Jul 10 2014

War on Gaza based on a lie

Published by at 9:11 am under Articles,Palestinian politics

Following appeared in the Jordan Times Newspaper

By Daoud Kuttab

When three Israelis went missing three weeks ago, and before any evidence was made available, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on his own to pin responsibility on the Islamist movement Hamas. He and his political and military cohorts continued with this fabrication by rounding up hundreds of Hamas activists and pro-Hamas elected members of parliament and shelled Hamas’ Gaza offices. Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, which was guaranteed by the Egyptians, were also rounded up in the attempt to pressure Hamas.

When pressed to show proof, the Israelis delivered names of two Hamas activists who were simply not at home when Israeli soldiers went to arrest them. The going theory was that the disappearance of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha was nothing more than slam dunk proof that these Hamas activists must have certainly carried out the abduction of the Israelis. Without any more proof than that Israel demolished the homes of the two missing Palestinians. Furthermore, Israeli intelligence activists began a media campaign (using sympathetic journalists) to defame the 10,000 strong Qawasmeh clan, creating an entire story about a “rogue family”.

The accusation of Hamas obviously had ulterior motives that Israel was quick to propagate. The aim of the accusation and arrest of the two Hamas members was nothing less than pressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to abrogate the reconciliation agreement with the Gaza-based Hamas leadership.

The problem with lies and fabrications is that the truth sometimes interferes. Israel itself has since announced the arrest of Palestinians from Hebron who it accuses of being behind the kidnapping of the three Israelis and they are not the two Hamas names paraded to the media as being behind the act and for which their homes were destroyed. Furthermore, Israel has conceded that while some local elements of Hamas in Hebron might turn out to be behind the act, there is no proof that either the Hamas leadership in Gaza or outside the strip were behind it. The refusal of Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal to condemn the attack was reason enough, according to the Israelis, to keep the pressure on the Islamist movement.

War is often created in the public space and in closed rooms. Having created a major public campaign against Hamas, albeit on false charges, the debate for war moved to the war council. The discussion inside the Israeli mini Cabinet that decides major security issues, quickly turned political. The war of words between Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reveals a typical case of one-upmanship. Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu Party is in a coalition with Likud, was apparently looking for a reason to bolt this partnership. Accusing the Israeli prime minister of being too soft on Hamas in Gaza, Lieberman broke up the Likud-Beiteinu partnership while continuing to publicly rebuke Netanyahu for refusing to take a strong position on Hamas and not stopping the projectiles coming from Gaza to south Israel.

The problem with the current war on Gaza is that the Israelis have lost the ability of communication with the Hamas leadership. Until recently, Israel was happy to have the Egyptians intercede and if needed guarantee any ceasefire agreement. This happened during the Mohamed Morsi presidency and that ceasefire has generally held until recently. But the Egyptians are unable to help because the Israelis violated their pledge not to re-arrest any of the Palestinians released in the Shalit exchange. The Israelis are also unable to use the good offices of Abbas, as they want him to abrogate his agreement with Hamas rather than solidify it. Any successful intercession by Ramallah to stop the war on Gaza will help revive the political stock of Abbas and cement the reconciliation agreement. It is clear that Israel’s leadership want neither. They want a weak Abbas and they want the Fateh-Hamas reconciliation dissolved.

A war that has been based on a lie will surely become public sooner or later. In the same way that Israel was exposed for the lie that it knew from day one that the three Israelis were killed, the lie about Hamas will be exposed sooner or later. The only question that remains is how many Palestinians and Israelis will have to suffer while this lie continues to be treated as truth.

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