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Missiles Halt, Terror Continues

Perpetual Conflict by Israeli Design

by GRAHAM PEEBLES

And so for a moment or two the slaughter of Palestinian civilians and the destruction in Gaza City has ceased; the oppression, intimidation and terror throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories though continues unabated. The ‘Pillar of Cloud’ has done its destructive work and blown over, until the next time Israel feels the urge to wreak chaos, kill civilians and tear families apart. How many times must we watch this slaughter, how many more tears will be shed, lives ruined, futures denied, as the peace activist Izzeldin Abuelaish in The Observer 18/11/2012 asks “How many more massacres can Palestinians stand? How many can onlookers tolerate?”

During the week long Israeli military storm, and amid the circular argument espoused by the chief Israeli military spokespeople and repeated infinitum by Israel’s spineless allies, that ‘when Hamas stops firing rockets, Israel will cease its brutality’, 162 Palestinians were killed and according to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights (AMHR) 1,039 injured – half of which were women and children, so much for ‘surgical strikes’ Prime Minister Netanyahu; homes, schools, mosques, Universities, places of work and infrastructure were reduced to rubble. Six Israeli’s died according to the United Nations (OCHA) and 219 injured, from the 1,456 rockets fired by Hamas into Israel. Despite the heavy Palestinian civilian loss of life, in particular children, Netanyahu, who loves a fight, said, the BBC 15/11/2012 report “Israel will do ‘everything in its power’ to avoid civilian casualties in the conflict with Hamas.”

Israel with the fourth most powerful military in the world, thanks largely to the American arms industry, have the ‘monopoly of force in the area’; firing rockets, albeit firecrackers compared to Israel’s sophisticated arsenal, into densely populated areas of the country, will inevitably bring about an excessive reaction from the Israeli armed forces. The bully always responds with overwhelming force, firstly because he usually has it and secondly because he is itching to use it. Human Right Watch (HRW) proclaims that, “there is no justification for Palestinian armed groups unlawfully launching rockets at Israeli population centers.” Sitting comfortably upon the moral high ground, it is easy to pronounce the platitude, that violence is never justified. Live though in what Noam Chomsky describes as “an open air prison,” where intimidation and abuse is a daily affair, manipulation and control the norm, where your dignity has been stolen your liberty denied, where hope is constantly squashed, and remain liberally infused and politically passive; such provocation will (understandably) bring an exasperated scream of frustration and hate, prescribed reactions of the aggressor. In the face of such sustained injustice the wonder is that expressions of anger do not occur all the time.

Assassination & truce

Israel has been carrying out ‘targeted killings’ for years, with America legitimizing extra judicial assassinations there is nothing to stop Mossad or the Israel Air Force (IAF) from killing whoever they like, whenever the choose; Israel is after all, the champion of democracy in an area besieged with unstable dictatorships. The latest IAF assassination of Hamas Commander and negotiator Ahmed Jabari on 17th November, Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, told Haaretz, “killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators ability to function.” The ‘targeted assault’ also killed HRW 15/11/2012 report, “at least five civilians… (and) wounded at least 115 people, including 26 children and 25 women.” Collateral carnage that precisely contradicts Netanyahu’s claims of the IAF’s millimetric accuracy.

Such an action at such a time was guaranteed to illicit the required inflamed response from Hamas, HRW quote a spokesman saying that “Israel would ‘pay a heavy price,’ indicating an intention to resume rocket attacks, suspended in the Baskin truce proposals. Haaretz reported that 85 rockets landed in Israel the day of the assassination,” allowing Israel to unleash it’s baying military; Ever ready, armed and extremely dangerous, waiting with violent anticipation for an excuse, to respond with their customary excessive force.

Shooting civilians in a barrel

Palestinian children continue to be a favourite Israeli target; according to If Americans Knew (IAK) “1477 children have been killed” since the new millennium was rung in. They make up 45% of the Gaza population, a demographic that terrifies an aging Israel, indeed it was a child, 13 year old Abu Daqqa, playing football near his home in Abasan al Kabira who was the first Palestinian to die, the first of 37 children to be taken from their families in this, the latest Israeli killing spree. The frightened, entrapped civilians of Gaza make easy pickings for the Israeli forces, as Norman Finklestein on RT (16/11/12) put it, like ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ it is. In the 2008/9 massacre ‘Operation Cast Lead’, the Israeli militaries last Gaza outing, IAK record, 1,417 residents of Gaza were killed of which B’Tselem calculate 318 were minors.

As would be expected many of the children that survive are traumatized, the Gaza Community Health Programme estimate that “half Gaza’s children – around 350,000 will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder”, the latest attacks on innocent civilians will serve to intensify the children’s mental suffering and anguish. One of the authors of the UN’s Goldstone Report, Colonel Desmond Travers, cited a psychiatrist in Gaza as saying: “children exposed to so much violence they have no option but to terminate their childhood and move into a different frame, (and) the likelihood is that they will never stabilize.” Their childhoods lost, they become radicalized, hateful of those that have killed their parents, brothers, sisters and friends. Hatred and resentment that fulfills the intentions of the aggressor; an enemy is after all essential in the mind of the oppressor, allowing a perverted justification for continued violence and applied suffering.

Cause and destruction

The recent round of killing and mayhem is but the latest in a long series of violent acts perpetrated by Israel. Perspective and appropriate responsibility is apt, intentionally so, to be distorted unless seen in a broad context, a rational requirement of understanding that Israel and its supporters are always at pains to negate. Israel’s carefully planned and interconnected policies that HRW state in ‘Separate & Unequal’ “have no conceivable security justifications” perpetuate suffering and generate conflict, by design: the illegal occupation of the West bank, the siege of the Gaza Strip, extended settlement building, the false imprisonment of Palestinians, men, women and children, the illegal use of the draconian ‘administrative detention’ order, the demolition of Palestinian homes, torture of Palestinians held in Israeli custody, including children, withholding of business permits, blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza and on and on. The list is long, endlessly so, burgeoning with actions that violate all manner of international laws and countless United Nations resolutions, violations that individually and collectively add up to little more than State criminality. Or to give it it’s technical term, conforming to the authoritative US military definition – terrorism. And this, let us add and never forget with the tacit support of America, who bankrolls the whole illegal business. If America Knew (IAK) record that ”during {the} fiscal year 2011, the U.S. provided Israel with at least $8.2 million per day.”

Ideologically driven political positions and cowardly media coverage, which promote the nonsensical argument that the peace loving Israeli bombers are simply reacting, reluctantly, to the cause of the crisis – recent or historical, namely Hamas/Palestinian terror, support and justify continued Israeli violence, hinder peace and serve neither the Israeli population or the Palestinian people. Israel is painted as the victim who once again is being persecuted simply for wanting a homeland for its long-suffering people. Such perverse propaganda omits a mountain of facts, e.g. as IAK state “in every cycle of violence Palestinians are killed first and in far greater numbers,” and perpetuates the injustice and suffering, causing resentment and anger, simmering constantly.

Gaza gasping for air

Israel’s highly restrictive border closures imposed after Hamas was democratically elected to run the enclave in 2006 have according to the CIA country profile , caused “the near collapse of the private sector that had relied on export markets. The population is reliant on large-scale humanitarian assistance led by UN agencies.” Livelihoods have been destroyed unemployment has rocketed to over 40%, with a similar number living below the official poverty line. The 1.65 million residents of Gaza, living on this tiny 320 km. sq. slither of land, are, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), “denied the exercise of basic human rights related to access to safe and potable water, sanitation, housing, health, [and] education,” The people are completely isolated and trapped, Israel denies Gaza an operational port, control of its airspace and freedom of movement, either abroad, into the West Bank or across the border into Israel. B’Tselem report, “entry of residents of the Gaza Strip to Israel for family visits or to enable spouses to live together is forbidden.” The West Bank with Gaza is recognized as one territory under the 1995 Oslo Accords, as such one would imagine movement to and from one area to another would be unrestricted, and all resources in particular water would be shared, however as B’Tselem state, the Interim Agreement stipulates “residents of the Gaza Strip … are not allowed to obtain water from the West Bank.”

Israel is suffocating Gaza, destroying its economy and when inclined, its infrastructure and society, B’Tselem again “import and export of goods is limited, and frequently stopped completely. In addition, only a small number of Gazan’s have been allowed to work in Israel, and tens of thousands of Gazan’s have lost their source of income.” It’s worth noting the GDP per capita (2011) of the West Bank/Gaza Strip was $2,900, compared with their Israeli neighbours $31,500. The Sea’s around Gaza are also controlled by Israel, with the exception of a three-mile radius, reduced from the 20 miles stated in the Oslo accord, thereby prohibiting fishing and the docking of international shipping. Injustice and intimidation is the shadow under which the people of the Gaza Strip live. It is time long overdue that their human rights were observed and international law honoured, allowing the men women and children presently persecuted to live decent dignified lives,

Crying out for justice desperate for peace

Peace, the number one priority for humanity, is a universal goal seemingly not shared by Israel’s leaders, certainly not in relation to the Palestinian people. The word has been perverted in the justification of positions of hostility by an Israel that seeks not the implementation of peace and works not for its realization, no matter the politically correct political rhetoric. The word has no meaning when actions that work against peace continue as they do; Peace is however the word of the hour the goal and keynote of the days ahead. Not a sentimental image or some vague ideologically constructed notion of peace, confined in a straight jacket of conditions, but a vibrant living movement that seeks at all costs to address and remove the obstacles to its realization.

The people of Palestine are desperate for peace and no doubt most decent Israelis share this desire. Is there the will amongst the politicians whom the innocent rely on, have Israel’s allies the courage to do what is right for the people; observe and implement International law, remove the diplomatic support and stop funding the occupation. Is there the will to go beyond platitudes and act, for as a wise man has explained, “nothing happens by itself man must act and implement his will”. Let that will be the will of the people for peace, for the ending of death and suffering, for the chance to live together free from fear. To this end the parties must now work. Let an atmosphere of hope be created, for enough pain and suffering has been wrought on the Palestinian people, enough death and heartache, enough anger and insecurity sown into the Israeli people by hateful ambitious leaders.

Let this ‘Pillar of Cloud’ be the storm that reveals a new day of peace and harmony, based on sharing and justice. The choice in the region and more broadly for humanity is stark and clear, share and save the world or continue in the ways of separation, division and violence. Sharing offers the possibility of justice settling upon what was once truly a Holy Land, allowing for trust to be slowly built and peace to gently germinate and flower.

Graham Peebles is director of the Create Trust. He can be reached at: graham@thecreatetrust.org.