JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel was reporting on events in
It was impossible not to think about the tens of thousands of Gazan children who were hearing that sound at that moment, cringing with fright, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the bombs to fall.
As a matter of fact, the
cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start
with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the
opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in
Those who decided to close the crossings – under whatever pretext – knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.
That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react. After several months, in which hardly any Qassam rockets were launched, an army unit was sent into the Strip “in order to destroy a tunnel that came close to the border fence”. From a purely military point of view, it would have made more sense to lay an ambush on our side of the fence. But the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the cease-fire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and – lo and behold – the cease-fire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas.
WHAT WAS THE AIM? Tzipi Livni announced it openly:
to liquidate Hamas rule in
Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of “The March of Folly”. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: “We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation.”
For years, the occupation authorities favored the Islamic movement in the occupied territories. All other political activities were rigorously suppressed, but their activities in the mosques were permitted. The calculation was simple and naive: at the time, the PLO was considered the main enemy, Yasser Arafat was the current Satan. The Islamic movement was preaching against the PLO and Arafat, and was therefore viewed as an ally.
With the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, the Islamic movement officially renamed itself Hamas (Arabic initials of “Islamic Resistance Movement”) and joined the fight. Even then, the Shin-Bet took no action against them for almost a year, while Fatah members were executed or imprisoned in large numbers. Only after a year, were Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his colleagues also arrested.
Since then the wheel has
turned. Hamas has now become the current Satan, and
the PLO is considered by many in
But logic has little influence on politics. Nothing of this sort happened. On the contrary, after the murder of Arafat, Ariel Sharon declared that Mahmoud Abbas, who took his place, was a “plucked chicken”. Abbas was not allowed the slightest political achievement. The negotiations, under American auspices, became a joke. The most authentic Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was sent to prison for life. Instead of a massive prisoner release, there were petty and insulting “gestures”.
Abbas was systematically humiliated, Fatah looked like an empty shell and Hamas
won a resounding victory in the Palestinian election – the most democratic
election ever held in the Arab world.
And now, after all this,
the government of
THE OFFICIAL NAME of the war is “Cast Lead”, two words from a children’s song about a Hanukkah toy.
It would be more accurate to call it “the the Election War”.
In the past, too, military action has been taken during election campaigns. Menachem Begin bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor during the 1981 campaign. When Shimon Peres claimed that this was an election gimmick, Begin cried out at his next rally: “Jews, do you believe that I would send our brave boys to their death or, worse, to be taken prisoner by human animals, in order to win an election?” Begin won.
is no Begin. When, during
the 1996 election campaign, he ordered the invasion of
Barak and Tzipi Livni are now resorting to the same old trick. According to
the polls, Barak’s predicted election result rose
within 48 hours by five Knesset seats. About 80 dead
Palestinians for each seat. But it is difficult to walk on a pile of dead
bodies. The success may evaporate in a minute if the war comes to be considered
by the Israeli public as a failure. For example, if the
rockets continue to hit
The timing was chosen meticulously from another angle too. The attack started two days after Christmas, when American and European leaders are on holiday until after New Year. The calculation: even if somebody wanted to try and stop the war, no one would give up his holiday. That ensured several days free from outside pressures.
Another reason for the timing: these are George Bush’s last days in the White House. This blood-soaked moron could be expected to support the war enthusiastically, as indeed he did. Barack Obama has not yet entered office and had a ready made pretext for keeping silent: “there is only one President”. The silence does not bode well for the term of president Obama.
THE MAIN LINE was: not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon War II. This was endlessly repeated on all the news programs and talk shows.
This does not change the fact:
the Gaza War is an almost exact replica of the second
The strategic concept is
the same: to terrorize the civilian population by unremitting attacks from the
air, sowing death and destruction. This poses no danger to the pilots, since the
Palestinians have no anti-aircraft weapons at all. The calculation: if the
entire life-supporting infrastructure in the Strip is utterly destroyed and
total anarchy ensues, the population will rise up and overthrow the Hamas regime. Mahmoud Abbas will
then ride back into
Some time ago I wrote
It may be that the army will “have no alternative” but to re-conquer the Gaza Strip because there is no other way to stop the Qassams – except coming to an agreement with Hamas, which is contrary to government policy. When the ground invasion starts, everything will depend on the motivation and capabilities of the Hamas fighters vis-à-vis the Israeli soldiers. Nobody can know what will happen.
DAY AFTER DAY, night after night, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel broadcasts the atrocious pictures: heaps of mutilated bodies, tearful relatives looking for their dear ones among the dozens of corpses spread out on the ground, a woman pulling her young daughter from under the rubble, doctors without medicines trying to save the lives of the wounded. (The English-language Aljazeera, unlike its Arab-language sister-station, has undergone an amazing about face, broadcasting only a sanitized picture and freely distributing Israeli government propaganda. It would be interesting to know what happened there.)
Millions are seeing these
terrible images, picture after picture, day after day. These images are
imprinted on their minds forever: horrible
But there is another thing that is being imprinted on the minds of these millions: the picture of the miserable, corrupt, passive Arab regimes.
As seen by Arabs, one fact stands out above all others: the wall of shame.
For the million and a half
Throughout the Arab
world, from end to end, there echoed the words of Hassan
Nasrallah: The leaders of
This will have historic consequences. A whole generation of Arab leaders, a generation imbued with the ideology of secular Arab nationalism, the successors of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, Hafez al-Assad and Yasser Arafat, may be swept from the stage. In the Arab space, the only viable alternative is the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.
This war is a writing on the wall:
MY TAXI DRIVER in
Tel-Aviv the other day was thinking aloud: Why not call up the sons of the
ministers and members of the Knesset, form them into a combat unit and send
them off to head the coming ground attack on