Israeli barbarism continue unabated
West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem are under illegal military occupation of Israel for the last 47 years. When Hamas won elections in 2003, Israel refused to recognize the election results. The US and the West backed Israeli stance and jointly declared Hamas a terrorist outfit. Israel then created rift between Fatah Party led by Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas. Consequently, Abbas led Fatah formed a government in Israeli controlled West Bank while Hamas seized control of Gaza Strip in 2007 in the wake of sweeping win in legislative elections and formed a government. Since then, Gaza Strip consisting of 1.7 million Palestinians has remained under Israeli economic siege and even Egypt under pro-US/Israeli Hosni Mubarak became part of the siege. Tel Aviv refuses to honor the Oslo Accord it had signed in 1993, giving Palestinians the right to establish an independent State in Gaza Strip and West Bank with Jerusalem as its capital or Jerusalem becoming a common capital for both. Two-State solution goes against the master plan of establishing Greater Israel. According to Robert Fisk, ‘Future Palestinian State will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel’.
Gaza was subjected to frequent aerial and artillery assaults as well as ground offensives in order to fail the Hamas regime. Israeli forces launched brutal offensives in 2007, 2008/09, Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012 (8-day war). In each offensive, hundreds of Gazans died. Egypt added to the miseries of people of Gaza by blocking Rafah crossing and destroying secret tunnels opening into Sinai. Only time the two were on friendly terms was during the one year rule of Morsi from June 2012 to July 2, 2013, who helped in arranging truce in November 2012, but ouster of Morsi regime and replacement by pro-Israel military regime has once again put Hamas under huge disadvantage. Iran helped Hamas in improving its defensive capability by providing rockets. Alignment of Hezbollah and Hamas during Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 put Israel on the back foot for the first time.
Freedom flotilla was organized in June 2010 to provide food and relief goods to the stranded people of Gaza. The flotilla carrying 600 peace activists was attacked by Israeli commandos in the high seas, killing nine Turks and injuring 60. In reaction Turkish PM Erdogan expelled Israeli ambassador and recalled own ambassador. He asked for official apology, pay compensation to families of those who lost their lives and to lift embargo on Gazans. Israel refused to apologize since it would have meant acceptance of responsibility of crime. Security Council report was delayed at the insistence of USA. The UN failed to apportion blame. It also faulted flotilla for acting ‘recklessly’ and declared blockade as legal. Turkey rightly rejected the biased report. Turkey’s bold stance enhanced stature of Erdogan.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian status at the UN from ‘observer entity’ to ‘non-member state’, which by implication was a de facto recognition of an independent Palestinian State. Reconciliation pact was signed between Fatah Party and Islamist Hamas on April 23, 2014 which called for uniting the two feuding factions and forming a unity government. The two sides agreed to establish an interim government of independents that would organize elections, thus ending seven years old rivalry which suited Israel. On May 29, 2014, President Mahmoud Abbas ignoring threat of sanctions by Israel asked PM Rami Hamdullah to head a new national unity government and the long awaited unity government took oath on June 2, 2014 at Ramallah. Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah and his cabinet resigned and 17-member cabinet, all politically independent, was selected after mutual consultations of Fatah and Hamas. Although the reconciliation agreement has held, a lot of bad blood still remains between Hamas and West Bank leadership.
Israel is highly perturbed over the unification of Fatah and Hamas and in reaction has established 1500 new settlements in New Jerusalem and West Bank. Israel is trying its best to break the unity and reactivate their enmity. In revenge of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths on June 12, 2014, alleged to be the handiwork of Hamas activists, a 15-year old Palestinian Tariq Abu Khudair was arrested by Israeli Police in East Jerusalem on July 3 and beaten to pulp. His 16-year old cousin M. Abu Khudair was kidnapped, beaten to near-death and then burnt to death by the three Israeli teens in Jerusalem on July 4. Over 460 Palestinians in West Bank and East Jerusalem were arrested and jailed on suspicion and their homes demolished. Social media sprang into action and young Jewish boys and girls started posting flurry of messages seeking death to Palestinians. An individual act has subjected 1.7 million Gazans to collective punishment.
These vicious acts prompted the armed wing of Hamas Izzel-Deen al-Qassam to fire rockets over Israeli southern towns including city of Ashdod in protest. In reaction, Israeli Defence Forces (IDFs) launched an airstrike on July 1, striking 15 Hamas sites in Gaza Strip. From July 8 onwards, Israel broke the 2012 truce and unleashed Operation Protective Edge. Till July 15, 1300 aerial strikes have killed 194 Palestinians, mostly women and children including handicapped, injured 1230 and destroyed 500 homes. Hamas homes are the preferential targets. Over 77% fatalities are of innocent civilians.
This is the worst flare-up in last two years and is for sure in reaction to reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. Israeli leadership particularly defence minister Moshe Ya’alon wishes to completely obliterate Hamas infrastructure once and for all to prevent future rocket attacks and has readied plans for a ground offensive. Dani Dayon urged the government to cut off fuel and electricity to Gaza. Netanyahu has asked Gazans to vacate northern Gaza. Fearing ground assault, over 10,000 Gazans have taken shelter in installations of UN agency. Hospitals are short of medicines and equipment. Repeated bombardments are destroying the vulnerable water system. Hundreds of thousands are now without water.
Hamas has fired 777 rockets during this period most of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Amid worldwide protests condemning genocide of people of Gaza by IDFs, Egypt proposed a ceasefire on July 15 without consulting Hamas. It was silent on sea blockade and compensation for human/material losses incurred by Gazans. These shortfalls shortened the life of ceasefire to six hours only. Continuation of rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups like Islamic Jihad, Popular Front/Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine impelled Israel to resume offensive.
Champions of democracy and human rights mired in hypocrisy, double-standards and Orwellian lies are projecting Israel as the victim of aggression and patting it on the back that it has the right to defend itself and to go any length to safeguard its people. The US led west is shedding copious tears over the so-called piteous plight of the Israelis. The Israelis are mourning that they have to run for cover each time a rocket is fired and that they cannot sleep peacefully because of the noise of rockets. In the calculation of Israel and biased west, Palestinians are an expendable commodity while Israeli Jews are holy cows. For the US, security of Israel is top most priority. The western world is silent over vicious bombing of IDFs massacring so many in open prison of Gaza and is not moved over the heart-wrenching sights of cruelly killed infants and wailing mothers. World powers including the UN are insisting upon Hamas to stop rocket attacks that have caused death to one Israeli soldier and injury to two and are politely requesting Israel to show ‘maximum restraint’.
The US Presidential candidates have traditionally badmouthed Palestinians and defended Israel’s policies during election campaigns. No president can dare talk ill of Israel or turn down its demands howsoever unreasonable and immoral. Even casting doubt on controversial Holocaust is an unforgivable sin. Election of President and Congress members in USA largely depends upon Jewish votes and backing of Israel. Their helplessness can be gauged from the fact that George W. Bush was virtually pushed by the American Jewish lobby and Israel to invade Iraq when the whole world was against it.
Netanyahu refused Obama’s request for a settlement freeze in early 2009. Obama was also cornered to give a definite deadline for Iran to end enrichment of uranium and to give an assurance that Iran will be attacked if it rejects the ultimatum. Ignoring the public sentiments, both the Democrats and Republicans outdid each other to win the favors of Israel. 70% Americans were against attacking Iran, but Israel warned, threatened and blackmailed the US government to attack Iran and destroy its nuclear facilities. Tel Aviv didn’t want to do it at its own because of huge risk involved. It wanted the US to accomplish this job or offer its shoulder to fire the gun. Benjamin Netanyahu openly threatened Obama to do the needful or make way for Romney to takeover. He went to the extent of saying that Israel would bomb Iran and start a war if the US failed to do so. He ignored Obama’s services in the way of declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ignoring Israel’s sea-terrorism against Peace Flotilla, stepping up anti-Muslim activities such as accelerated drone war against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, toppling Qaddafi regime and now trying to bring down Syrian regime.
Mitt Romney bent over backwards to get into the good books of Israel. He not only castigated oppressed Palestinians but also assured Israel that he will order attack on Iran. Tel Aviv is unhappy over Iran-US nuclear deal and wants full elimination of Iranian nuclear enrichment capability. Owing to Israeli pressure, John Kerry acted very tough with his Iranian counterpart in Vienna on July 14, 2014. Since interim deal in November 2013, Iran has frozen its uranium enrichment in return for $7 billion in sanctions relief. Despite bending over backwards, Moshe Ya’alon had the temerity to call John Kerry as ‘obsessive and messianic’.
This policy of appeasing Israel has been going on for decades and there are no signs of any change in this policy despite the fact that over a period of time the American public has got weary of Israel. While they detest the repulsive arrogance and high-handedness of Israeli leaders and feel pity for the victims of Israeli unabated savagery, they abhor their leadership getting dictated by Israel and that too at the cost of American interests. They have seen the ugly face of Israel which is in illegal occupation of Palestinian lands since 1967 and is consistently gobbling up additional territory under the scheme of forward settlement of Jews and persecuting the subjugated Palestinians.
They are now questioning as to why their government remains subservient to the commands of Tel Aviv when it doles out largest share of aid ($3 billion) to it each year. They ask as to why Israel’s wanton crimes and injustices against Palestinians are being willfully ignored and its criminal acts backed. Such resentful sentiments are heard all over the world and voices of concern against Israeli Apartheid can be heard from all quarters. Calls are being made to try Israeli leaders for war crimes in international court of justice. Even Jews in Israel are turning away from vindictive and violent policies pursued by their leaders. Support to Israel is diminishing in Europe as well.
Notwithstanding rising concerns of Americans and Europeans about Israel’s imperialism, Tony Blair who was the chief instigator of the genocidal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and pathological hater of Islamists ironically holds the office of peace mediator in the Middle East. Rather than playing a role in defusing Gaza crisis, he is busy fanning hatred against Islam and Islamists urging the G-20 as well as China and Russia to get united against surging Islamic radicalism in Middle East which in his view poses biggest threat to global security. What he implies is that Israeli existence is under dire threat.
While the Muslim rulers, the OIC and Arab League are least concerned over the genocide of people of Gaza, I wonder why the ISIL, al-Qaeda and dozens of Islamic militant groups shedding their blood in Syria and Iraq are not getting united to fight the Israelis. Why the TTP doesn’t train suicide bombers for Israel? Even if we accept the hypothesis that these militant groups are CIA-Mossad controlled, sooner than later, the surging Islamic lava in the Middle East will become uncontrollable and after taking care of the puppets of USA is bound to drift towards Israel, which is an artificial implant in the Muslim heartland. International community must collectively exert pressure on Israel to immediately stop its madness and vacate the Palestinian lands under its illegal occupation and grant Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homeland.
The writer is a retired Brig/war veteran, defence analyst/columnist/historian, Director Measac Research Centre and Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan. firstname.lastname@example.org