New Age Islam
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Islam and the West ( 19 Aug 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

World Media on Gaza and Israel (20 August 2014)






Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Desk

20 August, 2014


Israeli Propaganda Starts To Wear Thin

By Rami G. Khouri

Will Gaza Ever Know Peace?

By Syed Mansur Hashim

Benjamin Netanyahu: Signs of a Defeated Leader

By Octavia Nasr

How Sisi Won the Gaza-Israel Conflict

By Mahmoud Salem

Israel Lost On All Fronts of the Gaza War

By Ben Caspit

The New Gaza State

By Shlomi Eldar

Israelis Lied To Justify Massacre In Gaza

By Chris Ryecart


Israeli Propaganda Starts To Wear Thin

By Rami G. Khouri

Aug. 18, 2014

One of the fascinating dimensions of the battle between Israel and Palestine is how Israeli leaders and their American apologists keep changing their propaganda message aimed at generally ignorant Western audiences.

The core, but always evolving, message that Zionists keep sending out is that Palestinians who challenge Israel are part and parcel of a larger universe of frightening figures that espouse criminal values, and represent a direct, mortal threat to Israel and all Western civilization. The latest version of this fear-mongering campaign of lies and fantasy seeks to paint Hamas and others militant Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza as integral elements in the world of vicious actors and terrorists who are fighting in the name of Islam, such as the Salafist-takfiri extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Most people in the United States or other Western lands who hear these messages lack the knowledge to understand that Israel’s accusations are bold and ridiculous lies. Yet these lies often strike a receptive chord among uninformed audiences that have only two images drilled into them year after year: Israel and Jews are threatened with death and extinction in the Middle East; and the region is full of rabid killers who want to kill Christians and Jews and turn the world into one big Islamic society that enslaves women and martyrs its children.

The problem with this latest twist of Zionist propaganda is that it tries to put into a single basket very different groups with totally unrelated inspirations, agendas and operating methods. It aims to tar Hamas, and also Hezbollah in Lebanon, with such extreme attributes that foreigners refuse to deal with them, and see them as part and parcel of that frightening body of ISIS and Al-Qaeda killers who claim to speak in the name of Islam and go around crucifying and cutting people’s heads off.

This strategy has actually worked for some time, as many Western powers have shunned dealing with Hamas or Hezbollah. Yet that pattern has started to break down in recent years, as foreign governments and civil society activists alike come to understand that groups like Hamas and Hezbollah essentially are locally anchored, state-based resistance groups that fight two battles at once: They seek to reverse what they say is the Israeli occupation, colonization and subjugation of their countries, and they seek to create a more efficient, less corrupt domestic governance system that responds to the needs of all its citizens. (On balance, they have done much better at fighting Israel than at generating better domestic governance).

Resisting and reversing Israeli actions forms the core of Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s strategies, therefore the Israeli spin masters try at all costs to prevent anyone abroad from seeing these Lebanese and Palestinian groups as having been born primarily to fight back against Israel’s excessive occupation and colonization. The easiest way to do this in the fact-light minds of many Western citizens and politicians is simply to associate Hamas and Hezbollah with Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban.

This strategy has started to wear thin and collapse in places because reasonable people in the world have repeatedly seen the overwhelming evidence of Israel’s violence and occasional criminal atrocities in Lebanon and Palestine. The many pictures of Lebanese and Palestinians simply protecting their lands from repeated Israeli attacks – including by attacking Israel with small rockets and as yet mostly harmless projectiles – have been coupled with the repeated Israeli destruction of thousands of Arab homes, as well as many schools, hospitals, power plants and other civilian facilities.

More and more governments and observers around the world have realized that Hamas and Hezbollah have nothing to do with Al-Qaeda or ISIS, whose agendas reflect bizarre religious fantasies rather than state-based resistance goals. We started to see this rejection of Israeli propaganda over a year ago when Americans and Europeans ignored the wild scare tactics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and went ahead with negotiations with Iran on nuclear and sanctions issues.

The Western ability to ignore Zionism’s wild men in favor of a more rational approach to the world was also evident after the formation of the Palestinian national-unity government several months ago. The United States and the European Union among others accepted to engage with it, against the Israel desire to see the international community boycott the government.

Israel and its howlers in Washington will continue to try and lump nationalist resistance groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah with criminals such as Al-Qaeda and its offshoots, but the efficacy of such crude propaganda is steadily decreasing. This means we should be alert to the next set of exaggerations, diversions and lies that Israel and its Western hit men and women will use to prevent any rational accountability of Israeli actions.

Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR.


Will Gaza Ever Know Peace?

By Syed Mansur Hashim

August 19, 2014

LET us look at the facts before the latest Israeli operation in Gaza. According to United Nations data back in 2012, the five year blockade had turned the region's economic situation topsy-turvy. 34% of its workforce was unemployed, 44% of Gaza residents were food insecure and 8 out of 10 Gazans were dependent on aid for survival. In 2011, per capita GDP was “17% below the equivalent figure in 2005, before the last Palestinian elections.” On the export side in that same year, less than one truckload of goods exited Gaza per day, which was 3% less than the average amount of exports during the first half of 2007. A third of Gaza's farmlands and 85% of its fishing waters were made inaccessible by Israeli-imposed restrictions. There were massive shortages of fuel and electricity cuts experienced by Gazans went up to 12 hours a day. The situation was equally grim on the health front with 90% of the water pumped out of the Gaza aquifer being unsafe for human consumption (without treatment).

The situation has gotten much, much worse since the fighting broke out this time round. With “collective punishment” being the Israeli strategy, Gaza's built-up area, which is already one of the most densely populated areas in the world (according to 2012 data: over 4,500 people per square km) has suffered immensely and the humanitarian cost is all but plain to see. When the fighting is over and the time comes for Gazans to look at the carnage left behind, they will experience a fresh wave of despair. Things were bad enough before, but with the economic blockade still in force, there are serious questions whether the Gaza can be rebuilt at all. A devastated infrastructure with essential utilities like water and electricity in tatters, it explains why some 80% of Gaza strip's estimated 1.7million residents fall below the $2 poverty line.

In order for the Gaza government to restore its infrastructure and economy, the blockade will have to go. It will have to be lifted for other reasons that are not economic in nature. For Israel's primary security concern is to secure safety for its citizens. That purpose has gone down the drain. Perhaps Israeli Premier Netanyahu was under the impression that if Israel's defence forces pounded the Palestinians hard enough, they would abandon Hamas. The exact opposite has happened. Fathers and mothers who will have to live with the pain of seeing their children die in their arms, from sniper fire, from shells crashing into their homes; and children, shell shocked and dazed will live with the horrors of war. The only thing beating in their hearts will be revenge -- an opportunity to settle the score, “an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth,” a line condoned by Hamas and not by Fattah. Israel has in effect restored Hamas' political fortunes. The next generation of hard-line fighters have been created -- much to the glee of Hamas's political leadership.

As stated by Maha Yahya (Senior Associate, Carnegie Middle East Centre) in a recent article: “The end of the blockade is a central point of contention and a critical component of any sustainable ceasefire agreement. It is also crucial to addressing the tremendous challenges of rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians in Gaza, and to longer-term development, stability, even security.” What is now amply clear is that the blockade has failed to deliver on what Israel values most and that is security. It has, on the other hand, been extremely successful in driving Gaza's economy to the ground and help build a well of resentment of ordinary Palestinians against Israel. This has been a boon for Hamas.

There is no reason to be relieved to see the current ceasefire holding. With the blockade in place, there is little prospect for Gazans to rebuild their shattered lives and their city. If it is Israel's hope that the latest “collective treatment” meted out by its security forces will have subdued the Palestinians, they are sorely mistaken. If it is a lasting peace that the Israeli government and its citizens want, they will have to rethink the whole blockade business that has hampered not only growth of infrastructure, but robbed an entire population of its livelihood.

There were no innocents among incumbents in this conflict. Both the Israeli establishment and Hamas are equally guilty of hindering peaceful settlement of this conflict. Hamas's insistence on the destruction of Israel has not helped the situation, nor has Israel's total disregard for human rights that comes through its indiscriminate shelling and firing on a largely defenceless population. Forget about a negotiated, long term peace treaty along the two-state solution.

Contrary to Israeli calculations, the horrendous human suffering caused by this war has the bulk of Gazans rallying to the Hamas cause. Even after all the suffering, Palestinians and Israeli negotiators still cannot sit face to face, they need Egyptian mediators rushing from room to room to carry proposals and counter proposals from one party to the other. That is not how you make peace; rather, that is how you negotiate a temporary lull in the fighting.


Benjamin Netanyahu: Signs of a Defeated Leader

By Octavia Nasr

19 August 2014

Benjamin Netanyahu is not a dove, nor does he seek to be seen as one. He does not seek or want peace with the Palestinians. He wants security for Israel and if that means making peace with the Palestinians, so be it. But, in this case, he will make sure Palestinians are weakened enough that their presence or absence is all the same to him.

He behaves like his bulldozers that destroy, kill, maim, uproot – without flinching. He does so to demonstrate his care for his people. He blames his cruelty on the goal of keeping them safe. Many believe him and stop seeing his murderous intentions because their fear of how he describes the “enemy” outweighs their reason and even their moral standards.

If life depended on Netanyahu, there would be no hope; as U.S. lawmakers and lobbyists would continue to be blinded by the fear rhetoric reeking from Israel’s rightwing. Back in 2012 and in 2008-2009, the world was still skewed heavily in support of whatever Israel wanted to do in Gaza. The infamous line, “Israel is responding to Hamas rockets” led every news report then. Israel at the time did not allow foreign press to enter Gaza and media organizations easily accepted the orders and willingly lent their blind eye to the disastrous events.

This year marked a shift in media approach to Gaza thanks to several elements that worked simultaneously:

1.       Palestinian activism took an effective shape. It was unified, smart, intellectual, provocative, nonviolent and unwavering in challenging the usual Israeli propaganda machine. Activists went on talk shows, opined in social media, engaged in significant debates and won the conversation. They created a significant dent in public opinion worldwide

2.       People were moved to act through demonstrations from Sanaa to Sydney, boldly taking the Palestinian side

3.       Foreign media defied Israel’s warnings and reported from Gaza thus providing the truth that Netanyahu would have rather buried

4.       Israel’s leftwing and liberals spoke out against the war. The demonstrations in Tel Aviv put to shame many Arab capitals that remained idle and silent

5.       Palestinians did what they do best, resist and survive. Despite the heavy toll, Palestinians refused to be sidelined, suffocated and crushed

Netanyahu used a convenient excuse to attack Gaza with the aim of destroying Hamas. He destroyed everything he could, except Hamas. Beneath his dramatic threats, lies a defeated leader who has no choice but to negotiate with Hamas and the rest of the Palestinians.

Unable to guarantee Israel’s security through military means or through dialogue, he now shows his true intentions by preventing human rights organizations from entering Gaza to conduct independent investigations. The very symbol of defeat!

Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.


How Sisi Won the Gaza-Israel Conflict

By Mahmoud Salem

August 19, 2014

The Palestinian conflict has always been a trump card in the hands of whoever assumes the role of president in Egypt, but that has always been within a framework that the US administrations have created and managed. This is no longer the case, mainly due to the strategy that the current Egyptian administration employed in handling the Gaza crisis, which has unquestionably led to the prolonging of the conflict and increase in the number of casualties on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.

But it has also achieved every single one of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s objectives, and subsequently changed the balance of power in the Middle East conflict. It sidelined Qatar, Turkey and Hamas; placed all the cards in the hands of Israel, the Gulf States and Egypt; and, none of them gave any weight to the Obama administration, which was unprecedented. As negotiations continue to take place in Cairo over the cease-fire that was finally achieved, so far the latest Gaza war has had one noticeable winner: Sisi.

It all started in the predictable manner. The Israeli security apparatus was getting more nervous at Hamas’ improved digging capabilities, with tunnels reaching hundreds of meters into Israeli territory that can be used by Palestinian militants to bypass the separation wall and carry out attacks in Israel. When three Israeli youths were kidnapped and killed, the Benjamin Netanyahu government used the incident as a pretext for an assault on the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian side predictably retaliated by firing rockets, and the usual dance of death between the two sides started in earnest once again, with both sides knowing how it will end: a weeklong bombardment, an Egyptian political intervention, the status quo reinstated. Unfortunately for all parties involved, things this time didn’t go as planned, and both sides, to their horror, started to realize that the situation has changed.

The Israelis quickly realized that the situation this time was not business as usual. For the first time, due to the targeting of the Ben Gurion International Airport — a major economic lifeline for geographically isolated Israel — by Hamas rockets, the US Federal Aviation Administration and most of their European counterparts placed a temporary ban on air travel to Israel. The bombardment of Gaza also led to the highly underreported West Bank clashes, whose death toll continues to climb despite the cease-fire. Added to this, Egypt decided to change the role it plays every single time this conflict erupts. For the past 30 years, whether under Hosni Mubarak or Mohammed Morsi, Egypt would quickly sponsor a cease-fire to bring any serious fighting to an end. It was one of Mubarak’s main uses to both the United States and Israel, and it is what elevated Morsi’s profile and international credibility in 2012. This was the role Sisi was supposed to play, and by scoring this foreign policy win, it would consequently give him the international credibility he sorely needs since his election. But Sisi didn’t follow the script.

When the conflict started, Sisi had a number of objectives he wanted to achieve:

He sought to have Egypt unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza conflict and not allow either Israel or Hamas to export the responsibility of the Gaza humanitarian crisis to Egypt, which he believes is their aim.

He did not talk directly with Hamas, since talking to them would be difficult to justify to the public given his refusal to talk with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

He wanted to reduce Hamas’ influence in the conflict and reassert Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah as official representatives of the Palestinians.

He forced the United States to deal with him on his terms and renegotiate the US-Egypt relationship with terms more favourable to him.

He worked to reduce the roles of Qatar and Turkey as influential regional players.

He strived to attain all of the above while maintaining his image in the eyes of the Egyptian public.

To achieve all this, Sisi had to control the situation, which he would not be able to if anyone else had issued their own initiative for ending the conflict, while also distancing himself from Hamas, which meant he could not issue a proposal they would immediately agree to. Refusing to take the lead, or to follow someone else’s, he chose the third option: obstruction.

Sisi refused to open the Rafah border crossing, and then issued a cease-fire proposal unilaterally without discussing it with any of the conflict parties beforehand. It was one that he knew Hamas would turn down. Israel was caught off guard, with no other option than to support the proposal since they needed Egypt to handle the cease-fire, while Hamas’ expected refusal — due to Sisi's insistence on keeping the Rafah crossing closed — satisfied both his goals of not talking to them directly, while casting the blame of the continued conflict on them in the eyes of the Egyptian public. Israel, eager to quickly end the campaign and have Sisi start playing the mediating role with Hamas, increased the Gaza bombardment to pressure Hamas to agree, which Hamas refused, and in turn continued to launch their rockets in retaliation to Israel’s bombardment. The conflict reached a stalemate.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on July 21, Sisi wanted him brought down to size, so he had him go through a security check before meeting with him. Kerry offered him international praise and legitimacy, but no new financial or armament commitments in exchange for amending the cease-fire agreement and talking with Hamas. When Kerry failed to negotiate a better deal with Sisi after five days of trying, he went to Turkey and Qatar for another cease-fire agreement, which not only irked Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) but also the other Gulf states. They all shot it down, signalling the end of any influence or leverage Turkey or Qatar had in the conflict. Kerry left afterward, and did not participate in the talks of the cease-fire that happened without his brokerage.

Meanwhile, preparations for the Cairo talks were taking place, and Hamas had to acquiesce the role of top negotiating partner to the PA, and be part of a delegation led by them instead, since neither Israel nor Egypt wanted to negotiate with them and they needed the cease-fire to happen. By including Islamic Jihad in the delegation and giving them prominence, Hamas found itself neither the official representative of the Palestinians — that role was reclaimed by neither the PA— nor the sole representative of the militant factions on the ground, thanks to Islamic Jihad’s participation. To make matters worse for Hamas, they will be facing the sole responsibility in the eyes of Gaza’s residents for the damage that took place if they fail to make any tangible gains in the talks, which, under Egyptian mediation between the PA and Israel, are taking their sweet time. The cherry on top is that hosting the Cairo talks is giving Sisi the international legitimacy that Kerry offered him free of charge, all thanks to a cease-fire proposal he was never serious about.


Israel Lost On All Fronts of the Gaza War

By Ben Caspit

August 19, 2014

As I’m writing this article [Aug. 19], the negotiating parties in Egypt are endeavoring to reach some sort of agreement, however partial, that would regulate their relations for the near future. This is a problematic relationship, where one side (Hamas) got the other side (Israel) used to having rockets fired at its civilian population for more than 14 years. The other side makes do with temporary “lulls” that fade away after a few months and are replaced by what's known in Israel as a “trickle.” Put differently, what this trickle means is sporadic rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel’s southern communities and in the Gaza periphery only, while not “being an annoyance” to Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel’s central region.

The five-day cease-fire, declared on Aug. 13, was extended by one more day the night of Aug. 18. It's too early to discuss what the parties achieved, because that vague and elusive “thing” has yet to be achieved. However, the following can already be asserted: Israel has paid a heavy price of 64 dead soldiers as well as three civilian fatalities. Its economy and image were dealt a heavy blow. The tourist industry was paralyzed and the economy suffered for over a month. The summer break was ruined for the hundreds of thousands of students and their parents. All of this and almost nothing in return.

Yes, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were able to destroy most of the infrastructure of the terror and assault tunnels Hamas had built in the Gaza Strip. But this is pretty much it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bombastic statement during Operation Protective Edge that there would be no diplomatic agreement or an arrangement without having “Gaza demilitarized” does not hold water for the time being. Israel will come out of this affair having raised a white flag. It paid a stiff price for obtaining relative quiet whose duration no one can guarantee. There is no substantial change in the strategic balance of power. Able to maintain its rule in Gaza, Hamas is also making significant strides in terms of breaking through the blockade.

Furthermore, the “rehabilitation of Gaza” — this euphemistic term that the donor countries love so much — is a code name for Hamas’ renewed build-up. As was demonstrated before, much of the money infused to this so-called rehabilitation ultimately makes its way to building terror tunnels, replenishing the rocket array and stockpiling munitions ahead of the next round. Strategically speaking, this has been a resounding Israeli failure.

A few days ago, a senior Israeli official, who not until long ago was part of the government decision-making body, told me the following: “During this operation, Israel has lost its 40-year-old reputation. Although the IDF proved once again that Hamas was no match and that the soldiers performed well on the ground, carrying out all their missions, from a strategic standpoint the state sustained heavy damage. Israel’s defence doctrine, which was formulated by Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, is based on simple principles: A decisive outcome, swift shifting of the fighting to the enemy’s territory, and deterrence.

“Of these principles,” said the Israeli source, “hardly anything remains. During all those years, Israel made sure to pursue that important principle of shifting the fighting to the enemy’s territory. This was due to its heightened sensitivity to human lives as well as the fact that its limited territorial area does not provide room for manoeuvre or strategic depth. This was the case during the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the First Lebanon War in 1982 and the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

“This time, however, most of the fighting took place on Israeli soil. Hamas had prepared for the IDF’s ground manoeuvre in the Gaza Strip, while using the tunnels to make its own manoeuvre. Many of the Israeli fatalities occurred inside Israel. Part of it was due to Hamas sorties from the tunnels in Israel’s rear, which took Israeli combatants by surprise at the home front. And part of it was due to mortar shells.

“And what is most serious,” the senior Israeli source added, “is that the operation ended without deterrence being regained, without Hamas having been decisively vanquished, and without a true military collision between the IDF and Hamas. Israel let Hamas engage it in areas that were most convenient for the organization. It opted to give up a real ground operation and a manoeuvre deep into the Gaza Strip that would have dealt a blow to the core of Hamas’ strongholds. Instead, it made do with destroying some of the tunnels. And at the end of it all, it embarked on explicit negotiations with Hamas, while violating a sacred principle that had been upheld since Israel’s foundation: No negotiations with terrorists.”

But this is not where the saga of Israeli failures ends. During Operation Protective Edge, the dark side of the moon — in terms of US-Israel relations — was revealed. The severe crisis of trust between Washington and Jerusalem was exposed to its fullest extent and in broad daylight. The nonstop series of events, which were described in my previous article, “lifted the curtain,” if you will, on the real, deep and strategic crisis in the alliance between Israel and its greatest and most important patron in the Western world.

Over the coming days, an attempt will be made to blur these facts, which popped up in real time. US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Israel in a bid to dull the impression left by the month long farce. Kerry will try helping President Barack Obama, who is inching closer to critical midterm elections and is afraid of losing Jewish support and money. Yet what’s done is done. It seems to me that nobody — neither in Israel nor in the United States — will believe any of these bogus embraces.

One other, equally important topic is the European boycott. When Obama started his second term, I reported here the modus operandi that was planned for the diplomatic process. As it turns out, the Americans and Europeans entertained the possibility that the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians would derail. That assessment came true. The plan was then to take measures — led by the Europeans — to harm Israel, including implementing economic boycotts in certain areas.

The current European boycott on dairy products originating from farms or dairies beyond the Green Line (including the Golan Heights) is such a premeditated and calculated move. At this stage, the United States cannot boycott Israel. Such an act would be tantamount to declaring war and bluntly abolishing the strategic ties between the two countries. This is why Obama is doing what he did during the crisis in Libya — leading from behind.

Al-Monitor learned, some 18 months ago, that the European boycott was devised together with the United States. In this affair, the Europeans play the role of the “bad guys,” realizing the fantasy of the Obama administration. They were the ones chosen to hurt Israel. For his part, Obama will say that he is powerless to help. This is how the noose around Israel’s neck will be tightened, to the point of seriously damaging its economy.

At the moment, the boycott applies only to dairy and livestock products. The next stage will apparently apply to fruits and vegetables, the poultry industry and possibly even the wine industry. Although the damage to the Israeli economy is not significant at this point, the precedent, however, is very significant. For the first time, the Europeans are not talking about “labelling” products from the settlements. In fact, they’ve stopped mincing words. In a broad and sweeping move, they are simply stopping the import of products manufactured beyond the Green Line even if they contain only one ingredient that originates from there.

The European boycott is already here. And unlike the impression Israel is trying to make, this is not an anti-Semitic move, but purely a political one. It was planned by Israel’s greatest friends — the United States and Europe — in order to apply pressure on Netanyahu government’s settlement policy.

Given this state of affairs, it seems to me that dealing with anti-Semitism would actually be preferable. At least in that case, Israel has something to say to counter baseless hatred. Yet when it comes to boycotting the settlements, Israel has a lot less to say.


The New Gaza State

By Shlomi Eldar

August 19, 2014

Israel agrees to remove the blockade on Gaza; Israel agrees to waive its demand of demilitarizing Gaza; Israel agrees to “quiet for quiet” and thus to conclude the Protective Edge campaign. These are the latest reports (Aug. 19) arriving from Cairo. We can assume that within a few days, Hamas will declare that it won the campaign by virtue of its military might, its determination and persistence. Apparently, Israel will also declare that thanks to the military operation, peace and quiet will return to the residents of the south.

One can assume that both sides are correct. Although Gaza suffered a hard blow, Hamas succeeded in “persuading” Israel and the world that a closure extending more than seven years is not legitimate and if Israel wants to ensure peace and quiet to its residents, it must remove the blockade and allow the residents of the Strip to live and govern their lives by themselves.

According to the settlement that is emerging in Cairo, it seems that the discussions concerning Hamas' demand to build a seaport and an airport will be delayed by a month; in other words, these demands were not rejected outright. As the Protective Edge campaign winds down, Hamas demands, and apparently will receive in the future, open crossings and symbols of a sovereign state. In effect, we can consider that the first cornerstone of the Gaza state has been laid in Cairo. The residents of the West Bank, who relied on the promises and path of President Mahmoud Abbas to establish a Palestinian state by way of peace negotiations with Israel, will certainly feel bitterly disappointed.

At the beginning of the closure imposed on Gaza in the wake of Hamas’ military coup in 2007, I thought that the closure was immoral, inadvisable, and would only achieve the opposite result. Israel counted the daily calorie consumption of the Gaza residents to ensure that they would not have an “abundance” of food, yet still have enough to eat without causing a humanitarian disaster. Gasoline was provided sparingly, thus car and cab owners were forced to fill their vehicles with cooking oil, causing a heavy white cloud to cover the Gaza sky.

Life in Gaza was asphyxiating and miserable, a day-to-day existential struggle that extended more than seven years. Now, when an agreement will be signed soon to remove the closure from Gaza, I congratulate the State of Israel for finally learning the correct lesson. The residents of southern Israel and the residents of Gaza paid a heavy blood price for the blockade.

No one can state with certainty that if not for the closure on Gaza, Israel and the Hamas would be enjoying a peaceful coexistence. It is quite probable that they would not. But it is a fact that Hamas’ efforts in the period of its rule over Gaza were devoted to a combined goal: to ensure the movement’s rulership, and to ensure the lives of the Gaza residents.

On the other hand, the removal of the blockade and bequeathing national emblems to Hamas were achieved by the launching of rockets, the digging of terror tunnels and the training of Shahids (suicide bombers). This could bear a dangerous significance for the State of Israel.

From the Hamas perspective, the launching of rockets over the years on civilian communities has proven to be a successful tactic. Thus, it may choose to use the proven weapon in the future if it feels, for any kind of reason that its regime is in danger (even if such a situation has no connection to Israel).

This and more: Those who believe that controlling and supervising the crossing points — missions which will probably be entrusted in the hands of Abbas' people — will strengthen the Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman, are greatly mistaken. They are also mistaken if they believe that this will give Abbas a first foothold on his way back to Gaza. Abbas will only serve as the token policeman at the Rafah crossing points and other passages that will be opened due to Hamas.

The Gaza state that is currently taking shape perpetuates the Hamas regime and its path, together with its future inspiration for the Palestinians. The residents of Gaza and the West Bank will reach, and rightly so, the following correct conclusions regarding the results of the Protective Edge campaign: that Israel only understands force and that Abbas’ ways have failed.

We can already begin the countdown to Abbas’ last days as chairman of the PA. There were many in the West Bank who accused Abbas in the past of treason for security cooperation with Israel, which Abbas himself qualified as “holy.” Now, when diplomatic negotiations with Israel led to nothing while Hamas proved that it can force Israel and the world to discuss issues of stately value — Abbas has no chance of survival.

In the past, Israel argued over and over that the Gaza residents should look at the West Bank’s economic development, to envy them and glean the right conclusions. Various experimental proposals regarding “economic peace” were released, to be implemented in the West Bank in 2008. All this was designed to avoid making hard decisions in Israel regarding the evacuation of settlements in the West Bank and reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

In reality, nothing happened. The West Bank residents remained frustrated and disgruntled. Israel enlarged the settlements and humiliated the PA chairman time after time. Israel’s official representatives, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, claimed not only that Abbas was no partner for peace, but that he was an actual stumbling block.

From now on, Gaza won’t be envious of the West Bank. On the contrary. The West Bank residents, who have not seen peace reaching their land, will be envious of Gaza’s seaport and airport. Of course, these will not be built in the near future, but the very fact that there is talk about it and that Hamas allows its residents to view it is a realistic option, serves to spread great pride among Gaza residents and allows them to dream.

West Bank residents were deprived of this option to dream because of Israel’s erroneous policies. Hamas, by following its own path, was not only victorious over Israel, but also over Abbas. Hamas’ will and aspirations of holding onto power in Gaza and proving to itself and everyone else that the PLO is not the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian nation, brought down catastrophe on Gaza Strip's residents, but also won Hamas international recognition.

The closure on Gaza will be removed in the near future. Israel was not wise enough to remove this blockade even when it was clear that the closure was ineffective in eliminating Hamas. Now Israel will remove the closure from the Gaza Strip, but will still face growing international boycotts. How sad.


Israelis Lied To Justify Massacre in Gaza

By Chris Ryecart

19 August 2014

By granting diplomatic immunity to Israeli government and military officials from being arrested and prosecuted for war crimes in 2009, the British government acted shamefully and should take some of the blame for the appalling Israeli war crimes committed just recently against Palestinians in Gaza. If, for instance, Tzipi Livni had been arrested and prosecuted for war crimes for her key role in the Israeli slaughter of over 300 Palestinian children in 2008-9 in Operation Cast Lead, it is more than likely that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have thought twice before initiating another insane war on the already besieged civilian population of Gaza. Cameron should have been mindful that it was a British judge who said in December 2009 that there was sufficient evidence to justify Livni’s arrest over the three-week Israeli military assault on Gaza.

In fact the war on Gaza is being used as a smokescreen by Netanyahu to sabotage the creation of a viable Palestinian state that may include Gaza and the West Bank. This war was started by Israel on the basis of lies that fooled the US, the international community and the international media.

Before the start of the recent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks sponsored by the US the Israeli prime minister went on record as saying that it would be difficult to have a peace agreement with only one faction of the Palestinians. A responsible reaction to this statement by the Obama Administration would have been to make Palestinian unity between Hamas and Fatah a high priority, a sine qua non for the conduct of any meaningful peaceful negotiations between the Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, President Obama should have invited the leaders of Hamas and Fatah to Washington to jointly renounce the use of violence and to recognize Israel’s right to exist in return for US support in brokering a Palestinian state that included Gaza and West Bank, with contiguity between the two, including the lifting of the siege of Gaza by Israel.

Taking Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement at face value, US support for Palestinian unity was of paramount importance if John Kerry’s negotiations were to stand any chance of success. However, the reality was that it took the failure of Kerry to gain the co-operation of the Israeli government in peace negotiations with President Abbas before Hamas and Fatah decided that their unity would be better served than their disunity. Prime Minister Netanyahu became so incensed at proposed reconciliation between the two factions that he used it as an excuse to break off the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

With zero evidence to support the prime minister’s claim that Hamas was to blame for the abduction of the three Israeli settlers, the Israeli propaganda machine was used to whip up public sentiment against the organization. Although the Israeli government was certain the three youths had been killed, a gag order was issued for political purposes and the public was incited against Hamas. Former prisoners who had been released during the Gilad Shalit exchange were rounded up in complete violation of the Egyptian sponsored deal. Specific targets in Gaza were then shelled by Israeli forces, destroying the cease-fire with Hamas and eliciting rocket fire from Gaza.

“The calm from the previous cease-fire was holding when Netanyahu decided to piggyback on a heinous crime against Israeli settlers.” (Al Monitor, July 14, 2014).

The crimes against three Israeli teenagers were deceitfully exploited by the Israeli government to crush a legitimate political movement that had greater democratic credentials than Likud. Clearly the main goal of the Israeli initiated war on Gaza was the destruction of the national unity government because of the fact that according to Prime Minister Netanyahu this would be indispensable for any meaningful peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

From a political perspective it is highly unlikely that the Hamas leadership would have approved of the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, which Netanyahu deceitfully exploited as an opportunity to re-occupy Palestinian areas on the West Bank and to launch a full scale bombing campaign on the densely populated residential areas of Gaza with genocidal results.

Avraham Burg, a former Israeli speaker of the Knesset and founder of Peace Now argued that the kidnapping of the three Israelis should have served as reminder to the Israelis that the occupation is itself an act of kidnapping the whole of Palestinian society, rather than as a pretext to shed innocent blood as was the choice of the Israeli government.

“We are incapable of understanding the suffering of a society, the cry and future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us, “Burg wrote in Haaretz. Israel’s own representative at the UN Security Council, Ron Prosor underpinned the shameful response of the US to the reconciliation of the two Palestinian factions: “It’s time for the international community to right the wrong embrace between Hamas and Fatah.”

What he might have more appropriately said, as the representative of a country that is currently in breach of at least 50 UN Security Council resolutions, was that it’s time for the international community to right the wrong of the Israeli Nazi-like siege of Gaza, time to right the wrong of the Israeli Nazi-like illegal military occupation of the West Bank and time to end the Israeli Nazi-like ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and its illegal settlement building there which is designed to make impossible the creation of a viable Palestinian state. (84 percent of the children in East Jerusalem live below the poverty line.)

Maybe Mr. Ron Prosor is unaware that on Nov. 30, 1970, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 2649 in respect of Palestine and South Africa, declaring: “The legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination as being entitled to the right of self-determination to restore themselves that right by any means at their disposal.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu and the fascists who support him have committed war crimes in Gaza and they must be held accountable for them. You don’t need to kill 2,000 civilians to destroy 30 tunnels. Furthermore, the US having given the Israelis the green light to what has effectively become indiscriminate mass murder of civilians, and having provided them with the weapons to do so, should also be prepared to finance the reconstruction of Gaza and pay compensation for all civilian deaths and injuries. This could appropriately be taken out of the next US $5 billion aid package to Israel. The extrajudicial killing of Palestinian youths by violent Jewish settlers, or by Israeli police or soldiers has become an accepted feature of the Israeli occupation and takes place every week, with at least three victims a month on average on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Hundreds of Palestinian homes have been destroyed and 2,000 civilians have been killed who have nothing to do with Hamas, and so the memories of the three murdered Israeli teenagers have been dishonoured because their murder was used by Israel as a pretext to create mass murder in Gaza and their murderers have yet to be apprehended and put on trial.

Perhaps the moral of all this is that the US sponsorship of Israeli state-terrorism against the Palestinians, which exists in various forms as outlined above, is not compatible with its role as a honest and credible broker for a just settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As long as the US administration, its Congress with all its law-makers and its Senate, make it pay so handsomely for Israel to ignore UN Resolutions and to live in a constant state of war rather than peace with its Arab neighbours, the US will continue to be part of the Middle East problem and will continue to thwart just and peaceful solutions to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.