Israel's massive bombardment of Gaza and Hamas firing rockets into Israel will never solve the political disaster that is the continued illegal occupation of Palestine. Indeed as the Palestinian death toll mounts, resistance to occupation will only become more entrenched and that means peace for neither side.  

Repeating an action or a behaviour over and over and expecting a different outcome is supposed to be the definition of madness.

Applied to the current disaster in the Middle East - the Palestinian/Israeli part of that troubled arena - madness is fast becoming the dominant theme.

Hamas (and other Palestinian militants’) rockets being fired indiscriminately into Israel is not going to achieve anything but international disgust and a ferocious military attack from Israel.

Israel’s Indiscriminate bombing of Gaza under the ruse of ‘targeting militants’ and clothed in the convenient impunity provided by ‘security measures’ is not going to achieve anything but international disgust at the mounting slaughter of innocent civilians, and it wont stop rocket fire from the militants.

The dogs are chasing their tails in a deadly (for Palestinians) game of ‘who started it’.

Well, for starters, there is a problem with the concept of ‘response’ in this seemingly never ending conflict.

Context is crucial therefore it is essential that Palestinian resistance to decades of Israeli oppression must be considered as much a ‘response’ as Israel’s bombing of Gaza is a ‘response’.

That said, this time - as opposed to the other more recent cases of fighting between the two in 2008-9 and 2012 - the escalation can be traced to a nasty set of circumstances, none of which are justification for what is now playing out.

These include Israel’s opposition to the formation of a Palestinian Unity Government; Israel’s response to target and assassinate Hamas leaders and demand that the Unity Government be disbanded; the abduction and murder of three Jewish settler youths; a violent Israeli Defence Force search operation for the murderers in which 1600 Palestinian homes were raided, 700 Palestinians arrested, between 6 and 11 Palestinians killed and the homes of ‘suspects’ in the abduction were demolished; the revenge abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager; quickly followed by the brutal beating of his visiting American cousin at the hands of Israeli soldiers - caught on film.

As of Saturday morning 105 Palestinian children, women and men are dead, hundreds are injured, hundreds of homes and buildings have been destroyed and a tightening of the already inhumane siege on Gaza means an acute lack of food, water and medical supplies to treat those who have survived.

On the Israeli side, citizens are terrified but, thankfully, so far none have been killed although five have been injured.

In Israel citizens are protected by one of the strongest military forces in the world supported by billions of dollars of American military aid, including an American financed ‘Iron Dome’ missile interception capability which destroys any Hamas rockets which might reach deeper into Israel. Israeli citizens also have warning sirens and easy access to bomb shelters.

In Gaza such escape from Israel’s technological death machines is non existent.

It is no wonder that those who watch the Palestinian-Israeli conflict closely understand the oft repeated narrative that Jewish life is considered sacrosanct while Palestinian life is cheap.

It is referred to as a hierarchy of death.

It is seen in regular commodification of Palestinian prisoners as bargaining chips which invoke a price index on their lives, diminishing their value when compared to the few they are to be exchanged for. 

It is heard in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s unsubstantiated claims that Israelis celebrate life but Palestinians celebrate death. Perhaps when he has left the side of the grieving parents in Israel he should spend a few nights in Gaza with some of the parents who have had to bury their obviously militant babies.

This hierarchy of death lies at the heart of Netanyahu’s ‘divine right’ to declare Hamas guilty of murdering the Jewish teens and act as judge and jury by destroying the homes of the related ‘unpeople’ who live there.

International concern is growing - finally - but Netanyahu has declared that “no international pressure will prevent us from acting with all our force against a terrorist organisation...”

That force has already been likened to Mike Tyson beating up on a toddler who spat at him. 

Yes Israel has a right and a duty to defend its citizens but under the rules of military engagement it must be sure the targets it is bombing are military targets. If there is any doubt there is an obligation to wait until the balance of doubt is not going to lead to civilian casualties.

On the face of it both Israel and Hamas are in breach of this duty.

Israel also has an added duty under the international laws of occupation to protect the citizens of the land it occupies.

Some are quick to jump in there and claim Gaza is no longer occupied.

To put it politely, that is disingenuous. 

Jews may no longer live in Gaza, but in 2005 Israel unilaterally disengaged and locked the prison gates behind it.

Israel controls Gaza by land, sea and air and bombing this most densely populated land mass on the face of the earth is like shooting at 1.7million apples in a barrel.

Israel may at times phone ahead to warn Gazans their home is about to be destroyed but the occupants have nowhere to escape to.

Number of bomb shelters in Gaza = 0.

And there’s a question about that self-serving propagandist policy which needs to be answered.

If, as Netanyahu and his political colleagues have declared, they will not stop until they have destroyed Hamas, why would they phone to make sure their targets are safely out of their homes?

This appears to contradict claims from Israel that if Hamas stops firing its rockets Israel will stop.

Which one is it? Destruction of Hamas or a ceasefire?

Back to that definition of madness.

There will be more Palestinian deaths.

There will be more rockets from both sides.

Egypt’s President Sisi, who would also like to see the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Hamas destroyed, is not the ceasefire broker his predecessors have been.

There may be a ground invasion by the 40,000 Israeli troops stationed on Gaza’s border.

This is unlikely to break the Palestinian commitment to a unity government, although it is certainly under pressure. 

It seems clear that yet again in the Middle East the folly of military solutions to political problems continues unabated.

It is the very definition of madness.






Comments (7)

by Fentex on July 12, 2014

Israel is not repeating actions with an expectation of different outcomes.

Given that by any objective measure their actions succeed in their interests Israelies will continue to alienate, exclude and steal from Palestinians as the observable result is benefits accruing to Israel.

It is silly to try and characterise that as madness for the thought presumes Israel cares about Palestinians and wishes to prevent violence between Israel and them. That is evidently not true, and why should it be given Israels policies succeed in profiting Israelies?

Until observers, supporters of and contributors to Israel make it painful and damaging to pursue policies that harm Palestinians it will not be madness for Israel to employ such policy.

by Tim Watkin on July 12, 2014
Tim Watkin

Fentex, I'm not sure why it's silly to characterise this repeated cycle of violence as madness or why it matters whether Israel's leaders care about Palestinians or not. The madness of that actions is irrelevant to their feelings towards their enemies. By the same measure of insanity, it's madness for Hamas and others to launch rocket attacks they know will be swatted away by Israel (though I see one got through and hit a petrol station today) and result in the deaths of their own people, regardless of their feelings of Israelis.

Where I agree is that it seems both sides are motivated not by a respect for life but merely a strategic goal of what is in their long-term interests and ability to sway public opinion. To use innocent lives to achieve those goals is, also, madness.

There's perhaps a real politick view in your last point, but suggesting more pain to either side as a way of resolution seems to be buying into the madness. Ultimately, perhaps the combatants will have to be motivated by pain, though I hope not. But what's certain is that any resolution will only stick if it's based on peace and forgiveness.

by Serum on July 13, 2014

“…it's madness for Hamas and others to launch rocket attacks they know will be swatted away by Israel (though I see one got through and hit a petrol station today) and result in the deaths of their own people,…”

There is a method in Hamas’s so called madness!

What is Hamas doing attacking Israel knowing full well that they cannot defeat Israel with its superior strike force and inviting counter-assaults by the IDF on Hamas’s headquarters and weapons warehouses which have conveniently been placed in the middle of Garza’s population and subjecting them to distress on whose behalf they are allegedly fighting for?

Hamas is in a precarious position. When the terror group took over Gaza seven years ago, things were different and having a relatively friendly regime in Cairo that was willing to turn a blind eye to all the missiles Iran,Syria and Hezbollah were sending over to Gaza through Sinai with Hamas’s leaders comfortably ensconced in Damascus and enjoying warm relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. International funds flowed freely into Hamas bank accounts from Fatah’s donor-financed Palestinian Authority budget, through the Arab Bank, headquartered in Jordan, through the UN, and when necessary through suitcases of cash transferred to Gaza by couriers from Egypt. Hamas used these conditions to build up the arsenal of a terror state, with schools open and Government employees being paid.Israel was bombed. All was good.

Today, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, faces an Egyptian regime that is locked in a life-and-death struggle with the Brotherhood. To harm Hamas, for the past year the Egyptians have been blocking Hamas’s land-based weapons shipments and destroying its smuggling-dependent economy by sealing off the cross-border tunnels.Syria and Hamas parted ways at the outset of the Syrian civil war when Hamas, a Sunni jihadist group, was unable to openly support Bashar Assad’s massacre of Sunnis.  Fatah has lately been refusing to transfer payments to Hamas due to U.S.congressional pressure to cut off the now-illegal flow of aid to the joint Fatah-Hamas unity government. As for Hamas’s banker, stung by terror victim lawsuits, the Arab Bank now refuses to transfer monies to Hamas from third parties. The UN is also hard-pressed to finance the terror group’s bureaucracy.

In Gaza itself, al-Qaida affiliates including ISIS(now renamed the Islamic State) have seeded themselves along with the Iranian proxy Islamic Jihad. These groups challenge Hamas’s claim to power. Lacking the ability to pay government employee salaries, Hamas is hard-pressed to keep its rivals down. Given these circumstances, it was just a matter of time before Hamas opened a full-on assault against Israel.

Jew-hatred is endemic in the Muslim world. Going to war against Israelis is a tried and true method of garnering sympathy and support from the Muslim world. At a minimum it earns you the forbearance, if not the support of theUS and Europe. And you get all of these things whether you win or lose.

As for Hamas, from the outset of Hamas’s previous missile campaigns in 2009 and 2012, the Obama administration made it clear to Israel that it would not tolerate Israeli strikes that were sufficiently comprehensive to wipe out Hamas’s capacity to continue attacking Israel. In other words, President Barack Obama chose to protect Hamas – an illegal terrorist organization, waging a war of indiscriminate, criminal missile strikes against Israeli civilians – from Israel. Today, Hamas has every reason to take heart from the responses it has received from its current offensive. Unfortunately, Obama misses the point completely. As the dozen agreements Israel already signed with the Palestinians show, pieces of paper are meaningless if they don’t reflect the underlying sentiments of the populations concerned.

Peace can only come to Israel and its neighbors when the Muslim world liberates itself from its hatred of Jews. Until that happens, everyone from Hamas to Hezbollah to Fatah to al-Qaida to Iran and beyond will continue to view attacking Israel as the best way to make a name for themselves in the world, and the best way to get the attention – and support – of the West. 

by Fentex on July 13, 2014

To use innocent lives to achieve those goals is, also, madness.

I think you conflate your morality with their politics to reach that conclusion by misapplying a concept where it does not fit. Madness involves a disconnect with reality, the attacks, sacrifices, crimes and strategy's of violence between Israel, various Palestinians and others, are not disconnected from reality.

Even when they are no more than attempts at vengeance.

So, I think, there's nothing acheived by trying to cast a sad reality into terms of insanity. It isn't true so it won't help understand or derive policy.

by Fentex on July 13, 2014

Peace can only come to Israel and its neighbors when the Muslim world liberates itself from its hatred of Jews.

While I think hate is a barrier to peace between people I don't think religious division is at the heart of conflict with Israel. The Palestinains plight is cynically used by Arab tyrants to turn outwards anger more properly directed at them and the Palestinians themselves have far more valid reasons to dislike Israel than religious disagreement.

Religion is a social tool used to bind and manipulate people, albeit a dangerouos and unpredictable one. The purpose to which this tool is bent is often prosaic, such as uniting effort in securing assets.

If Palestinains righteous anger could be assuaged I think they could live in a greater Israel and defang efforts to use them as puppets to sow division around the middle east, but I confess I have little idea how it could be done, though I think it easier than trying to deflect religions inane disputes.

by Andrew Osborn on July 13, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Excellent post Serum.

You say "Peace can only come to Israel and its neighbors when the Muslim world liberates itself from its hatred of Jews" but I think it goes much deeper than this. Israel represents not only Judaeism but Western values and Modernism too. 

The bigger picture of the Middle East is a region where there was no Renaissance, no Reformation nor Age of Enlightenment. When Europe went up a gear and embraced science, the Ottoman Empire stagnated and died. In essence we're dealing with a Medieval society in the Muslim world.

Hence the hatred and envy.

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