Strikes on Gaza

Published: November 16, 2012

A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows smoke billowing from spots targeted by Israeli air strike inside the Gaza strip. PHOTO: AFP

Israel has not convincingly explained why it needed to launch a full-scale attack on Gaza but the one thing we can be sure about is that it had little to do with rocket attacks from Hamas. It may be significant that elections are approaching in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw this as a good opportunity to shore up the right-wing base. Having already been contained from taking military action against Iran by US President Barack Obama and domestic pressure at home, the ultra-hawkish Netanyahu may have seen this as the only attack he could order. He may also have been trying to test the new Egyptian leader, Mohammed Morsi, who has yet to abandon his country’s peace treaty with Israel despite sentiment in the country urging him to do so.

Whatever the reason behind the attack, there can be no doubt that Israel has overreacted and deserves to be condemned vocally. Just how brazen the Israelis have been can be gauged by the fact that they released the video of the targeted assassination of Hamas Chief of Staff Ahmed al-Jabari and the Israel Defence Forces live-tweeted the attack as if it was a sporting event. Peace in the Middle East, at a time when many Arab countries are embroiled in internal struggles, has taken a further hit with Israel’s disproportionate response. Just how brutal this military action will be was rammed home by the death of a BBC reporter’s 11-month-old child, another victim of a senseless war.

As much blame as Israel deserves for this unilateral action, let’s not forget that Hamas is also worthy of criticism. It should know by now that it cannot militarily defeat Israel and so needs to make peace with its neighbour. The rocket attacks it frequently launches into Israel may not have resulted in the same number of civilian casualties as Israel’s response did, but it does leave Israel’s citizens in a state of fear, increasing the possibility of war. Hamas has now been in power long enough to realise that guerilla tactics do not work.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • G. Din
    Nov 17, 2012 - 12:45AM

    ” He may also have been trying to test the new Egyptian leader, Mohammed Morsi, “
    A more plausible case can be made that Hamas is trying to test Egypt and Morsi and, if possible, to compel him ” to abandon his country’s peace treaty with Israel” considering there exists” sentiment in the country urging him to do so.”

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  • Hindustani
    Nov 17, 2012 - 8:14AM

    Palestinians are treated like dirt by other nations. Palestinians are considered inferior and trouble makers, while other countries perform the regular theatricals of Muslim Ummah, deep down they have a deep seated hatred for Palestinians. This is evident from the genocides of Palestinians in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

    I think the only true ally of Palestinians are Pakistanis. That’s because while Pakistanis don’t mind killing each other on a daily basis, when Palestinians or Kashmiris are hurt, they lend their full support.

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  • Mirza
    Nov 17, 2012 - 10:39AM

    It is the long occupation of Israel of Palestinian land and a never ending blockade of tiny Gaza strip, which is causing all the disturbances. No occupation can be allowed by force and every nation has a right to live with dignity and self respect. Taking all basic human rights in the garb of the excuse of terrorism cannot be justified by the occupation forces. Israel has all the cards, guns and airplanes and they do not stop in killing hundreds of Palestinians for each Israeli death. No power can kill their way to peace and the supporters of Israel are living in fool’s paradise. If Obama is half the leader he is supposed to be, he should not allow any tiny country of the world to dictate the US policy and course of history.

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  • Leopard
    Nov 17, 2012 - 11:52AM

    Truth behind escalating conflict in Gaza, one needs to go back to the night of Oct. 23 in Khartoum. Around 11 p.m. that night, the Yarmouk weapons facility in the Sudanese capital was attacked, presumably by the Israeli air force. There were indications that Iran had been using this facility to stockpile and possibly assemble weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, guided anti-tank missiles and long-range Fajr-5 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from Gaza. One of the major drivers behind Israel’s latest air and assassination campaign is its belief that Hamas has a large cache of long-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets in its possession. Israel’s primary intent in this military campaign is to deny Hamas the ability to use these rockets or keep them as a constant threat to Israel’s population centers. This likely explains why in early October, when short-range rocket attacks from Gaza were still at a low level, Israeli officials began conditioning the public to the idea of an “inevitable” Israeli intervention in Gaza. Israel knew Hamas had these weapons in its possession and that it could require a war to eliminate the Fajr rocket threat. It began with the strike on the facility in Sudan, extended to the assassination of Hamas military commander Ahmad Jabari (the architect of the Fajr rocket program) and now has the potential to develop into an Israeli ground incursion in Gaza.

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  • Toticalling
    Nov 17, 2012 - 12:42PM

    Israelis have this complex that as it happened in Europe in last century, the world is out to destroy them. That is one reason many understand their over reactions in relations to Palestinians. WE must accept the right of Israel to exist, but in return Israel must allow the aspirations of Palestinians. It should know that In every Arab country where the people rise up to demand their rights, they demand action on Palestinian rights as well. That feeling can turn into hate and with Morsi running the show in Egypt, things can ugly overall.
    Killing innocent people is wrong. The rocket attacks are targeted at any Israeli. That is not right.

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  • Javed Afridi
    Nov 17, 2012 - 1:10PM

    @Mirza:
    Wow, is this really you?

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  • Shuweikh Haqqani
    Nov 17, 2012 - 2:15PM

    Guerilla tactics do not work
    What? Maybe not in Gaza, and maybe not now. But guerilla tactics work, they surely do. They have worked in Afghanistan and in Kashmir

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  • G. Din
    Nov 17, 2012 - 6:42PM

    @Toticalling:
    “WE must accept the right of Israel to exist, but in return Israel must allow the aspirations of Palestinians. “
    Read the constitution of Hamas. It spells out the destruction of Israel. That is what was behind its separation from PLO. What people in the world let those whose avowed aim is to destroy them, allow those villainous hoodlums succeed? Hamas is a bunch of terrorists!
    “… things can ugly overall.”
    Israelis have seen uglier things and dealt with them with some aplomb. The world agrees with them
    @Shuweikh Haqqani:
    “…They (guerrilla tactics) have worked in Afghanistan and in Kashmir”
    Obviously, your definition of what works has nothing to do with the “real” world!
    Have anyone of those who used those tactics succeeded anywhere?

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  • Cautious
    Nov 17, 2012 - 7:33PM

    I have no doubt that Netanyahu is taking political advantage of the rocket attacks – but that doesn’t mean that Israeli retaliation wasn’t warranted. The political element combined with Iran’s delivery of Fajr-5 into Gaza has made things more volatile and I suspect things are going to get worse before they get better. As far as the Editors comment that Israel overreacted – that sounds grand – perhaps he/she would explain exactly what the appropriate response should have been?

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  • Toticalling
    Nov 17, 2012 - 9:27PM

    @G. Din: I agree with your points nut only partially. Hamsa, which controls Gaza has been encircled in a way that it is as bad killing their spirits and economic status. Some look to see what Abbas has achieved dealing with Israel and offering many concessions. I can tell you: Nothing. But that is path I still wish all Palestinians should follow.
    Then you say: Israelis have seen uglier things and dealt with them with some aplomb.
    I have read this sentence more than once and came to the conclusion that you have not read the history of Jews and Israel. Millions were butchered by Nazis and when Hitler offered other “civilized” nations in Europe to tae these people, they said: No Thank you. That is why Israelis keep on telling European nations not to criticize it, as they should be ashamed of what they did to Jews not long time ago.
    Even today if uncle Sam steps back its support of unconditional support, Israel will have some ugly consequences. I still believe t has aright to exist, but as an equal partner and not as master.

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  • G. Din
    Nov 18, 2012 - 1:56AM

    @Toticalling:
    If Hamas decides to delete the references to Israel’s destruction, negotiations for the “two state” solution can begin tomorrow. But Hamas won’t do that while PLO would. That is why the best solution is to let PLO be the other state. That is not going to be acceptable to Arabs. Therein lies the problem: Hamas is the mask Arabs seeking destruction of Israel wear.
    I spoke about Israel’s aplomb in dealing with uglier situations. Can there be an uglier situation than fighting off three established Arab governments -Syria, Jordan and Egypt- having between them a population bigger than ten times that of Israel and having support of the entire Muslim world, pouncing upon the infant nation of Israel with the avowed purpose of “pushing it into the Mediterranean”? How did Israel handle that? The little scorpion bit off a piece of everyone of those -Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, West Bank from Jordan and Golan Heights from Syria. In the process, it destroyed the entire Egyptian Air Force while still on ground! Two of those “powers” came begging for peace. The third one will not last very much longer.
    Yes, Jews have suffered throughout centuries. A highly gifted people became even wiser and are now proud Israelis!
    World respects and favours brave-hearts such as Israel! Another such is Vietnam, which defeated three major powers, one of them a superpower without seeking help. It bloodied the nose of China, as well, along the way!

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  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 18, 2012 - 2:10AM

    @Toticalling:
    On the other hand, you neglected to mention that Hamas (IRAN) has never said that Israel has a right to exist!Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2012 - 4:33AM

    “As much blame as Israel deserves for this unilateral action, let’s not forget that Hamas is also worthy of criticism. “

    “And if Hamas believes in expelling the Jews from their homeland, from Israel, then they are also enemies of Islam! Anyone who wants to expel the Jews from their country is my enemy as a Muslim, an enemy of Islam, and enemy of Humanity.”

    Ibrahim Sarsur, one of the leaders of the Islamic Movement in Israel. (Sleeping On a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel, p. 230.)
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