Saturday, January 24

The Aftermath of the Gaza War

All reasonable people agree that Israel has a right to defend its people from Hamas rocket attacks in the south of Israel which ignited the Israeli response. Now those Israeli troops have withdrawn from Gaza, including the reservists, there still does not seem to be any desire on the part of Hamas to maintain the cease-fire. There have been violations which met with an Israeli response. We witnessed rather macabre scenes of the masked Hamas terrorists coming out of their holes, shielded by the Palestinian population in Gaza, many of whom lost their lives, or were severely injured. They declared a victory against Israel. Weird! The fact that they survived while many Palestinians were killed does not seem to make any indents into their false sense of pride and honour. It makes one wonder whether these “brave” soldiers of terror and fantasy are victims of a psychosis based on delusions of grandeur which is the disease of many megalomaniac power hungry dictators such as Hitler of Nazi Germany and their brutal followers of the last century.

The Palestinian victims of this war, many of whom were dug out from under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the IDF give them a sense of victory. Suddenly the cowering in bunkers ceases and the Hamas leaders come up for air spewing their hatred and fantasies against Israel! While the shelling and bombing was going on they were sheltering behind defenseless women and children sending them to their deaths while their tough skins were saved. The behaviour of Hamas towards their own people proves how indifferent they are to their peoples’ suffering.

Now that Israel has withdrawn most of its troops, the true scale of the damage and loss of life on the Palestinian side can be assessed. Many questions will be asked and the blame for much of the loss of Palestinian lives and their untold suffering must be at the door of Hamas and their terrorist allies. The architect of it all – the chief catalyst if you will is without a doubt – Iran! The smuggling of arms through tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border is proof of Iran’s involvement.

The Hamas reaction after the war – the arrogance and hate for Israel, as well as the total lack of desire for negotiating a political settlement with Israel does not give any room for any form of peace in the future. These Islamist fanatics are still determined to destroy Israel and it seems that they will soon find ways of re-arming and having another at chance at Israel in the not too distant future.

Hamas is a master of deception and lies. They expose defenseless innocent Palestinians to the wrath of the IDF. By doing this, they successfully mobilize world opinion against Israel by filming the most horrible scenes of blood and suffering of women and children. This is the result of them forcing innocent men, women and children to face a certain death, while they themselves hide in bunkers. Arsenals of weaponry had been discovered in cellars under Palestinian homes including explosives. The use of these people as human shields is very much part of Hamas tactics.

Both sides, Israel and Hamas have been involved in war crimes against each other. Both sides have exploited innocent people in order to achieve their aims. Hamas had been involved in unjustifiable rocket launchings into Israeli towns in the south in the hope of killing as many Israeli citizens as possible. Israel had retaliated very severely and this had resulted in Palestinian homes being destroyed as well as many innocent Palestinian casualties. The destruction and pillage of Gaza is evidence that apart from hitting strategic Hamas targets, many unfortunate innocent people were also killed. So much had been reduced to rubble and many Palestinian bodies were dug up from underneath. An independent enquiry ought to be made in order to investigate the possibility of war crimes committed by both sides.

Wednesday, January 14

The Tragedy in Gaza

After 8 years of Qassam rocket fire into Israel with the minimum of Israeli Army retaliation, Israel decided to react. There was no real reason for Hamas’s illogical behaviour. There is no justification for damage caused by these rockets to the population in southern Israel! The damage, apart from being physical and life threatening is also psychological. It is tough carrying out one’s daily life and having to run for shelter because of these rocket barrages. Children are scared to go to sleep at night. There are also incidents of bed wetting and nightmares. Fortunately, the loss of life has not reached catastrophic proportions because of the inaccuracies of these rockets. Nevertheless, the psychological damage to children is very often irreversible. There are also many incidents of permanent injuries as well as fatalities. The list of rocket attacks is long.

Israel has responded to these attacks after 8 years of patience and now the world accuses Israel of using “disproportionate force”. Rockets are fired on unarmed innocent people for no apparent reason. Surely this is also “disproportionate force!” These people have not carried out any aggressive activities against Hamas or against Palestinians. The civilians are unarmed. The term “disproportionate force” is relative. The defenseless civilians are unarmed while the Hamas has been firing rockets on them for eight years with no retaliation.

It may be helpful to try to understand why Hamas and its terrorist allies are firing rockets against innocent people in Sderot over the years. The main reason is hate for Israel and its people and the refusal of Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. All that follows from this is based on this fact. They believe that by their behaviour which is based on total fantasy in their cloud and cuckoo land that they could hasten Israel’s total destruction. The Hamas Covenant is very clear on that! The biggest tragedy of it all is that they influence the Palestinians, who put them into power that this is attainable and, by their folly, they dragged their people into a tragedy that nobody really wants, apart from Hamas itself. Their belief in their fantasies of Israel’s destruction has heaped untold tragedy on the Palestinian people because of Israel’s severe military retaliation.

The Palestinian people had overwhelmingly voted Hamas into power 3 years ago because of the corruption of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority which had not done anything to alleviate the Palestinian People’s poverty in Gaza. Hamas had also done nothing in that direction apart from feeding the Palestinian people with hate for Israel based on their fantasies. Pragmatism was never part of Hamas’s lexicon. Hamas was actually strengthened by Israel. Thanks to the Mossad, Israel's "Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks", the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat's Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)".

Israel had adopted a “divide and rule” policy in trying to maintain the occupation. It was a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. However, this had backfired to Israel’s disadvantage, a monster terrorist group became stronger, and the result was total violence, suicide bombings and various terrorist acts over the years which climaxed into the war in Gaza today.

Hamas knew how to manipulate the Palestinian People and their violent deeds had resulted in Israel introducing very repressive measures which also limited the freedom of the Palestinian People. This resulted in the “pressure cooker of hate” in Gaza. Gaza had been a human prison for many years. Overcrowded and poverty-stricken, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas per square km in the world. There is no viable harbour or airport and the people are living in a crisis. Even before the intifada, Israel was more busy encouraging occupation rather than rehabilitating Gaza which was under its rule since the Six Day War of 1967 until the unilateral disengagement of August 2005. Two generations of people had grown up under appalling conditions. These people were ideal bait for the extremism of Hamas to take root.

This war was the last thing that the people of Gaza needed. Hamas had brought it on their people. While Israel has a right to defend its citizens against Hamas terrorism in the south, it does not have the right to inflict injury on innocent Palestinian men, women and children as this war progresses. The Israeli claim that Hamas uses innocent people as human shields needs to be verified in detail. The scenes of a terrible human tragedy with so much loss of innocent lives are heart-rending! We witness the most horrifying scenes of whole families being wiped out by Israeli Army action. The human situation is deteriorating in Gaza as the war goes on and there is a definite human crisis.

The increasing human tragedy in Gaza is not going to help Israel in her war effort. The attacks on an UNWRA school resulting in the death of 40 people who sought refuge are despicable. This must be condemned by all. According to reports, there were no Hamas terrorists sheltering there contrary to IDF claims.

The time has come to reassess whether there is any point in continuing this war. Hamas has received a powerful blow to its capabilities and now with various mop up operations taking place, it is questionable as to whether there will not be more blood shed as a result.

As the situation is, the IDF is preparing for the third phase of the war in Gaza. It means calling up reserves and tightening control in Gaza. Khaled Mashal, the Hamas leader, sits in his palatial home in Damascus unscathed by the suffering of the Palestinian People. He can afford to be brave while Israel’s military might wreaks destruction and havoc in Gaza. He is not ready to accept a cease-fire. Why should he? His butt is not burning! On the other hand, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza is looking for ways to declare a cease-fire. His rhetoric against Israel has toned down and his speeches are colored with religious dogmas. These are signs that Hamas is cracking. The Hamas leadership in Gaza is well sheltered in bunkers under homes of Palestinians. This also places the Palestinians at severe risk of IDF attacks. So many Hamas weapon caches have been discovered by the IDF in Palestinian homes. Many of these people were not even aware that their homes were used for storing weapons.

Before an IDF attack, the people are warned to vacate their homes. The problem is that they have nowhere to go and Hamas prevents the people from vacating so that the IDF can inflict heavy injuries on these poor people. This serves the Hamas purpose of illustrating IDF cruelty which could garner world opinion in their favour and against Israel. Hamas forces innocent men, women and children into the streets during the Israeli bombing raids to face certain death while their leaders hide underground.

There are terrible tragedies occurring because of the war in Gaza. Some of these human rights infringements and tragedies are because of Israel’s military activity.

According to B’tzelem reports, Israel is also using phosphorus bombs against the Palestinian population. This has been denied vehemently by the IDF spokesman.

In light of the fighting in Gaza and in Israel, Israeli human rights groups are working together to inform the Israeli public of the impact on civilians, particularly regarding events that are not reported by the media. The data is limited. It should not be taken as a comprehensive picture of the human rights violations currently taking place.

Every day that passes as the war continues, increased suffering is the result. The foolishness of the diehards in Hamas results in continued missile fire in southern Israel. Hamas has been weakened considerably but their ability to fire missiles remains intact although the number of missiles fired daily has decreased. The firing is a final act of desperation to illustrate that they still have not lost the war. Their false sense of honour remains based on their fantasies.

Many Hamas militants are deserting and are fleeing into the Sinai Desert. When this war ends, Hamas will be weakened considerably. It remains anybody’s guess as to who will fill the Gaza vacuum of anarchy. This can result in a renewal of Israeli occupation or military rule which is the worst scenario possible.

Saturday, January 3

The War in Gaza

The pressure cooker had threatened to blow up for a long time. Hamas had been firing rockets indiscriminately into southern Israel turning the lives of the people living there into a living hell. This has been going on for nearly eight years and nobody, apart from Israel, protested. These inhabitants are not occupiers of Arab lands as is the case in the West Bank. They are living within the green line. The firing of rockets into Israel is so pointless and no strategic advantage could be gained from it. Hamas had been warned to cease this hostile activity against Israel. They refused to renew the cease-fire and opted for continuing the violence. Hamas and its extremist allies must be held responsible for the turn of events.

After much debating in the cabinet, Israel decided to retaliate and created a situation that is disastrous for the Gaza Palestinians. What is the purpose of it? Hamas is stubborn and continues its destructive path. They have no chance of winning this war and everyday that the war continues, more Palestinian lives will be lost and the suffering of the Palestinian people will increase. This is such a pointless war! Blood is being spilled at a tremendous rate approaching catastrophic proportions.

The problem of Gaza should be seen in a different context to the problems in the occupied West Bank where Hebron is one of the main centres of friction between the Palestinians and illegal Israeli settlers.

In the West Bank, the illegal settlers encroach on Palestinian lands uprooting olive trees and carrying out vandalism against the Palestinians living there. The behaviour of the settler youth and their supporters is disgusting towards the Palestinians. They are hooligans! They have no right to be there. The responsibility for the skirmishes between the two sides lies in the illegal settlers’ court! What right do these extremists have to justify their disgusting behaviour? There is no connection between what is happening in the West Bank and the developments in Gaza. The West Bank is under occupation with limited autonomy for the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

Gaza is an independent entity in so far that Israel has disengaged from it. Hamas was elected in democratic elections 2006 to rule Gaza which to all intents and purposes is separated from the West Bank. This being the case, the situation must be seen separately from what is happening in the West Bank, where the occupation and the Israeli illegal settlers are very much in place. In Gaza, there are no illegal settlers or Israeli occupation. It is true that Israel has blockaded Gaza preventing freedom of movement into Israel because of security reasons. This has contributed to much hardships for the Palestinians residing there.

Hamas must be held responsible for Israeli military action in Gaza. Over the last 7 years, Hamas and their allies have been firing Qassam rockets into southern Israeli towns turning the lives of Israelis in these towns into a living hell. Their intention is to kill and maim as many Israelis as possible in their quest to destroy Israel. The fact that the casualty rate and damage was relatively low in Israel is because of the inaccuracy of their rockets fired into populated areas. Many rockets fell short of their intended targets. The Israeli population in these towns is well disciplined and knows what to do when the alarm of a rocket attack is sounded. This is not the case in Gaza, where the Palestinians have no bomb shelters. This is reserved for the Hamas leadership and their lackeys. Regard for human life is not a priority in Hamas-ruled Gaza only if it serves their propaganda purposes.

Hamas has continued to fire rockets into Israel indiscriminately. They had no intention of acting responsibly towards their own people. There was never any rehabilitation plans to improve Palestinian lives or their economy. Plans for long term improvement of infrastructure, health, education and basic essential services that citizens of any country are entitled were never initiated, nor did they intend to initiate them. Hamas survives by intensifying the suffering of their people in order to remain in power. They provoke Israel into taking retaliatory action by their terror activities. They also engage in rhetoric and propaganda based on fantasy. This fantasy is their strong belief that in time they will demoralize Israelis and destroy Israel which they have no desire to recognize. They also never wish to negotiate with Israel.

The strength of Hamas lies in its oppression of opposition groups by torture and murder. Their fantasy world only intensified Palestinian suffering by provoking Israel into retaliation without regard to the cost in human life. We are witnessing this now as Israel continues to pound Hamas power centres and the human shields surrounding these centres. This has resulted in tremendous collateral damage and great loss of innocent lives. By their wicked tactics they feel that they can increase their support amongst their own people, neighbouring Arab states and the international world community. They rely on these elements to pressurize Israel into accepting a cease-fire on Hamas’s terms.

The international community must be made to realize that Hamas is a terrorist organization, no different from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Al Qaeda. These two terrorist organizations view Hamas as an important ally in their terrorist causes. All these organizations are in the same league. They are not seekers of peace, democracy or human rights, nor are they liberation movements. The intense suffering that Hamas causes to their own people by their behaviour shows a total lack of regard for human life. They are criminals!

Israel, in this case, is exercising its right to defend its citizens from the indiscriminate Hamas rocket launches that had been plaguing the south of Israel for nearly eight years! What country on earth would allow a neighbour state to launch missiles into its territory in order to kill its citizens? Is there any logical reason for this insanity? Hamas, as is typical of extremist Islamist terrorist groups, tries to live out its fantasies in the hope that it would become their own warped reality. Hamas is tempting fate and destroying the lives of the people who had elected them into power. They do this because of their intense, uncontrollable hate for Israel. Their motive is to destroy Israel.

Why was the world silent when Hamas was firing rockets in the south? Why are they condemning Israel when it retaliates to defend its citizens from Hamas rocket attacks and terror against its Israeli citizens?

The international protests will gain momentum and it is possible that the UN will have Security Council emergency sessions to enforce a cease-fire. Already there are countries such as France who are trying to get a cease-fire into place.

Hamas is so intoxicated by its fantasies and delusions of victory that they have not exhibited any signs of surrender. They have a false sense of dignity based on total fantasy. This will only increase the suffering of the Gazan Palestinians.

The reason that Israel has failed so miserably in its public relations work and explanations is that it is still an occupying power. It has done very little to remove the illegal settlers from the West Bank. It states that it does not wish to rule over the Palestinians while de facto they still do. This does not do much for Israel’s credibility.

The tragedy in Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people is heart rending. Our sympathies should be with them in their plight. It would be appropriate to assist the innocent men, women and children as much as possible by allowing food, medicines and other essential supplies into Gaza in order to minimize the suffering as much as possible.

Introducing a 48 hour cease fire is a questionable tactic. It may allow Hamas to regroup and continue the firing of rockets into Israel, they would view this cease-fire as Israel’s weakness, and this could weaken the momentum to defeat Hamas. While Hamas remains adamant and they do not cease firing rockets into Israel there is no point in even discussing a cease-fire. Hamas has even stated that they are not amenable to discussing a cease-fire and wish to fight on to victory whatever that means. They have declared war on Israel. In a war the victor dictates the terms of surrender or cease-fire not the loser. If they would show a desire for ceasing the rocket fire into Israel and wish to embark on a different path to the one they are treading now, there is a greater chance of the cease-fire being affective. If Hamas is allowed to dictate its terms for a cease-fire, it will see itself as the winner. This would be bad for peace and stability in the region. It would give them the freedom to break the cease-fire when it suits them.

The leadership of Hamas is sheltering in bunkers under the ground. They are surrounded by human shields of women and children which explains the high casualty rate. This is the way they defend themselves!

The Israeli Air Force bombs Hamas installations and headquarters. The resulting collateral damage is enormous and this increases the human tragedy. It also creates more animosity towards Israel which is regarded as the aggressor. Photographs and TV clips of the destruction in Gaza is working against Israel. No amount of public relations on Israel’s part can obliterate those tragic and vivid images of destruction and bloodshed!

This pointless war continues unabated taking its toll in human lives and suffering.There are no black or white solutions to the problems in Gaza. One can be sure that the immense poverty, overcrowding and economic hardships are conducive to the survival and support of Hamas. Israel’s military action, assuming that it overthrows Hamas may also increase Palestinian animosity towards Israel. Under no circumstances must Israel remain in Gaza for any length of time.

The only way to end the siege is for Hamas to agree to cessation of violence and aggression towards Israel and Israel must cease military activity against the Palestinians. This must go hand in hand with negotiations for a genuine peace treaty observed by both sides.

The presence of an international peace keeping force with powers to ensure that a peace agreement, if signed, is observed by all sides.

The leaders of Hamas, especially those in Damascus like Khaled Mashal are unconcerned about their peoples’ suffering. They are experts at capitalizing on it.

According to the International Herald Tribune editorial of Wednesday 31st December 2008, there is no justification for Hamas’s attacks or its virulent rejectionism. Also others must take the responsibility for this mess. Hamas never fully observed the cease-fire that went into effect on 19th June 2008 and Israel never really lived up to its commitment to ease the tough embargo on Gaza.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert also did nothing to stop the illegal settlements and support Mahmoud Abbas who happens to be a sworn enemy of Hamas.

However, if one wishes to get a sense of balance in this tragic situation, Hamas is responsible for the destruction and wide scale loss of life in Gaza. They had been warned by Israel in the past to cease launching missiles into Israel but to no avail. Now they are paying the price for their folly in their fanatic beliefs in the fantasy world they desire to create in their dreams of destroying Israel.