Noam Sheizaf writes: I’ve exchanged emails with people in Gaza in the past few days. These are people who don’t care much for Hamas in their everyday lives, whether due to its fundamentalist ideology, political oppression or other aspects of its rule. But they do support Hamas in its war against Israel; for them, fighting the siege is their war of independence. Or at least one part of it.
The demand that the people of Gaza protest against Hamas, often heard in Israel today, is absurd. Even if we disregard the fact that Israelis themselves hate protests in times of war, they still expect the Palestinians to conduct a civil uprising under fire. The people of Gaza support Hamas in its war against Israel because they perceive it to be part of their war of independence. A Hamas warrior who swears by the Quran is no different from a Vietcong reciting The Internationale before leaving for battle. These kind of rituals leave a strong impression, but they are not the real story.
Israelis, both left and right, are wrong to assume that Hamas is a dictatorship fighting Israel against its people’s will. Hamas is indeed a dictatorship, and there are many Palestinians who would gladly see it fall, but not at this moment in time. Right now I have no doubt that most Palestinians support the attacks on IDF soldiers entering Gaza; they support kidnapping as means to release their prisoners (whom they see as prisoners of war) and the unpleasant fact is that most of them, I believe, support firing rockets at Israel.
“If we had planes and tanks to fight the IDF, we wouldn’t need to fire rockets,” is a sentence I have heard more than once. As an Israeli, it is unpleasant for me to hear, but one needs to at least try and understand what lies behind such a position. What is certain is that bombing Gaza will not change their minds. On the contrary.
“But if they didn’t fire rockets or launch terror attacks there would be no siege. So what do they want?” the Israeli public asks. After all, we already left Gaza. [Continue reading...]
When Israelis say “we left Gaza,” it’s as though the territory was granted independence and political autonomy. Of course withdrawal meant no such thing.
“The disengagement [from Gaza] is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians,” said Dov Weisglass, adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Indeed, by removing a few thousand vulnerable Jewish settlers and Israeli troops, one of the most tangible effects of this so-called withdrawal was to make Gaza easier to bomb.
As soon as Israel puts troops back on the ground in battle, the clock starts ticking. Sooner or later, the price — in terms of Israeli casualties — risks becoming unsustainable. The alternative — occasional air strikes — is as easy as mowing the lawn.
All that Hamas can do is try and make the cost of the latest operation as high as possible and by this measure, in the eye of some observers, Hamas can already declare victory.
Ariel Ilan Roth, Executive Director at Israel Institute, who has served in the Israeli navy, writes:
War is not an exercise in fairness, but in the attainment of strategic objectives.
And, on that score, Hamas has already won. It has shattered the necessary illusion for Israelis that a political stalemate with the Palestinians is cost-free for Israel. It has shown Israelis that, even if the Palestinians cannot kill them, they can extract a heavy psychological price. It has also raised the profile of the Palestinian cause and reinforced the perception that the Palestinians are weak victims standing against a powerful aggressor. Down the road, that feeling is sure to be translated into pressure on Israel, perhaps by politicians and certainly by social movements whose objective is to isolate Israel politically and damage it through economic boycotts.
As multiple airline now cancel flights to Israel because of safety concerns, they might not be joining the boycott movement (BDS), but the effect could to some degree be the same.