NEWS & OPINION: Israel needs another war; collective punishment continues in Gaza; Hamas turns twenty

Bring us war in Gaza

In the end, we will enter Gaza. Not because a “major blow” or “wide-scale operation” can really convince a million and a half people living under siege conditions and poverty that they have nothing left to lose and it is worthwhile to rebel against Hamas. This sense of helplessness already exists in any case. For this purpose, unbearable sanctions have been imposed, which are again based on the same distorted conception that failed in Lebanon.

According to this conception, if civilian targets are hit – and this time we are talking about civilians – the people will rebel against Hamas, and everything will be rosy. But we cannot ignore the contradiction here. If the Israeli sanctions – sharply reducing fuel supplies, the plan to cut electricity, closing crossing points and preventing the movement of goods – were really working, there would be no need for a military attack.

Can a military operation succeed where sanctions have failed? This is precisely the moment to remember that the Qassam rockets and arms smuggling via the Philadelphi route tunnels did not start after sanctions were imposed. They were there when the Israel Defense Forces fully controlled Gaza, when targeted and non-targeted liquidations were the rule, and when Israeli intelligence knew where every car was headed. The IDF’s reentry to the Strip, with all its armor and aerial might, assumes that this time the result will be different – without a convincing explanation. [complete article]

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza reduced to beggary

The batteries are the size of a button on a man’s shirt, small silvery dots that power hearing aids for several hundred Palestinian students taught by the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza City.

Now the batteries, marketed by Radio Shack, are all but used up. The few that are left are losing power, turning voices into unintelligible echoes in the ears of Hala Abu Saif’s 20 first-grade students.

The Israeli government is increasingly restricting the import into the Gaza Strip of batteries, anesthesia drugs, antibiotics, tobacco, coffee, gasoline, diesel fuel and other basic items, including chocolate and compressed air to make soft drinks.

This punishing seal has reduced Gaza, a territory of almost 1.5 million people, to beggar status, unable to maintain an effective public health system, administer public schools or preserve the traditional pleasures of everyday life by the sea.

“Essentially, it’s the ordinary people, caught up in the conflict, paying the price for this political failure,” said John Ging, director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, which serves the majority refugee population. “The humanitarian situation is atrocious, and it is easy to understand why — 1.2 million Gazans now relying on U.N. food aid, 80,000 people who have lost jobs and the dignity of work. And the list goes on.” [complete article]

On 20th anniversary, Hamas vows never to recognize Israel

More than 200,000 Palestinians rallied yesterday in Gaza City to mark the Hamas movement’s 20th anniversary, where deposed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said that whoever declares he will never recognize Israel earns “the people’s love.” The crowd chanted: “We will never recognize Israel.”

In a fiery speech, Haniyeh cited the achievements of Hamas and “the resistance” throughout the region. He cited Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He also listed Afghanistan and Iraq against the U.S.-led forces.

Haniyeh said that Hamas is willing to negotiate with Fatah, but without the preconditions the rival party is demanding.

In a televised message from Damascus, Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal said: “Our people are able to launch a third and fourth uprising until the dawn of victory arrives.” [complete article]

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