Genocide in Gaza and Israel’s tunnel vision – analysis

Gaza school shellingHumanity heaved a sigh of huge relief when UN and US together announced that both Israel and the Hamas had agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire starting from 8 a.m. local time on Friday Aug 1 and that the negotiations between the two sides mediated by Egypt would begin in Cairo the same day. Alas, the relief was short-lived, only 90 minutes. The Israeli airstrike on Sunday (Aug 3) on a UN-run school only confirms the fragility of hope.

The Western media true to its tradition of biased reporting basically said that both sides were accusing each other to be the first to break the ceasefire. This assessment does not tally with what Israel’s military spokesperson Peter Lerner has told the media. According to him, around 9.30 a.m. a small number of Israeli soldiers, possibly three, inspecting a tunnel in the Rafah area were attacked by Hamas militants coming out of the tunnel. One of them had a vest with explosives; he killed himself and two Israeli soldiers; the third Israeli soldier, Hadar Goldin, 23, was missing.

It is important to analyze what has happened and why. Did the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) expect the Hamas fighters to surrender meekly once they were spotted? Did the fighters know that there was a ceasefire? The most important question is: How did any one expect the ceasefire to last when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made it clear that the operation of locating and destroying tunnels would go ahead despite the ceasefire? In other words, was it a ceasefire? It follows that the ceasefire promoters did not think through the implications of Netanyahu’s caveat about the tunnels.

Prime Minister Netanyahu subsequently sharply admonished US “not to second guess him” about the credibility of the Hamas when it agrees to a ceasefire. Did he believe that IDF could carry on with the destruction of tunnels and that the Hamas fighters coming in the way would surrender meekly? No. Most probably, he calculated that if the Hamas fighters come in the way and if they resisted that can be a good excuse for breaking the ceasefire.

The response of US President Barack Obama to the reported abduction of Hadar Goldin is worth studying. Obama “unequivocally condemned” the killing of two soldiers and the kidnapping of a third. “If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible”, he said. When Israel killed more than a dozen and arrested about a thousand Palestinians in the West Bank in early July, did Obama raise his voice? The inevitable conclusion is that the Nobel Peace Prize winner cares only for Israeli lives and that he is incapable of recognizing the Palestinians as fellow human beings who too have an “inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness” as the US Constitution proclaimed more than two centuries ago.

Hamas had declared that it was not holding any Israeli soldier, but Obama was not going to listen to them. On Aug 2, after much carpet bombing of Rafah and elsewhere, IDF announced that Goldin was dead. We do not know whether he was a victim of the bombing.

We conclude that it was an ill-conceived ceasefire that was not meant to last. Those who announced it are sufficiently worldly-wise to have known it beforehand.

The IDF has attacked seven UN shelters. The latest is a school in Rafah. The excuse given by Israel and its apologists is that the Hamas was keeping weapons and/or launching rockets from these shelters. Once again the Western media has consistently upheld the Israeli version.

Let us look at the facts as given by UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency)’s Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl to the UN Security Council on July 31. “On three occasions we have found in empty UNRWA facilities rockets belonging to armed groups in Gaza. We immediately alerted all relevant parties to their existence, and we strongly condemned placement of weapons in our schools.” It would appear that IDF left out the empty shelters and attacked the ones with people. If this is not the case, let the IDF tell us of at least one empty UN facility it attacked because it had information of storage of weapons. So far there does not seem to have been no attack by IDF on UN facilities without killing the innocent.

Gaza has an area of 240 sq km and a population of 1.8 million, that works out to 75,000 per Obviously, Hamas fighters and the civilian population will be sharing common space. Unlike IDF, Hamas does not have a headquarters protected by an Iron Dome.

Incidentally, the pro-Israeli propaganda has been so singularly successful that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to the conclusion that the Hamas is entirely responsible for the dance of death and destruction being staged in Gaza. He said this on July 30 after the UN and US held Israel responsible for the shelling of a UN school, killing 17 civilians. Harper was convinced that it was the responsibility of Hamas to have invited Israeli bombs on the school.

It is important to understand what is happening and why Israel is enjoying impunity. To my mind, Israel suffers from an eye disease called tunnel vision. Netanyahu sees the tunnels and he wants to destroy them. But, he refuses to ask himself why do the Palestinians build such tunnels? Any one in a prison will try to dig a tunnel to the outside to be free or to attack the invader. Israel should know that during the Bar Khokba Revolt (AD 132-136) Jews resisting Roman occupation did dig tunnels. Nor does Netanyahu recognize that Hamas fighters are only a small portion of the population of Gaza. Can he set fire to a house to kill a rat inside?

The economic blockade Israel imposed on Gaza with the culpable concurrence of Egypt was meant to prevent the Palestinians from living with dignity and to deny them the oxygen of economic activity essential for the survival of a community. A little more reflection will show that Israel’s illegal and illegitimate occupation, in contravention of UN resolutions, is the root cause of this endless conflict. It is intellectually dishonest to argue that it is the digging of tunnels or launching of rockets by the Hamas that originates and sustains this conflict whose human toll is mounting.

Israel is not the only one suffering from tunnel vision. The US, EU, and most of the rest of the so-called international community suffer from it. One wonders whether there is any true international community at all when a part of it is being subjected to genocidal attacks with impunity by a state that owes its being to humanity’s horror of the Holocaust and the associated genocide.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan did say that what Israel is doing is tantamount to genocide. Ironically, as the Holocaust Encyclopedia tells us the term ‘genocide’ was invented by the eminent Polish jurist, Raphael Lemkin, a Jew in 1944. He formed the word ‘genocide’ by combining geno-, from the Greek word for race or tribe, with -cide, derived from the Latin word for killing. In proposing this new term, Lemkin had in mind “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.”

Israel’s impunity can be explained only by the tunnel vision shared by it, the West, and most of the rest. The prominent Israeli daily Haaretz (Aug 4) carries an editorial on Israel’s tunnel vision and endorses the need for Israel to seek peace with its neighbours seriously.

Image credit: http: Belal Khaled/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images,

The above article was initially published in

August 11th, 2014 | category:international-affairs |

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