Israel’s war on Gaza has not stopped since Palestinians exercised their democratic free will and voted for Hamas in the 2006 election. The relentless warfare has alternated between overt bloody and covert muted, but let’s clarify some distortions.
Contrary to most Western media reports, the current escalation was sparked by Israel’s extra judicial assassination of Ahmad Al-Jabari, a Hamas military leader, not by rockets fired from Gaza. The targeted killing came 48 hours after an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and militant Palestinian organisations.
In fact, news reports three weeks ago indicated that Al-Jabari was negotiating a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Moreover, he was instrumental in limiting Hamas’s retaliation to repeated Israeli violations of a previous ceasefire. So what motivated Israel to violate the latest agreement?
Israel’s governing political parties thrive on conflict. Almost every major war waged in the last 15 years, whether in Palestine or Lebanon, has coincided with a scheduled election: 1996, 2006 and 2009.
In a militarised society – almost all Israelis have to serve in the Israel Defence Forces – polls show that Israeli voters favour a political party of war.
A second political objective was pre-empting and reframing US President Barack Obama’s peace agenda during his second term. Meanwhile, a third motive was to distract attention from or delay the Palestinian bid for observer state status at the UN later this month.
On the military level, Israeli and pro-Israeli warmongers were ready to sacrifice Palestinian and Jewish blood to test the US-financed “Iron Dome” missile defence system designed to protect Israel from incoming rockets using laser-guided missiles; this, in preparation for a more destructive war with Hezbollah and Iran.
In a week of clashes, American-made and taxpayer-funded smart weapons have targeted residential areas in Gaza, killing more than 160 Palestinians, with “collateral damage” of innocent women and children.
The current carnage is inseparable from Israel’s 64-years’ worth of violent attempts to subjugate the Palestinian people. Its war crimes are rationalised by the US and most European countries as “self-defence”. These are the same nations that ostensibly back the Arabs’ trot towards democracy, which is beyond hypocritical.
While pontificating on Arabs “embracing democratic values”, the West has been nonchalant towards the inhumane blockade of Gaza or Israeli control over the rest of Palestine. Occupation is the worst form of rule and, combined with a military siege, is the highest level of aggression against a civilian population.
Another form of aggression is Israel’s silent war, manifested in its military-supervised “starvation diet” rationing, through which it controls the entry of food and prevents fishermen in Gaza from accessing 85 per cent of fishery resources at sea. A study prepared for the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development last September predicted that under current conditions, Gaza would become a “fundamentally unliveable” city by 2020.
Israel’s evils have continued only because the international community remains indifferent to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and its wicked siege of more than 1.4 million people in Gaza.
This is also possible because Arab governments choose to do very little. Rhetoric, speeches and feel-good visits to Gaza might raise morale; financial support, if dispensed, is recycled in the never-ending rebuilding process; but what Gaza needs are deeds to compel Western powers to come to their senses and stop defending Israel’s malevolent policies.
For example, minor tweaking of oil production or delays in delivery would be enough to shock vulnerable Western economies, forcing leaders to become more attuned to their national interests instead of the pro-Israel lobby.
Any ceasefire must envision a final outcome that includes the halting of all forms of warfare, ending the blockade of Gaza and a halt to building illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israelis should not continue to enjoy peace while Palestinians suffer under occupation. Reconciliation and repression are incongruent.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.