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I just finished watching an online clip of CNN's reporting on the Israeli rocket attack on the UNRWA shelter in the town of Beit Hanoun in the very northeast corner of the Gaza Strip. About 17 people were killed and around 200 wounded. The scene of medics carrying the wounded out of the UN School which has been in use as a shelter is heartbreaking especially scenes of very young children on stretchers most seriously wounded and maimed. This horrific scene cannot but instill shame and grief in the hearts of those who are in the least bit supportive of the Jewish State. The IDF has claimed, with UN confirmation, that Hamas artillery shells have also landed in the area around the school but it is mostly Israel rocket fire that has caused the damage and loss of life and limb.

True, Hamas has long used UN schools and hospitals as weapons depots and sites from which to launch rocket attacks against Israel. The UN has confirmed this as well with General Secretary Ban Ki Moon confirming reports of Hamas rockets recently found in UN run schools in the Gaza Strip.  The fact that Hamas uses much of the Gaza population as human shields doesn't absolve Israel of its responsibility to avoid firing in heavily populated areas. And the important thing to remember is that there is no military solution to this conflict; Israel is just as mistaken today in believing that it can destroy Hamas by force as it was thirty years ago in thinking that it could destroy Yassir Arafat and the PLO.  

The current war in Gaza which began over one month ago has left over 1,800 dead, mostly Palestinians and thousands more wounded. This early CNN report (and so many others as well) make it very difficult for the IDF to avoid responsibility for the civilian casualties by claiming it did all it could to prevent it. The report asserts;

The coordinates of the school in Beit Hanoun, which was serving a shelter for families in Gaza, had been given to the Israeli military, said a U.N. spokesman, Chris Gunness...An Israel Defense Forces statement said militants had shot at the Israeli military and the IDF responded with "fire toward the origins of the shooting." The IDF said it had told people at the school to evacuate because of the fighting in the area and given a four-hour window to get people out. Israeli officials told CNN they had warned U.N. officials for three days to evacuate. Shortly after the strike, Gunness tweeted that the coordinates of the shelter had been given to the Israeli military and that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency had twice tried to coordinate with the Israeli military to evacuate the civilians at the shelter. The shelter is in an area that has seen intense fighting recently. Gunness posted: "Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army. ... " Then minutes later, he tweeted: "Over the course of the day UNRWA tried 2 coodinate with the Israeli Army a window for civilians 2 leave & it was never granted. ..."
UN officials and Palestinian eyewitnesses claimed that the IDF liaison office was contacted repeatedly regarding a time frame for evacuation but the shelter was hit by artillery before a response came to UN relief workers at the shelter. Schools sheltering civilians had been hit by IDF artillery fire twice previously in this invasion and several times in previous ones. The excuse is that Hamas uses civilians as human shields because images of civilian deaths serve as potent anti-Israel propaganda all over the world. This is only one reason that Hamas has become increasingly unpopular over the past several years. Opinion polls in Gaza show that they increasingly reject Hamas. One example is a recent poll taken by the Watan Center for Studies and Research in the Gaza Strip showed that 23.3% of Gazans polled support Hamas while 32.9% support Fatah which has a clear plurality of support of Gazans. It is also the case that polls repeatedly show that the vast majority of Palestinians in both Gaza and the WB, favor a negotiated solution to continued fighting and that Hamas's performance at governing is untenable having failed to bring sovereignty, prosperity, security or freedom to the Palestinian people.

One opinion poll commissioned by the neoconservative WINEP, but conducted by a reliable, Palestinian pollster, is the only available opinion poll in published in English since the start of the Israeli invasion of Gaza on July 8. It surveyed "a standard geographic random probability sample of 1,200 Palestinian adults with a three percent margin of error. The responses are fascinating and quite counter intuitive. The vast majority of Palestinians, over 85% across all age groups surveyed want Israel to open the borders to allow Palestinians into Israel to work. In Gaza, about a third of those surveyed favor Abbas as president of the PA over Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh garnering barely more than ten percent support and the majority (over half) want uphold the ceasefire, renounce violence and get Hamas to support Abbas's position for further negotiations with Israel in pursuit of a peaceful solution. Interestingly, according to this poll, about two-thirds want to continue non-violent "popular resistance" to continued Israel occupation/foreign domination.  

As we go into a second ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel (the first one lasted little more than an hour), over 1,800  Palestinians (roughly one percent of the entire Gazan population) are dead with thousands wounded and roughly 67 Israeli soldiers and civilians killed. Despite the present ceasefire, Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, wants to continue the war until Hamas is utterly decimated. This is as impractical, immoral and unrealistic as was the Likud coalition's belief in the 1980s that it could utterly destroy the PLO by military force; the Lebanon War in the 1980s, which provided the context for this effort by Israel, led to the resignation of the Begin government as an accomplice to war crimes, specifically the massacre of over 2,000 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. Netanyahu is similarly a war criminal and the ultimate fate of the current Likud government remains to be seen though it is sure that Hamas will not be vanquished by Israel's continued use of military force.

The Roots of the Current Conflict

The current conflict has its roots in the 2005 unilateral IDF withdrawl from  Gaza when Ariel Sharon was PM. Shortly after this total army/Jewish settler withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Hamas won a legislative election in January 2006 (they won about a third of the votes but they were able to cobble together a party coalition with the other Islamic Fundamentalist groups that comprised over three fourths of the Palestine Legislative Council.)  Israel responded to this electoral victory with immediate repression of Gaza much of it consisting of devastating restrictions on the Gazan economy. Much of this began in February 2006 when Israel froze monies due to be transferred to the PA in Gaza. The Original Oslo Agreements left the PA heavily financially and economically dependent on Israel, a point of contention between Palestinian leaders and the State of Israel.

Gwen Iffil of PBS said in an interview with a Hamas spokeman that soon after the announcement of the Hamas electoral victory; "...the Israeli cabinet agreed to freeze the transfer of about $55 million in tax and customs receipts to the debt-ridden Palestinian Authority." Israel's reasoning was that Hamas was a terrorist organization whose charter called for the violent destruction of Israel. Then PM Ehud Olmert declared his decision to suspend all monies due to be transferred to the PA due to the election of Hamas. The 1994 Paris Protocol on Economic Relations, as part of the Oslo Agreements, created a Palestinian/Israeli Customs Union  "...whereby Israel collects duties on goods destined for the Palestinian territories, value-added taxes on major Palestinian purchases from Israel, and excise taxes on gasoline, then disburses this revenue on a monthly basis to the PA government." It is under these terms that Israel has consistently "held the purse strings" over the PA government leadership despite, as Iffil claimed in the PBS interview, that Israel release most of the money owed by past agreements to the PA.

According to the above cited WINEP report on the Customs Union, even conservative observers such as Neil Zilber criticize the unilateral nature of the Israeli actions and their dire effects;

As of earlier this year, these customs transfers amounted to nearly $115 million per month, making up an estimated 36 to 44 percent of the PA's yearly budget of $3.88 billion (adjusting for currency fluctuations between the Israeli shekel and the U.S. dollar). In other words, they constitute the PA treasury's largest single revenue source, surpassing even direct budgetary assistance from foreign donors.

Though Zilber stops short of referring to the Israeli freeze on the PA's financial assets as a "collective punishment" (as has the UN and the international humanitarian community) he well demonstrates that severity of these actions and asserts that Israel has benefited little from such actions claiming that such unilateral moves risk "miscalculation and escalation."

In September 2007, Israel officially declared Gaza to be a "hostile entity" and followed the Hamas takeover of Gaza in the summer of that year with a draconian naval blockade that prevented basic foodstuffs, building materials and other necessities from entering the Strip. The dramatic humanitarian effects of the seven year siege are well known and documented and need no further belaboring here. Suffice it to say that the effects of the blockade since 2007 have been were dramatic and have only worsened year by year. Many humanitarian agencies have well documented the impact on the Gaza population. One such agency describes the cumulative impact of the blockade over the course of the first five years. According to a 2012 press release by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) the naval blockade imposed by Israel in June 2007 as a response to armed Hamas take over of Gaza, resulted in much damage to the Gazan economy and suffering among the population;

Since the beginning of the blockade in June 2007, the Palestinian fishing yield has decreased by 7,000 metric tons representing an overall loss of around US$26.5 million. Restrictions have reduced 90 percent of Gaza’s fishermen to poverty...nearly 30 percent of Gaza’s businesses have closed and an additional 15 percent have laid off 80 percent of their staff. Without opportunities to earn their own income, 80 percent of people in Gaza receive aid to get by.

The result of Israel's continued external control of Gaza and the creation of a security perimeter around the Gaza strip which has controlled the movement of people and materiel in and out of the Strip since 1967, has been a source of antagonism between  Israel and Hamas whose rocket attacks against Israel since 2007 were said to be a legitimate form of resistance to continued Israeli domination. Israel may have redeployed the IDF from the Strip in 2005 but it never relinquished its total external control of Gaza's borders with Israel. Egypt has similarly controlled Gaza from its side mostly by policing the Rafah crossing into the Egyptian controlled Sinai.

Sharon's 2005 Redeployment; An Act of Peace or Continued Neo-Colonial Domination?

What is to be made of Israel's 2005 redeployment of soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip? Israeli scholar, Avi Shlaim believes it was not a gesture of peace "but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank." In other words, Israeli loss of land in Gaza was to be offset by the expansion of settlement blocs in the West Bank where the Israeli government and Jewish settlers still control about 60% of the total land. This may be true but there is actually a more important political strategy at work here designed to sustain long term Israeli hegemony in the region.

One of Israel's more moderate critics, Peter Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism, has published an assessment of the current crisis in Ha'aretz in which he decided that Sharon's unilateral move was more to ensure continued Israeli domination of Gaza than serve as a "confidence building measure" for further negotiations. Beinart points out that more than just being politically practical or financially sound, the redeployment served to shield Israel from further political pressure to negotiate a true peace deal with the PA while entrenching Israel's external control of Gaza without the formerly associated financial costs and political/military risks. Beinart begins with an infamous quote from Dov Weisglass, then Chief of Staff for Ariel Sharon;

“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”

The Israeli government well understood that the Bush Administration had absolutely no inclination to push for renewed peace talks or even to prevent a further outbreak of violent conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Their not so benign neglect was the cause of so much of the violence that ensued in the region after the outbreak of the second Intifada that occurred in late 2000 toward the very end of Clinton's second term. But the Sharon government needed a plan to avoid further concessions. It wanted to freeze the situation in place allowing it to go no further so as to ensure continued Israeli control of the Gaza Strip. In late 2004, Weisglass, one of the architects of the new redeployment strategy told a Ha'aretz reporter the following;

"Because in the fall of 2003 we understood that everything was stuck. And although by the way the Americans read the situation, the blame fell on the Palestinians, not on us, Arik [Sharon] grasped that this state of affairs could not last, that they wouldn't leave us alone, wouldn't get off our case. Time was not on our side. There was international erosion, internal erosion. Domestically, in the meantime, everything was collapsing. The economy was stagnant, and the Geneva Initiative had gained broad support. And then we were hit with the letters of officers and letters of pilots and letters of commandos [refusing to serve in the territories]. These were not weird kids with green ponytails and a ring in their nose with a strong odor of grass. These were people like Spector's group [Yiftah Spector, a renowned Air Force pilot who signed the pilot's letter]. Really our finest young people."  

Weisglass continued to boast of his "freezing" the ideas and commitments of the Palestinian/Israeli peace process indefinitely allowing Israel to unilaterally proceed with its efforts to create an apartheid situation out of what was originally intended to be a just and lasting peace. Weisglass remarked toward the end of the interview that such unilateral efforts by Israel were ultimately intended to transform the Palestinians into "Finns" who could easily be bullied and cajoled in the way the old Soviet Union behaved toward its neighbor Finland. Such a remark leaves no doubt as to the motives behind the 2005 IDF redeployment from the Gaza Strip! It was a strategy, however, that backfired and has led to nearly a decade of tragic violence, needless loss of life, suffering and instability in the region.

A Word About Tunnels: Theirs and Ours.

As Gazan resistance to external control increased (the 2006 Hamas victory was only one such reaction to Israel's control of Gaza as Fatah seemed powerless-and unwilling-to do much about it.) Israel tightened the noose around the entire Strip. This noose was the basis of the more than 3,000 rockets fired at Israel in the run up to Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2008 which took over 1,300 lives or about one percent of the Gazan population. The same was true of Operation Pillar of Defense four years later in which about 167 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians; the ongoing siege of Gaza becomes increasingly intolerable and so Hamas responds with rocket fire in the vein hope that this will create  sufficient pressure on Israel to lift the siege. Of course, it is a losing strategy in that it only provokes a lethal and disproportionate response from Israel as we see in the recent IDF incursion. Neither the ongoing military blockade/import restrictions regime nor the incursions that inevitably follow Hamas resistance in the form of rocket attacks are essential to Israel security. Negotiations are the real answer here. Israeli use of force in Gaza is simply to pursue the political goals of avoiding negotiations and of illegally sustaining Israeli control of the Strip.

The Gazan population copes with the siege by smuggling in food, medicine, materials and arms through a complex series of hundreds of tunnels mostly on the northern and Egyptian side of the border. An Al Jazeera report from earlier this year reported that not only are these tunnels essential to the relief effort for Gaza but have become a growth industry itself supporting thousands of Palestinian workers in the Strip;

An estimated 7,000 Gazans scratch an insecure living by working in the tunnels, stretching from southern Gaza into Egypt. The network of tunnels, estimates numbering over 500, is an essential prop to Gazan business. Through them flow building materials, foods, medicines, drugs, and people, accounting for an estimated $700 million per year in an economy which grew by 20 percent in 2011.

A close look at the damage caused to the Gazan economy every year by the Israeli siege tells why these tunnels are so essential. An American Friends Service Committee press release from 2010 reported that; Between 2007 and 2010, even basic necessities such as cooking gas, water filtration equipment, toilet paper, tooth paste, clothes, noodles, candy, and spices were blocked from entering Gaza. The excessively harsh nature of the seven year Israeli siege has been well documented and need no further elaboration. Suffice it to say that the complex of tunnels that both Israel and Egypt have consistently try to either close or destroy are the Gaza Strip's only lifeline to the outside world.

Tunnels used over time by a besieged people have an interesting precedent in modern history. This quote from the Jewish Virtual Library website gives us a detailed and very disturbing look at that precedent and deserves to be quoted at length;

Smuggling began at the very moment that the Jewish area of residence was established; its inhabitants were forced to live on 180 grams [6½ oz.] of bread a day, 220 grams of sugar a month, 1 kg. [2.2 lbs.] jam and ½ kg. of honey, etc. It was calculated that the officially supplied rations did not cover even 10 percent of normal requirements. If one had wanted really to restrict oneself to the official rations then the entire population of the ghetto would have had to die of hunger in a very short time.... The German authorities did everything to seal off the ghetto hermetically and not allow in a single gram of food. A wall was put up around the ghetto on all sides that did not leave a single millimeter of open space....They fixed barbed wire and broken glass to the top of the wall. When that failed to help, the Judenrat was ordered to make the wall higher, at the expense of the Jews, of course....Several kids of guards were appointed for the walls and the passages through them; the categories [of guards] were constantly being changed and their numbers increased. The walls were guarded by the gendarmerie together with the Polish police; at the ghetto wall there were gendarmerie posts, Polish police and Jewish police... The victims of the smuggling were mainly Jews, but they were not lacking either among the Aryans [Poles]. Auerswald, too, employed sharply repressive measures to stop the smuggling. Several times smugglers were shot at the central lock-up on Gesiowka* Street. Once there was a veritable slaughter (100 persons were shot near Warsaw). Among the Jewish victims of the smuggling there were tens of Jewish children between 5 and 6 years old, whom the German killers shot in great numbers near the passages and at the walls....And despite that, without paying attention to the victims, the smuggling never stopped for a moment. When the street was still slippery with the blood that had been spilled, other [smugglers] already set out, as soon as the "candles"** had signaled that the way was clear, to carry on with the work....The smuggling took place – a) through the walls, b) through the gates, c) through underground tunnels, d) through sewers, and e) through houses on the borders....
This is a quote from Jewish writer and escapee from the Warsaw Ghetto, Emanuel Ringelblum whose famous Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto, from which the above quote is probably taken, details the horror of daily life for Jews in the Ghetto. There are obvious differences between the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza today but the great number of parallels are quite disturbing. Remove the words Jews and Germans and substitute Israeli and Palestinian and we have a fairly accurate description of the current crisis in Gaza.

The comparison between today's siege of Palestinians in Gaza with that of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland is an old one. According to well known professor of Arab history, politics and culture, Joseph Massad of Columbia University in New York, the PLO openly and consciously identified with the Jewish experience of the Warsaw Ghetto drawing inspiration from the Jewish uprising against Nazi terror. Massad writes of how the Palestinian leadership saw the Ghetto rising as a great historic symbol of resistance to tyranny and occupation. In a 2009 piece for the Electronic Intifada Massad makes reference to the besieged Jews of Warsaw by saying;

"Their uprising was always inspirational to the Palestinians. In the heyday of the PLO as a symbol of Palestinian liberation, the organization would lay flower wreathes at the Warsaw Ghetto monument to honor these fallen Jewish heroes."

Those who often prattle on about "Palestinian anti-Semitism" would do well to heed the manner in which Professor Massad explains the perception of Jewish history held by most Palestinian leadership. It is a history largely revered and celebrated as mirroring their own. Palestinians don't reject Jews as Jews. It is Zionist colonization, tyranny and violence that the Palestinians find so odious. Time is running out for a peaceful solution. Warsaw Ghetto survivors had a Yiddish expression, "Nisht fergessen, Nisht fergebben!"(Never forget, never forgive!) Will this soon become the Gazan mantra with regard to their Israeli neighbors.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, WattleBreakfast, Musial

    Very informative.

    •  Yes, thanks steve 1960 (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for noting the July opinion poll, too. I've been peppering diaries with comments about the June poll (probably done by the same organization as the poll you cite), and I'm a little surprised that the July poll results show that Palestinians have moved even further into supporting nonviolent resolution. I don't know that I could be so resolute in the face of such destruction to Gaza by the IDF.

  •  Really? (4+ / 0-)
    "The fact that Hamas uses much of the Gaza population as human shields doesn't absolve Israel of its responsibility to avoid firing in heavily populated areas."

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:52:06 PM PDT

  •  Yet another diary siding with Hamas (6+ / 0-)
    The fact that Hamas uses much of the Gaza population as human shields doesn't absolve Israel of its responsibility to avoid firing in heavily populated areas.
    In other words, Hamas can fire at will into heavily populated areas of Israel and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it militarilly.
    there is no military solution to this conflict
    Of course there can never be when you allow one side to commit war crimes at will -- turning schools into munitions depots, hospitals into military headquarters, boobytrapping civilian homes, using civilians as human shields, and deliberately targeting civilians -- and you don't permit the other side to do anything other than sit by and watch its own civilians die.

    Think about what you are saying. One of the first obligations of a national government is to protect its civilian population from attacks from outside its borders. You are arguing that Israel cannot do that. You are arguing that Hamas needs to be permitted to murder Israeli Jews and Arabs in unlimited numbers with no consequences because Israel cannot respond. There is not a single country in the world that would buy your argument.

    And this is typical of the one-sided treatment that Israel gets here in dailykos. No wonder you can barely find a Democrat or Republican in the United States Congress who agrees with you. The leading progressives see through you. Only dailykos remains blind.

    •  Israel has made it impossible for anyone (4+ / 0-)

      paying attention to "side with" Israel, and so have comments such as yours.

      Last I noticed, rockets from Gaza had killed two Israeli citizens and one Thai field worker in Israel. Three. Do correct that number if it's incorrect. In the meantime about 1400 Gaza civilians, including several hundred children, have been killed by the IDF and an unknown number of homes have been destroyed. Israel destroyed the power, sewer system, the water supplies, and Gazans are threatened with disease, diminished medical supplies, little food. It takes some immoral, inhumane, blockheaded beliefs to whine about Hamas and the inconvenience of rockets in the face of those casualties and destruction. Yet you and 95% of Israelis support this barbaric assault on Gaza. Disgusting. Insupportable.

      IDF and Netanyahu lie and propagandize in attempts to cover up Israel's war crimes. They should all be tried for war crimes.

      Most of the rest of the world opposes Israel's occupation and barbaric assaults on Palestinians. Israel shouldn't count on American support continuing forever. Americans are catching on.

      •  the repetition of the same talking points (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barleystraw, SoCalSal, rduran

        ad finitum on these diaries leads me to think certain contributors have only to post the notation, "ditto" and we will know what their opinion is.

        It is a bit perverse that a diary which recites facts is considered "siding with Hamas"
        http://www.rawstory.com/...
        http://www.rawstory.com/...

        It seems the protest is that any information gets out that is not casting the IDF in the most favorable light is somehow advocating for Hamas.

        I would agree with Charlie that military solutions do exist to crush insurgencies.  The Romans were quite efficient at it.  They crushed the Spartacus revolt by crucifying some 20K rebels.  Same for their reaction to various Jewish revolts.  Then there is the British crushing of the Zulu and in more recent times, the destruction of the Tamil Tigers.  However the military solution calls for the complete destruction of any base of support for the insurgents which means the deaths of any young men who are of an age to turn insurgent and the deaths of the civilian population which supports them.  In Gaza, there are 1.8M people trapped.  In order to defeat Hamas, it would take a significant number of those people to die.  To paraphrase Mao, "The people are the river in which the insurgency swims".  In order to defeat an insurgency, you must first dry up the water

        •  indeed it is perverse to stand with war criminals (0+ / 0-)

          such as the Israeli goverment and military.

          it makes one complicit in the atrocities they commit against the Palestinians.

          •  I will not go that far in judging these (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SoCalSal, rduran

            proponents but I do wish they would comment on some of the comments by the Knesset Deputy Speaker for example, who has called for the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza and reoccupation and settlement by Israel.

            The response I get from them is he is a solitary voice and is not that influential, which is not an answer

          •  It's even more perverse (0+ / 0-)

            to slander the Israeli government and its military as war criminals, especially when you have such a ripe candidate for the label operating out of Gaza.

      •  I'm pretty sure most Israeli Jews (0+ / 0-)

        are paying attention, and it's pretty clear whose side they're on.

    •  One side? (0+ / 0-)

      In truth it isn't just one side.   Hamas commits war crimes too, just not as many. Still it is quite an accomplishment for Israel to behave so abominably that they make Hamas look like the civilized ones.  

      •  Pretty sure Hamas commits far more (0+ / 0-)

        war crimes than Israel.

        •  I'm no fan of Hamas, believe me. (0+ / 0-)

          In the first place, I'm no fan of organized religion. But Hamas does engage in terrorist acts. The point is that they are a large and at one time very popular organization in Gaza (not so much in the WB). Though they've lost much popularity, at least according to Palestinian opinion pollsters such as The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, they are still a potent political force in Palestine. Israel should be using the opportunities of ceasefires and other respites from fighting to engage the PA in serious talks.

          Unfortunately, Netanyahu belongs to a political party whose view of peace means getting the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world to realize that Israel has the right to occupy all of British Mandatory Palestine and the sooner Israel's neighbors get that the sooner there will be peace. Kind of a non-starter. The middle east is one region where learning from past mistakes is rare.

          •  Likud is split between (0+ / 0-)

            members who believe that Arabs will emigrate if given the right incentives and those who believe--as Netanyahu does--that separation can occur without surrendering vital strategic interests (i.e., the Jordan Valley).  The former group is the one most closely tied with the extreme right and Zionist religious parties, but ultimately even they will have to contend with the fact that:

            1) 3 million non-citizen Arabs aren't going away and
            2) governing 3 million non-citizens is a death sentence for the Jewish state.

            As far as I'm concerned, Netanyahu has a point.  Israel cannot simply return to 1967; that would be an unjust gift to the countries that attacked her and, despite having made peace, still bear her ill will.  It would be a gift to Assad, who despite his own troubles remains an enemy and an active threat.  Israel needs defensive depth, and at first glance the Jordan River Valley is a Godsend.

            To that end, I suspect the final compromise--imposed by Israel or negotiated--will involve the removal of settlements from the bulk of the WB interior in exchange for freedom to operate in the valley, Jerusalem a thin slice of territory beyond the Green Line.  In exchange, the Palestinians get a continuous--with the completion of the Safe Passage--unoccupied state for the first time in their history.  A demilitarized one, obviously, but with security guarantees provided by the international community.  

            •  Israel needs to return to the pre-1967 boundaries (0+ / 0-)

              ...and stay there! Only then will there be a basis for negotiating a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians! Strategic depth is an old military concept that has been made obsolete by incredible advances in military technology and early warning systems. Israel's military superiority is far more valuable than a few square miles of desert. The strategic depth argument is just an excuse for a unilateral land grab.

              The toll taken on the Gazan population by the long siege is the real reason for the Hamas rocket fire. They are trying to put Israel on the spot in order to secure a negotiated settlement. They've already agreed to a two-state solution of sorts and have accepted the new PA unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. The PA's success in forming a new Unity government, is a good basis for bilateral negotiations. Instead, Netanyahu tries to destroy its success for fear of concessions and compromise that is part of the peace process. Is this merely a violent attempt by Netanyahu to keep the entire process "frozen" at all costs? It will eventually fail with much loss of life and property on both sides of the Green Line.

              The siege has had horrible effects on the Gazan people. An Oxfam report entitled The Gaza Strip: 5 years under blockade, 5 years of collective punishment has recounted the suffering of the Gazan people by 2012 when Operation Pillar of Defense killed roughly 800 Gazans, mostly civilians;

              Over the last five years, the restrictions on imports and exports have turned back Gaza’s economic clock. Thirty four percent of Gaza’s workforce, including half its youth, is unemployed. Since the blockade started in 2007, nearly 30 percent of Gaza’s businesses have closed and an additional 15 percent have laid-off 80 percent of their staff. Without opportunities to earn their own income, 80 percent of Palestinians in Gaza now receive humanitarian aid (much of which is food aid).

              It's time for negotiations. These sorts of hideous conditions are the reason for Hamas's violent resistance. There is no danger to Israel in negotiating with a PA government that has Hamas participation. They can be made to recognize the reality of Israel even if they never recognize the legitimacy of Israel. Hamas is no more a long term threat to Israel than was the PLO who eventually made peace with Israel. The chance for peace still exists but it is slipping away with every renewal of hostilities!

    •  Can't be helped (0+ / 0-)

      The least worst choice for Israel is to respond with overwhelming force and get the job done before suffering too much damage.  It's not like her critics are going to go away if she does nothing.

  •  Thank you for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, jan4insight

    While I don't agree with all of your conclusions, you've certainly done a great job providing some background for the current conflict. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    A List of the Most Common Logical Fallacies: http://www.nobeliefs.com/fallacies.htm

    by mnemosyne42 on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 09:24:50 PM PDT

  •  Despite your disclaimer that the situation of the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb, sandbox

    Warsaw ghetto and Gaza are "different", the comparison you make is just odious. The Germans had a goal (the Final Solution) of killing every Jew in the Warsaw ghetto. The Israelis have made it clear that the end of rockets launched into Israel and the closure of tunnels designed to transport assassins to kill Jews would end their military action.

    Intelligence in debate is always valuable; use it.

    •  How magnanimous. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SCFrog, chipmo, protectspice
      The Israelis have made it clear that the end of rockets launched into Israel and the closure of tunnels designed to transport assassins to kill Jews would end their military action.
      If only Israel hadn't killed some 1400 civilians including hundreds of children, wrecked Gaza's power plant, water and sewer systems, and destroyed hundreds of homes.

      You debate with propaganda not intelligence, nospinicus. And I'm using my kind voice with that sentence.

    •  The Germans didn't start There. (0+ / 0-)

      I doubt even most of the Nazis started 'there'.  This is simplistic and ignores quite a bit of literature on the gradual decline into madness which became the Holocaust.  If Germans in the 1930's had the chance to vote for or against folks who proposed openly to kill millions of innocent people WWII in Europe might never have happened.  Instead, they were offered a Party who promised to restore the dignity of Germany -- specifics to be defined later.  Once those specifics were defined, however, all too many went along or looked the other way.

      Once those specifics are defined all too many go along or look the other way.

      Thus we define humanity in all its evil banality.

      The business of Nations is never morality. Moral stories live only through people.

      by tecampbell on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 11:46:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Let us grant your point and compare the situation (0+ / 0-)

      to the Siege of Stalingrad.  While civilians were trapped in the city during the battle and many died, at the same time they still had the option to flee.
      Now the borders with Egypt and Israel are closed, with Egypt now in the control of a military dictatorship which deposed a democratically elected government.  Sissi is no friend to the MB and Hamas at the end of the day is a MB affiliate.

      Why are the borders not opened so the Gazans can flee into the WB and Sinai?  If Hamas is using the population as a shield, it seems allowing all who would flee to flee would be the humane thing to do and the militarily smart thing to do.  Otherwise, one would think the Gazans were penned up to be hostages to the IDF

    •  world's outrage at Isreal's odious actions in Gaza (0+ / 0-)

      may be modulating their actions to a point.

      If no one was watching the war crimes and speaking out even more heinous barbarity would be unleashed by the IDF on the children of Palestine.

    •  Intelligence in Debate? (0+ / 0-)

      Have the Israelis also made it clear that should those and similar things be done by the Palestinians,  the wholesale stealing of Palestinian land through the use of "settlements" will cease and the so-called "settlers" will return to whence they came?   Will all those Warsaw-ghetto-type walls that so heavily disfigure Palestinian territory be torn down?  Will the segregated highways disappear?  Will Israel take down the numerous checkpoints that prevent the Palestinians from traveling freely in their own land?  Will the Israelis drop what they consider to be their God-given right to decide what the Palestinians can import and export?  Will the Israelis cease and desist from any of their policies that are geared toward expelling the Palestinians from their own lands?  Will the "intelligence" involved in cooking up and implementing these dead-end policies be revealed to anyone except the Yahu apologists?  The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!  It doesn't take genius to know that.

    •  Nospinicus, I know you disagree but... (0+ / 0-)

      ...Gaza has been under external constraints since 1948. Freedom of movement has never existed there. Even the Customs Union, which gives Israel quite a lot of control over Palestinian government finances, was presented to Palestinian negotiators in 1994 by the Israeli team as "a big present." It has always been taken for granted that Israel (and before Oslo some neighboring Arab state) would have ultimate control over the "independent" Palestinian state. Gaza has, in fact, been under siege.  Here is only a partial list, provided by a Palestinian source, of items prohibited by Israel for import into Gaza. The effect of the intermittent blockade and the often sweeping import bans are dramatic on the Gazan economy. Hamas is simply resisting an Israeli occupation through external control. And the Israeli blockade is both illegal and contra to the terms of the Oslo Agreements.

  •  The point seems to be that the status quo ante is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, Pilsner

    not peace, but rather a siege that the current incursion reinforces. The recent triggering event was perhaps the acquiescence of Hamas in the peace process, conferring a measure of legitimacy. No less an expert than President Carter asserts that Hamas is to be considered a legitimate entity. A similar period in our own history might be the 1934 Indian reorganization which normalized tribal governments.    

    •  status quo is the order of the day (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Euroliberal

      Bibi is determined there will be no unified PA.  He opposes unification on the simple grounds that the Palestinians are easier to manage with a fractured leadership.  A unified PA would be in a better position to negotiate with Israel over WB water rights and Gazan natural gas deposits, both of which Israel covets as necessary to their continued growth.

      Otherwise, why incur the incredible expense of their occupation and incursions which eats up a substantial amount of their annual budget?

      •  Bibi just doesn't (0+ / 0-)

        want to be the guy in the chair when it happens.  Looks like he will meet that goal.  He'll be gone by Thanksgiving.

        •  Bibi vacate the seat? Not even an act of G_d (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Musial

          could get him to vacate

          •  Yeah, like Berlusconi (0+ / 0-)

            he'll never really go away.  His coalition is going to collapse, already is.  He may be able to form a new one, but this one is toast.

          •  He would like the 2014 and 2016 US elections (0+ / 0-)

            to deliver a mandate for the siege as against the straw man of a two-state solution. Hypothetically, if US interests were ever on the verge of accomplishment, then he could present himself as the ally of the US but the critic of the offending US executive. Realistically there would never be a transition to former ally status as in the case of Russia, because Congress is under pressure to raise money and the Executive bureaucracy is also compromised. Short of the US risking war to get a two state solution, it would be helpful to see a discussion of the spectrum of available options for US disengagement from endorsement of the siege.

  •  i agreed with some of your points, but (0+ / 0-)

    comparing the Warsaw ghetto to Gaza is completely out of line. It just is an a absurd comparison.

    The goal of the Warsaw ghetto was to exterminate Jews living in a city with no farmland at all.  It was cheaper and less bothersome to "hermetically seal" the Warsaw ghetto for the sole purpose of quickly starving its entire Jewish population.

    Much as I am angry about the bombardment of Gaza, your comparing it to the Warsaw ghetto seems utterly ridiculous to me.

    •  Can we agree a more apt comparison (0+ / 0-)

      might be the Siege of Stalingrad.  However there, civilians did have the choice to flee.  The Gazans are not allowed that option,  They are all penned up, much like the Warsaw Ghetto.
      Perhaps the Battle of Alesia might be more apt comparison:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    •  goals Vs. tactics of resistance (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think the end goals of the oppressors are the real point here; rather, it's whether the tactics used by the resistance to oppression are similar and legitimate. If it was justifiable for the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto (and for our own Revolutionary War rebels) to stockpile weapons in their homes or about their lands, then why not the Palestinians, who've endured cruel repression by the Israeli occupiers for so many years?

      Also, a point missing from the OP: according to the UN, weapons were only stored in 2 or 3 vacant schools, not in those being used to shelter Palestinian refugees from the violence, and I believe I read that the UN notified Israel of the presence of at least some of those weapons.

  •  Well it absolved the US and NATO (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb

    in Kosovo, so I don't know why it wouldn't absolve Israel in Gaza.

    The fact that Hamas uses much of the Gaza population as human shields doesn't absolve Israel of its responsibility to avoid firing in heavily populated areas.
    The war crime is on Hamas. If your neighbor across the street had his baby on his lap and was firing RPGs into your daughter's bedroom while she slept, what would you do?
    •  CNN (0+ / 0-)
      If your neighbor across the street had his baby on his lap and was firing RPGs into your daughter's bedroom while she slept, what would you do?
      and other would change their reporting. Every death on the Palestinian side would be counted as two and we'd see many pictures and video with "neighbours with their kids on their lap" rushed to the hospital.

      /black humor

  •  maybe a bit off topic but discussions here with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme

    various Kossacks who are convinced Israel is in an existential fight for its very life and that any misery is 100% the fault of Hamas have led me to do some thinking.

    The basic concept is that conducting war in an urban setting constitutes using human shields.  End of story for IDF.  Furthermore, it is asserted that Hamas is violating various humanitarian laws by hiding munitions in residences, schools and mosques.  The question which is not answered is where is Hamas supposed to store munitions and where are they supposed to make their fight?  Asymmetrical warfare means the insurgents use the terrain to make their best stand.  This means you withdraw to the mountains or forests.  Not an option here.

      We have already seen in desert warfare that air power is supreme in destroying enemy resources.  Therefore if Hamas were to have their dumps in the desert or to array their forces in standard formation in the desert, well the Iraqi retreat from Kuwait proves how well that works out.  Ditto for Serbian forces in Bosnia.  Furthermore, the IDF garrisons troops and has dumps next to civilian populations and so does the US and every other country.

    This leads to the charge of shields.  The battle for Stalingrad was as brutal as urban warfare gets and many residents were trapped in the ruins but, at the same time, there was the theoretical ability to flee.  If Israel were truly concerned about the civilians, why will the IDF not allow them to flee?  Why not open the borders for the noncombatants to flee into the Sinai or WB?  Instead the IDF refuses to allow them to seek safety.

    While there are other questions about IDF policies, the question here is if the civilian population acts as a shield for Hamas or as hostages for the IDF or both?  

    •  Giving no quarter (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      entlord, Pilsner, Portlaw, TheOtherMaven

      is a specific war crime and is so one old that in heraldry the coat of arms of somebody who did this and killed a prisoner was changed. There was a "abatement" - a design, technically called point champaine tenné, added to the shield. These are also called stains and is the derivation of the phrase "a stain on his character".

      "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 03:11:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  While human shield is illegal in Geneva convention (0+ / 0-)

      I do grant that for Hamas militant it may be unavoidable to collocate military stuff next to civilians due to the "packed" areas.

      However, I do draw the line at the point where they use such collocation to launch indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilian populations.

      Hamas is already toeing the line regarding human shields. And to use that to launch indiscriminate attack against civilians goes straight into war-crime territory.

      •  well would you be happier if they had better (0+ / 0-)

        rockets with better guidance systems so they could specifically target military targets?  I am sure they would agree with you

        •  Put it simply. (0+ / 0-)

          As long as they use civilian collocation to launch rockets against Israeli civilians, Hamas bear part of the responsibility for the lost of Gaza civilians due to Israeli strikes. Because what do you expect Israeli to do against such strikes? Certainly not ignore it and let their own civilian carry the risk.

          •  given the ineffectiveness of the rockets (0+ / 0-)

            ignoring them would be a better option perhaps.  After all, the present barrage was in retaliation for the IDF assassination of the Hamas head of intelligence.  Maybe if the IDF had not killed him the rockets would not have recommenced.
            OTOH I suppose Hamas could have also overlooked that killing but then neither side is especially adept at not rising to provocation.

            Originally, the rockets were not an issue; it was the 3 murdered teens.  The casus belli has changed several times since the incursion began

  •  This is an issue on which I've changed my opinion (0+ / 0-)

    From the time of operation cast lead until this last all out IDF assault on Gaza my thinking mirrored that of many Jewish Liberals. It sorta went like this;

    "Sure, the IDF response is out of all proportion to the Hamas provocation, and of course who doesn't regret the loss of innocent civilian lives but.........Hamas uses its population as human shields and besides all nations have the right of self defense (just check out Chapter VII, Article 51 of the UN Charter) and furthermore they are terrorists but most of all what would anyone else do under the circumstances?"
    But as I've pointed out the people of Gaza enjoy no real sovereignty and are in fact penned up like cattle under siege in circumstances disturbingly similar to those experienced historically by European Jews both in Medieval times and under Nazi Occupation. People under these circumstances have every right to resist!

    In addition, Avi Shlaim, possibly Israel's most brilliant and most important historian, points out that Hamas strictly observed the ceasefire. He asserts in a 2009 Guardian piece that;  "In June 2008, Egypt had ­brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. ­Contrary to Israeli propaganda, this was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three." Shlaim blames Israel for the broken ceasefire due to the bombing of the tunnels on the Gaza side of the border. He believes that Israel doesn't want peace but rather (a) the total destruction of Hamas and (b) the avoidance of concessions to the Palestinians on land, settlers, water, refugees, economic relations and other topics of importance.

    This is from the PSC

    From 19 June 2008 until 4 November 2008 – during the Egyptian brokered ceasefire – Hamas didn’t fire any rockets or mortar shells from Gaza into Israel and restrained other Palestinian groups from doing so. This was confirmed by Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev, on More4 News on 9 January 20091.

    • This was despite the fact that Israel failed to honour its obligations under the ceasefire agreement to lift its savage economic blockade, which had brought the people of Gaza to the verge of starvation.

    • From 19 June 2008 until 4 November 2008, only 20 rockets and 17 mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel (all by Palestinian groups other than Hamas), compared to 1,199 rockets and 1,072 mortar shells in 2008 up to 19 June – which amounts to a reduction of 98% in the frequency of both rockets and mortars.

    The following is from The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli organisation which is regularly quoted by the Israeli Government. A report dated 5 November 2008, entitled Escalation in the Gaza Strip, on the Center’s website 2 states:

    "Since the lull arrangement went into effect on June 19, 2008, the Palestinian terrorist organizations have violated it scores of times, primarily by firing rockets and mortar shells. Occasionally rogue terrorist organizations have been responsible for the violations, among them networks belonging to Fatah, the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and the Army of Islam. Hamas, for its part, did not take part in rocket and mortar shell fire and sometimes prevented other organizations from attacking, although it did not confront them directly and massively or end their continued violation."

    The Israeli Foreign Ministry however did provide details of rocket attacks during the ceasefire showing dramatic reductions.  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Here is the casualties from the period up to and including Cast Lead. http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Israel could have continued the ceasefire and started negotiations with The unified Palestinian Authority. Instead, they opted for a military victory.

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