Aug 10 2014

War on Gaza a ‘Tie’ With Hamas

Published by at 11:07 am under Articles,Palestinian politics


By Daoud Kuttab

The images were different, but two words were repeated in most TV graphics announcing the start of the ceasefire. “Gaza victorious” (Gaza tantaser) were the words superimposed on images of Palestinian fighters, rockets and scenes of destruction in the background. So was Gaza really victorious? The destruction, the nearly 1900 Palestinians killed and the 7,000 injured do not seem much of a victory. But in this region, everything is relative. Compared to the powerful Israeli military machine that is considered among the best equipped and trained in the world, the mere fact that the ceasefire was imposed while Palestinians were standing is seen as a huge victory. Palestinian resistance announcements stressed an important news item: in the last 10 minutes before the start of the 72-hour ceasefire, some 27 rockets aiming at various Israeli locations had been launched from Gaza, a message that Hamas, Islamic Jihadand others in the resistance were not entering the ceasefire defeated. In strategic terms, however, it is hard to consider the result of the war on Gaza as anything more than a tie. Neither Israel nor Hamas or Islamic Jihad was able to accomplish their goals during the fight. Israel was unable to stop the rockets and may not have destroyed all the tunnels. Nor is there any guarantee that tunnel digging has not started anew. On the other hand the Palestinians failed to gain any commitment, prior to the ceasefire, that the crippling seven-year-old siege on Gaza will be lifted. While a tie between a powerful army and a resistance movement that is under siege might be seen as a victory, it will clearly be some time before Palestinians will be able to challenge the Israelis, due to the high price that Israel exacted on Palestinian civilians. Criminal Israeli acts were intended to hurt Palestinians so much that they would think long and hard before challenging Israel again. This deterrence policy might be very effective as long as the side that it is aimed at cannot take it any longer. But the ability to stay standing makes the policy a failure and the loss of civilian lives to war crimes is extremely high. A clear victor in this war is the consensus government and Palestinian unity. A unified Palestinian delegation like the one going to Cairo has not been seen for a long, long time. The Israeli war, started on the base of a lie (that Hamas’ Gaza leadership had ordered the kidnapping of three Israelis) was aimed at destroying the Hamas-PLO government. Instead, the unity government will now be the instrument for all the reconstruction of Gaza. A conference will be hosted by Norway on September 1 for this purpose. The victory to the unity government does not necessarily mean that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ peace strategy was victorious. By the end of this war Palestinians had lost much faith in the possibility of a peaceful agreement with Israel. The brutality of Israel against Palestinian civilians made many Palestinians realized that coexistence with Israelis is quite difficult. Palestinians are also skeptical about the possibility that peace talks will, on their own, bring about any change. If the current violence produces an end to the siege, it will bolster claims by Hamas and others who say that Israel only reacts to violence and that the peace process without a parallel resistance strategy is unlikely to have any results. The war on Gaza also exposed the apathy of most Arab leaders who did and said anything in support and of the people of Gaza. The war on Gaza must give Palestinian leaders plenty of reason to revisit their entire liberation strategy. The relations between Palestine and the rest of the world, including Israel and the US, will need to be reviewed carefully and honestly. The decision of the Palestinian leadership to sign the Rome Protocols for the International Criminal Court will impress on all, including Israel, that decision making is independent and is aimed at addressing the interests of the Palestinian people. If this becomes truly a Palestinian policy, then this could be marked as the biggest success, despite the horrible results in Gaza, which cannot be ignored.

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