FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Israel Provoked Hamas

by Alexander Cockburn

“Arafat is guilty of everything here.” Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon declared on television Monday night. “Arafat has made his strategic choices: a strategy of terrorism.” In sync with these fierce words, Israeli forces launched attacks close to the Palestinian leader’s house and destroyed his helicopters, an onslaught that the US government conspicuously failed to condemn.

So, in the wake of the last suicide bomb attacks launched by Hamas, the sky is now the limit for Israeli reprisals: the killing of Arafat, and, not so far down the road, perhaps forced expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank. In other words, the substitution of untrammeled military repression by Israel’s forces, and a deaf ear by the US to all Palestinian calls for fair dealing. Write FINIS to all efforts across the past 35 years to secure a just settlement in Israel and some measure of satisfaction for Palestinian aspirations.

But to be honest about it, is not that exactly what militant Israelis like Ariel Sharon have wanted all along? Can anyone claim with a straight face that Sharon and those like him actually want a just peace that would see an end to Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the rise of a Palestinian state in any guise other than pathetic little Bantustans ringed by Israel’s security forces?

There are those in Israel who outlined clearly a couple of weeks ago Sharon’s plan to force matters exactly along the lines they have now taken.

Alex Fishman is the main commentator on security matters for Israel’s largest mass circulation paper, Yediot Achronot, a publication with right-of-center politics. Fishman is known for his excellent contacts in the military. On Sunday, November 25, Fishman issued a prediction based on the recent assasination on November 23 by Israel’s security services of the Hamas leader, Mahmud Abu Hunud. It was featured in a box on the newspaper’s front page.

It began, “We again find ourselves preparing with dread for a new mass terrorist attack within the Green Line [Israel’s pre-’67 border].” Since Fishman was entirely accurate in this regard, we should mark closely what he wrote next. “Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman’s agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line, of the kind perpetrated at the Dolphinarium [discotheque in Tel-Aviv].”

Fishman stated flatly that such an agreement did exist, even if neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas would admit to it in public. “It is a fact,” he continued, ” that, while the security services did accumulate repeated warnings of planned Hamas terrorist attacks within the Green Line, these did not materialize. That cannot be attributed solely to the Shabak’s impressive success in intercepting the suicide bombers and their controllers. Rather, the respective leaderships of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas came to the understanding that it would be better not to play into Israel’s hands by mass attacks on its population centres.”

In other words Arafat had managed to convince Hamas to curb its suicide bombers. This understanding was shattered by the assassination of Abu Hunud. “Whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu Hunud,” Fishman continued, ” knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject was extensively discussed both by Israel’s military echelon and its political one, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation. Now, the security bodies assume that Hamas will embark on a concerted effort to carry out suicide bombings, and preparations are made accordingly.”

Ever since September 11 Israel’s leaders followed with deep trepidation the building of the coalition against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The months of studious indifference displayed by the Bush administration towards the Middle East’s crises suddenly gave way to President Bush’s abrupt, post September 11 statement that he had always nourished the dream of a Palestinian state.

Consequently the prime task of the Israeli government and of its suppporters here has been to turn back any serious pressure for accomodation with even the most modest of Palestinian demands. In parallel the faction mustered around deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle has been to push for the US to reopen direct hostilities with Iraq and settle accounts with Saddam Hussein, once and for all.

The Wolfowitz-Perle group knows perfectly well that any serious new confrontation with Saddam Hussein would probably be a prolonged and bloody affair. There is no Northern Alliance ready and eager for US intervention in Iraq. The Shia in the south remember well what happened in 1991 when they rose against Saddam and the US stood by while Saddam methodically slaughtered them. The Kurds know that a post Saddam regime might move against them, with similar US indifference. If the US acted as supervisor and guarantor for an invasion by Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, the military and diplomatic consequences would be both bloody and far-reaching.

It’s clear that the Wolfowitz-Perle group is equable in the face of such uncertainties, since whatever the ghastly consequences for ordinary people in Iraq the one outcome that would be certain is that Israel would be resoundingly confirmed in its status as the United States’ prime ally and client in the region, even as the post-September 11 coalition with Islamic countries falls apart. Small wonder they rapturously echo Sharon’s denunciations of Arafat as a man of terror even though they, being smart people, probably don’t need Alex Fishman to explain how the real game is actually being played.

These are the stakes. They’re far larger than the present tragi-comic efforts to assemble a coalition to run Afghanistan, and there isn’t much sign thus far that President Bush understands that comic-book advisories such as “You’re for us or against us” do not, in this situation, really apply.

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail