37 thoughts on “Not a Settlement Freeze, Just the Pause that Refreshes – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. More a bone than anything else. Already Ayalon Liberman’s deputy at the Foreign Office (& an ex-ambassador to Washington !) went on Israel radio & claimed that there was no Govt decision for even a temporary freeze (which is true – Bibi, Barak & Atias decided this between themselves & nothng was published) & he (& probably Ishai, Bogy etc) will demand a Govt decision.

    You can quote me if you like. No copyright on recording the idiocies of the Bibirman-Barak govt. Just too much to keep up.


  2. A “pause that refreshes” is comparable to Hamas’ pause in shelling.

    Better that it be temporary with a conditional open end, than not at all.

      1. Hence the reason Hamas has no interest in attempting a final status agreement with Israel; they aren’t about to renounce violence permanently while Israel is likely to ignore the spirit if not the letter of any such peace accord.

      2. Hamas does NOT do what it promises. For the first month and half of the cease-fire, Hamas allowed and continued from its own cells, the periodic shelling of civilian towns in Israel.

        You rationalize.

        I prefer to encourage good. I gave credit to Hamas when it did enforce the cease-fire for the three and a half months that it did consistently, and the last month even after a potential flare-up.

        I would expect that you would do the same, encourage good behavior, even if it STARTS as a temporary commitment.

        1. For the first month and half of the cease-fire, Hamas allowed and continued from its own cells, the periodic shelling of civilian towns in Israel.

          Can you substantiate this claim? It stands in contradiction to every report on the matter I’ve seen.

          1. Read the statistics of shellings from Gaza in June, July, August, and compare to through November.

          2. Richard Witty, you were asked to substantiate your claim. Ordering your interlocutor to do his own research does not qualify, and looks suspiciously as if you are unable to provide credible evidence to support your assertions. I also wonder whether when you use this tactic you are unaware that also run serious risk of having your interlocutor produce sources that prove that, as usual, you have no clue what you are talking about.

            Since I HAVE done the research, using mainly official Israeli government and Israeli government-affiliated sources, I can say with confidence that the documentation shows that you are, indeed, unable to support your assertions in any remotely credible way.

          3. Aren’t you doing exactly what you criticized me for?


            June 19, 2008
            Through Egyptian mediation Israel and Hamas agreed to a six month cease-fire on June 17th that went into effect on June 19, 2008 at 6:00 AM.[56][57] See: 2008 Israel–Hamas ceasefire
            June 20, 2008
            Gilad Herman, an Israeli settler in the West Bank settlement of Yashif, unintentionally fires upon an Israeli when he launches a home-made rocket towards Palestinian West Bank. The rocket lands “meters away from a Breslov hassid who was praying in the area.” No one is hurt.[58]
            June 23, 2008
            A single mortar shell was also fired from Gaza late Monday night and landed on the Israeli side of the border fence.[59][60] No organization claimed responsibility for the attack.[61]
            June 24, 2008
            Three Qassam rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday struck the Israeli border town of Sderot and its environs, causing no serious injuries but constituting the first serious breach of a five-day-old truce between Israel and Hamas.[62]
            Islamic Jihad rocket exploding in the distance, breaking the 5-day truce
            One rocket landed in a backyard garden of a house while another landed in open ground. Two people were treated for shock.[63]
            Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had been a response to an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus at dawn on Tuesday, in which a senior Islamic Jihad operative Tareq Abu Ghali, 24 and another Palestinian university student Iyad Khanfar, 21 were killed. An Israeli Army spokesman said that Abu Ghali had been involved in terrorism and that he was “killed in an exchange of fire.” The man killed with him was armed, the spokesman said.
            The rocket attack occurred hours after Olmert met President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik to discuss the next steps in the tenuous Egyptian-mediated truce and the renewal of efforts to resolve the case of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli corporal held by Hamas in Gaza since June 25, 2006.
            Israeli Defense Ministry decided that Israel would keep the Gaza border crossings closed Thursday, except for special humanitarian cases, in response to Tuesday’s Qassam rocket attacks[64]
            June 26, 2008
            A rocket hit an open area of the industrial zone outside Sderot. There were no reports of injuries or damage, according to army sources. The Fatah-affiliated Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. In a text message sent to reporters, it said “the truce must include the West Bank and all sorts of aggression must stop.”
            On Thursday morning, Hamas accused Israel of violating the terms of the Gaza cease-fire a day after Israeli Defense Ministry decided that Israel would keep the Gaza border crossings closed Thursday, except for special humanitarian cases, in response to Tuesday’s Qassam rocket attacks – “If the crossings remain closed, the truce will collapse”, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Thursday morning.[65]
            June 27, 2008
            Early on Friday, two mortar shells were fired at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. One landed near Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, and the second one hit an open area. There were no reports of injuries or damage in the latest violation of the fragile ceasefire.
            Following yesterday’s rocket attack by Aksa Martyrs Brigade a spokesman for the Hamas government, Taher al-Nunu, called Fatah’s actions “unpatriotic”. He said Hamas was considering the possibility of taking action against those perpetrating the attacks against Israel.
            Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called Friday on Palestinian factions to adhere to the Gaza Strip lull agreement with Israel. “The factions and the people accepted the lull in order to secure two interests – an end to aggression and the lifting of the siege. Therefore, we hope that everyone honors this national agreement”, he said following Friday prayers.[66]
            June 28, 2008
            Mortar shells were fired at the Karni crossing. No one claims responsibility for the attacks. Israel blocks all shipments into Gaza except fuel, in response to the rocket and mortar attacks.[67]
            June 30, 2008
            A rocket falls near the town of Mefalsim. Nobody claims responsibility for the attack. In response Israel once again closes the crossings that had previously been reopened on June 29, 2008.[68]

            [edit] July

            July 2, 2008
            There were no rocket or mortar attacks so Israel reopens the four Gaza crossings on Wednesday July 2. Since a truce began June 19, Israel has closed the passages a total of six days in retaliation for rocket attacks.[69]
            July 3, 2008
            A rocket lands in an open area north of Sderot. A previously unknown organization calling itself the “Badr Forces” claims responsibility for the attack. In response Israel temporarily closes the crossings on July 4, 2008.[70]
            July 7, 2008
            A mortar shell is fired at Israel from Gaza on Monday and lands near the Karni crossing.[71]
            July 8, 2008
            After two mortar attacks from Gaza at the Sufa crossing, one fell just inside Gaza and the other at the crossing. Israel closed all the crossing. After an Egyptian request they reopened the crossings. Hours after the crossings opened at noon, militants fired another shell into Israel, causing no casualties or damage, the Israeli military said. Israel kept the crossings open. No Palestinian group immediately claimed responsibility.
            In all, 15 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza since the truce took effect on June 19. Israel has responded automatically by snapping shut the crossings, which have been closed about half of the time. So far the truce has not eased conditions in Gaza because of the frequent closures.[71]
            July 10, 2008
            Two Qassam rockets were fired at Israel, but caused no damage, after an unarmed Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades infiltrator was killed at the Kissufim crossing. An Israeli Army spokesman said they fired warning shots and when the man did not stop they killed him. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades vowed revenge and claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.
            In the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli troops continued for a fourth straight day a crackdown on institutions it links to the militant Hamas movement. On Wednesday July 10 they shot dead a Hamas member near the West Bank city of Jenin.[72]
            July 12, 2008
            A rocket lands in an open area in Sha’ar Hanegev regional council. Nobody claims responsibility for the attack.[73]
            July 13, 2008
            Two mortar shells are misfired and they land on the Gaza side of the border security fence in the Nahal Oz region. Nobody claims responsibility for the attack. Israel responds by only closing the Nahal Oz and Sufa crossings.[74]
            July 15, 2008
            A mortar hit is identified.[75]
            July 25, 2008
            A rocket misfires and lands in Gaza near the Kissufim crossing.[76]
            July 29, 2008
            Another rocket is launched from Gaza and mistakenly lands in Gaza.[77]
            July 31, 2008
            Again, a rocket misfires and lands in Gaza.[78]

            In June and July, Hamas allowed other organizations to fire, not enforcing the cease-fire. They later determined to compel other organizations to abide by the cease-fire. A number of Haaretz reports at the time, reported that some of the firings claimed by other groups, were actually joint or Hamas people.

            [edit] August

            August 1-31st
            In the month of August 7 rockets and 12 mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel.[79]

            [edit] September

            September 1-30th
            The month of September represented a considerable lull in the number of rocket and mortar attacks. In this month, 3 rockets and 2 mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel. They caused no injuries or deaths.[80]

            [edit] October

            October 11
            A single rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel resulting in no injuries or deaths.[81]

          4. I’m officially calling an end to the debate about ceasefires. I’m entirely sick of it. Your list proves absolutely nothing about nothing. If you write another word on this subject I’ll suspend yr comment privileges.

          5. And I was just getting ready to present “my” counter-list which is taken from the IMOD’s own reports and the Israeli embassy propaganda sheet, but I agree that there has been quite enough on this topic in the last several days, so it’s good that you ended it.

          6. it’s good that you ended it.

            Though I do not count Richard W. as a hasbara troll, there’s just something about readers of a certain sort & when they get a bone in their teeth they just can’t let it go. There are certain subjects like Mohammed al-Durrah or the Hamas convenant or the alleged use by Hamas of human shields, or the Qassam attacks on Israel that make them see red & they’ve just got to engage in long drawn out debates about them. I don’t know if this is purposeful on their part or merely because they are obsessive & can’t drop a subject. But to me these endless dreary arguments get discussion bogged down in minutiae instead of keeping focussed on the bigger issues.

            So I very much value your earlier to contribution to this & yr laying out Israeli violations of the ceasefire & the Israeli gov’t sources which verified that Hamas HAD maintained its end of the bargain. Clearly, Witty will not be satisfied by anything that deviates fr. his own limited understanding of things. So repeating things won’t get him any closer to clarity. I’m glad you understand that.

          7. Richard Witty will keep coming back until he is challenged for the ridiculous propaganda he posts in here. Hamas is in no position to put a stop to rocketing because Israel murdered all their policemen (again recently) and has systematically destroyed every police station and prison repeatedly since 1967. Sharon did it all over again in 2002, that time with F-15s. Israel continues to block urgently needed cement going into Gaza, claiming that this outrageous collective punishment is necessary because Hamas can’t be allowed to have building materials because they would re-constitute their security apparatus!

            Under these circumstances it is gross indeed of Witty to claim what he does, that Hamas doesn’t have complete control. Hamas has performed miracles in a society that Israel has sought only to destroy, to create a failed state as everywhere else it touches.

            From 20 years ago, the words of a retired Floridian with (so he claims) extensive intelligence experience after a visit to Gaza in 1989.

            … My ‘specially authorized’ trips included Gaza City … a ride down the main street looked like a scene from some WWII movie … I noticed something a little strange. There was no building with any floor above the first. ALL buildings had any additional floors blasted into rubble … This was a city street no much different from any American small town. Shops, restaurants, services, apartment etc. blown to bits and vacant as a tomb. http://www.currentissues.tv/Joe_Cortina.html

          8. What ARE you talking about? Israel never honors its own ceasefires 100%. So what’s the pt of arguing that there is no ceasefire when at least Israel partially honors them. The problem w. you Witty is that you say things that you think strengthen yr argument, but which end up bordering on the nonsensical.

        2. For the first month and half of the cease-fire, Hamas allowed and continued from its own cells, the periodic shelling of civilian towns in Israel.

          That is, quite simply, false. Even the Israeli government was very clear about the fact that Hamas was determined to keep the cease fire, there was no shelling from Hamas during the ceasefire, and that Hamas worked hard to restrain other groups, including those over which it did not have any control. In fact, the very small amount of shelling that did take place came largely from Fatah – that’s right, Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s boys.

          On the other hand, the U.N. reported no fewer than eight violations from Israel in the very first week of the ceasefire, three on the first full day, in all of which Israeli forces fired on unarmed civilians just trying to go about their business.

          Richard Witty, you have consistently displayed a shockingly poor knowledge of your subject here. Maybe you should take some time out to study a bit before you speak anymore.

  3. With all due respect, your friend Zvi is absolutely wrong about the the translation of the word hamtana. It means to wait, not to pause. The meaning “pause” is better conveyed by with the Hebrew word hashaya (which conveys the intention to begin agaijn).

    That said, Richard Witty is absolutely correct. We do summersaults and pander to Hamas as to what they mean by hudna long-term hudna and tahdiyya. But these are actually just ‘pauses’.

    BTW, if you think about it, even the word “freeze” is really only temporary, because no one can guarantee what might be done after the “thaw”.

  4. No, you’re wrong. I took a small bit of license and called this “the pause that refreshes,” because Israel has no intention of honoring a settlement freeze if it can get away with it. Zvi correctly translated the word as “waiting.” Yr quarrel is with me,not Zvi.

    Your “analysis” of Hamas is based on ignorance. You can’t know what Hamas’ intentions are since you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. You have only yr right wing prejudices to go by and they don’t take you very far.

    even the word “freeze” is really only temporary

    Precisely, you’ve laid out Israel’s insincerity perfectly.

    1. I’m not certain what Israel will do as far as the settlements. They could complete the dozen houses in construction now and then stop, or they could formally freeze construction, while they actively plan and permit 1000 more.

      I do believe that the settlements are the tipping issue, that indicates what Israel’s real intention is. If Israel seeks to annex, then it will continue settlement construction, particularly the strategic construction between East Jerusalem and Maale Adumin. If it seeks to reconcile, to encourage a healthy Palestine as a likely better neighbor than a desperate one, then it will cease settlement construction, particularly that corridor that makes a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem impossible.

        1. Where are the 2500?

          If they are in the Maale Adumin area, they are a real breaker.

          Do you know clearly what Netanyahu is doing? I don’t.

          I know what his positions are, and the basis of his political support in Israel. (Bi-furcated, responsible to Israel Beitanhu, Shas, other religious parties and labor).

          And, responsible to the US, while he must appear independent.

          I don’t trust the guy. But, I’d rather find out first before I shoot.

          1. Excellent idea, Richard Witty. Before you even acknowledge what is obviously going on, let Netanyahu complete just enough of his plan so that he has his faites accomplis, and then you can find another excuse not to confront reality while pretending you are just trying to err on the side of caution and peace, and are not at all complicit in what is going on there.

            Oh, and do keep cluck-clucking at those of us who do not refuse to see what Israel is doing, and who insist upon doing something about it.

          2. Shirin,
            Do you know what Mitchell and Netanyahu agreed to. I don’t. I think it is possible that Netanyahu might have agreed to some sincere compromise but must save face among his constituents. Or, it is probably more possible that he is just screwing around with the US, and the US is doing little in response.

            I personally am not going to shoot first before I find out.

          3. If they are in the Maale Adumin (sic) area, they are a real breaker.

            And if they are not in the Maale Adumin (sic) area, they are quite OK?

          4. There are settlements in other parts of the West Bank that actively work with the Palestinian natives and whose presence does not impede Palestinian lives.

            They are still settlements and should be part of a comprehensive settlement construction moratorium, but do not exert as critical a role in annexation.

            I am not infallible in my knowledge of history, recent and older, but my comments are reflective of reality.

            You embellish Hamas’ reliability and integrity. They deserve credit for their role in the cease-fire. Israel does as well.

            Even as there are exceptions to perfect compliance.

            Otherwise, the situation reverts to trigger fingers. Each side unwilling to forgive the other’s abuse (each stated according to their own criteria).

          5. There are settlements in other parts of the West Bank that actively work with the Palestinian natives

            This is so vague as to mean nothing. Besides, it is so condescending as to be offensive. I have no idea what you mean by “actively work.” It could mean anything. There are no settlements that I know of which work in any constructive, humane & socially just way with their Palestinian neighbors. Menachem Froman’s Tekoah may be one exception though I don’t know that for a fact. I only know that Froman is a particularly humane individual & this may mean that his settlement does better than the rest.

            ALL settlements are obstacles to peace. They all violate international law. YOu can’t be partially pregnant. They’re either illegal or not. And they ARE.

            I am not infallible in my knowledge of history, recent and older, but my comments are reflective of reality.

            You are certainly fallible in yr knowledge & prove that regularly. Yr comments reflect yr own perspective & certainly not “reality.”

            Once again Richard, you are violating my directive about publishing too many comments each day (Helena Cobban calls this “hogging the discourse”). I believe I set your limit at 3. Honor this or your privileges will be modified.

          6. This is…so condescending as to be offensive.

            Yes, thank you, Richard. It is extremely offensive on multiple levels, and would be even without the enhancement of the reference to the “natives” (which admittedly might be a well-intentioned, but unfortunately ill-chosen attempt to acknowledge the Palestinians as the rightful inhabitants of the land).

            However humane a person Menachem Froman might be, are he and his fellow colonists living there by invitation of the Palestinians? Did they purchase the land on which they are living from its Palestinian owners, or are they paying them rent for it? And are they using only their fair share of water and other resources, and compensating the Palestinians for what they use? And are they, as Richard Witty suggests, enhancing the lives of the Palestinians rather than impeding them? Of course, I do not mean these questions to suggest that you and I are not of the same mind on this. I am asking these questions for the benefit of others, not for you.

          7. If they are in the Maale Adumin area, they are a real breaker.

            There is massive development going on there as I write this so yes, of course many are in this area.

            And yes, as Shirin notes it’s “Adumim,” not “Adumin.”

  5. Richard Witty: “Aren’t you doing exactly what you criticized me for?

    Not even close. You demanded that your interlocutor should go and do his own research. I explained that I have done research, much of which I have already shared here on other threads, using as my sources documentation, including Embassy P.R. materials, from the Israeli government, and organizations that work with the Israeli government. I failed to mention that I have also used the United Nations reports as a source.

    You will pardon me if I do not take Wikipedia as the ultimate source of truth and accuracy, but prefer to rely on the GOI, the U.N., and Israeli security think tanks that work with the GOI. I will be happy to share, once again, the information and sources, when I have more time.

    Just for reference, a cease-fire is 100% compliance, not incidental exceptions.

    Well, then, since it was Israel that committed the first violations – three reported on January 20 alone – then I guess Hamas would have been perfectly justified in considering the ceasefire ended as of Israel’s multiple violations on June 20, and continuing violations on June 21-27, and in resuming its own hostilities. Oddly enough, despite Israel’s daily violations, Hamas stood its ground, refrained from hostilities on its own part, and did a creditable job of preventing hostilities on the part of other groups. The fact that it was unable to completely halt actions by groups that are hostile to Hamas, including that great peace partner, Fatah, does not alter the fact that it complied with its agreement under the ceasefire even in the face of daily violations by Israel.

    1. Yeah, that Wiki text Witty spammed here flagrantly misrepresents the situation by labeling attacks from Hamas’s rivals as violations of the cease-fire. Granted, one can’t reasonably expect otherwise from Wikipedia, as the hasbara crew invests a lot of effort into bearing false witness there.

      1. I actually don’t believe that the distinction between Hamas actively participating in shelling and allowing shelling is a misrepresentation.

        The reason is that Hamas acknoweldged that it was a component of its adherence to the cease-fire, and acted to apply that in the three and a half month period that they did hold Islamic Jihad to task.

        Its easy for solidarity to dismiss.

        The nature of the communication at two critical clarification points in the cease-fire was to affirm it, to step back from the mutual pushing the envelope.

        The two points were the one we are talking about, when Hamas convinced Islamic Jihad, PFLP and others to not shoot rockets, so as to keep the cease-fire functioning.

        And, in mid-November, after skirmishes had escalated to the point that the cease-fire was in fact breaking down. It was reiterated (not perfectly by either side) until the formal cease-fire ending in mid-December.

        Hamas’ political relations were strained. Their role is as leadership of Islamic Palestinian solidarity, and are responsible to agreements with other factions as well as the formal agreements with Israel and Fatah (when they are constructed). After the blockade didn’t relax significantly, they could not hold back the damn of anger from their own cadre and those that they had asked to compromise to support the cease-fire.

        1. Hamas actively participating in shelling and allowing shelling

          Your grasp of “reality” is quite weak contrary to yr own claim on the subject. When Islamic Jihad or one of the other groups that has refused to accept the ceasefire shoots a rocket that Hamas has not been able to stop, this does mean that Hamas has “allowed” the shelling. It means that Hamas, just like the Shin Bet & IDF, sometimes fail to prevent every violation of their own security.

          You neglected to read an earlier comment which quoted the ceasefire agreement which, unfortunately, specifies that Hamas does not accept responsiblity for violations by Palestinian parties who renounce the ceasefire. Israel signed this agreement & understood the terms. Are you claiming to be holier than Israel? At any rate, you are wrong in yr characterization of the ceasefire agreement. Next?

        2. …Hamas actively participating in shelling and allowing shelling…

          How many times do I have to repeat that Hamas did not allow shelling? The cease fire was “sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations…in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters).” (Source: ITIC report, December 22, 2008) In fact, during the cease fire Hamas conducted numerous arrests of members and supporters of these rogue groups. How you manage to interpret that as “allowing shelling” is beyond my ability to divine.

          The agreement, as I have already pointed out several times, required to “enforce the arrangement on the
          other Palestinian terrorist organizations
          which had not expressed their opposition“. (Source: ITIC report referenced above) In other words, Richard Witty, Hamas was not required or expected to prevent any shelling from any group, though it actually did a creditable job of reining in even those “rogue groups”, reducing the shelling by 99%.

          Its easy for solidarity to dismiss.

          What does that even mean?

          to step back from the mutual pushing the envelope.

          There was no mutual pushing the envelope. Israel failed from the very beginning to meet its most basic obligations under the cease fire, specifically to lift the blockade on Gaza – aka to take Gazans off the “diet” that had been imposed on them as punishment for exercising their right to choose their own leadership. In spite of this, Hamas was “careful to maintain the ceasefire” until Israel violated it egregiously with a series of major attacks inside Gaza beginning November 4-5, killing and maiming tens of Palestinians, including a number of children. This pattern of breaking ceasefires with increasingly provocative attacks in order to create a pretext for a major assault is very well-documented standard operating procedure for Israel going back to its earliest history.

          We know that early in 2008 Israel was planning a major assault on Gaza to take place in the last weeks of the Bush administration, and to end before Obama took office. We know that the planning for this assault was going on even as they were negotiating the ceasefire. We know that Israel has a historical pattern of 1) breaking ceasefires (a recent study showed that in 78% of cases it has been Israel and not the Palestinians that has broken a ceasefire), 2) taking action intended to provoke a response that they will then use as a pretext for a planned major assault. What happened in the latter half of 2008 fits that pattern perfectly.

  6. There are settlements in other parts of the West Bank that actively work with the Palestinian natives and whose presence does not impede Palestinian lives.

    It what alternate universe? Seriously, Richard Witty, there are times when I start to believe you really are as divorced from reality as you appear to be.

    They are still settlements and should be part of a comprehensive settlement construction moratorium, but do not exert as critical a role in annexation.

    They are every bit as much a part of the illegal colonization of the OPT as an other colony is. They are built on land that was stolen from Palestinians. Their residents use water and other resources by depriving Palestinians of their use. Their residents travel on roads that were built on land stolen from Palestinians, and that deny Palestinians full freedom of movement.

    I am not infallible in my knowledge of history, recent and older, but my comments are reflective of reality.

    You are woefully lacking in knmowledge of history, recent and older, and more often than not your comments have little if any connection to reality. My god, Richard Witty, you actually stated that as of 1968 there had been no displacements of Palestinians from Jerusalem, and there was no government colonization plan, both of which fly in the face of well-known, irrefutable facts. If you are that lacking in fundamental knowledge, then you really need to take time out to do some studying before you address the subjects again.

    You embellish Hamas’ reliability and integrity. They deserve credit for their role in the cease-fire. Israel does as well.

    I embellish nothing. I address facts. Israel’s role in the ceasefire is clear from the fact that even as they were negotiating the terms they were planning the December/January assault, down to timing it for the last weeks of Bush’s administration, and ending it just before Obama took power. It is also clear from the fact that they followed their well-documented pattern of breaking the ceasefire with a series of severe provocations forcing Hamas to respond, thus giving them a pretext for the assault they had been planning since Spring, 2008.

    According to the Israeli MOD, among others, Hamas kept the ceasefire by refraining from any armed hostilities itself, and did a better-than-expected job of restraining even the groups that are hostile to Hamas. Over the nearly five months between the start of the ceasefire, and Israel’s series of severe violations in November, Hamas achieved a 99% reduction in rocket fire from Gaza, and life returned to normal in Sderot and other affected parts of Israel. What a shame the GOI cared so little for the comfort, safety, and well-being of its citizens that it chose to take actions intended to rekindle armed hostilities rather than pursuing an extension of the ceasefire.

    1. Shirin,
      You think that every settlement is at war with every Palestinian, or that each are equally consequential politically?

      I don’t. I note that the East Jerusalem expansions are more consequential and devastating to peace based on mutually healthy communities, than “natural growth” in other communities that don’t hinder Palestinian travel. That is NOT a statement of advocacy for that expansion either.

      Your interpretation of the sequence of events leading up to the Gaza disaster, is flawed to the point of innaccuracy. You infer that Hamas was forced to shell civilians following the cease-fire ending and that that was a conspiracy on the part of Israel to justify massive attack on Gaza.

      Did I get your argument accurately? I think I did.

      My interpretation is different. That is that although horribly frustrating that Israel did not material relax the blockade, and although Hamas was accountable to other factions that they had convinced to abide by the cease-fire, they did not HAVE TO reintroduce shelling of civilian towns.

      And, they certainly did not have to escalate that shelling in size of shells, distance from Gaza, and population concentration of targets. Doing so indicated to me the opposite of what you contest, that Hamas INSISTED that Israel respond militarily, in an odd twist of the Gandhian formula “the purpose of civil disobedience is to evoke a response”.

      You didn’t hear me note giving credit to Hamas for maintaining the cease-fire during the period that it did?

      I think my understanding of the history of the region is relatively complete in respectfully studying the history from the two+ dominant perspectives: Palestinian nationalist, Israeli nationalist, humanist solidarity.

      I find truths in all of them, perspectives that are valid. I find the selection of a single perspective to be a choice that reduces the degree of truth.

      And Shirin, I observe that you have rejected the Israeli nationalist as containing any truth to incorporate into your views, and I conclude that that is a biased perspective, a perspective of denial of the other.

      It is the litmus test approach. Any that regard the Israeli perspective as containing any element of truth or relevance, is rejected as untrustable (a sentiment of a war-time).

      It is possible to oppose settlement expansion consistently and confidently, without denying that there are concerns to reconcile that the other expresses.

      The primary point of Richard’s that I support is his last statement,

      “It’s up to Obama to see through this and plow forward.”

      To the extent that he drops the ball, Netanyahu and his political menagerie will pursue settlement expansion opportunistically and most importantly, strategically, in an exercised manner.

      The current situation is a critical time.

  7. Richard Witty, do yourself a favour and do not EVER presume to tell ME what I think about anything. It will always be self-serving, it will always be wrong, and you will always start off on the wrong foot with me when you do that.

    Every colony, every road, every single trace of colonization in the Occupied Territories is a violation of international law and a gross violation of Palestinian rights on every imaginable level. Every single trace of colonization in the Occupied Territories is antithetical to peace, and speaks volumes about Israel’s true intentions. For you to suggest that any colonization of any kind anywhere in any occupied territory “works with the ‘natives’ and does not impede their lives” is flat out delusional, and goes far, far beyond apologetics.

    The “natural growth” pretext is beyond transparent falsehood. Only the willfully delusional do not see through it. Furthermore, any and all expansion, “natural growth” or not, impedes the lives of the “natives” by expropriating their land, poluting their environment, and depriving them of their own natural resources, most critically water.

    Your interpretation of the sequence of events leading up to the Gaza disaster, is flawed to the point of innaccuracy.

    My “interpretation” of the events leading up to Israel’s criminal assault on Gaza is based on decades of studying patterns of Israeli behaviour, and an examination of the relevant facts as contained in Israeli government documents, U.N. reports, statements by Israeli officials, and volumes of very consistent and credible reports in mainstream Israeli and western media.

    You infer that Hamas was forced to shell civilians

    Once again, Richard Witty, do not presume to tell me what I infer. It will always be self-serving, and it will always be wrong. Nothing in anything I have written suggests in any way that I “infer” that Hamas was forced to do anything. What I said is quite different from that.

    I think my understanding of the history of the region is relatively complete…

    I am simply stunned that you can say that when you admittedly did not even know there was major ethnic cleansing in 1967-68 in East Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, the Latrun area, and elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza. I am equally stunned that you can say that when you apparently know nothing about the Allon plan, presented to the Knesset in August, 1967, that still forms the basis for the colonization plan of the West Bank. These things are Israel/Palestine history 101, and anyone who is ignorant of them cannot be taken seriously on the subject.

    horribly frustrating that Israel did not material relax the blockade

    Merely “frustrating” that Israel refused to honour its primary responsibilities under the ceasefire agreement, despite its explicit acknowledgement that Hamas was “careful to observe the cease fire”, and that the cease fire was only “sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations…in defiance of Hamas (especially by
    Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters).” OK.

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