Behind the Bloodbath in Gaza – Foiling Another Palestinian Peace Offensive

Beyond restoring its deterrence capacity, Israel’s main goal in the Gaza slaughter was to fend off the latest threat posed by Palestinian moderation…

Early speculation on the motive behind Israel’s slaughter in Gaza that began on 27 December 2008 and continued till 18 January 2009 centered on the upcoming elections in Israel. The jockeying for votes was no doubt a factor in this Sparta-like society consumed by “revenge and the thirst for blood,” where killing Arabs is a sure crowd-pleaser. (Polls during the war showed that 80-90 percent of Israeli Jews supported it.) But as Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointed out on Democracy Now!, “Israel went through a very similar war…two-and-a-half years ago [in Lebanon], when there were no elections.” When crucial state interests are at stake, Israeli ruling elites seldom launch major operations for narrowly electoral gains. It is true that Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s decision to bomb the Iraqi OSIRAK reactor in 1981 was an electoral ploy, but the strategic stakes in the strike on Iraq were puny; contrary to widespread belief, Saddam Hussein had not embarked on a nuclear weapons program prior to the bombing. The fundamental motives behind the latest Israeli attack on Gaza lie elsewhere: (1) in the need to restore Israel’s “deterrence capacity,” and (2) in the threat posed by a new Palestinian “peace offensive.” ..

After the 2006 Lebanon war Israel was itching to take on Hezbollah again, but did not yet have a military option against it. In mid-2008 Israel desperately sought to conscript the U.S. for an attack on Iran, which would also decapitate Hezbollah, and thereby humble the main challengers to its regional hegemony. Israel and its quasi-official emissaries such as Benny Morris threatened that if the U.S. did not go along “then non-conventional weaponry will have to be used,” and “many innocent Iranians will die.” To Israel’s chagrin and humiliation, the attack never materialized and Iran has gone its merry way, while the credibility of Israel’s capacity to terrorize slipped another notch. It was high time to find a defenseless target to annihilate. Enter Gaza, Israel’s favorite shooting gallery. Even there the feebly armed Islamic movement Hamas had defiantly resisted Israeli diktat, in June 2008 even compelling Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

During the 2006 Lebanon war Israel flattened the southern suburb of Beirut known as the Dahiya, where Hezbollah commanded much popular support. In the war’s aftermath Israeli military officers began referring to the “Dahiya strategy”: “We shall pulverize the 160 Shiite villages [in Lebanon] that have turned into Shiite army bases,” the IDF Northern Command Chief explained, “and we shall not show mercy when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by Hezbollah.”..

Beyond restoring its deterrence capacity, Israel’s main goal in the Gaza slaughter was to fend off the latest threat posed by Palestinian moderation…

In either case, Israel needed to provoke Hamas into breaking the truce, and then radicalize or destroy it, thereby eliminating it as a legitimate negotiating partner. It is not the first time Israel confronted such a diabolical threat—an Arab League peace initiative, Palestinian support for a two-state settlement and a Palestinian ceasefire—and not the first time it embarked on provocation and war to overcome it…

Fast forward to 2008. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated in early December 2008 that although Israel wanted to create a temporary period of calm with Hamas, an extended truce “harms the Israeli strategic goal, empowers Hamas, and gives the impression that Israel recognizes the movement.” Translation: a protracted ceasefire that enhanced Hamas’s credibility would have undermined Israel’s strategic goal of retaining control of the West Bank. As far back as March 2007 Israel had decided on attacking Hamas, and only negotiated the June truce because “the Israeli army needed time to prepare.” Once all the pieces were in place, Israel only lacked a pretext. On 4 November, while the American media were riveted on election day, Israel broke the ceasefire by killing seven Palestinian militants, on the flimsy excuse that Hamas was digging a tunnel to abduct Israeli soldiers, and knowing full well that its operation would provoke Hamas into hitting back. “Last week’s ‘ticking tunnel,’ dug ostensibly to facilitate the abduction of Israeli soldiers,” Haaretz reported in mid-November was not a clear and present danger: Its existence was always known and its use could have been prevented on the Israeli side, or at least the soldiers stationed beside it removed from harm’s way…

After Hamas predictably resumed its rocket attacks “[i]n retaliation” (Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center), Israel could embark on yet another murderous invasion in order to foil yet another Palestinian peace offensive.

Behind the Bloodbath in Gaza – Foiling Another Palestinian "Peace Offensive" (Norman Finkelstein in Counterpunch)

Israel – On the Wrong Side of History (Uri Avnery in Counterpunch)

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One thought on “Behind the Bloodbath in Gaza – Foiling Another Palestinian Peace Offensive

  1. Israel wil als ministaatje EEN WERELDMACHT zijn, hetgeen betekent dat je geen vrede kunt sluiten met mensen die van jou de MINISTAAT maken die je bent, een klein landje met een overbodig leger in een grote Arabische wereld.Alleen machtsmisbruik kan een valse machtsdroom in stand houden. De grote economische crisis waar we nu mee te maken hebben laat zien welke desastreuze gevolgen valse machtsdromen kunnen hebben…

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