Avi Shlaim – Blair: Gaza’s great betrayer

From The Guardian:

The savage attack Israel ­unleashed against Gaza on 27 December 2008 was both immoral and unjustified. Immoral in the use of force against civilians for political purposes. Unjustified because Israel had a political alternative to the use of force. The home-made Qassam rockets fired by Hamas militants from Gaza on Israeli towns were only the ­excuse, not the reason for Operation Cast Lead. In June 2008, Egypt had ­brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. ­Contrary to Israeli propaganda, this was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters. When Hamas ­retaliated, Israel seized the renewed rocket attacks as the ­excuse for launching its insane offensive. If all Israel wanted was to protect its citizens from Qassam rockets, it only needed to ­observe the ceasefire.

While the war failed in its primary aim of regime change in Gaza, it left ­behind a trail of death, devastation, ­destruction and indescribable human suffering. Israel lost 13 people, three in so-called friendly fire. The Palestinian death toll was 1,387, including 773 civilians (115 women and 300 children), and more than 5,300 people were injured. The ­entire population of 1.5 million was left traumatised. Across the Gaza Strip, 3,530 homes were completely ­destroyed, 2,850 severely damaged and 11,000 suffered structural damage.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, tending to the needs of four million Palestinian ­refugees, stated that Gaza had been “bombed back, not to the Stone Age, but to the mud age”; its inhabitants ­reduced to building homes from mud after the fierce 22-day offensive.

War crimes were committed and possibly even crimes against humanity, documented in horrific detail in Judge Richard Goldstone’s report for the UN human rights council. The report ­condemned both Israel and Hamas, but reserved its strongest criticism for Israel, accusing it of deliberately targeting and terrorising civilians in Gaza. The British government did not take part in the vote on the report, sending a signal to the hawks in Israel that they can continue to disregard the laws of war. Gordon Brown’s 2007 appointment as a patron of the Jewish National Fund UK presumably played a part in the adoption of this ­pusillanimous position.

One year on, the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas on earth, continues to teeter on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. Israel’s ­illegal blockade of Gaza, in force since June 2007, restricts the flow not only of arms but also food, fuel and medical supplies to well below the minimum necessary for normal, everyday life. Reconstruction work has hardly begun because of the Israeli ban on bringing in cement and other building materials to Gaza. Thousands of families still live in the ruins of their former homes. Hospitals, health facilities, schools, government buildings and mosques cannot be rebuilt. Nor can the basic ­infrastructure of the Gaza Strip, including Gaza City’s sewage disposal plant. Today, 80% of Gaza’s population ­remain dependent on food aid, 43% are unemployed, and 70% live on less than $1 a day.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwitterrss
Facebooktwittermail

2 thoughts on “Avi Shlaim – Blair: Gaza’s great betrayer

  1. Bill Edwards

    Sadly, the way Israel provoked a response from Hamas to get the pretext it required to attack Gaza is not an isolated occurrence. Time and again over the past 40 years of Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of the West Bank, anytime the prospects for a sensible solution to the problem appeared likely, Israeli governments concocted excuses to break off talks by provoking one or more of the easily provoked Palestinian militants. Easily provoked because their grievances are many and long standing.

    Why has every Israeli government engaged is such tactics? For the very simple reason that Israel is determined to absorb the entire West Bank, just as it has all of Jerusalem, but that takes time and delaying tactics are a necessary tool of this death-by-a-thousand cuts conquest.

  2. David R. Evans

    “Why has every Israeli government engaged is such tactics? For the very simple reason that Israel is determined to absorb the entire West Bank, just as it has all of Jerusalem, but that takes time and delaying tactics are a necessary tool of this death-by-a-thousand cuts conquest.”

    And why has the U.S. repeatedly blocked action of the war crimes and other illegal actions of Israel at the UN Security Council? Because Israel’s continuing aggression guarantees instability and an excuse for US military presence in the region of the light sweet crude oil sump. While US gets only 10% of Middle East oil, hegemonic control over where the remainder is shipped is an important geopolitical hammer that is wielded by US business interests. Just as US troops are securing safe ground for oil pipelines across AFPAK, and just as US troops are busily undermining and imposing various oil and mineral-rich governments across Africa and South America, US military presence in the Middle East is key to world dominance. When one hears the comic-book simplistic term, “Spreading freedom and democracy”, think, “Acquiring resources and control for Empire.”
    That’s what we do. http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm

Comments are closed.