Is Israel committing war crimes in Gaza? The mountains of press reports and accounts aside, the above photo alone would suggest that it is indeed. When one razes with bombs an entire, densely populated section of town—no matter how many rockets may or may not have been fired from there (and I personally will not take the IDF’s claims on this at face value)—, one may charitably say that it was done with wanton disregard for civilian casualties (of which there were, in Shuja’iyya, a few hundred). And if Human Rights Watch says Israel has been committing war crimes in Gaza, that’s proof enough for me.
À propos, Hussein Ibish, writing in NOW (July 22nd) on “Israel’s latest self-inflicted wound,” says that “[t]he incredible level of human suffering and civilian casualties in Gaza will haunt Israel for years to come.”
Eyal Weizman—an architect and, entre autres, Professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation—has a piece in Al Jazeera English (July 14th) entitled “Gaza attacks: Lethal warnings.” The lede: International law is being abused in order to enable attacks on civilians in Gaza.
In a somewhat different vein, the prominent columnist Nahum Barnea argued on Ynetnews.com (July 21st) that “Hamas, not Israel, is running [the] conflict.” The lede: Shift to ground warfare pushed aside Israel’s huge advantage thanks to Iron Dome system. All weapon systems Hamas specializes in are now being used against IDF soldiers.
Former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, in a must read interview in Spiegel Online International (July 24th), asserted that “‘All the conditions are there for an explosion’.” Among other things, “he speaks of the current clash between Israel and the Palestinians, what must be done to achieve peace and the lack of leadership in the Middle East.” Again, this one is worth reading.
Since the IDF launched its Operation Protective Edge on July 8th—and which has killed far more civilians in Gaza than the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense—, one has been struck by the muted reaction in the international community, as it is generally referred to, and particularly among the Arab states—and despite the street demonstrations in Western cities and elsewhere, not to mention the blood-curdling rage on social media. How to explain? In point of fact, the major international actors—including Arab states—are supporting Israel in its campaign to degrade Hamas. The deaths of civilians are naturally regretted but, geopolitically-speaking, Israel has the international green light to do what it is doing.
The US and collective European position does not need to be detailed here but as for the Arab one, this piece (July 25th) in Middle East Eye that I came across today, “Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in daily contact over Gaza,” is most interesting. Money quote
The war aims of the [Israel-Saudi Arabia-Egypt] troika are described by Debka [Net Weekly, a publication of a website close to Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad] as smashing Hamas’ military wing, downgrading its political influence, preventing the US from interfering in their policy, and installing a new government in Gaza once Hamas has been crushed. Debka says that in order to get Saudi and Egyptian consent, Netanyahu had to sacrifice one of the central tenets of Israeli policy – to keep Gaza and the West Bank separate. He consented instead to the rise of a unified Palestinian Authority.
Très intéressant, comme j’ai dit…
Also in this vein is an earlier report (July 20th) by Middle East Eye’s David Hearst on how the “Saudi Israeli alliance [is] forged in blood.” The blood being that of the Palestinians killed in Shuja’iyya…
And then there’s this item, dated July 10th, on Vladimir Putin telling a visiting delegation of rabbis that “‘I support the struggle of Israel’“…
One of the big revelations—to le grand public at least—in this IDF mowing operation is Hamas’s military tunnel network—not only its existence but its extent. E.g. see the Ynetnews analysis of July 21st on “[h]ow Gaza became an underground monster,” plus this one of July 22nd on how the “[t]unnel threat could have been removed long ago.”
And then there’s this important piece (July 26th) by The Jewish Daily Forward’s J.J. Goldberg on the “Gaza tunnels: How they work, what Israel knew,” in which he translates portions of an analysis by Yediot Ahronot’s military analyst Alex Fishman, who concludes that
The preparations that Hamas undertook in the area of tunneling, rocket production, smuggling military equipment, training forces and strengthening their endurance all point to one clear conclusion: this is not an army of barefoot hooligans. There is planning, command, technology and doctrine. It’s possible to tip one’s hat to their professionalism for a moment, before going in and demolishing their national projects.
See also Goldberg’s accompanying dispatch, “Israel’s latest fib: ‘Gaza tunnels were [a] ‘surprise’.”
For a mainstream Israeli view of what’s been going on, see the commentary (July 23rd) by The Times of Israel founding editor David Horovitz, “The terrible cost of thwarting Hamas.” The lede: The Israeli national mood is now a mixture of anguish at the toll of IDF dead, anger at aspects of the international response, and confidence in the troops and (atypically) the political leadership.
And for an Israeli non-leftist academic perspective (July 20th), see Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir, both of Bar Ilan University, on “Mowing the grass in Gaza.” Executive summary:
The Israeli military offensive in Gaza reflects the assumption that Israel is in a protracted intractable conflict. It is unlikely that Israel can purge Hamas from Palestinian society, nor is a political solution likely to be achieved. Instead, Israel is acting in accordance with a “mowing the grass” strategy. After a period of military restraint, Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior and degrade its military capabilities – aiming at achieving a period of quiet.
Doesn’t sound good for the people of Gaza, that’s for sure.
À suivre, très certainement.