Saturday, August 30

Cease-fire and Stock-taking

The cease-fire was declared on 26th Aug 2014, fifty days after the commencement of Operation Protective Edge resulting in death of about 2200 Gazans and 72 Israelis. The 72nd Israeli succumbed to his wounds on 29th August. According to reports, Hamas requested an unconditional cease-fire. Hamas never got their airport, seaport, release of prisoners and open borders. They also never achieved lifting of the blockade on Gaza. Their bombastic fantasies of victory were played out in Gaza City, when the "brave, victorious", Hamas’s Gazan leadership came out of its underground bunkers, sheltered by human shields, and gave the usual victory speeches so typical of the fantasy world in which they live.

Hamas had achieved nothing; the only victory they achieved was an enhancement of their dreams in their fantasy world, typical of psychopaths and schizophrenics. This war was justified as Israel has a right to defend itself from missiles being launched by Hamas with the intention of killing as many Israelis as possible.

After a month of quiet, the parties will meet in Cairo where the psychopathic, barbaric Hamas will put its original demands on the table, which will be opposed by Israel and Egypt. Will this cause a breakdown of the cease-fire? We will have to wait and see.

Israel will investigate the errors that were made in this campaign. There were tactical errors as there always is in an operation as complex as this one was and conclusions will be drawn. Operation Protective Edge lasted a long time and, despite the heavy losses suffered by Hamas. According to Hamas rhetoric, their motivation to continue the war with Israel remains. Hamas still has the capability of firing missiles and mortars into Israel as we saw hours before a cease-fire was declared with tragic loss of Israeli lives.

As evil as Hamas and their ilk are, there is no doubt that Israel must bear part of the blame for the creation of this terrorist movement that is responsible for so much horrendous terrorist acts against Israelis in the past and present. When Hamas was formed in 1987, it received support from Ariel Sharon because it opposed the PLO. He thought that by supporting Hamas, he would weaken the resolve of the PLO to commit terror against Israel. He adopted a "divide and rule" policy. This was proved a fatal error of judgment on his part.

While the mantra of Hamas is unrelenting in not recognizing Israel's right to exist and its commitment to Israel's total destruction. This was the mantra of the PLO as well prior to the Oslo Accords of 1993.

We are all familiar with the inability of the Arab world to come to terms with Israel's establishment in 1948 and the wars that were declared against Israel over the years with the culmination of the Six Day War of June 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. Israel became an occupying power and encouraged settlements in these territories.

Israel was viewed then by its supporters as invincible and had the right to encourage settlement in Judea and Samaria (called so by the settler movements who view the West Bank as theirs according to biblical legacy). In previous articles, I have always maintained that settling these occupied lands with religious Jewish Zealots was a grave error and Israel is still paying the price for this folly to this day. The occupied territories should have been used as a bargaining chip to be returned to the Palestinians in exchange for a peace agreement and recognition of Israel's right to exist. It could have been the basis for a future Palestinian state alongside Israel. 

Meanwhile, until the achievement of peace, Israel should have encouraged financial investment in the occupied territories, improved services to the Palestinian people, improving infra-structure, health services and economic viability. This would have been far more constructive as well as serving Israel's interests. It could have achieved a bulwark against hate and terrorism. One must always remember that an occupying power is responsible for the well being of the people that it occupies. Israel missed an opportunity for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state - all because of lack of foresight and its encouraging of settlement policies in the occupied territories. Israel had neglected the Palestinians under occupation.

The Palestinians were subjected to settler vandalism, including the destruction of their olive tree plantations, agricultural crops and misappropriation of their lands for Jewish settlement. Apologists for the settler movement and occupation have their mantras as well. "We have given the Palestinians employment and they are ungrateful, in return they commit terrorist acts against Israelis!" Wages paid to Palestinians were poor. Many would get up at 3.00 am to catch buses that took them into Israel to get opportunistic work or contract labor under appalling conditions. They had no trade unions, security and exploitation was widespread. The Palestinians remained poverty-stricken and their environment became so bad becoming a target for the establishment of terrorist movements such as Hamas that thrive on the dissatisfaction of poverty-stricken Palestinians with no future or any hope.

Israel, over the years of occupation, had shirked its responsibility towards the indigenous Palestinians, sowing the seeds for the establishment of Hamas and its allies. These terrorist movements could never thrive in an economically strong Palestinian population. Israel had the chance to achieve this with the help of foreign countries, including the US. It would have been cheaper than building a strong army to quell terrorist movements that thrive in hopeless, poverty-stricken situations. A satisfied Palestinian population is the best defense against terror. The encouragement of a Palestinian-destructive Israeli settler movement is a prescription for Palestinian terror.

Another negative phenomenon that occurred during the war was the increase of hate against Arabs in general. This disgraceful development aggravates the relationship between Israel's Arab citizens and Jewish Israelis, which has been exacerbated by Operation Protective Edge. Both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians will have to come to terms with each others right to exist on a shared peace of land. Both peoples are not going to disappear from the Middle East and will remain an integral part.

This war has also proved that Hamas has no place in Gaza and is destroying the Palestinians. There has to be a viable, pragmatic Palestinian leadership that could be given the opportunity to cooperate with Israel, moderate Arab States and the rest of the world in rehabilitating Gaza, which has been severely damaged. It is doubtful if the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas is able to take over this responsibility without world support, including that of Israel and Egypt. Rehabilitation of Gaza on a massive scale can only really begin when there is total disarmament of Gaza. 

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