FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Week of Israeli Restraint

by TANYA REINHART

In Israeli discourse, Israel is always the side exercising restraint in its conflict with the Palestinians. This was true again for the events of the past week: As the Qassam rockets were falling on the Southern Israeli town of Sderot, it was “leaked” that the Israeli Minister of Defense had directed the army to show restraint.1

During the week of Israeli restraint, the army killed a Palestinian family who went on a picnic on the Beit Lahya beach in the Gaza Strip; after that, the army killed nine people in order to liquidate a Katyusha rocket.

But in the discourse of restraint, the first killing does not count, because the army denied its involvement, and the second was deemed a necessary act of self-defense. After all, Israel is caught in the midst of Qassam attacks, and must defend its citizens. In this narrative, the fact that Israel is content merely to bombard the Gaza Strip from air, sea and land is a model of restraint and humanity that not many states could match.

But what is driving the Qassam attacks on Israel? For 17 months, since it declared a cease fire, Hamas has not been involved in firing Qassams. The other organizations have generally succeeded in launching only a few isolated Qassams.

How did this evolve into an attack of something like 70 Qassams in three days?

The Israeli army has a long tradition of “inviting” salvoes of Qassams. In April of last year, Sharon took off to a meeting with Bush in which his central message was that Abbas is not to be trusted, has no control of the ground, and cannot be a partner for negotiations. The army took care to provide an appropriate backdrop for the meeting. On the eve of Sharon’s departure, on 9 April 2005, the Israeli a rmy killed three youths on the Rafah border, who according to Palestinian sources were playing soccer there.

This arbitrary killing inflamed a wave of anger in the Gaza Strip, which had been relatively quiet until then. Hamas responded to the anger on the street, and permitted its people to participate in the firing of Qassams. On the following two days, about 80 Qassams were fired, until Hamas restored calm. Thus, during the Sharon-Bush meeting, the world received a perfect illustration of the untrustworthiness of Abbas.2

At the beginning of last week (11 June), Olmert set out on a campaign of persuasion in Europe to convince European leaders that now, with Hamas in power, Israel definitely has no partner. The USA does not appear to need any convincing at the moment, but in Europe there is more reservation about unilateral measures. The Israeli army began to prepare the backdrop on the night of the previous Thursday (8 June 2006), when it “liquidated” Jamal Abu Samhadana, who had recently been appointed head of the security forces of the Interior Ministry by the Hamas government. It was entirely predictable that the action may lead to Qassam attacks on Sderot. Nevertheless, the army proceeded the following day to shell the Gaza coast (killing the Ghalya family and wounding tens of people), and succeeded in igniting the required conflagration, until Hamas again ordered its people, on 14 June, to cease firing.

This time, the show orchestrated by the army got a bit messed up. Pictures of the child Huda Ghalya succeeded in breaching the wall of Western indifference to Palestinian suffering. Even if Israel still has enough power to force Kofi Annan to apologize for casting doubt on Israel’s denial, the message that Hamas is the aggressive side in the conflict did not go unchallenged in the world this time. But the army has not given up. It appears determined to continue to provoke attacks that would justify bringing down the Hamas government by force, with Sderot paying the price.

Even though it is impossible to compare the sufferings of the residents of Sderot with the sufferings of the residents of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya in the North of the Gaza Strip, on which 5,000 shells fell in the past month alone3, my heart also goes out to the residents of Sderot. It is their destiny to live in fear and agony, because in the eyes of the army their suffering is necessary so that the world may understand that Israel is the restrained side in a war for its very existence.

This op-ed went to press an hour before the Israeli air force killed three more children in a crowded street in North Gaza, on Tuesday, June 20.

TANYA REINHART is a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and the author of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 and The Roadmap to Nowhere. She can be reached through her website: http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart

NOTES

1. On Monday, June 12, the headlines announced that the Defence Minister Peretz blocked an initiative of the army to launch a massive land offensive in Gaza (e.g. Amos Har’el and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz, June 12, 2006). In the inside pages of the weekend papers, it turned out that this was a “media spin” produced by Peretz bureau “based on a security consultation held the previous night” (Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Lost innocents, Ha’aretz, June 16-17, 2006).

2. This sequence of events is documented in detail in my book The Road Map to Nowhere, to appear in July, 2006 (Verso).

3. Alex Fishman, Senior security analyst of Yediot Aharonot reports that at the beginning “the artillery shelling of the Gaza strip was debated”, but then, “what started ten months ago with dozens of shells a month that were fired at open areas today reached astronomical numbers of shells. The battery that fired the six shells on Friday [June 9] fire an average of more than a thousand shells a week towards the north of the Strip. This means that the battery which has been placed there for four weeks has already fired about 5000 shells” (Yediot Aharonot Sa! turday Supplement, June 16, 2006).
http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Louis Proyect
The Witchfinders
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
David Yearsley
On the Road to Rochester, By Bike
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail