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123 responses to “Eyeless in Gaza II”

  1. Chumpai

    I haven’t read the previous comments thread, and as far as the war goes I’m on the fence to whether I side with the Israelies or the Palestinians I did come across an interesting article by Michael Totten in Commentary which I think is an interesting discussion of a proportionate response.

  2. Hal9000

    There have been numerous comments on this thread blaming Hamas for ending the ‘truce’, ‘ceasefire’, ‘hudna’ or whatever – a set of arrangements apparently consistent in Israeli eyes with a ‘seige’, ‘blockade’ or whatever of all Gaza. Seiges and blockades used to be acts of war in my young days, but perhaps these days they’re peace overtures? Not.

    In the earlier thread, Rob recited statistics about rockets fired from Gaza since the formal cessation of the ceasefire in a high-fidelity rendering of Israeli spin.

    Credit where credit’s due, though. The first strike credit in this instance belongs to the Israeli raid into Gaza 5 November 2008, correctly perceived at the time as signalling the end of any truce. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/05/israelandthepalestinians

    Follow the timeline in the article:

    1. Raid, the pretext for which was pre-emption of planning for an alleged future attempt to capture an Israeli soldier (As pretexts go, this is a beauty – WMD, anyone?. Dead and injured Palestinians. Backslapping all round among Israeli military and political leadership.
    2. Retaliatory rockets fired into Israel. Noone killed or injured.
    3. Massive retaliatory air raids. More dead and injured Palestinians.
    4. More rockets, etc etc.

    Israel’s Palestinan hate figures come and go, unremarked by teh MSM, with much the same rapidity as Eurasia and Eastasia supplanted each other in that Orwell novel. Abbas is now a ‘moderate’, while Hamas are all ‘terrorists’. Twenty years ago, Israel bankrolled Hamas in order to create an internal opposition to those dreadful PLO ‘terrorists’ led by, inter alia, er, Mr Abbas. You know, the ones with Jewish blood all over their hands. The ones who couldn’t possibly be ‘partners for peace’.

    Who, by the way, is a partner for peace other than someone you’re fighting with? If we only made peace with our mates, the human race would have died out years ago.

    At any event, I won’t bore you all any more with the point scoring that characterises much of what passes for debate on this subject. As has been said, the outline of a peace deal is well known – the Saudi plan of a decade ago rejected at the time by Israel and since forgotten. The very same plan plagiarised by Olmert in his ‘epiphany’ speech of 27 November. The plan praised by Obama before he recognised the need to abase himself before AIPAC on 5 June. The plan that underlies the Road Map, Oslo, the Peace Process etc etc.

    As veteran Israeli peace campaigner Uri Avnery used to say about Ariel Sharon in the latter’s pre-vegetative days – ‘pay no attention to what he says, but watch very carefully what he does’. The facts on the ground say very clearly the Israelis have no intention of ever acceding to any element of the peace plan. They intend complete dispossession of the Palestinians and, if possible, their expulsion into their neighbouring states, which are themselves to be made clients. Nothing could be clearer.

    At least the openly racist Lieberman and his growing ranks of Knesset followers are honest about it all. They even want to strip Arab citizens of Israel of their status, second class though it be. Count on Lieberman being returned to a more senior portfolio in the next Israeli government, his platform disappearing down that ever-reliable MSM memory hole – just like the unsavoury backgrounds of former Israeli leaders Begin, Shamir and our old mate Ariel Sharon.

  3. Chris (a different one)

    Credit where credit’s due, though. The first strike credit in this instance belongs to the Israeli raid into Gaza 5 November 2008, correctly perceived at the time as signalling the end of any truce. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/05/israelandthepalestinians

    There never really was a real “ceasefire” though was there? Plenty of blame to go around on both sides, but even during truce periods there are still rocket attacks on Israel, just fewer attacks:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rocket_and_mortar_attacks_in_Israel_in_2008

    In this conflict its impossible to determine who is restarting the conflict and who is retaliating because it never really stops.

  4. Mark

    Chris, that goes to the point I was making on the other thread. Knowledge of how to make home made rockets has now been widely disseminated, and they can be launched by people who aren’t “Hamas” in the sense of cadres. The only way to stop them is to remove the root cause – the lack of a peace settlement and a viable Palestinian state.

  5. yeti

    There are at least three matters ignored by Totten.

    Firstly – does Israel’s comprehensive blockade of Gaza (which has reduced the economy of Gaza to a state of bare subsistance, denied medicine, clean water, electric light, fuel, contact with the West Bank, control of its airspace, waters and access to the international media, dependent on irregular UN food aid, subject to repeated, massive, deadly airstrikes on a regular basis, to Israel-US intervention in the form of their financed Fatah death squads (Mohammad Dahlan), with thousands of its people held in Israel under arrest without trial), a blockade which has been in place (to a greater or lesser extent) since before Hamas was elected, amount to an act of aggression against the innocent people of Gaza? Does the fact that the terms of the ceasefire included the lifting of this blockade imply that in fact Israel had not abided by the terms of the ceasefire?

    Information on the blockade of Gaza
    http://www.btselem.org/English/Gaza_Strip/

    Secondly – does the fact that Gaza is a part of the Palestinian nation, a nation under illegal military occupation, mean that the people of Gaza are justified in the use of armed force against Israel? Would the fact that Israel is a occupying power upholding an inarguably illegal, racist and colonial regime in the occupied territories perhaps imply that other nations might be justified in some sort of armed intervention against Israel (such as the US intervention to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait)?

    Thirdly – does the fact that Hamas has ommitted the call for the destruction of Israel from its election manifesto, reached an agreement in 2008 on a long term truce with Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal to internationally recognized borders and the return of Palestinian refugees, actually imply that Hamas’ immediate war aims are in fact much more limited than Totten suggests? Does the fact that Fatah made peace with Israel, giving Israel everything it wanted, only to have Israel fail utterly to reciprocate and abide by the terms of international law, perhaps suggest a reason for Hamas’ reluctance to follow Fatah’s course? Does any of this imply that a ceasefire with Hamas is impossible, and that the violence and strangulation that is subjecting the people of Gaza to an unrelenting, intensifying horror is at all necessary for Israel’s security?

  6. Chris (a different one)

    Mark @ 4 – I think the problem with only addressing the root causes with a compromise that could be acceptable to both sides is that attitudes are not going to change overnight – there is too much fear and hatred (often with with quite understandable reasons) on both sides. And as I mentioned earlier I suspect that at least on the Palestinian side they simply lack the infrastructure to enforce a cease-fire.

    There is no one willing and capable of restraining the the extremists in the Palestinian areas, and politically I don’t think Israel is capable of waiting the years or decades required for that to happen (very few countries would be).

  7. Huggybunny

    The entire program of the Israeli Government appears to be one of the expulsion of the Palestinians. It is very difficult to draw any other conclusion. There will be no peace settlement and no Palestinian state. There will be talk.
    Huggy.

  8. Mark

    Chris, surely good faith and genuine progress towards an enduring peace settlement would have an effect? I refuse to believe that there is some propensity to shoot off rockets which is ingrained or whatever, as some commentator Rob linked to on the previous thread suggested. Change the situation, and you begin to change the behaviour. The biggest barrier to conflict resolution is the attitude that we live in an eternal present. Well, one of the barriers at any rate!

  9. Passy

    On my site (enpassant.com.au) I have consistently supported a one state solution – a rainbow nation for all who want to live there.

    The Israelis do not want this, or a two state solution. Their ruling ideology is one of dispossession (among other things.) Their ultimate aim is to drive the Gazans into the sea, or at least somewhere far away.

  10. Chris

    Mark @ 7 – I think good faith and genuine progress are required, but not sufficient in themselves in order to have an enduring peace settlement. You also, for example, need an operational effective police force on both sides which you can’t grow overnight. And sadly, I think you need time with little or no conflict, to let those who can’t live with any peace to grow old and die.

    In the meantime you need the presence of third parties (be it Egypt in Palestine for example) to hold things together. It takes only a very small minority to destroy a peace process when there is so little trust between the two parties. I’d imagine that a country like Egypt would need a pretty big bribe to take on such an effort though.

  11. Adrien

    Change the situation, and you begin to change the behaviour.
    .
    But the trouble is you can;t change the situation until the behaviour changes and the behaviour won’t change until the situation does…
    .
    It’s increasingly perceived as a zero sum game, by everyone:
    .
    There is no one willing and capable of restraining the the extremists in the Palestinian areas, and politically I don’t think Israel is capable of waiting the years or decades required for that to happen (very few countries would be).
    _
    The entire program of the Israeli Government appears to be one of the expulsion of the Palestinians.

    .
    It’s an old game just now it’s on TV. Who knows how many death struggles have happened between groups of people over the centuries. What’s happening here isn’t a surprising, it’s business as usual.
    .
    What we on the outside can’t fully comprehend is how a situation of constant warfare affects the mentalities of people within. There’s always this talk about someone restraining Hamas. Remember generations of Palestinians have grown up on the fringes of a reasonable life. The harder you’re pushed the harder your attitudes become. The less reasonable you are.
    .
    And neither are we. It’s obvious that there are people in Palestine who have no intention of pursuing peace. Whoever fired those rockets into Israel knew full well the IDF would retaliate with interest. They wanted that. It’s an old revolutionary’s trick. Provoke repressive measures so the people will rise up.
    .
    On the other hand what should be obvious and seems not to be is that killing hundreds of people in retaliation for a handful of one’s own is way out of all proportion. It’s nuts. It won’t create peace either. But many assume Israel wants peace. Perhaps they don’t.
    .
    This is the sort of thing the UN should be managing. If some disinterested force moved in and established sanity in Palestine so that a. The Palestinians could actually go about the process of normal living and b. The Israelis would be secure in the knowledge that no-one was going to be firing rockets at them soon. You might get somewhere.
    .
    But that would take international co-operation on a level that doesn’t exist, an armed force of disinterested unbiased people (ie non-Westerners) and a lot of money. Each of these factors is currently unobtainable. The will is absent. And there are too many obstructions. Who will pay. Who will risk their lives pacifying Palestine. Who will impose order there and how. How will you get the Palestinians to accept it? These questions remain unanswerable. So the problem plays out the same old way.

  12. Andrew Reynolds

    Mark,
    I see this as being in many ways a proxy war. Like Hezbollah, Hamas is supported by Iran as a way of attempting to establish their anti-American credentials. Israel is not happy about being the punching bag.
    There are serious long term issues here that need to be dealt with before any permanent peace settlement can be reached, but Hamas is not interested in peace or coexistence as that would threaten their raison d’etre. If they wished to they could stop the firing of the rockets. The fact they have not is clear indication of their intent.
    Israel can and must take action to stop the rockets (stopping short of committing war crimes, of course), but (IMHO) it should also only be a part of a strategy designed to bring about a long lasting peace, the first step of which could also be an easy one – remove the new settlements and stop adding to the old ones.

  13. Desipis

    Who will pay. Who will risk their lives pacifying Palestine. Who will impose order there and how. How will you get the Palestinians to accept it?

    Why don’t, say, the Palestinians step up to the plate?

    The problem with Israel stepping back and enabling a Palestinian state, would be such a state would immediately declare war on Israel and end up being destroyed in the resulting war. Leaving things right back where they are now, with a lot more dead than from this current Israeli operation.

    There is no one willing and capable of restraining the the extremists.

    I don’t think the problem is that there’s no one restraining the extremists; it’s that the majority of Palestinians insist on defending them.

  14. Rob

    I was going to keep off this thread but a couple of comments need some response.

    Mark @ 7: the ‘commentator’ I quoted was Nizar Rayyan, a hugely influential, respected and admired (in Gaza) Hamas leader and Islamic scholar. Apart from the words quoted, it’s worthy of note that he sent his own son on a suicide mission into Israel, which killed two people. So this guy is, quite literally, prepared to sacrifice his own children in the cause.

    Passy @ 7: if the Isareli purpose is to dispossess the Gazans and drive them into the sea, why did Israel withdraw all troops, settlers and civilians from Gaza three years ago?

  15. yeti

    Andrew, under international law, they have to remove the old ones too, and return all land acquired in the 1967 war.

  16. Andrew Reynolds

    yeti,
    I would agree – and perhaps provide compensation for the difference between the 1948 and 1967 borders, depending on the status of the various agreements since then.
    Like the cessation of the rocket attacks, though, it would be a good first step.

  17. Andrew Reynolds

    Rob,
    That “commentator” will be commenting no more. I heard on the BBC today that he died overnight.

  18. Rob

    No, Andrew, he was killed by the Israelis two days ago.

  19. Rob

    …. along with his wives and children, be it said. Reportedly, Rayyan refused to evacuate or go into hiding. If the IDF followed their usual tactics, he would have been warned ahead of the attack.

  20. Adrien

    I don’t think the problem is that there’s no one restraining the extremists; it’s that the majority of Palestinians insist on defending them.
    .
    I think you have to realize that wars breed extremism, unreason and hatred. It’s very easy for us to say that Palestinians or Israelis should be reasonable. But if we were in their shoes….

  21. John Ryan

    As I said to Rob and the Israeli Propaganda Dept,the Israelis want to wipe out the Palestinians,the PLO and Abbas where thrown out of GAZA by HAMAS as the were crooks and collaborators,who were then armed and trained by the US and Israel,bacause they had no intention of having an elected Govt they did not like.
    Democracy is a great thing so long as its guided by the US and Israel is that right Rob,and as I said before the Israelis I think will have to kill 1.5 million people cause if they give them another vote they will return HAMAS again and maybe on the WEST BANK as well.
    Still the Israelis have the settlers there to do the dirty work for them,but still Rob and Co will blame the Palestinians cause that’s what the they have to do defend the indefensible.
    On another place I read I think Adam who is quite open that the Israeli Govt is going to ethnicity cleanse the WEST BANK and GAZA,so they can claim the whole of Israel as promised in the Bible, the worlds longest fairy story.

  22. Andrew Reynolds

    Slight internal conflict in what you were saying there, John. Why would the Israelis be arming the PA (oops, PLO) if they want to wipe out the Palestinians?

  23. Katz

    Why would the Israelis be arming the PA (oops, PLO) if they want to wipe out the Palestinians?

    Hal9000 @ 2 answers this.

    Israel’s Palestinan hate figures come and go, unremarked by teh MSM, with much the same rapidity as Eurasia and Eastasia supplanted each other in that Orwell novel. Abbas is now a ‘moderate’, while Hamas are all ‘terrorists’. Twenty years ago, Israel bankrolled Hamas in order to create an internal opposition to those dreadful PLO ‘terrorists’ led by, inter alia, er, Mr Abbas. You know, the ones with Jewish blood all over their hands. The ones who couldn’t possibly be ‘partners for peace’.

    This is an important insight.

    Israel’s governing classes are playing classic Balance of Power politics.

    This is a valid tactic. It is up to Palestinians to rise above it.

  24. Antonio

    Unfortunately I suspect that the final peace solution will come from extremist elements in both camps a la Northern Ireland with Paisley & Adams.

    The first mistake to make is to essentialise Israeli society which has prominent elements which support peace and have empathy with the Palestinian people. In Israel open dissent & open diversity of opinion is a constant feature of the public debate. However, every suicide bombing and rocket into Israel marginalises the Israeli Left and the moderate Right and strengthens the hand of the hardline elements.

    By contrast, Palestinian society has yet to fully develop a civil society and there are alarming elements of popular culture glorifying martyrdom and a growing religious radicalisation amongst Palestinian muslims – especially the youth. Added to this, the apparently more moderate Fatah operate more akin to a kleptocracy than a functioning government. Hamas are deeply involved in social welfare on a grass roots level so as a result they have the popular support of the majority of people.

    The biggest stumbling block to peace is the refusal by Hamas to accept the existence of Israel and the equivalent refusal by the more hardline elements in the Israeli Right to accept a two-state solution.

    Mark raised earlier the problem of mistakenly apprehending an eternal present as a barrier to peace. Quite simply, the “eternal present” is de rigeur in strictly literalist readings of texts belonging to the Abrahamic religions. Theologically, I do not see how this is possible to resolve in strictly orthodox political Judaism or in radicalised Sunni Islam. Unfortunately the political situation is such that both views are gaining adherents amongst the general population at least in so far as their views on how to deal with the other side.

    Obama & Sarkozy are probably the best hopes to help negotiate between the groups that have emerged in some time. Obama clearly has expressed a willingness to reach out to the Arab world & was exposed to Islamic thought during his upbringing yet has appointed a number of Jews to prominent posts while Sarkozy has Jewish heritage and the French are seen as relatively honest brokers in the Arab world – at least compared to the US.

    All in all, it’s very difficult to avoid feeling that the situation is intractable for ancient reasons and modern political realities. I just cannot see how true peace can be achieved without bringing the hardline religious elements in both camps to the negotiating table – even though this would seem to be theologically impossible at this stage.

  25. Oz

    Can anyone explain or clarify the so-called Iran/Hezbollah connection to Hamas? Hezbollah is backed by Iran, I know that, and they’ve been vocal on the conflict recently – but so have dozens of Arabic political parties and organisations. Iran backs Hezbollah because they’re a Shi’ite foothold in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s enemies are secularists and Sunni’s. Hamas are a Sunni Islamic party.

    I’ve seen Hezbollah express support for Arab nationalism and solidarity when talking about Hamas but nothing indicating they’re allies who are about to join in the conflict, as some in the press are suggesting.

  26. Adrian of Nowra
  27. Oz

    “The biggest stumbling block to peace is the refusal by Hamas to accept the existence of Israel and the equivalent refusal by the more hardline elements in the Israeli Right to accept a two-state solution.”

    The gaping hole in that is that Hamas has only been in power for a couple of years in a conflict that dates decades, or even hundreds of years. To claim the “biggest” obstacle to peace is an organisation that has controlled one section of Palestine for a couple of years is fairly ridiculous.

    The implication is that if Hamas was replaced by another organisation that accepted Israel’s right to exist and the people in power in Israel were not “hardline elements” of the Right then there would be peace. Yeah, that didn’t work out either.

    The current Israeli view on Palestine is not limited to “hardline elements”, it’s a mainstream notion.

  28. Rob

    Partly in response to Mark’s challenge on part I of this post, and partly because I’ve wanted to to it anyway, I’ve posted my prescription for a lasting peace to the conflict over at BPOV. Cheers.

  29. Hal9000

    Thanks for that link, Adrian of Nowra. ‘Nuff said, really.

    Oz – ‘The current Israeli view on Palestine is not limited to “hardline elements”, it’s a mainstream notion.’ Much as the former South African government position on majority rule wasn’t limited to hardline Boers, and for much the same reason. Fear, belief in divine rights, greed and the perverse joy of dominating another people make for a powerful mix, as Jews throughout history have learned to their cost.

    A word or two on the ‘right to exist’ formulation beloved of Israeli apologists. This is forever being presented as though it meant the same thing as formal recognition, as when Whitlam recognised the government in Beijing as the legitimate government of China, rather than the Taipei regime. But of course, formal recognition is simply an agreement to respect borders and exchange diplomats. The ‘right to exist’ formulation is all about humiliation and subordination. It’s not enough that Palestinians should recognise the actuality of their dispossession, they must agree that it was appropriately done and that their dispossessors had every right to do so. It’s like demanding that indigenous Australians apologise for all the annoyance and expense they’ve put governments to.

  30. Antonio

    Oz,

    Hamas is simply the name given to a Islamic movement that in the modern era was inspired in Egypt almost 100 years ago. Hamas itself may only have been “in power” for two years but the theological basis for the philosophy it espouses has a far older pedigree and broad-based support among Palestinian society than you might otherwise suspect. You can change the name of Hamas or its organisers but I suspect that there will always be a broad-based movement of Palestinians who see this conflict in theological terms along the same lines as currently espoused by Hamas and this movement of people will be VERY unlikely to compromise their theology such that the existence of an Israeli state is permitted. I have similar reservations about ultra-orthodox Jewish elements in Israeli society.

    Oz, on what basis are you purporting “mainstream notions” in Israeli society? A two state solution to the ongoing conflict is very much a mainstream notion in Israeli society and amongst Jewish people more generally. I have no idea whether or not it is the majority view (I suspect it may be), but to suggest it isn’t a mainstream view is mischaracterisation born of an ignorance of Israeli society, modern Hebrew language newsmedia and Jewish people more generally!

  31. MarkL

    Paul Burns – previous thread
    ” I don’t agree with Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians. (Israel can kill as many Hamas militants as it likes, and Hamas can kill as many Israeli soldiers as it likes – that’s what happens to soldiers, and let’s face it, on both sides, whatever else they are, they’re varietries of a defence/offence force.)”

    Comment: No argument there. This is a clear statement that a state of warfare exists here in its post-traditional ‘no formal declaration’ sense. This is also defacto realisation that the Gaza strip is close enough to being a country to count as one. That is logical – if Kiribati (pop: 110,000 land area: 811km2) is a country then Gaza (pop: 1,599,000 land area: 360 km2) cannot be ruled out as such. And both are aid-dependencies.

    “What gets to me is the indiscriminate bombing of women and children, of mosques, (you’re not supposed to bomb places of worship – I know people don’t take much notice of it in modern warfare, but among other things places of worship are places of sanctuary for civilians as well as places of prayer.)”

    Comment: This should get to everyone if these were destroyed outside the LOAC – but they were attacked quite legally. If the bombing is “indiscriminate” then casualties should generally reflect Gaza’s population structure. Population structure is 0-14 years: 44.7% (male 343,988/female 325,856); 15-64 years: 52.7% (male 403,855/female 386,681); 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 16,196/female 23,626) (2008 est.).

    Casualties do not reflect this structure. This is a data point that bombing is not “indiscriminate” as suspected. Examination of IDF video footage and MSM imagery also indicates that the attacks are highly discriminate. In fact, it is quite obvious that the IAF is using their new GBU-39 (a small [127kg] and very accurate guided bomb with a small bursting charge of about 22kg) instead of larger, less accurate guided bombs in the 227kg, 500kg and 1000kg class with much larger bursting charges. The opinion that the bombing is “indiscriminate” cannot be sustained by available facts. I also have been checking with some ADF targeters. They are of the professional opinion that this is the most discriminate aerial attack in history. In short, the IDF is fulfilling its obligations under the laws of armed conflict (LOAC) to the letter.

    No need to believe me, of course! Anyone can examine the video of the mosques attacked. In each case there have been secondary explosions. This is proof positive that their intelligence was correct, and that the mosques have been used as weapons/ammunition storage areas. Under LOAC, protected places (Churches, Hospitals, Cultural Sites, mosques etc) lose their protected status when so used by a belligerent. BOTH sides have to obey LOAC for it to work. HAMAS is not, the IDF are, and anyone can validate that statement with a modest amount of research.

    “Its all very cliched, but the end result of all this is going to be that neither side wins, and we’re going to have a lot of traumatized kids, in whom the mutual hate will just live on.”

    Comment: Agreed. As rational people, we should also agree on relative responsibilities. Irrespective of perceptions the past, it is hard to hold the opinion that if HAMAS actually stopped its genuinely indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks on the 650,000-900,000 Israeli citizens within their range now they have smuggled GRAD missiles in their hands, then the Israelis would leave them be. The Israelis, to further the ‘peace process’ did actually pull out their settlers and leave Gaza three years ago, after all. So that is proof of good faith, surely? HAMAS (and perhaps Fatah elements) has conducted continuous indiscriminate attacks on Israel ever since the day of the pull-out. It’s tough to unilaterally blame Israel when they give the pallies what they say they wanted, and are then attacked by them in manners banned by the LOAC.

    “There’s little point for me in debating the rights and wrongs of this – both sides are wrong, the Israelis infinitely more so because of their use of disproportionate force, and, at the risk of sounding really boring,their use of collective punishment on the Gazans as a whole.”

    Comment: This ‘disproportionate force issue’ is the latest buzzword of people lacking understanding of warfare. Warfare, which this is clearly recognised to be, is all about ‘disproportion’. Ask the Wehrmacht or the Imperial Japanese Army. The idea in war is to beat the living daylights out of the enemy and end the war as quickly as possible and therefore with the fewest casualties to both sides. The western way of war is that we do this to stop ‘bad behaviour’ as defined by UN conventions. The Soviet, NSDAP and Imperial Japanese ways of war were mostly wars of unprovoked aggression, which the UN, Nuremberg and the LOAC exist to stop.

    If Israel were to be ‘proportionate’, then the IDF would have to fire indiscriminately into Gaza’s civilian popualtion with a rocket or artilelry shell every time HAMAS fired a rocket or artillery (mortar) shell into Israel. That’s simply illegal under LOAC and UN convention.

    It’s easy to bandy that grossly false – indeed cruelly ignorant – term around, so lets thrash that out. Just how would the readership here think that this war could be waged ‘proportionately’ by the IDF when the IDF verifiably follows LOAC and HAMAS does not?

    “Collective punishment” is a null concept in what is clearly warfare, as is accepted in Paul’s first paragraph. Gazans are no more being “collectively punished” than Axis civilians were 1939-45. They have a government which is NOT looking after their interests and safety, and which has picked a fight with a more powerful neighbour. That’s not a smart move, and it is having dire consequences. Perhaps a Gazan rejection of violence in the next election and election of a government attuned to (say) economic development might be an idea?

    “Somehow the whole damn thing just has to stop for good.
    I know the above is very simplistic, and probably doesn’t take account of the infinite permutations of Israeli and Palestinian politics, but really, surely that is what has to happen”

    Comment: Agreed. So the question becomes ‘how does one make HAMAS stop trying to kill the Israelis who became the first state in history to give the pallies their own territory to rule themselves?’

    Because one thing is certain, it is the Israelis (removing their settlements and handing Gaza over to the pallies) and the international community (with money) who have consistently offered the pallies peace (Oslo Accords, anyone?) and the pallies in all their permutations who have consistently rejected it.

    Therefore, pallie behaviour is not rational within the frame of reference employed here on this site. How does one get a rational outcome when one of the players is demonstrably not rational within that frame of reference?

    I realise I am asking left-oriented secularists (not that there’s anything wrong with that)a very difficult question here. I’m reasonably religious (you tend to be, in my profession) and have studied this enemy intensively, so I understand that the pallies in question are actually behaving rationally within the perspective of the deeply perverted religious viewpoint of wahabist islamism. But the readership here may not have that understanding, hence my acknowledgement that this is a very difficult question to ask.

    Regrettably, there is no indication of their self-destructive behaviour stopping any time soon. Therefore, this will continue until we get to ‘Three Conjectures’ territory, which has no redeeming features at all. While (as noted above) pallies think it a splendid idea to send their kids off to blow themselves up in hopes of killing a Jew, this problem will remain intractable. I mean, there is now no chance whatsoever of the Israelis repeating the failed Gaza experiment on the West bank, is there?

    MarkL
    Canberra

  32. Oz

    Antonio, the history of the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t change the fact that there have been other parties and people in power in both Israel and Palestine with different ideologies and peace was never secured. Squarely blaming Hamas is shallow.

    I didn’t say it was a mainstream notion in Israeli society, I said it was a mainstream notion in governing circles – which it is.

  33. Antonio

    Hal9000:

    “Fear, belief in divine rights, greed and the perverse joy of dominating another people make for a powerful mix, as Jews throughout history have learned to their cost.”

    This statement of yours is particularly repulsive. Don’t essentialise Israeli society or even the government for that matter. Not every Jew is religious, a believer in divine rights or a delighter in dominating others. To make a barely disguised reference to the Shoah here is pretty appalling: “…as Jews throughout history have learned to their cost.”

    As for your statement regarding the formulation of the “right to exist” argument, you have strawmanned why Israelis in particular and most Jews more generally support the “right to exist” argument. The main reason from my experience why Jewish people (myself included) support the right to exist is because quite simply we do not want a repeat of the Shoah where Jewish quarters were crushed and the resulting population liquidated.

    Hal9000, given this, I hope you can see why Israelis in particular and the Jewish people more generally are very touchy on the whole “Right to Exist” issue. When we hear people refuse to accept the “right to exist” we view it as dogwhistling for anti-semitism. I’m not calling you anti-semitic, but I’m hoping that if I explain the perspective empathetically perhaps we can start breaking through some barriers.

    For the record, I support the right of existence for the Palestinian people and support a Palestinian state.

  34. Lefty E

    Thanks for that map, Adrian of Nowra.
    Disturbing, and really says it all about the causes of this conflict.

  35. Adrian of Nowra

    Let’s not forget who helped initiate Hamas to divide Palestinians in response to previous group who were also initially aided to divide the populace in response to another earlier group…

    …and so it goes on.

    Then there is the history of Israeli terrorists who bombed and killed civilians to get their Israeli state (Israel wasn’t was the original location).

    Also let us not forget an 18 month+ blockade to punish a people who dared to elect a government of the very group the Israelis originally supported. Where does this blockade sit in you war MarkL, where an entire 1.5 million population regularly had water and electricity cut off, often had aid blocked thus requiring tunnels to bring in food and medicine (as well as rocket components), and had all foreign investment stymied and any major infrastructure projects destroyed. This was oppression and mass punishment nothing else.

    Many of the rockets fired are home made with fertilizer warheads. These could be made and fired by anyone of the 1.5 million in Gaza, not just Hamas. Then the new Israeli Ministry of Information (one of the most sophisticated propaganda machines around) refuses to allow any third party observation of Israel’s operations or allow reporters into Gaza. If they are so much in the right and doing the right thing as they aver, why won’t they allow independent observation of them doing the right thing?

    As to footage showing secondary explosions. They also claimed footage showed them blowing up a truck being loaded with rockets, which turned out to be a legitimate business loading a truck with oxygen cylinders. The footage can show anything they want and both sides lie and deceive in the propaganda war which is why the need for third party neutral observation.

  36. Antonio

    Oz,

    The PLO and its derivative Fatah never allowed open democratic elections until very recently so we really have no idea what grassroots views existed in Palestinian society except through the filter of the leadership. I am not “blaming” Hamas for the origins or perpetuation of the conflict. If you read what I wrote, I am saying that the philosophical and theological underpinnings of Hamas represent a more significant impediment to peace than the Arab nationalism espoused by Fatah.

    You earlier referred to mainstream Israeli notions of Palestine without any further clarification. I would also disagree that the Labour, Kadima and Shas parties have any shared common mainstream notion regarding Palestine! Certainly the cabinet took a shared view with regard to the current offensive but they certainly have no shared view on a roadmap to peace, Palestinian statehood or the proposed borders of a Palestinian state. Again, could we please avoid essentialism here?

  37. Adrien

    Rob #27 – Interesting solution. It’s interesting in that everyone knows it, has known it and has tried to bring it about since forever. The solution is well known. It’s how to get there that’s hard. It’s like two guys with a gun. They both say we don;t want to fight. One says okay I’ll put my gun up if you put yours up first.
    .
    No you first.
    .
    No you… etc.

  38. Adrien

    Oz – Can anyone explain or clarify the so-called Iran/Hezbollah connection to Hamas? Hezbollah is backed by Iran, I know that…
    .
    So are Hamas:

    In a phone conversation between the two leaders, the Iranian president said that the continued Hamas resistance against Israel and the group’s achievements would always be “a source of pride for all Muslims.” Iran does not acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel and vowed to support Hamas until what Ahmadinejad calls “deliverance from Zionists (Israel).”

    Link.
    .
    The intra-Islamic schisms (as in between Suuni and Shi’ite) take a back stage to the common front against the Zionists and the Great Satan etc. As soon as they get rid of Israel and the US they’ll get busy killing each other.
    .
    Hamas is an international organization and has members in Iran, Syria, Lebanon etc. Syria is its main sponsor along with Iran. Because Hamas is not financially dependent on the people it governs it can ignore their plight especially if hard times breed revolutionary fervor. The Israeli policy of, at best, stifling the Palestinian economy doesn’t help either. The harder it is to run actual businesses there the more people have to rely on Hamas which is the main employer.

  39. Rob

    Exactly right, Adrien. It’s so obvious, and yet it seems so impossible.

  40. Lefty E

    What a lot of old rot. No amount of sophistry and bland defence “realism” alters the equation: Israel is the stronger party and demonstrably seeks to dispossess to weaker party, as the map demonstrates over time. Two-thirds of settlers are poorer Israeli on big state subsidies – not hard core Zionists. They are state sponsored.

    This is the cause of the conflict. No people’s aspirations for self-government ans statehood will ever be thwarted without resistance. I dont honestly know what Israel expect in return for the inhuman treatment they visit upon Palestinian people.

  41. Rob

    “What a lot of old rot.”

    What are you referring to there, Lefty E.?

  42. Lefty E

    No particular comment Rob – just the overriding sense I have of ‘the West’ losing sight of the bloody obvious, and losing its universalist moral bearings, in a miasma of pro-Israeli propaganda, media censure, embedded journos, and benighted ‘wars of civilization’ nonsense.

    I think the cause of this conflict is neither complex, nor difficult to grasp. Israel never rewards the moderates, so they get hardliners. A child could see where the fundamental injustice lies.

  43. MarkL

    No. 34 Adrian of Nowra

    Civil questions, civilly asked.

    “Also let us not forget an 18 month+ blockade to punish a people who dared to elect a government of the very group the Israelis originally supported. Where does this blockade sit in you war MarkL, where an entire 1.5 million population regularly had water and electricity cut off, often had aid blocked thus requiring tunnels to bring in food and medicine (as well as rocket components), and had all foreign investment stymied and any major infrastructure projects destroyed. This was oppression and mass punishment nothing else.”

    Comment: Gaza has two land borders, one with Egypt, one with Israel. BOTH are blocked. The one to Israel is blocked due to the incessant efforts by Hamas (and other factions) to get suicide bombers through into Israel. Please note that the Israelis have continued to supply electricity and water, and have also been paying at least some of the Gaza customs dues to Gaza (although IIRC some have been sent to Fatah, not sure). At the very least, the blockade has been selective and porous. Again, some quick research will show you this, no need to take my word for it.

    Egypt has closed its border due to incessant Hamas efforts to move weapons into Gaza. So Egypt has been trying to live up to its own international obligations by preventing weapons smuggling aimed at a country it recognises and with whom it has a successful land-for-peace swap and internationally brokered peace treaty.

    At least this indicates that there exist arab muslim countries who have successfully reached a peaceful settlement with Israel. As for the destruction of infrastructure, again a little research will show you that ‘local Gazan’ businesses have been completely dependent on foreign money subsidies. When the EU funding dries up, they die. Essentially, the money is taken by a kleptocrat ‘government’. Yet, Israeli settlers there had a successful unsubsidised US$100 million per annum flower and vegetable export business using Gazan workers. These were purchased by American Jewish groups and handed over intact to the Gazans – who then immediately looted and destroyed them! Again, this was widely reported in the media and a small amount of searching will turn up the information.

    So I actually agree with you, this IS ‘oppression and mass punishment and nothing else’, but it was done by Gazan hands to their fellow Gazans. You can verify that yourself, no need to take my word for it.

    “Many of the rockets fired are home made with fertilizer warheads. These could be made and fired by anyone of the 1.5 million in Gaza, not just Hamas.”

    Comment: Agreed. It has been niggling at the back of my mind for a few hours what the pallie political situation most resembles, historically. It resembles the pre-Northern Expedition situation in China, with a shifting kaliedoscope of warlord factions all fighting among themselves for the scraps of their ruined people. The Foreign Policy Research Institute nails it:

    There are unfortunately far too many of them. Arafat’s legacy will be fought over by at least five major factions, three separate institutions, and fourteen different security agencies in his own group Fatah alone. That leaves aside the Islamist organizations and smaller PLO groups, and individual rivalries or ambitions within all these groups.

    “Factions” is probably too precise a word. No real parties exist: there are no disciplined groupings or generally recognized charismatic leaders. The structure is loose and rapidly shifting. Ideology is virtually non-existent; there is no meaningful Left, Right, and Center. In general, too, connections between local leaderships in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are weak, and there is no clear hierarchy or chain of command. Arafat’s most likely legacy will be a kind of quiet anarchy in which different groups, local warlords, and security agencies operate on their own and ignore instructions from the “top.”

    Then the new Israeli Ministry of Information (one of the most sophisticated propaganda machines around) refuses to allow any third party observation of Israel’s operations or allow reporters into Gaza. If they are so much in the right and doing the right thing as they aver, why won’t they allow independent observation of them doing the right thing?

    Comment: Well, the Israelis ARE doing a better job this time around than in 2006, when their information flow was inept and cack-handed. As for the ‘third party observation’, that’s easy. Operational security. In 2006 they foolishly DID allow that, and it cost the IDF lives as tactical data was moved near instantly via modern comms and utilised by hizb’allah. And there are indeed certain third parties watching. It’s just that the data is not made public.

    Comment: This all describes a dystopian situation if anything does – a warlord era. The implication is that this will not end because it cannot end. Israel has no ‘central authority’ with whom to negotiate a settlement with the pallies. Who can enforce such a settlement in their ‘warlord polity’? Who can be Anwar Sadat?

    I believe this explains the Egyptian actions (their ‘blockade’ is far more stringent than Israel’s), they understand that this is a situation without solution, and that containment is the only possible option. It also explains Jordans longstanding refusal to consider taking over governance of the West Bank.

    “As to footage showing secondary explosions. They also claimed footage showed them blowing up a truck being loaded with rockets, which turned out to be a legitimate business loading a truck with oxygen cylinders. The footage can show anything they want and both sides lie and deceive in the propaganda war which is why the need for third party neutral observation.”

    Comment: Yes it can, and so has to be treated carefully. Witness the obvious posing of several sets of different ‘pallie victims of the bombing in their bombed homes’ – which was the same place from different angles. Witness also the blatant posing and hizb’allah propaganda footage of 2006, so uncritically swallowed by the MSM, and the entire mohammad al durah thing, which is now revealed as a pallywood production!

    However, in the one case I have seen analysed by competent neutral subject matter experts (ADF), the mosque was hit by a GBU-39 with about 22kg of high brisance, which triggered a much larger quantity of low brisance explosives (several hundred kilos). In that case, the mosque was quite definitely used as a weapons position. The blast effects proved it.

    MarkL
    Canberra

  44. PeterTB

    which turned out to be a legitimate business loading a truck with oxygen cylinders.

    Says who Adrian? Even B’Tselem says only that the owner of the truck claims that the load was oxygen cylinders. Follow the link to the drone film footage. Looks to me like there were seven or eight loading a few “oxygen cylinders”, some apparently forming a protective perimeter. Also two vehicles.

    I think that more than likely, the load was sinister – perhaps masked by the couple of oxygen cylinders found.

  45. y*ti

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-bombing-ashkelon-is-the-most-tragic-irony-1216228.html

    Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony

    How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.

    That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don’t come from Gaza.

    But watching the news shows, you’d think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story.

    Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. The existence of Gaza is a permanent reminder of those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes to Israel, who fled or were driven out through fear or Israeli ethnic cleansing 60 years ago, when tidal waves of refugees had washed over Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War and when a bunch of Arabs kicked out of their property didn’t worry the world.

    Well, the world should worry now. Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon’s bloody “pacification”, starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

    Alas for the Palestinians, their most powerful political voice – I’m talking about the late Edward Said, not the corrupt Yassir Arafat (and how the Israelis must miss him now) – is silent and their predicament largely unexplained by their deplorable, foolish spokesmen. “It’s the most terrifying place I’ve ever been in,” Said once said of Gaza. “It’s a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa.”

    Of course, it was left to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to admit that “sometimes also civilians pay the price,” an argument she would not make, of course, if the fatality statistics were reversed. Indeed, it was instructive yesterday to hear a member of the American Enterprise Institute – faithfully parroting Israel’s arguments – defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll by saying that it was “pointless to play the numbers game”. Yet if more than 300 Israelis had been killed – against two dead Palestinians – be sure that the “numbers game” and the disproportionate violence would be all too relevant. The simple fact is that Palestinian deaths matter far less than Israeli deaths. True, we know that 180 of the dead were Hamas members. But what of the rest? If the UN’s conservative figure of 57 civilian fatalities is correct, the death toll is still a disgrace.

    To find both the US and Britain failing to condemn the Israeli onslaught while blaming Hamas is not surprising. US Middle East policy and Israeli policy are now indistinguishable and Gordon Brown is following the same dog-like devotion to the Bush administration as his predecessor.

    As usual, the Arab satraps – largely paid and armed by the West – are silent, preposterously calling for an Arab summit on the crisis which will (if it even takes place), appoint an “action committee” to draw up a report which will never be written. For that is the way with the Arab world and its corrupt rulers. As for Hamas, they will, of course, enjoy the discomfiture of the Arab potentates while cynically waiting for Israel to talk to them. Which they will. Indeed, within a few months, we’ll be hearing that Israel and Hamas have been having “secret talks” – just as we once did about Israel and the even more corrupt PLO. But by then, the dead will be long buried and we will be facing the next crisis since the last crisis.

  46. Evan

    I am reminded of a line from an old Kinky Freidman song:

    “Oh they just ain’t making Jews like Jesus anymore,
    we don’t turn the other cheek, the way we done before.”

    Now, you don’t want to aggravate these guys, that’s for sure.

  47. Antonio

    Evan, serious poor form with your comment. Imagine how appropriate it would be to say “Don’t aggravate the Lebs or the Sudanese (insert ethnic stereotype here), that’s for sure!”

    Negative stereotyping based on a perceived shared racial characteristics is pretty close to racism.

    I’m really dumbfounded that statements like this pass unnoticed in these debates. Surely it isn’t because we are discussing Jews here?

    I think that its very possible to make the case for Palestine or Israel without dog whistling racism.

  48. Mark

    Rob, just to clarify, I was referring to the commentator you quoted @328 on the other thread. There seems to be some confusion about my reference, for which I apologise.

  49. sublime cowgirl

    Adrian of Nowra – The tale of 4 maps, while significant, is arguably, like trying to understand the history of indigenous/european relations in australia, and only going back 12 months, or even to the date of your first map, 1948.

    Try this

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Palestine

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Palestine

  50. Adrian of Nowra

    49.

    Wiki as a credible source on this subject, surely not?

    There are far more comprehensive and factually correct sources around.

  51. Adrian of Nowra

    43.

    However, in the one case I have seen analysed by competent neutral subject matter experts (ADF), the mosque was hit by a GBU-39 with about 22kg of high brisance, which triggered a much larger quantity of low brisance explosives (several hundred kilos). In that case, the mosque was quite definitely used as a weapons position. The blast effects proved it.

    I,m glad you said “in one case”.

    Another part of propaganda, only release the images that support your case, keep secret the hundreds if not thousands of other bombings that don’t.

    So we know that out of all the munitions fired into Gaza, one may have hit a legitimate target. As to PeterTB all of a sudden becoming an imagery expert and able to interpret footage sourced from an IDF website (good unbiased source that) I remain a skeptic. I refuse to take on face value anything that comes out from either side on this and especially that from Israel for as I have said they have now implemented a new sophisticated disinformation and propaganda unit plus refuse to allow any third party independent scrutiny in Gaza, including banning reporters, which is resulting a lot of negative press against Israel as it makes it appears they have a lot to hide, which they most likely do.

  52. PeterTB

    Adrian at #35: “which turned out to be a legitimate business loading a truck with oxygen cylinders.”

    Contrast with Adrian at #51: “I remain a skeptic. I refuse to take on face value anything that comes out from either side on this and especially that from Israel ” etc etc

    I think that you are not as open minded as you like to portray. I also think that the Lebanese Ambulance farce demonstrated that the IDF is a far more reliable source of information than the opponents of Israel, and the credulous MSM.

  53. Adrian of Nowra

    OK I’ll say that the footage could have been of the IDF blowing up a truck loading rockets but just as likely that of it being an ordinary truck loading cylinders from a legitimate business.

    Zombietime. Lets do a conspiracy type expose from a person who states the will stay anonymous and use that as evidence. The IDF so reliable that you have to go to an anonymous website that raises conspiracy type arguments.

    I’m as open minded as I can be within the framework of my personal biases and prejudices, which is obviously far more open than you are.

  54. Peter Kemp

    the mosque was hit by a GBU-39 yadda yadda, Walter Mitty School of Reverse Thrust Delta Command: Operation Blind Attack against rotten lefties; wait til I tell my fictitious army mates about you ha ha yadda yadda

    MarkL has form in getting it wrong with his long winded military explanations stuffed with google content/specifications of ordinance, and his erronious interpretations. Here’s his comment at Leftwrites August 24, 2006 @ 10:28 pm in relation to the Lebanon debacle and the so called ambulance hoax story 2006.

    Somewhat OT here, but issue related. Some may recall the infamous incident of the ‘Lebanese ambulance “attacked” by the IDF’, and how at the time (based on the video and one shot of the roof), I said I thought it was a hoax/propaganda tale. It seems that it was worse than that.

    Turned out it was, the press.. well, see for yourself at:

    http://www.zombietimedotcom/fraud/ambulance/

    I was digging around for more data on this issue and found this site. I don’t care if you’re left, right or calathumpian, the damned press loses all credibility when it purveys pure propaganda, from any side. In this case, they lied to all of us.

    Refuted, thoroughly, (pdf available) utterly by Human Rights Watch here:
    http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/mena/qana1206/index.htm

    One can only wonder who else “loses all credibility…”

  55. y*ti

    Have Bush and Neocons Ruined it for the Israelis?


    …When French President Sarkozy requested a two-day halt in Israeli air strikes so that humanitarian aid could reach ordinary Gazans, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni replied, “there is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.” The UN and others involved in humanitarian work in Gaza do not agree:

    ‘ the UN agency insisted it was desperate to get supplies into the enclave.”The military incursion compounds the humanitarian crisis following more than a week of shelling and an 18-month long blockade of the territory,” the UN humanitarian coordinatory said in a daily report. There was an “almost total blackout” across most of Gaza and land and mobile phone networks were also down because they depend on backup generators which had no fuel, the report said. All Gaza City hospitals have been without mains electricity for 48 hours and now rely on backup generators which the UN said were “close to collapse.” The report said that “for the second consecutive day Israeli authorities have refused to allow an ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) emergency medical team into Gaza” to help at the main Shifa hospital. The territory has been sealed off for more than two days. . . More than 510 Palestinians have already been killed in Israel’s nine day old offensive on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which on Saturday was intensified with the launch of a massive ground operation. The UN said the tank fire and air attacks were preventing medical staff reaching hospitals and ambulances could not get to injured “because of continuous fire.” The World Food Programme has coordinated emergency food deliveries into Gaza in recent months but the Israeli army said there was plenty of food in Gaza warehouses and that the territory’s Hamas rulers had halted distribution.’

  56. y*ti

    Israel Rains Fire on Gaza with Phosphorus Shells

    White phosphorus: the smoke-screen chemical that can burn to the bone

    — White phosphorus bursts into a deep-yellow flame when it is exposed to oxygen, producing a thick white smoke

    — It is used as a smokescreen or for incendiary devices, but can also be deployed as an anti-personnel flame compound capable of causing potentially fatal burns

    — Phosphorus burns are almost always second or third-degree because the particles do not stop burning on contact with skin until they have entirely disappeared — it is not unknown for them to reach the bone

    — Geneva conventions ban the use of phosphorus as an offensive weapon against civilians, but its use as a smokescreen is not prohibited by international law

    — Israel previously used white phosphorus during its war with Lebanon in 2006

    — It has been used frequently by British and US forces in recent wars, notably during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Its use was criticised widely

    — White phosphorus has the slang name “Willy Pete”, which dates from the First World War. It was commonly used in the Vietnam era

  57. Katz

    Unlike Israel’s military fiasco in Lebanon in 2006, this time around Israel will be able to establish a garrison in hostile territory.

    The Israeli governing classes will be forced by political necessity to justify their incursion into Gaza by establishing an ongoing military presence there.

    On the famous Pottery Barn principle “You Break It. You Own It” Israel will be forced to attempt to impose some kind of governance over Gaza. apart from any other consideration, to do otherwise would be to allow the rocket launchers to return.

    Garrisoning Gaza will impose huge strains upon the IDF. And those huge military and financial strains will impose political strains upon Israel’s governing classes.

    Armchair military strategists, sometimes suffering from Mittyesque fantasies, are inordinately impressed by big military bangs. (Now isn’t the time to contemplate possible psycho-sexual reasons for this.) As the pro-Iranian Shiite government of Iraq has demonstrated, the most potent weapon of war isn’t the drone, the JDam or the phosphorus shell, but rather the clock.

  58. Nobody

    It seems to me, given the high justificatory and propaganda worths, that any modern armed force which wanted carte blanche on targets would simply develop munitions packages with primary and secondary devices on differential detonation trains: “See, secondary explosions, nothing to see here folks, it was a clean kill” no matter what was being blown up. The only way to tell either way in that instance would be to do the on-site forensics.

  59. joe2

    Glad you slipped that “l” in “clock”, there, [email protected]
    You had me worried.

  60. Evan

    Antonio at 47 seems to have missed the point entirely.

    I reckon a little humour never goes amiss, especially in times like these.

    Unlike just about everyone else who has commented here, I’m not trying to make a case for anyone. So far as I’m concerned, both Israel and Hamas are acting like complete arseholes.

    So, if you don’t like the quote, take it-up with ole Kinky hisself. I’m sure he’s got a website somewhere.

    And by the way, both the song and the album it came from (“Kinky Freidman and the Texas Jewboys”) are a hoot. Listening to them, beer in hand, on a warm summer’s day sure beats the pogees out of trying to justify one side or the other’s position in this latest round of killing.

  61. Paul Burns

    Oh, almost forgot – on the Sunrise programme this morning – an item that goes something like this – “The Israelis haven’t used cluster bombs like they did against Hezbollah – yet.”

  62. y*ti
  63. Hal9000

    Antonio: “The main reason from my experience why Jewish people (myself included) support the right to exist is because quite simply we do not want a repeat of the Shoah where Jewish quarters were crushed and the resulting population liquidated.”

    Strange then Antonio you can’t see the obvious similarities in the Gaza and Warsaw Ghetto experiences, a similarity noted not by anti-Semites but by Israeli military strategists who have called for German tactics to be studied and the lessons used in suppressing Palestinian resistance in crowded refugee camp environments (reported in Haaretz 25/1/2002).

    Is Israel’s actual existence threatened by anyone, do you think, let alone the ragtag and poorly armed militia ranged against it in the Gaza ghetto? Talk of existential threat serves the same warmongering purposes as Cheney and Rice’s equally risible bluster about needing to invade Iraq to forestall mushroom clouds rising over US cities.

    Meanwhile, I can’t recall any Israeli leader ever suggesting any recognition of Palestine’s ‘right to exist’, nor formal recognition of Palestine being a precondition for commencement of negotiations.

  64. Lefty E

    “Meanwhile, I can’t recall any Israeli leader ever suggesting any recognition of Palestine’s ‘right to exist’, nor formal recognition of Palestine being a precondition for commencement of negotiations.”

    Succintly put Hal. This is the root of all the hypocrisy and doublespeak characterising the Israeli state’s position. Its a point you’ll never find the Israel lobby addressing – since they immediaitely find themselves without a leg to stand on if its spelt out too plainly.

  65. Lefty E

    Jennifer Lowenstein says it all here. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21611.htm

  66. sublime cowgirl

    Adrian of Nowra

    “Wiki as a credible source on this subject, surely not?
    There are far more comprehensive and factually correct sources around.”

    Well i just didn’t perceive the maps you pointed to as providing a particularly nuanced contextualization to the broader political, social and religious probs of this region, but more as a simplistic summary. I think even Wikipedia would call you on that.

    Interesting thread though.

  67. Antonio

    “I can’t recall any Israeli leader ever suggesting any recognition of Palestine’s ‘right to exist’, nor formal recognition of Palestine being a precondition for commencement of negotiations.”

    Hal9000, I’m not entirely sure who you are arguing against here? I’m not an apologist for the Israeli government or its policies. Oh course the Israeli government and the Palestinians should mutually accept each other’s right to exist. I think an enunciation of this principle of tolerated self-existence would be an excellent starting point in negotiations. It is certainly true that there are some sections of the Israeli body-politic who do not accept the possibility of Palestinian statehood in any form. However, while important, these sections of Israeli society tend to be in a statistical minority: http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Diplomacy/1737.htm

    On the Palestinian side, I am not so sure about the level of support for Israel’s right to exist and cannot find reliable survey data on the topic. Certainly the very popular Islamic movement represented by Hamas by its own charter is openly anti-semitic, opposes peace & negotiation absolutely and the right of Israel to exist: http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/documents/charter.html

    The road to a solution from here is very difficult to see but I think that mutual admission of the right to exist would be a good starting point.

  68. Mark

    On the Palestinian side, I am not so sure about the level of support for Israel’s right to exist and cannot find reliable survey data on the topic.

    Antonio, on that point:

    The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 percent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 percent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-true-story-behind-thi_b_153825.html

    I don’t have the time this afternoon to track down the original source, but it would be interesting to see the poll numbers discussed in greater detail.

  69. Antonio

    Mark,

    Actually it would appear to be the same survey I cited earlier.

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/international_security_bt/137.php?lb=btis&pnt=137&nid=&id=

    As I interpret it, the parsing of the survey in the Huffington Post article would seem to be a stretch too far. The links to the Questions and the Full Report seem to be timing out for me but as I read the media release, Palestinians were not asked if they support an Israeli state. The majority surveyed did support a Palestinian State based on 1967 borders but that doesn’t necessarily mean support for a Jewish state in the Middle East. Certainly there may be majority support for the existence of Israel amongst Palestinians, I am just yet to see credible figures and find the high level of support for Hamas and their consequentialist ideology concerning.

  70. Mark

    I think it’s implied in the question actually asked, Antonio, but I take your point on the wording of the survey.

  71. y*ti

    We are wading in death, blood, and amputees

    Amid the tidal wave of human misery swamping Gaza City’s central hospital a horrified Norwegian volunteer doctor found a minute to type a text message on his mobile phone to friends back home.

    “We are wading in death, blood, and amputees. Many children. A pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Pass it on, send it around, shout it out. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We are living in a history book now, all of us.” It was signed Mads Gilbert, one of two Norwegian doctors toiling relentlessly alongside exhausted Palestinian medics…

  72. Desipis

    It seems Mads Gilbert is in a better position than most of us to influence those who believe in the insanity of firing rockets into a neighbouring country with greater military might.

  73. Hal9000

    I agree with your last comments, Antonio, although the aggressively implemented west bank colonial project makes a two-state solution less imaginable with each passing day.

    It is perhaps dangerous to ascribe much strategic thinking to Israel’s political and military leaders. For example, the current campaign can only strengthen support for Hamas among Palestinians, while exposing Abbas and Fatah as collaborators. Similarly, the Israel-friendly regimes in Cairo, Amman and Riyadh are forced to squander whatever popular support they may have by snapping to attention and acquiescing to the slaughter. Remember that al-Jazeera Arabic beams into the region’s loungerooms far more graphic images of the Gaza carnage than would ever be allowed to appear on Australian screens. In short, the current campaign, whatever else it may be, can only have the strategic effect of strengthening Israel’s enemies and weakening its friends. This would, to moderately perceptive people, have been evident from the strategic result of both the Iraq invasion (for which Israel heavily lobbied) and Israel’s 2005 Lebanon adventure: emergence of Iran as the rising regional hegemon and the strengthening of its allies. Compare and contrast the prestige of Hizballah’s Nazrallah and Egypt’s Mubarak.

    Just as the Sharpeville massacre can now be seen as the beginning of the road to oblivion for white minority rule in South Africa, just as the invasion of Cambodia and the Christmas bombing of Hanoi presaged US defeat in Vietnam, the current bloodletting in Gaza will I suspect come to be viewed as a monumental blunder worthy of addition to Tuchman’s March of Folly.

    Meanwhile, as the physical possibility of a two-state settlement daily diminishes with every new housing unit and Israeli-only road, the higher Palestinian birthrate ensures that the Zionist dream of an homogenous Jewish state will be unattainable (if ever it was). Like the artisan possessing only a hammer, who sees every construction problem as requiring a nail, Israel’s military might seems to serve only to blind and weaken it, making it see the answer to every problem as military force and intensification of violence. To paraphrase Boulay de la Meurthe, Israel’s actions are worse than merely crimes, they’re stupid.

  74. Blogreader

    What an interesting thread.

    Rob @ 288 – “Emotion swamps reason,and makes you disinclined to think.”

    Rob, how admirable your erudite, polite, cold blooded, impeccably referenced justification of murder.
    I like the dispassionate “they bring it on themselves with their rockets” line.
    No hint of compassion for the innocent (or the guilty).
    A polished apology for group punishment.
    Cheek turning is not something in your bag of tricks, there will be no such self-imposed setbacks in your quest for victory.
    You should get Mark Regev’s job, he is sounding a bit hesitant lately, like his conscience might be troubling him.
    I don’t expect you will have that problem.
    However you may need to get a new keyboard soon. 🙂

  75. Adrien

    It’s beginning to look a lot like regime change is the agenda. This guy thinks so and thinks that’s a bonehead play.

    .
    I guess we’ll see.
    .
    But I think Israel’s gonna have a much tougher time running Gaza then the Americans had in Iraq.

  76. Peter Kemp

    Thanks to the Independent, here’s an official Gaza/Hamas website.

    While we are entitled to skepticism, and may take this report with a grain of salt, it’s informative to have access to what Hamas is saying.

    The Independent says:

    The militant group has also been beefing up its propaganda offensive to try to take on the sophisticated Israeli machine. With journalists barred from Gaza by the Israeli military, the Hamas website – the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) – is the main weapon in getting its side of the story to the wider world. It pumps out reports of heavy casualties among invading Israelis, emotive accounts of Gaza civilians “eradicated”, and vows to strike deeper and harder into enemy territory.

    The website yesterday displayed the mobility of a guerrilla fighter. Saying PIC was under “violent and organised electronic attack”, Hamas engineers deftly offered another web address “in case of the halting of the site”

    PIC says:
    http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/default.aspx

    GAZA, (PIC)– At least 10 IOF soldiers were killed and 30 others were wounded, Monday night, when Qassam fighters lured them in a trap.

    Qassam sources told PIC correspondent that the fighters managed to lure a group of infantry elite soldiers into a booby-trapped building in the northern Gaza Strip, detonated the explosives planted in the building and clashed with the soldiers until helicopters arrived and bombed the area around the building to evacuate the dead and injured soldiers.

    The Qassam Brigades which confirmed theses figures said it will publish the details of this special operation later.

    The Qassam Brigades spokesman had earlier warned IOF troops that they will be met with stiff resistance and “will not leave the Gaza Strip in one piece.”

    Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation military has admitted to the death of 3 soldiers and the wounding of 24 others in friendly fire.

    Meantime civilian casualties continue to mount, we need Rob and others like-minded to come back for their “proportional response” argument, and a bollocking in return. As this obscenity continues those pro-Israeli arguments are getting rather odious.

  77. Peter Kemp

    Norwegian doctor in Gaza, Youtube link below: paraphrased by Juan Cole:

    He says he has seen one military casualty come into the hospital. Of 2500 wounded, 50% are women and children. Doing surgery around the clock. There are injuries you do not want to see– children coming in with open abdomens, with injured legs, we had to amputate both of them. This is a war on the civilian population of Gaza. It is a very young population. They cannot flee. They are fenced in. They are bombing one and a half million people in a cage.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAt6TRBqx8I

  78. Lefty E

    I would urge the Israel lobby to have a good look at what happened to the Indonesia lobby in the 80s/90s; before its too late.

    The ended up apologists for systematic, state-sanctioned barbarism against civilians in Timor, which should properly be addressed in the International Criminal Court. They dont stick their heads up as much anymore.

    Note that FALINTIL had quite a few guns and rockets too.

    That made no difference to the historical judgment on the New Order regime.

  79. Adrien

    Of 2500 wounded, 50% are women and children.
    .
    I read a report this morning that says 550 killed only 100 of which are civilians. It didn’t give figures for the wounded. Will disparities in the information from the region become more marked. Will we be receiving two streams of carefully tailored horseshit from the region for the time being.

  80. smokey

    If anyone is in doubt that Israel has overstepped the mark, I’d encourage a reading of this blog. It’s from someone working in a hospital there who is blogging as the war unfolds. The latest post tells of one of their ambulances targeted by the Israelis and the ambulance officer dying.
    http://ingaza.wordpress.com/

    It’s utterly heart rending. Whatever the historical situation, I don’t know how anyone with a conscience could lack compassion and empathy for what those in Gaza are coping, and not be opposed to what Israel is now doing there. The world should be condemning Israel, yet America again gives them permission to kill a mosquito with the full might of their war machine.

    Some of the blog. It describes the bombing of an ambulance from the hospital:

    “When Arafa and Alaa arrived, they managed to load Thaer into the ambulance, and were working on getting Ali’s body to the clearly-marked vehicle when the shell came. Ali lost his head, killed twice. Alaa is riddled with shrapnel over his body and to his groin. Arafa’s lung came out.

    “Arafa underwent heart surgery and doctors worked on his mutilated body. He went into shock and died an hour or so later.

    “His funeral was hurriedly held, a procession, a burial, and the traditional mourning tent. The tent was shelled, mourners inside. Another medic tells me of Arafa’s brother on the phone, calling the news radio station: “we’re being shelled, someone come to get us.”

    A science teacher by profession, Arafa had volunteered as an emergency medic for 8 years. He was delightful, warm, had a nice singing voice, and was not at all shy about being silly. I remember him stomping ridiculously around the now-vacated Jabaliya PRCS office (Israeli soldiers have taken over the area) saying he was hungry, very hungry, and chomping down on the bread and cheese that we had for a meal.

    “I had the privilege of working one night with Arafa, of seeing his professionalism and his humanity. “He wanted to die like that, helping our people,” Osama, a fellow medic told me. Not a martyr complex, so engineered by living with death, occupation, invasions, humiliation, and injustice for so long, but a dedication to his work, to people.

    “His killing has since been followed by those of 3 more emergency medics.”

  81. Peter Kemp

    Adrien re:

    It didn’t give figures for the wounded. Will disparities in the information from the region become more marked.[?]

    A Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, in Gaza. Unless he’s some raving anti-semite, I think we can safely attach some significant credence to his “hands on” evidence of civilian wounded.

    Also “He says he has seen one military casualty come into the hospital.” Not consistent with the 100 out of 550 killed being civilians.

    Time will tell, of course.

  82. Adrien

    Peter – I’m doubting the doctor. I merely point out that there’s a growing disparity of information. It actually occurs to me to ask how do we know that, for example, Hamas actually started this? How do we know anything? The news services notoriously get war stories riddled with factual errors.
    .
    And in this region, the mere mention of which turns rational people into flaming maniacs, can we really tell?

  83. Adrien

    Whoops, that’s I’m not doubting the doctor. I’m not endorsing the doctor either. As far as I know the doctor is a composite of other logos made by the same firm who invented Usama bin Laden.

  84. Peter Kemp

    The news services notoriously get war stories riddled with factual errors.

    Which is why a foreigner (and doctor) who has taken an oath to save lives is likely to be more factually correct on what’s happening in the hospital(s) than for example 2rd hand hearsay from unknown and/or biassed sources.

  85. Boy from Flynn

    Adrien @ 79,

    Are you suggesting that a city area, densly packed with well over a million people can be sprayed with bombs, missiles, artillery, tank shells and machine gun fire with only a minor loss of civillian life?

  86. Darin

    “Which is why a foreigner (and doctor) who has taken an oath to save lives is likely to be more factually correct on what’s happening in the hospital(s) than for example 2rd hand hearsay from unknown and/or biassed sources.”

    That’s why I always believe everything the head of the AMA has to say regarding the best way to provide health care. Doctors never take political positions.

  87. Mark

    There’s a bit of a difference, Darin, between a doctor whose role is as head of what’s basically a political lobby group, and a doctor who is working in a war zone for humanitarian reasons, I’d suggest.

  88. Darin

    Probably…. I just don’t think anyone would privilege the blog of a doctor working for the Israeli army in the same way. Lots of people have agendas and personal bias. Doctors are no different.
    Having said that, I do think the whole thing is tragic. When I was doing peace studies at UQ the middle east was often raised as a “what if…”. I honestly can’t see how it’s going to do anything but fester in the near future. Everytime this happens, they just raise another generation full of hatred.

  89. Mark

    Darin, a lot of Israeli doctors who are members of humanitarian groups have been speaking out against what’s occurring – I think I posted a link on this somewhere on the other thread.

  90. Lefty E

    I would have thought a high rate of civilian casualties would be near self-evident from the context of this assault, in the most densely populated region on earth.

    Surely there’s a German compound word for “pointless and illogical doubt-mongering”.

  91. y*ti

    that doctor wasn’t working for Hamas, Darian. So of course nobody would privilege the blog of a doctor working for the IDF in the same way.

  92. smokey
  93. Nobody

    Greetings fellow commentators. While I misdirect your attentions to debating the loss of life, let me go about my business of continuing to wage economic-structural warfare on the peoples of Gaza, just as I have done for these many years, unhindered. I’ll smash as many buildings and institutions needful to Gazans for bare subsistence, and take as long as I like in doing so, to ensure that I haven’t missed any opportunity to ensure their long-term abject misery. Meanwhile, the world undoubtedly will preoccupy itself, with only a little encouragement, in evaluations of the relative proportionalities of my very experienced and very professional military officers blowing up terrorists and innocents in government buildings, universities, homes, places of worship, tunnels, on roads and bridges, and in refugee encampments, and the like. Certainly, the loss of life is to be regretted, but in the larger scheme of things, every one of those lives will be worth the small measure of external disapprobation visited upon me. In only a few short weeks I will have successfully condensed years worth of damage by conventional blockade in what might otherwise be seen as a strategically pointless war, much like Lebanon 2006, where a similar smashfest was observed and quickly forgotten. Remember, there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza yesterday, there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza now, nor will there be a humanitarian crisis in Gaza tomorrow. We love the people of Gaza and regret very much having to destroy their civilian infrastructure and homes in rooting out terrorists. Thank-you for your attentions and management requests that you please remain committed to using the provided per capita method for scoring the conflict.

  94. Mark

    Sources report the IDF is targetting medics:

    http://firedoglake.com/2009/01/06/gaza-update-target-medics/

  95. Mark
  96. Nabakov

    Great closing sentence Nobody.

    But have you considered improving your CEP with paragraph breaks?

  97. Rob

    On this thread and the previous one the charge was made several times that Israel funded Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO. This is not accurate. Hamas was registered in Israel in 1978 as an Islamic association. Mostly it engaged in humanitarian works and proselytising, especially in Gaza. Its funding came primarily from Jordan, which did want to see a rival to the PLO (not surprising, given the trouble Jordan had had with them). Hamas became an openly terroristic organisation in 1988 when it published its notorious charter after the start of the first intifada and became actively involved in the fighting.

  98. Hal9000

    Surely you’re being disingenuous here, Rob. Of course any such controversial financial support must be covert. Would any Palestinian organisation retain credibility among its constituency if, say, Menachem Begin had presented it with an outsize cheque on state tv? And how would an Israeli minister explain sending taxpayer shekels to an Arab Islamic fundamentalist group? At any event, Israel has forever allowed foreign funding for Palestinian causes in, or cut it off, as a lever of official policy. They’ve been stealing Palestinian National Authority taxes for years, you might recall.

    There is meanwhile evidence aplenty for Israeli administrative support for Hamas in its early years, eg http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=8449, and Robert Dreyfuss’s Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

  99. Rob

    But why would they (Israel) do it if Hamas were getting all the funding they needed form Jordan and Saudi Arabia? In any event, I see nothing sinister at all in Israel facilitating what at that time looked like a moderate alternative to the PLO as an influence among Palestinians. This was 15 years before Oslo, remember, and the PLO was the major contemporary source of terrorism. Whether or not Hamas was concealing its true colours is an issue for debate, but until its publication of the its Charter and active involvement in violence, it looked considerably more benign than the PLO.

  100. Brendon

    “The biggest stumbling block to peace is the refusal by Hamas to accept the existence of Israel and the equivalent refusal by the more hardline elements in the Israeli Right to accept a two-state solution.”

    And how about Israel recognizing the legitimate government of the Palestinians. As soon as the Palestinians elected their government in 2006, Israel immediately tried to destroy it.

    And what is Israel? Its like the blob. New settlements every year. Let Israel tell the world, and the Palestinians in particular, where their borders begin and end. The rest of the world doesn’t recognize Israel’s sovereiegnty over lands it possesses.

    Israel does not recognize a Palestinian state.

  101. MichaelH

    Israeli support of Palestinian Islamism was based on the idea that, firstly, the Islamists were too busy praying to be concerned about nationalims and secondly, that they were opposed to the godless leftists who comprised a fair part of the national liberation movement.

    Moderation, as proposed by Rob, had diddly-squat to do with it. An apparent absence of specific opposition to Israeli occupation was the core issue. The Israeli backed ‘Village Leagues’ were in the same category.

  102. patrickm

    GregM from the closed thread; whatever you say their goal is they are a part of the PLO and have agreed to abide by any referendum.

    But anyway, how goes the war for greater Israel?

  103. Rob

    I’m going to bow out of this now. My apologies to Mark on the other thread for following other commenters off topic. But if I can close with a bit of meta-commentary. Over around 600 or so comments no-one has refuted any of the points I’ve made based on the facts, historical sequences and rational analysis. All I got in response, with some honourable exceptions, including Mark, was ‘Dead babies! Dead babies!’, like Green Helmet shoving corpses into the faces of the greedy media at Qana two years ago.

    I have never, on blogs or anywhere else, encountered such an avalanche of idiocy and ignorance as I’ve found on these threads. It was like trying to have a conversation in a madhouse.

    I don’t get any joy out of saying that, because this is a site I respect, even though I disagree with many of its posts.

  104. GregM

    But anyway, how goes the war for greater Israel?

    Patrickm, I don’t support a greater Israel. I’d be quite happy with an Israel behind its 1967 borders, as would you, if that were to bring peace to that part of the middle east. But it won’t. The Palestinians want all their land back, right to what existed before 1947, if they can get it, and I don’t blame them for a minute for wanting to get that.

    I don’t however seek to impose my ideas about what will solve their problems on them, or pretend that what my ideas about what will solve their problems and brinhg them lasting peace are their ideas. That is for them, both sides, to work out, however long it takes them, and whatever the cost to their respective peoples.

  105. patrickm

    Rob; that in responce to my comments come come. You will look a bit foolish when the monitors roll in after the troops roll out for the last time! I haven’t gone on about casualties at all! I think you ought to have a closer look at what I was talking about you might have missed it.

  106. Chris

    Slightly OT but I noticed today that there is an offical Israeli twitter account for what is happening in Gaza. Does anyone know if there is one for Hamas?

  107. Blogreader

    I have never, on blogs or anywhere else, encountered such an avalanche of idiocy and ignorance…

    Oh I don’t know, I think there were also glimmers of humanity, and plenty of sensible refutation of your partisan views.

    Whatever, thanks for your marathon contribution, you have earned a rest.

  108. Michael

    But if I can close with a bit of meta-commentary. Over around 600 or so comments no-one has refuted any of the points I’ve made based on the facts, historical sequences and rational analysis” – rob

    I guess that we’re all entitled to our little delusions. I’m rather impressed with my own contributions too!

    None of what’s happened in Gaza can come as a surprise. IDF assertions of minimizing civilians casualties is so often repeated as to be little more than a platitude. This was HRWs conclusion from the last IDF foray in February,

    “Human Rights Watch’s detailed field investigation of that operation found serious violations by the IDF, including the killing of a wounded man getting treatment in an ambulance, the shooting deaths of two civilians on donkey carts, and the shooting and wounding of two men in IDF custody. In two cases, tank crews opened fire on unarmed civilians. All of these incidents took place in an area that was firmly under the control of the IDF. Palestinian medics and ambulance drivers also faced restrictions on their ability to treat the wounded and dead – both civilians and combatants – and came under fire that killed one medic.”

    And on Hamas,

    “In February-March 2008, as on other occasions, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups placed civilians at risk by firing rockets and mortars from densely populated areas and storing weapons in civilian structures. Those acts, too, violate the laws of war.”

  109. yeti

    “But if I can close with a bit of meta-commentary. Over around 600 or so comments no-one has refuted any of the points I’ve made based on the facts, historical sequences and rational analysis” – rob

    Horseshit.

  110. patrickm

    GregM; I am trying to understand the world and as far as I can see…

    A couple of years ago there was mass destruction and death inflicted on the Lebanese. The outcome was forcing Hezbollah to join the Lebanese government and ending within a year or so with the resolution of all outstanding issues on this front including the required prisoner exchange.

    Now what I think is…

    What we are seeing in this butchery is the playing out of the end stages of the failed war for greater Israel. After the Israeli elections we will see the predictable moves to conclude the war for greater Israel. There are plenty of signs in the utter demoralization of the apologists for Zionism who often now claim to be at war for the sole purpose of bringing a peaceful Palestinian State into being. How about that! Forty years ago the Palestinian people didn’t even exist and US president’s and Israeli politicians etc just called them Arabs.

    Virtually nobody [who thinks of themselves as progressive] now doubts that the only way forward for the Israelis is to end the occupation of the West Bank and there is no point in not doing the deal over the Golan Heights with Syria at the same time. The entire war is being brought to an end and just as Nixon brought Vietnam to an end Netanyahu or Livni or even the rank outsider Barak will do what has to be done now. The agreements are in effect already made. We are only waiting for the new Israeli government to be established and the process to start with Hamas returning to a unified Palestinian fold with full open borders and an end of the siege.

    Sad to see the Zionists getting on with such butchery but there you have it. I say the war for greater Israel is ending in defeat.

  111. Marlon

    “But if I can close with a bit of meta-commentary. Over around 600 or so comments no-one has refuted any of the points I’ve made based on the facts, historical sequences and rational analysis. All I got in response, with some honourable exceptions, including Mark, was ‘Dead babies! Dead babies!’, like Green Helmet shoving corpses into the faces of the greedy media at Qana two years ago.”

    Rob, I see although your analysis of the situation in Gaza and indeed the cause of the conflict is wrong, at least with your above comments, you have kept your keen sense of humour.

    patrickm, excellent comments again,

    “There are plenty of signs in the utter demoralization of the apologists for Zionism who often now claim to be at war for the sole purpose of bringing a peaceful Palestinian State into being.”

    No where is this more visible than on the face and body language of Tzipni Livni,
    she has gone from Queen Bodicea to Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz fame, in about five days.

    She knows more than any one that her country has pulled a right royal boner on this latest attack on the Palestinians, and it shows, on her last interview with CNN I’m sure she hoped the ground would open up and swallow her up..

  112. Greg London

    Israel and Hamas had a working ceasefire for four months, from July 2008 to November 2008. During this time, Hamas rockets essentially stopped. Israel finds a tunnel coming out of Gaza and uses that as an excuse to violate the ceasefire, kill 6 members of Hamas. Hamas responds by resuming rocket fire. Israel uses the rocket fire as an excuse to escalate into a full blown bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

    Isreal was either foolish to think it could violate a ceasefire without repercussion, or they did it on purpose to escalate into a full scale war against Gaza.

    sources

  113. patrickm

    GregL,
    Yes, sure the Israelis started this like prison guards discovering the ‘supply route’ tunnel, but the real question to answer is why did they start it, or what do they hope to gain from what is possible to gain?

    Look to the northern border of Israel, the Israeli government and altenate government want to gain what is on their northern border where no tunnels exist into Lebanon and trucks freely carry arms and supplies without any interference whatsoever. When the Israelis pull out, as they will to the south in Palestine then the same will develop and just as ships and planes carry consumables (and weapons)into Israel, so too will the Palestinian state be supplied, as there will be no sitting at the back of the bus for the Palestinian people either.

  114. Oz

    “but the real question to answer is why did they start it, or what do they hope to gain from what is possible to gain?”

    Surely there are a number of obvious reasons that immediately come to mind? Elections in February, continuing the dehumanisation of the Palestinian people, an excuse to continue the genocide, they think they can militarily destroy Hamas…

  115. Michael

    Here’s a very interesting analysis of the breakdown of the ceasefire,
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-kanwisher/reigniting-violence-how-d_b_155611.html

    And the analysis goes even further, looking back to 2000 to see when ‘lulls’ in the violence are broken, and who is doing the breaking. This is the conclusion,

    this analysis shows that it is overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict: 79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the remaining 13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day). In addition, we found that this pattern — in which Israel is more likely than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause — becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.

  116. patrickm

    Oz; That is an example of not thinking clearly. The alternate Zionist leaderships do not believe that they even could get away with an ethnic cleansing let alone a genocide so they are out as options for a start, as is winning a failed war that’s now heading towards 42 years long and that is harming the interests of the sponsor the USA. The USA Obama or not has had enough and are unable to fund this failure any longer anyhow.

    The war for greater Israel really is lost!! Get that thought firmly in your mind. Even if it drags on for a couple of years that loss will be finalized. The Palestinian people will live in their own State that will not be dictated to anymore that Lebanon, Syria, Egypt or Jordan. There is going to be no back of the bus for Palestinians to get sent to. Two years after the Lebanon end phase and 36 years after Nixon we have seen the original movie and ought to be able to recognize a shoddy remake.

    Michael; of course the aggressors do the aggressing in an aggressive war for greater Israel. DUH! But they have lost this war and it has to be brought to a close just like Nixon brought the Vietnam war to a close. They are doing this in an orgy of bloodshed, but they are doing this. The Palestinian people are struggling their way to equality in the era when ‘Countries want independence Nations want liberation and the people want revolution.’

    The Zionists (Rob excepted) want monitors because they are now prepared to stop the war and thus are prepared to keep the peace.

  117. Nobody

    96 Nabakov

    It’s no vast secret:

    Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister, said Israel was in an “all-out war against Hamas”, while Brigadier-General Dan Harel, the Israeli deputy chief of staff, said that his forces would erase every trace of Hamas from Gaza’s crowded cities. “After this operation there will not be a single Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game,” the general said. “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas Government and all its wings. We are hitting government buildings, production factories, security wings and more.”

    Meanwhile:

    The goal of the operation is to topple Hamas,” Haim Ramon, the deputy to Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, said. It was the first time since it launched its blistering offensive that Israel has openly stated that regime change is its ultimate goal. “We will stop firing immediately if someone takes the responsibility of this government, anyone but Hamas,” Mr Ramon said. “We are favourable to any other government to take the place of Hamas.”

    Such a shame that the new, nicer government in Gaza no longer has any “government buildings, production factories, security wings and more”, most of which belonged to the Gazan people, and not Hamas. Simply smashing! Have fun governing, suckers, from craters!

  118. Desipis

    What would the appropriate reaction for Israel when they found the tunnels?

  119. patrickm

    Desipis; Lebanon has no tunnels and no Israelies checking trucks that come across its border with either food or weapons. And no lebanese check Israeli shipments either. Thats exactly what will happen with a Palestinian state. Tunnels are only for prisons! Te Palestinians are not going to the back of the Bus directed by anyone!

    Get used to the fact that the war for greater Israel is ending in defeat.

  120. Marlon

    “What would the appropriate reaction for Israel when they found the tunnels?”

    If I was an Israeli, I would be asking if I could use them for air raid shelters.

    They well may need them shortly if this fiasco escalates.

  121. Desipis

    Thats exactly what will happen with a Palestinian state.

    Assuming the Palestinian state doesn’t go to war with Israel.

  122. Shaun
  123. Mark

    Ok, this thread is starting to get a little long as well so I’ve started a new one here:

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2009/01/08/eyeless-in-gaza-iv-open-democracy-edition/