Israel’s policy of incremental genocide continues
By Jamal Kanj
It goes without saying that Gaza has taught the Israeli military a new lesson: the days of swift Israeli wars are over. While mostly one-sided, Israel has never before fought a war that lasted 50 days. The Palestinians (besieged by brothers and foes) were of no military match to Israel’s most sophisticated US technology. But as in the 2006 Lebanon war, the human factor rendered the best technology obsolete.
There are many parallels between the 2006 Lebanon war and the recent conflict in Gaza. Regrettably, in both cases Israel’s wanton destruction was met with indifference by the Arab regimes.
It is no secret that some Arab governments were more interested in seeing Hizbollah degraded in 2006 than in protecting innocent Lebanese civilians. In the last two months, the Arab regimes too disliked Hamas more than they cared about Palestinian lives.
If winning or losing was measured by objectives, Israel was undoubtedly the bigger loser.
This time in Gaza, and unlike the last two confrontations in 2008/09 and November 2012 , the Palestinians seemed united at the negotiation table and on the battlefield. This ultimately forced the Egyptian mediator to back off from imposing Israeli conditions and to address the core issue that caused this war: the years-old Israeli military blockade on Gaza.
After reaching a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took to the airwaves, proclaiming a victory. On the other side, the Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate the end of Israeli aggression and their own victory.
It is definitely debatable as to who won the war. If winning is to be measured by the number of civilians killed and the damage left behind, Israel is by far the winner. If winning or losing was measured by objectives, Israel was undoubtedly the bigger loser.
Israeli attempts to weaken Hamas failed. Hamas, which saw decline in its popularity before the war, gained impressive approbation according to the most recent polling. The organisation was persona non grata in Egypt, but now it appears to have reconciled with the regime.
In the face-to-face combat, and as technology becomes useless, the craven Israeli soldier was no match to the more determined Palestinian fighter.
It is just like the Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006, where instead of weakening Hizbollah the war propelled the party to become a major power-broker in local politics and emerge as a regional force to contend with.
In Gaza, the well-pampered Israeli soldiers were not prepared for the new tactics and the intricate underground fortification systems. In the face-to-face combat, and as technology becomes useless, the craven Israeli soldier was no match to the more determined Palestinian fighter.
According to eyewitness accounts reported in the online Daily Beast last week, one fighter codenamed Abu Muhammad described the underground war:
First we targeted the tanks and the jeeps with IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. Some of our people would come out of the ground, attack the soldiers and then disappear back into a tunnel and others surprised them from empty houses.
Following heavy military losses, Netanyahu ordered his army to withdraw. He pulled his negotiation team from Cairo and insisted there would be no ceasefire unless Israel’s conditions for the invasion were met: disarmament of Gaza, return the remains of the purportedly dead Israeli soldiers and destruction of underground fortifications.
After Netanyahu’s ceasefire terms were rejected, Israel intensified its air raids against civilians, targeting the homes of supposed Palestinian leaders and levelling large residential towers. Facing defiant Palestinians and his demoralised public, Netanyahu was forced eventually to accept a ceasefire, including the easing of the military siege on Gaza.
It would be delusional, however, to believe for a moment that Israel would honour its obligations under the ceasefire agreement. Losing in public polling, Netanyahu is predisposed to tighten, not ease, the military blockade, in order to placate his right-wing voters.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu lies to his people about winning a war without achieving one single objective and deceives the world with a ceasefire while maintaining a silent war of special “starvation diet” and carrying out “incremental genocide” against more than 1.7 million human beings.
A version of this article was first published in the Gulf Daily News. The version here is published by permission of Jamal Kanj.