Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Holy-Days

(AP) A Palestinian boy watches the funeral of three children in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008. Palestinian medics said five young sisters, died in an Israeli air strike in Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza and three other young children were killed when a bomb struck a house aimed at the nearby abandoned home of a senior Hamas militant in Rafah.

Adagio in G minor - Tomaso Albinoni

(AP) Three Palestinian brothers Sidki, 8, Ahmad, 12, and Mohammed Absi, 14, who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, during their funeral in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.

More than 360 Palestinians have been killed. U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said 62 civilians were confirmed killed and the number was likely higher. Another 1,450 Palestinians have been wounded.

Two Israelis have been killed by rockets.

Washington Post: Food and Medical Supplies Grow Scarce in the Gaza Strip

Juan Cole: What Is the Israeli End Game?
What I can't understand is the end game here. The Israelis have pledged to continue their siege of the civilians of Gaza, and have threatened to resume assassinating Hamas political leaders, along with the bombardment. The campaign of brutal assassinations launched by Ariel Sharon earlier in this decade were, Sharon, promised us, guaranteed to wipe out Hamas altogether. Do the Israelis expect the population at some point to turn against Hamas, blaming it for the blockade and the bombardment? But by destroying what was left of the Gaza middle class, surely they a throwing people into the arms of Hamas. The US experience of bombing North Vietnam and mining Haiphong Harbor, etc., was that it only stiffened Hanoi's resolve. The massive Israeli bombardment of Lebanon in 2006 did not achieve any significant objectives. In fact, Hezbollah was politically strengthened; it now sits in the Lebanese cabinet and has been recognized as a formal national guard for the south of the country. Its stock of rockets has been replenished. There is a UN buffer now, but in the past such buffers have been removed when hostilities threaten.

If the Gaza population doesn't turn on Hamas, and Israeli measures don't destroy the organization (which they helped create and fund back in the late 1980s when they wanted a foil to the secular PLO), then what? They'll just go on half-starving Gaza's children for decades? Malnourished children have diminished IQ and poor impulse control. That would make them ideal suicide bombers. Plus, sooner or later there will start to be effective boycotts of Israel in Europe and elsewhere over these war crimes. The Israeli economy would be vulnerable to such moves.

Of course, there are only 1.5 million Gazans, and they increasingly are being forced to live in Haiti-like conditions, so in the short term the Israelis can do whatever they want to them. But I can't see this ending well for the Israelis in the long term. Very few insurgencies end because one side achieves a complete military victory (I think it is about 20%). But by refusing to negotiate with Hamas, Israel and the United States leave only a military option on the table. The military option isn't going to resolve the problem by itself. Gaza is a labyrinth. Those Qassam rockets are easy to make. There is so much money sloshing around the Middle East and so many sympathetic Muslims that Gaza will be kept just barely afloat economically, making Hamas hard to dislodge. And the Israeli blockade of Gaza is so distasteful to the world that eventually there is likely to be a painful price to pay for it by the Israelis.

Robert Fisk: Leaders lie, civilians die, and lessons of history are ignored
And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise "restraint" – as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery. Hamas's home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course. . . .

We hear the usual Israeli line. General Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the Israeli army's "research and assessment division" announced that "no country in the world would allow its citizens to be made the target of rocket attacks without taking vigorous steps to defend them". Quite so. But when the IRA were firing mortars over the border into Northern Ireland, when their guerrillas were crossing from the Republic to attack police stations and Protestants, did Britain unleash the RAF on the Irish Republic? Did the RAF bomb churches and tankers and police stations and zap 300 civilians to teach the Irish a lesson? No, it did not. Because the world would have seen it as criminal behaviour. We didn't want to lower ourselves to the IRA's level.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated "terrorism". So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.
And where is Barack Obama?


Jeff said...

So counterproductive, this tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye mentality on both sides of this. This campaign of Israel's won't improve their "security situation" any more than their fiasco with Hezbollah did.

cowboyangel said...

No, I don't think it's going to help Israel. I really don't understand the thinking behind this. It's almost as if they WANT to promote more bloodshed and encourage the endless cycle of violence.

Both sides are to blame for the situation - but only one side has the power. And, as the saying goes, with power comes responsibility. I don't see how this bombing is responsible behavior on the part of Israel.

Liam said...

Well, the thinking isn't rational. That's why you get a cycle of violence. Think of talking to Spaniards about ETA and how emotional they get.

I read one article that suggested that after Lebanon in 2006, some Israelis feel that they are viewed as a paper tiger and that this time they want to show they can do it right. It's crazy, but once again, it's not rational.

victor said...

From all the news I’ve heard on this topic for years, I can't help but feel a little empathy for both sides but as for many others, my heart has been leaning on the side of people undergoing a greater lost.

I hope and pray that God will prevail and in someway bring an end to all this senseless killing

cowboyangel said...


Yes, one hopes and prays that the senseless killing will end.

John Schertzer said...

Send in the UN peacekeeping forces throughout Israel/Gaza - what about it? Start rebuilding Palestinian homes and utilities. Give them cable TV. Shopping...

cowboyangel said...


That's pretty much what I would suggest. Except Israel would never allow UN forces.

Cable TV and shopping, however, may be attainable. And they would go a long way.

But I don't see any way around a 2-state solution. The current model ain't workin'

John Schertzer said...

Yes, 2 state solution. Agreed.

I suggested the UN intervention because I believe Israel needs some serious wrist slapping (or knuckle wrapping, whatever works).

Of course, we're not enthused about Hamas missles either, but they tend to be less destruction of human life.