UN says at least 1,370 homes have been destroyed in Gaza and more than 18,000 people displaced in recent hostilities.
Having run out of distinct government buildings or pieces of military infrastructure to bomb, the majority of what Israel is now targeting in Gaza are civilian homes – and the bodies are piling up. Israeli spokespersons, anxious to present themselves as seeking to minimize civilian casualties and as acting within the bounds of international law, now repeatedly explain that the Israeli Army gives warning before it attacks civilian buildings. But it is the warnings that allow the Israeli Army to attack them at all, and the warnings that are now responsible for the mounting death rate.
The decaled Israeli intentions behind this recent destructive operation are to punish Hamas and weaken its military and political infrastructure in Gaza, to stop launching rockets of all types and magnitude on the Israeli towns and cities in the South and Central Israel, and finally to put formidable endeavors to “fight terrorism” in Gaza and elsewhere in the world.
Many Israeli columnists and strategic analysts think that the list of Israeli objectives are achievable but in much narrow and limited manner. Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist, disagrees with the notion that Israel can buy peace, security, and harmony by using excessive force against military and civilian targets in Gaza. He contends that the current operation cannot cure the disease but rather feeds it as more Palestinians looking for revenge due to huge casualties inflicted on them.
Many Palestinian youth especially in Gaza consider themselves as helpless in confronting this aggression and their life as hopeless and meaningless under siege and under constant vicious circle of fear and lack of proper dignified life.
This new circle of violence ignited by Israel against Gaza Strip has turned very costly for Israel in terms of political losses in international arena.
Obama Administration on its part was very modest in reaction and offered to play a sort of mediation role to broker a new ceasefire or truce among the two sides of the conflict. Compared to its reaction towards the 2012 confrontation, the US position this time is notably different. In 2012, US officials openly embraced the right of Israel to protect its citizens and ensure its security and “confront terrorism.”
However, this Israeli-Palestinian wave of violence made the US realize that it is an indication of the failure of the Secretary of State John Kerry in his mission and in his vision to broker a peace deal; especially that it took him one full year to do it without real productive results.
Any escalation in Gaza might be seen as indication of the US inability not only to be honest peacemaker between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but also its lack if real resources and leverages to influence events in the Middle East. It should be very worrying and risky for the US to see the rapidly unfolding events in the Arab World without having solid interventionist role to execute.
The second factor that might exercise pressure on Israel to put an end to its bloody aggressive assault on Gaza is the emerging influential role to be played by human rights groups and the world legal order.
Different global solidarity movements with Palestine and the BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions campaign) are lobbying for the sake of supporting the Palestinians and punishing the occupation, using tools of soft power. Palestine — after gaining a non-member observer state status in the UN General Assembly in November 2012 — has the credentials to sue Israel and its soldiers and settlers in the International Criminal Court. Currently, the Palestinian delegation to the UN Human Rights Council is preparing a call for new meetings for its members in Geneva in order to condemn Israel’s violation of International humanitarian laws for its merciless slaughtering of innocent civilians in Gaza.
Although Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, along with part of his Fatah team openly criticized Hamas for “its military adventure and miscalculation in Gaza,” still Abbas himself is totally fed up with the repressive behavior and actions of Israel not only in Gaza but also at the negotiation table. The US failed to broker a successful peace and there has not been any fruitful progress in the negotiations marathon between the Abbas-led Palestinians and the Israelis. These cloudy conditions are hovering over Abbas’s head to the extent of compelling him to explore new options including taking the Occupation to the international courts and suing the criminals for their bad deeds.
The attempt by John Kerry is representative of the overall failure of American policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, only on this occasion the consequences can be measured in the growing pile of dead bodies and the widespread devastation that includes numerous homes, public buildings, and even artillery damage to several United Nations schools sheltering Palestinian civilians.
The US approach fails because it exhibits extreme partisanship in a setting where trust, credibility, and reciprocity are crucial if the proclaimed aim of ending the violence is the true objective of this exhibition of statecraft. Kerry is undoubtedly dedicated to achieving a cease-fire, just as he demonstrated for most of the past year a sincerity of commitment in pushing so hard for a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Yet throughout the failed peace process the United States exhibited all along this discrediting extreme partisanship, never more blatantly than when it designated Martin Indyk, a former staff member of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and former ambassador to Israel, to serve as the US special envoy throughout the peace talks.
Among Israeli elites, Gaza is everything to everyone. Israeli politicians attack Gaza to enhance their electoral appeal. They use it to muzzle the opposition, to preserve a coalition or to distract from a domestic scandal. Israeli generals like to invade to provide troops with “battle” training or to test new wares, and to debut new formations and tactics; Hamas is not Hezbollah, after all.
Jewish-Israeli scientists, meanwhile, coordinate with the army to use the territory as a convenient testing ground for advanced, experimental technologies. Corporate Israel later repackages those technologies for global export. Those are the relationships – the status quo.
What really winds up the Zionist entity is that this rejection comes from a famous scientist, and it is science that drives its economy, prestige and military strength. Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott the conference of the Zionist entity’s president has gone viral in the social media. Hawking also made it clear that if he had gone he would have used the occasion to criticise the Zionist entity’s policies towards the Palestinians.
While journalists named him “the poster boy of the academic boycott” and supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement celebrated, Ha’aretz, the most progressive of the Zionist entity’s press, drew attention to the inflammatory language used by the conference organisers, who described themselves as “outraged” rather than that they “regretted” Hawking’s decision. That the world’s most famous scientist had recognised the justice of the Palestinian cause is potentially a turning point for the BDS campaign.
Hawking’s public refusal follows that of prominent singers, artists and writers, from Brian Eno to Mike Leigh, Alice Walker and Adrienne Rich, all of whom have publicly rejected invitations to perform in the Zionist entity’s.
Hawking’s decision threatens to open a floodgate with more and more scientists coming to regard the Zionist entity as a pariah state.
In 2014, with the blockade reaching its seventh year, about 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.7 million resident, are dependent on international aid, as opposed to 63 percent in 2006. Unemployment is close to 40 percent and daily power-cut is between 12-16 hours because of the sever fuel shortage, which directly affects hospitals, schools, businesses, according to Oxfam International.
The situation in the Gaza Strip “is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967. The current situation in Gaza is man-made, completely avoidable and, with the necessary political will, can also be reversed,” according to a 2008 report — entitled: “The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion” — released in March 2008 by a coalition of Human Rights organization.
The fuel shortage in Gaza directly affacts services that include education and health care. Schools’ capacities go down because of the lack of the means to transport students to their schools and colleges.
In addition, as a direct result of the destruction of schools through the Israeli attacks on Gaza, some schools were forced to operate on double-shift system. In 2011, for example, 94 of UNRWA schools and 78 of the government schools were forced to adopt the double-shift system which reduced classroom time to almost a third and still there was a serious overcrowding existing in classrooms, according to Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. The UNRWA also reported in February 2009 that about 200,000 students had only 40 percent of the total number of school books they required due to paper and glue being banned from entering.
Before using siege as a strategy to halt the rocket firing on the Israeli areas near the Gaza boarders, Israel was implementing direct air strikes on the areas where rocket-launchers were believed to be hiding. The older policy proved its failure and Israel was forced to find some new effective tactics to control Hamas.
Of the main indications of Israel’s failure in the old tactics was the fact that strikes were increasingly killing civilians, which led to the rising sympathy with Hamas and resistance in general among Palestinians. Under the siege strategy, figures still show the popularity for Hamas; plus, rockets are still being launched towards Israel. In fact, Hamas has been able to develop more advanced operations and rockets that drove the confrontation inside Israel.
On April 19, 2008, Hamas underwent an operation near the southern end of Gaza injuring 13 Israeli soldiers. “This is a far more complex attack than the incident in which Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured,” said an Israeli spokesman, referring to a soldier captured in June 2006 by Palestinian fighters in a cross-border raid to use him as a bargaining chip to free Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
It seems that the only way out is for Israel to start talking to Hamas. Yossi Sarid wrote in Haaretz, “The losses on the Palestinian side, mostly innocent civilians, will only increase solidarity and the willingness to sacrifice. Hamas rule will not be weakened; it certainly will not fall … There is no choice but to talk to Hamas, indirectly or directly, and without preconditions. On the agenda: a cessation of hostilities and a total, long-term halt.”
For sure what is happening now has its very long history and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did predict it. He did say that this occupation is one of the signs that the end of the world is near. He clearly mentioned in that hadith that Jews (Zionists today) will commit all types of atrocities and oppression against believers. But a time will come when the Muslims will take over and achieve victory. Muslims’ victory is confirmed, and the stones as well as the trees will all be on the side of the Muslims except a tree called gharghad.
In the light of this hadith, we should not be surprised about what is happening. At the same time, Muslims have a duty and obligation to do all the best to counter and defend themselves against these atrocities and oppression.
Muslims should not wait for miracles to happen rather than work hand-in-hand to defend their lands, lives, and honors. Muslims won’t be successful if they don’t repent to Allah and fear Him in all their deeds and sayings.
Our fellow Palestinians have to work together and avoid any division or petty quarrels among themselves. They have to think about the interest and welfare of all Palestinians. They have to do their best and never ever give up their rights upon their lands, honors, properties, and, of course their dear lives. n