Elias Akleh: Gaza’s Surprises Shatter Netanyahu’s Political Ambitions
Israeli politicians had always sought political gain by spelling blood of helpless Palestinian civilians. With the Israeli election coming soon, next January, Netanyahu wanted to improve his chances of re-election by spelling more Palestinian blood in Gaza. He thought such an act would elevate him to a status of a hero, who protects his people from external threats. Yet Gaza is responding with one strong surprise after another that will undoubtedly shatter Netanyahu’s political ambitions.
During last month’s American/Israeli war games “Operation Austere Challenge” the Israeli army had violated the ceasefire with Hamas and killed Palestinian civilians in an attempt to provoke Palestinian fighters to launch their rockets so that Israel can test its newly upgraded Iron Dome System in a live situation. This started in mid October when Israeli air raid killed six Palestinians. The air raid started a tit-for -tat responses on both sides; Palestinian fighters responded by firing some rockets and Israeli war planes targeted Gaza similar to the air raid on October 29th. Israeli forces escalated this flare-up in November 8th by conducting a military incursion into Gaza near al-Qarara village and then moving to ‘Abasan village leveling large areas of Palestinian land amidst of indiscriminate shooting that killed a 13 years old Ahmad Abu Daqqa. In November 10th Palestinians repelled attacking Israeli forces by hitting an army jeep injuring 4 Israeli soldiers. A larger Israeli force attacked a civilian neighborhood and killed 7 Palestinian civilians including 3 children. Finally, at the end of the American/Israeli war games, a ceasefire was arranged and Ahmad al-Jabari, Chief of Staff of Hamas’ military wing, was carrying a copy of an Israeli draft of a permanent truce agreement to Hamas leadership when Israel assassinated him. The assassination of a top Hamas leader was thought by Netanyahu and his Likud party to win him more votes in January election.
Israelis thought that they had crippled the Palestinian defense capabilities during their 2008/2009 Cast Lead Operation. Hamas self-restraint response to Israeli aggression last month had led the Israelis to believe that the assassination of al-Jabari would be met with very limited response. But this naked Israeli provocation pushed Palestinians into what they hoped to become a deterrent response. Their response came very massive and carried shocking surprises to Israel.
The Gaza surprises came in the forms of large amounts of long-range missiles and rockets that reached the hearts of Israeli major cities among them Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem driving Israelis, including Netanyahu himself, into shelters. Sirens were heard in these cities for the first time after 20 years of calm after Saddam Hussein launched his missiles in 1991. Israeli life in these cities came to an interrupted halt that included the closing of Israeli Ben-Gurion airport. These rockets had penetrated all Israeli radar defenses and demonstrated the failure of the very expensive Iron Dome System under the real live situation. A second surprise came as a surface to air missile (SAM) that shot down one Israeli F-16 fighter plane, a drone, and lately an Apache helicopter. A third surprise was a direct hit to Israeli naval gunboat with a missile. And the final surprise was hitting an Israeli military jeep with a rocket and killing its occupants.
Palestinian fighters are finally giving Israeli citizens a taste of their own medicine by exacting a deterrent terror to the Israeli terror.
These surprises led the Israelis to launch their long pre-planned Operation Pillar of Cloud in an attempt to gain the upper hand in this round of confrontation. During last few months Israeli military officials, and especially Netanyahu, had openly threatened to hit Gaza again but did not specify any time frame for such an attack. Operation Pillar of Cloud was not planned to take place this month. Israel used fighter planes and naval gunboats to shell Gaza to compensate for the lack of forces on the ground. Israel did not call their reservists nor amassed their tanks on Gaza borders before assassinating al-Jabari. They did so after being hit with Gaza’s surprises.
By attacking the weakened impoverished besieged Gaza Strip the Israeli leaders meant for Operation Pillar of Cloud to improve the morale of their army and to restore Israel’s might as the dominating power in the region to re-instill fear in the hearts of Arab nations. Israel’s military status had suffered greatly after its defeat in the 2006 Lebanon war, after its failure in 2008/09 Gaza attack, and after Hezbollah penetrating Israel’s air space with its “Ayoub” drone pointing to the ineffectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome System. Internationally, Israel’s political status had also suffered due to Netanyahu’s childish demands to bomb Iran and Obama’s sidelining and ignoring him, and after the defeat of his dear friend Mitt Romney in the election campaign. And to top it all the Palestinian Authority decided to go to the UN asking for non-member observer status disregarding Israeli and American warnings.
Another main goal of this operation is to divert the attention of Israeli public from internal problems, such as poor economy, discrimination, social justice, high unemployment, and increased crime, to security issues and to silence criticism of government’s failure.
The official declared goals include fighting “terrorist” Hamas and Palestinian factions in Gaza to destroy their rocket manufacturing capabilities, and to ensure the safety and security of Israeli settlements and towns in the South neighboring Gaza Strip.
The claim by some analysts that Israel’s attack on Gaza is a prelude to an Israeli future attack on Iran, and that Israel is trying to assassinate top Hamas military leaders before hitting Iran in order to prevent Iran’s proxy Hamas from retaliation, is really a silly analysis. If Israel’s so-called unconquered army could not defeat Hezbollah’s fighters and could not overpower the poorly armed, limited resourced, and relatively small numbered Hamas fighters, how could it then face the well armed with advanced weapons, well trained, large numbered Iranian army with a largely resourceful country?
After watching their cities being paralyzed by a single Palestinian rocket and their citizens running scared into shelters, the Israelis hurried to their American protector begging the administration to pressure Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to somehow convince Hamas to accept a ceasefire. American and European puppet officials hastened to condemn Hamas and to support Israel’s right to defend its citizens stating that no country would stand silent while its citizens are being bombarded by rockets. Yet they discouraged any Israeli ground operation. The pro-Zionist American media waged a propaganda campaign justifying Israeli murder of whole Palestinian families and civilians; children and women, bombing of schools, homes, mosques and even churches, and targeting reporters and media centers by claiming that such casualties are unavoidable since Gaza is very densely populated and that Hamas stores its arms cache in schools, in mosques, in churches and even in civilian homes.
They ignored the fact that Israel is the occupying power, who had turned Gaza Strip into a concentration camp and a training killing field for their junior fighter pilots. They ignored the fact that Israel is the aggressor who had pushed Gaza Palestinian into a tight corner and left them no choice but to push back violently in self-defense. They ignored that Palestinians, too, have the right of self-defense, and the right to protect their families and their children from routinely Israeli air raids, gun-boats fire, and artillery shells. I am sure that the US or any other European country would not stand still if they are subjected to a choking siege, being targeted from air, from sea and from land, their children are targeted, and being starved to death.
Only one brave American official voice; that of President Jimmy Carter, condemned Israeli attack and accused Israeli officials of sabotaging the two state solution and being a stumbling block into the peace process during the past three years by expanding the illegal Israeli settlements and refusing to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians.
It is a pity to watch the tiny terrorist state of Israel pulling the greatest global power and self-proclaimed protectorate of justice and freedom; the US, by the nose to continue covering up Israel’s crimes and violations of international laws. Such a cover-up gains the US nothing but the disdain and the enmity of the Arab World, the Islamic World, many Asian countries, most of African countries, and most of South American countries.
It is also a pity to watch the Arab League convene after four days of the Israeli aggression to come up with the same futile old decisions of condemnation, re-evaluation of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and resorting to the UN, although this time they decided to send an Arab delegation into Gaza as a symbolic gesture of solidarity and support. Even after the Arab Spring, the functionality of the Arab League is still paralyzed by the pro-American / pro-Zionist wealthy Qatari and Saudi Arabian rulers.
Yet the rulers cannot fool their nations for long. Waves of hundreds of thousands of people protested in the streets of their capital cities against Israeli attacks on Gaza and against the American blind support to Israeli state terror. Protests are taking place in Asia starting from Afghanistan all the way to Turkey including Japan and Russia, in all the Middle Eastern region except American-controlled Gulf States, in most African countries starting from Egypt east all the way to Mauritania west, in most of the European countries including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, in South American countries such as Venezuela, Chile, Nicaragua and Honduras, in Canada such as Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec, and in the US such as New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Palestinian Arabs are scattered in Diaspora all over the world where they have gained support to their just cause.
Citizens of Egypt and Jordan demanded cutting off all normalization processes and cancelling all peace agreements with Israel. Egyptians are also demanding to regain control of their Sinai Peninsula, to open all crossings to Gaza wide open, and to ship arms to Palestinians the same way they shipped arms to Libya and to Syria.
Even in occupied Palestine (Israel) Israeli activists staged demonstrations in Tel Aviv protesting the airstrikes against Gaza. The demonstrators rallied at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square Saturday night slamming the military attack as part of Netanyahu’s election campaign. Some carried posters demanding a “no-fly zone over Palestine”. Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli anti-war activists held a similar demonstration outside the house of Ehud Barak, the Minister of Military Affairs, in Tel Aviv, calling him the “No. 1 terrorist” in Israel.
The Israeli attack against Gaza Strip has re-focused attention back on the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and on the Israeli crimes against Palestinians. In their demonstrations the Arab and the Islamic Worlds have shown that Palestine is their core issue that unites them together, and that their only enemy is Zionist Israel.
Dr. Elias Akleh is a writer living in Corona, CA., email@example.com
Photo: Honest Reporting