An international conference has concluded that Israel started the November offensive against the Gaza Strip and that another attack will take place “soon”. Participants at the “War on Gaza – Consequences and Future Prospects” conference in Gaza City noted that the Palestinians had learnt from the 2008/9 Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza in order to avoid the pitfalls of that offensive.
According to researcher on security affairs at then Ro’a Research Institute, Dr Iyad Al-Dajani, this saw the Palestinians in Gaza working to overcome weaknesses highlighted by Israel’s so-called “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008/9. “They developed their media and communication capabilities,” said Al-Dajani, “and they developed their human resources, which are at the centre of all their successes, achieving this away from the prying eyes of collaborators.”
Al-Dajani noted that the Palestinian resistance groups could also prepare a comprehensive military and propaganda strategy based on intelligence material gleaned from a public anti-collaboration campaign. The “unprecedented” use of pre-loaded secret rocket launchers resulted in a very small number of deaths among fighters, he said. “Among the 160 fatalities, 18 were fighters. This is very few compared with the number of fighters killed during the 2008/2009 war.”
Retired Egyptian Brigadier Hussein Hamouda said that the new tactics of the Palestinian fighters created a deterrence factor. Rejecting the idea that the Arab Spring regimes contributed to the Palestinian victory in Gaza, he insisted that it was the Palestinians themselves who achieved the victory over the Israeli army.
Hamouda pointed out that Israel started the war by killing Ahmed Jabari, who was working on a long-term truce with the Israelis through an Egyptian mediator at the time of his murder. Brigadier Hamouda attached some blame for this to Jabari himself, saying that the Palestinian should not have felt so secure during the truce process. “Hamas has a lot of experience dealing with the Israeli occupation, experience which is full of betrayals,” he said. “The Israelis have a notorious reputation for not keeping their promises and were expected to break the truce at any time.”
According to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Ummah University in Gaza, Israel started its preparations for the November 2012 offensive immediately following the 2008/2009 war. “The reason for that was Israel’s surprise at the Palestinian fighters’ abilities,” said Dr Adnan Abu-Amer. “Israel’s leaders stopped Cast Lead because the campaign was not going as expected and they wanted to prepare themselves in a more effective way.”
Through the war, claimed Abu-Amer, Israel aimed to crack down on the Palestinians’ military capability not Hamas per se. “Israel would not be happy to bring an end to Hamas rule in Gaza because the two-headed Palestinian polity suits its objectives,” he said. Noting the precedent of Israel seeking a truce through a third-party, Hamouda added that both sides are preparing for a “more comprehensive war which might take place soon”.