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Gaza: Of the Making of Many Ceasefires There is No End

That’s a Biblical allusion to Ecclesiastes: “Of the making of many books there is no end.”  But it’s a fitting statement for tonight’s announcement that Israel has declared a unilateral 72-hour ceasefire concocted with the help of the Likud’s best pal in the Arab world, Egypt.  There is word that Hamas too has agreed to the ceasefire though I have no idea why they would.

This is an odd development considering that only two days ago Hamas succeeded in one of its boldest military successes, the ambush of an IDF tunnel unit with the death of two officers and the capture of another officer, who subsequently was killed by the IDF after the Hannibal Directive was invoked.  Israel isn’t used to backing down in the fact of such defeats.

mission accomplished

Remember that? Mission accomplished in Iraq?

But the ceasefire, while it may not be an explicit admission of defeat is, in effect, a tacit admission that Operation Protective Edge has failed.  Israel began the attack on Gaza saying that the goal was to stop Hamas rocket fire.  The missiles never stopped.  Then the IDF changed course and said its mission was to destroy the tunnels.  It now claims it has completed the destruction of 30 tunnels, which is describes as “most” of them.  Another report claiming to originate with U.S. intelligence says that there are at least 60 tunnels.  If this is true, and I cannot authenticate the report myself, then the IDF has also failed in this mission.  At any rate, even if the IDF has destroyed the tunnels, they can be rebuilt.  It took three years to build the network they have now.  It will take less to build a new one.

So where is the vaunted “quiet,” concerning which Bibi has told the world Israel will settle for nothing less??  Where is the guarantee that the IDF has struck a fatal blow against “Palestinian terror?”  Just as Israel’s military mission in 2006 (Lebanon), 2009 (Cast Lead) and 2012 (Pillar of Cloud) failed, so will this one.

This report in the NY Times by Steven Erlanger is full of hot-air blown his way by the IDF.  The Times reporter claims that Hamas has been struck a severe blow, when there is no evidence of the sort.  He goes on and on about how Israel recoginzes that Gaza needs to be reconstructed.  Imagine that a country which just killed nearly 2,000 people and rendered the homes and infrastructure of 1.8-million non-existent has the generosity to conceded there needs to be an effort to fix the mess?  Of course, Israel won’t do the reconstruction itself.  Not a red penny will come from Israel.  It will “allow” Egypt to do so.  Imagine the money this will funnel into the pockets of the larcenous Egyptian generals.  Before Hamas could tax what came through its tunnels.  Now much of that lucre will go to the Egyptians.

Erlanger allows the Israelis to say they’re ready and willing to talk about a ceasefire with Hamas at some vague point in the future.  They’re ready to return to the provision of previous ceasefires which they never implemented (of course Erlanger leaves that inconvenient fact out of his account)…sometime.

Essentially, the IDF is leaving after failing to achieve any of its objectives.  Hamas has proven its mettle on the battlefield.  It only proves once again that Israeli invasions, whether of Lebanon or Gaza, don’t work.  They merely “mow the grass” leaving Israelis and Palestinians to wait another year or two for a new round of sacrificial victims on the altar of Likudist folly.

There are those who make the mistake of believing my “intent” is to celebrate Hamas or the killing of Israelis.  That’s not true at all.  My intent is to get Israel to accept that it is a nation bound by the same rules that bind other nations.  I believe that nations that are invaded by others have a right to defend themselves.  I believe that the invaders have no right to declare themselves victims.  Nor should they be immune from responsibility for their actions.  If they invade a sovereign country, then the victims will defend their land.  They have a right to do so.

If the same thing were to happen to Israel and it was invaded by an enemy, I would say the same thing on its behalf.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Fred Plester August 5, 2014, 2:22 AM

    David Cameron is beginning to pay the price for not having a clear position on whether or not large scale killings of civilians is wrong:


  • Adriana August 5, 2014, 7:01 AM

    I doubt if ever Bibi had an objectif other than punishiment.
    The intersept ( source Snowden) show clearly that US is fully participating in it.
    Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack

  • ben August 5, 2014, 10:12 AM

    Question when was the last time an occupying power successfully fought an asymmetric war? Literally I am having trouble recalling if any country has been successful in the past 100 years..

  • Laguerre August 5, 2014, 10:43 AM

    Good article by Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian on the post-truce reactions on the border:


    “None seemed to think the war had ended in victory for Israel. It was too messy, too uncertain, and – some said – too many people had died.”

    • Frank August 5, 2014, 11:26 AM

      Neither Hamas nor Israel won this battle. Clearly, however, the people of Gaza are the real losers.

      • Donald August 5, 2014, 3:01 PM

        The blockade is still in place, so yes, the people of Gaza haven’t won, even apart from the horrific loss of life.

      • Laguerre August 5, 2014, 3:34 PM

        As they say about asymmetric warfare, if the guerrillas haven’t lost, they’ve won.

        We’ll have to wait to see who is the real winner.

      • Richard Silverstein August 5, 2014, 8:19 PM

        @ Frank: Not really. The people of Gaza are proud of their fighters’ resistance. The losers are the victims and their families, especially those in Israel who died for nothing in a war fought to preserve the political prerogatives of generals and pols.

        • Mary Hughes Thompson August 5, 2014, 9:13 PM

          It’s too early to judge, of course, but I don’t believe Israel thinks it’s the winner. It’s too aware of the enormous price it’s paid, and will continue to pay, in negative world public opinion. And there’s no doubt Israel was stunned to suffer so many military casualties, all killed in combat. Unlike many of the Palestinian fighters who were killed by remote control, as were all the civilian Palestinian victims. The immediate losers are of course the civilian victims in Gaza. And the poor Thai worker killed in Israel, and the unfortunate Bedouin man who was not entitled to a shelter or even a siren. His village was unrecognized and without services, and he would likely have been ethnically cleansed had he not been killed. The only Jewish civilian killed was the man delivering food packages to IDF troops, and if he were a Palestinian civilian delivering food to the resistance Israel would have called him a terrorist. So there were no Israel civilians killed. Palestine has made many new friends, and it’s clear Israel has lost many and likely gained none. So we must wait and see who really won. I hope it will turn out to be Palestine. Israel must be stopped. It can’t be allowed to invade Gaza every couple of years just to keep the Palestinian people “in their place” which is of course under Israel’s boot.

  • Oui August 5, 2014, 10:54 AM

    Dutch FM Timmermans An Apologist for Israel’s War on Gaza

    Perhaps he’s still hoping to be a compromise candidate for the EU post of foreign policy chief to succeed Lady Ashton this fall. The choice seemed to be between Poland’s Sikorski and Italy’s Mogherini., but hit a stalemate over Ukraine policy.

  • Piotr Berman August 5, 2014, 11:15 AM

    I do not know how Richard could imagine that Egypt will be “rebuilding” Gaza. If the history will repeat itself, for a few years Israel , with Egyptian help. will allow next to nothing to be brought to Gaza, perhaps some tents. In the milder version, it will tax other countries on the building materials crossing Israeli check points. Gazans, of course, can do it themselves if it will be allowed to give them materials.

    • Frank August 5, 2014, 11:23 AM

      Egypt is no position to rebuild Gaza. Egypt is an economic basket case, propped up only by the Persian Gulf States and Saudi Arabian money.

  • Fred Plester August 5, 2014, 11:17 AM

    Israel seems to think it has achieved its objectives and there may now be a truce that holds and possibly even some sort of negotiation, though probably not directly with Hamas.

    Peace can only come through the rule of law being applied to both sides, which is the essence of Baroness Warsi’s case.
    What Israel is trying to do, Hamas too, less successfully, is to fight for advantage and then “negotiate” from a position of strength. This can only generate ongoing conflict. Anytime that the law is broken in the course of getting an agreement, you can guarantee that the agreement will be broken too.

    The loss of life is somewhere approaching two thousand, perhaps more if we knew the truth about Hamas fighters buried in tunnels, and the economic cost to Gaza is around £6bn. Hamas regards the dead as martyrs and therefore it can afford one or two thousand dead, but it can’t afford everyone being reduced to hand to mouth poverty, which is what is happening. Hamas will have to use force on the people of Gaza to remain in control.

    Either we are going to see something like Cambodia under Pol Pot, or Hamas are going to have to change, or be got rid of. But this will not be the end of the problem, merely the end of Hamas. You will still have a population living where Israel is unwilling to let them live. What will cause problems for Israel is if Hamas is replaced by something ostensibly less extreme, but actually cleverer than Hamas.

    Hamas has never failed to provide sufficient law-breaking of its own to cover any breaches made by the Israelis in the eyes of the major powers. A cleverer organization might refrain from always rising to every bait, and that would leave Israel exposed, breaking international law on its own with no excuse of rockets or kidnap to get out of jail free each time.

    The international community must cease to allow one wrong to justify others, and impose the rule of law on both sides instead. This will be unpopular with supporters of both sides, but is the only available path to sanity.

  • Frank August 5, 2014, 11:20 AM

    RS said, “This is an odd development considering that only two days ago Hamas succeeded in one of its boldest military successes, the ambush of an IDF tunnel unit..”

    Pretending to agree to a ceasefire, and than attacking unsuspecting troops, seems more like a sucker punch than a bold military success. Hamas even tried to cover up their devious diplomacy.

    • Fred Plester August 5, 2014, 11:42 AM

      I don’t think they were unsuspecting, just unlucky on the day. They were obviously expecting something to happen like an ambush: it didn’t catch them unawares it just caught them. None of the ambush team survived, it seems, so the surviving IDF soldiers reacted immediately, albeit very harshly as far as their wounded colleague was concerned.

      They were ambushed because their orders required them to secure the tunnel regardless of the dangers, not because they didn’t think it was dangerous to do so.

    • Richard Silverstein August 5, 2014, 8:20 PM

      @ Frank: “Unsuspecting troops?” What are you talkin’ about? These are fully armed troops engaged in an offensive operation on enemy soil. If they were surprised they had only themselves to blame.

      You’re now moderated.

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