Saturday, 26 July 2014

Gaza, Israel and the Uses of Terror.

'Israel is being projected on the world’s TV screens and front pages as a callous, brutal monster, pounding the Gaza strip with artillery fire that hits schools, hospitals and civilian homes...They know what it looks like – but they desperately want the world to see what they see.'-Jonathan Freedland, Israel’s fears are real, but this Gaza war is utterly self-defeating, The Guardian July 25 2014
There is no reason why Israelis need to identify with the military position being taken on Gaza or to accept the routine propaganda line that the 'ground incursion' and air and naval strikes are primarily or only about protecting them from Hamas terror. Hamas rocket attacks are mostly ineffective.

The Iron Dome defence system that was constructed in 2011-12 has been seen , to use that currently popular media word, a 'game changer' in that Israel is largely safe from attacks. The determination to go for outright victory and what Netanyahu terms the 'demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip' is the policy.

The Hamas tunnels and the possibility of abductions caused real fears but they are hardly on such a scale that would justify the the degree to which the IDF has pounded Gaza. The abduction of the three Israeli teenagers was seized on as the pretext for the Netanyahu to pursue his military strategy.

As Zbigniew Brzezinski pointed out,
'When Hamas in effect accepted the notion of participation in the Palestinian leadership, it in effect acknowledged the determination of that leadership to seek a peaceful solution with Israel. That was a real option. They should have persisted in that.

Instead Netanyahu launched the campaign of defamation against Hamas, seized on the killing of three innocent Israeli kids to immediately charge Hamas with having done it without any evidence, and has used that to stir up public opinion in Israel in order to justify this attack on Gaza, which is so lethal'
The question is why. The purpose of the campaign is quite clear: the readiness to eliminate Hamas or destroy its military capacity regardless of civilian casualties is part of a strategy that aims at destroying its bargaining position following the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank.

One means to effect that is to firmly secure control over the Gaza Marine gas reserves which lie 20km off the Gazan coastline and so clearly in range of potential Hamas rocket attacks .To tap these reserves is considered a vital interest in the eyes of the Israeli government and its accepted by its allies.

Many conflicts across the globe after the end of the Cold War have been about access to strategically important resources such as oil and gas ( as well, in fact, even water). The Iraq War was justified on a 'war on terror' narrative but was about geopolitics and oil. The Gaza conflict is no exception.

So the problem is that the conflict in Gaza is portrayed as one concerned on the Israeli side only with fears for its security and the mutual fear, distrust and antagonism that goes all the way back to the way Israel emerged as a nation state in 1948. That is important to understand but it is not the entire picture.

Clearly, there is a fear that if Hamas were to be aligned with the Palestinian Authority then it would stand to benefit from the gas wealth, 10% of which is earmarked for the Palestinians as part of the policy of developing the West Bank economically.

The sticking point has been that Israel has wanted first to break Hamas, then pursue a separate peace with the Palestinian Authority whereby the gas revenues would flow into their 'special funds' on condition that violence against Israel is renounced in the West Bank.

The thinking behind such a strategy, supported by Special Envoy Tony Blair, is that a developing West Bank would act as a model for Gaza and encourage Gazans and Hamas to realise that armed resistance ( i.e terrorism ) and jihadism could only see them isolated further from the region.

Evidently, the longer the 2014 conflict drags on, the more anger and bitterness amongst Palestinians is set to increase. But the fact remains that in power political terms it is irrelevant because Israel would be able to develop economically and militarily with or without the Palestinians. 

For the first time in history, Gaza and Hamas are totally isolated. Iran is advancing its regional strategy via the backing Shia governments and forces such as Hizbollah. Egypt is intent on deepening and strenthening energy and security ties with Israel no matter the domestic reaction.

The Israeli government has seen a historic window of opportunity to compel a peace deal on Hamas on their terms by using effective military force to finish it off as an effective force with bargaining power. This is the reality of the conflict of 2014 and why it could be the bloodiest yet as the stakes are so high.

Hamas has its back against the wall. The blockade, the sealing of the border with Egypt following the Sisi coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government, the increased poverty and immiseration, the lack of regional support means armed struggle is seen as vital but their capacity for it is being eroded.

Israel has nothing to lose by crushing Hamas. It's security is not going to be made worse by the ground incursion into Gaza. The EU is interested in cooperating with it in the exploitation of its gas reserves. The US is bound to back it as part of the policy of securing the Saudi-Egypt-Israel alliance.

As for Israeli citizens, most of them would be able to get on with their ordinary daily lives in a largely successful advanced consumer-capitalist land without much that thought for Gazan casualties who inhabit a very different world from them and could be considered as dying because of the stupdity of their leaders.

Certainly, that the thrust of Israeli 'public diplomacy' from Netanyahu and slightly sinister spin doctors such as Mark Regev who claim that the victims of the IDF's 'ground incursion' are not really being killed by Israel but by the Hamas policy of hiding rocket stores in civilian areas.

Israeli government claims need only have a certain degree of plausibility for them to be accepted by both the Israeli public which wants security and finds the Palestinian issue a tiresome and tedious legacy of the past, and Western leaders who are also willing to identity with Israeli war aims the better to serve their interests.

No comments:

Post a Comment