By Dr. Elias Akleh
November 28th, 2012
No Palestinian, and definitely not I among them, would ever thank crazy Netanyahu for his genocidal crimes against Palestinians especially his latest criminal war against Gaza. There is an Arabic saying that blessings at times come in the form of disguised calamities. Netanyahu was the carrier of such a disguised calamity on the Palestinians in his latest genocidal war against Gaza.
The calamity came in the form of the Israeli military operation “Pillar of Cloud” dropping thousands of tons of bombs on Gaza Strip within 8 days that killed 170 Palestinians, mainly civilians including 34 children, and wounding more than 1100 others. The Israeli air raids had also caused a rough estimate of over a billion dollars worth of damages to infrastructures, buildings, and homes. This included 42 government buildings and offices, 15 schools including UNRWA schools, private institutions such as news broadcast centers, total destruction of 200 apartment buildings, partial damage to 8 thousand other apartment buildings, one clinic, and three mosques. Again, Israeli terror struck the hearts of Palestinians specifically the helpless children.
On the other side, the response of the Palestinian fighters was totally different and more effective compared to that of the 2008/09 “Cast Lead” operation. As the natural consequence of previous experiences Palestinians were more ready this time. They responded with long range missiles that reached as far as the Zionist capital; Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. Through the 8 days of Israeli aggression, Palestinian fighters had launched a total of 1573 missiles. Israel admitted of the killing of 17; mainly soldiers (the majority of Israelis are either active soldiers or army reservists), the wounding of 652 others, damage to 718 structures, the burning of 240 vehicles, and damage to 30 other facilities. The missiles hit an Israeli naval gun-boat, an armored vehicle, and had downed 7 Israeli fighter planes as declared by Mahmoud Al-Zahar; the active Foreign Minister in Hamas-led government. Relatives and friends in Israel had told me that the damage was more extensive than what the Israelis are willing to admit.
Looking at the numbers one may conclude that Israel had won this round. Israel had killed more people and had destroyed more infrastructures. Yet numbers are deceiving and are not the proper measure to determine who the winner is in this round. In previous Israeli aggressions against Gaza the whole Strip used to be effected; normal daily life was abruptly and aggressively disrupted, businesses came to a standstill, infrastructures were destroyed, and people were killed. All this used to happen while Israelis used to continue living their normal lives and business as usual. This round Israelis had a taste of their own terror. Palestinian missiles had reached major Israeli cities and had forced Israeli life in these cities to a standstill too.
Israeli terror was met with similar terror. For the first time in 20 years sirens screamed in major Israeli cities and Israelis were herded into shelters. This was one main reason that pushed Israeli leaders to beg their international political allies to pressure leaders of some Middle Eastern countries; Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to convince Palestinians to accept a ceasefire. So we witnessed officials such as the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, the Envoy of the Quartet on Middle East; Tony Blair, the Secretary General of the United Nation General Assembly; Ban Ki-moon, and the US Secretary of State; Hillary Clinton, shuttling between Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo asserting the right of the armed-to-the-teeth aggressor’s (Israel) self defense and denying it to the victims (Palestinians). Clinton interrupted her news media claimed “remarkable” journey with Obama to Burma and flew to Jerusalem to confirm America’s “solid rock” commitment to Israel. Yet these political figures warned Israel against any ground assault for they could not claim it as a form of self defense.
Besides the very high cost of their expensed bombs, the cost of their military machines, particularly the high cost of each ineffective Iron Dome missile and the cost of any ground assault, Israeli leaders could not have their major cities and their businesses shutdown and paralyzed for any period of time. Add, also, their political losses to the economic losses.
It was also reported that the Iron Dome System was running out of its missiles stock, and the Israeli army had pulled out the remaining Patriot missile battery from their training facility to add to the Iron Dome System. Israeli army would not have been able to protect their cities for long from Palestinian missiles. The very expensive, American-tax-money paid for Iron Dome System had utterly and shamefully failed to intercept the Palestinian missiles. Israel now will receive Raytheon’s allegedly more advanced missile system, paid for by American tax money, of course.
None of the declared Israeli military objectives of attacking Gaza was accomplished. In the past Israelis used to start wars and impose its conditions to end them. Now they no longer have the power to end any war whenever they want and with the conditions they want. One Israeli official declared: “we hit Gaza to stop their rockets from hitting Asqalan, Ashdod, and Be’er Sheva and we ended up having these rockets hitting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
In a militarized society, like Israel, a military failure has severe political repercussions. The first was Netanyahu’s blaming and firing his Military Secretary Major General Yohanan Locker and replacing him with Brigadier General Eyal Zamir. A second pawn fell when Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced he would quit politics after a new government is formed in the next election, January 2013. The political coalition of Netanyahu’s Likud and Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu seems to be breaking down by deserting members.
Israelis are taking to the streets criticizing poor decisions of Netanyahu’s government. Some, especially in mid and north cities, are criticizing Netanyahu for starting the war and demanding investigations, while others, in the south adjacent to Gaza Strip, are criticizing him for accepting ceasefire and not launching ground assault.
On the other side the Palestinians were given the chance to test the effectiveness of their newly acquired weapons that boosted their morale and confidence. They are no longer on the receiving end. They can more effectively defend themselves, inflict as much pain on the Israeli side, and impose ceasefire demands.
Besides the military war Palestinian hackers waged cyber war against Israeli main computing services and social network accounts. Hackers such as “ZCompanyHackingCrew” and “anonymous” were able to hack into accounts belonging to Israeli officials, such as Israeli Vice Prime Minister, Silvan Shalom, leaving anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian messages. Hackers were also able to sent threatening msm messages to the phones of thousands of Israeli soldiers preparing for ground assault on Gaza. They also had posted personal information of these soldiers; such as names, birthdates, and phone numbers. Israel had admitted it had been hit by 44 million hacking attempt by pro-Palestinian hackers during the 8 days of the Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Palestinian armed resistance had gained more support by all factions of Palestinians in Gaza, in occupied West Bank and in exile. Armed resistance had proven itself to be more effective in protecting Palestinians and in achieving gains than negotiations. Palestinians, in Gaza Strip as well as in the West Bank, are demanding reconciliation and unity. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Abbas, who were sitting idle while Gaza was under attack, are now losing further popularity compared to Hamas. The PA had wasted 20 years in futile negotiations gaining nothing but losing more land to extremist Israeli settlers, providing Israel with free security cooperation against Palestinian activists, and impoverishing Palestinian economy. On the other hand Hamas showed that the only way to regain Palestinian rights is through armed resistance only. Abbas was proven dead wrong in his political approach; it is his 20 years old peace negotiations that are futile and not Hamas’ rockets as he used to declare. Abbas now is desperate to win a political gain in his bid for observer non-member status at the UN General Assembly that would improve his popularity among Palestinians.
While under bombardment, Gaza has received global support while Israel got more condemnations. Locally, political delegations from different countries, starting with Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, had visited Gaza in solidarity while under attack. Although the Arab League convened late, after four days of the assault, and any effective decision, besides resorting to the UN, was sabotaged by the virtually American-occupied, pro-Zionist Qatar and Saudi Arabia, it sent a delegation, including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. On the international level popular demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza and in condemnation of Israel and the US took place in every continent including Europe and the Americas.
One important consequence of the Israeli aggression against Gaza is the changing role of Egypt after the ousting of Mubarak. Although not cancelling Camp David Agreement with Israel, yet, and not closing the Israeli embassy, and still under American, Qatari, and Saudi Arabian pressure, the newly elected President, Mohamed Morsi, cannot ignore the sentiments and demands of his citizens calling for cutting off all normalizations with Israel and the opening of all border crossings with Gaza. Egypt is gradually changing its position from providing services to Israel by applying pressure on Hamas, and being a partner with Israel in the siege on Gaza, to becoming a more overt supporter to Gaza.
The long history of Israeli genocidal crimes against Palestinians generally, and against Gaza specifically, had long tested the international popular humanitarian sentiments. More and more nongovernmental organizations from all over the world, including in the US and UK who support Israel unconditionally, are rising up against Israeli crimes calling for boycott and divestment from Israel and support for Palestinians.
During the last three years the Palestinian cause was neglected and pushed to the side due to what is claimed to be an Arab Spring. The Israeli latest attack had brought the Palestinian cause back to the front attention of the whole world. The demonstrations around the world in support for the Palestinian had shown again that occupied Palestine is the core issue for the Arab world, for the Islamic world, and for all international humanitarian organizations.
The victory of Gaza Palestinians in this round of military conflict ushers an important turning point in the Zionist/Arab conflict. Since its illegal establishment on usurped Palestinian land, the Zionist Israeli state used brutal force against Palestinians. All Palestinian concessions, giving up 82% of Palestine proper to Israelis, their acceptance of the two state solution, and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative were met with brutal Israeli military force. Force is the only language Israelis understand and live by. Armed resistance is the only solution left for Palestinians to protect their lives and to achieve their human rights. Hezbollah’s armed resistance had defeated the Israeli army and liberated Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000. In 2006 Hezbollah had shown again that popular armed resistance, rather than diplomacy, is the only deterrence that put a stop to Israeli aggression. Now Palestinian armed resistance in Gaza had also defeated Israeli aggression, protected Palestinian lives, and achieved some political gains.
Thank you … Gaza.