You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Operation Cast Lead’ tag.

The media, N.G.O.s and the U.N. went to great pains to paint Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as the new Nazis who are perpetrate a holocaust on the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. During the recent fighting in Gaza the media gave credence to everything the UN, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority said about Israel’s operation. They abjectly ignored the truth and chose to spin a story where Israel is made to look like a bloodthirsty rogue state that commits war crimes at every turn.

Consider the following: on January 6th 2009 a story appeared in the Washington Post with the following headline: “Israel Hits U.N.-Run School in Gaza“. From the headline it appears that Israel deliberately targeted and attacked the school. Similarly, on the english version of Aljazeera’s website came the headline: “Israel kills dozens at Gaza school” and the New York Times published the story “Israeli Shells Kill 40 at Gaza U.N. School“. The outcry from the international community was immediate and visceral. On January 7th the daily TV and radio news program, Democracy Now!, declared

In the deadliest attack since Israel launched its assault on Gaza twelve days ago, up to forty-two Palestinians died on Tuesday after Israel fired mortars at a United Nations school that was sheltering Palestinians who had been forced to flee their homes. Fifty-five Palestinians were also wounded in the attack. Doctors said all of the victims were civilians, including many children.

(Goodman, Amy and Juan Gonzalez, “40+ Killed in Israeli Strike on Gaza School Sheltering Refugees“, Democracy Now!, January 7th 2009)

Time Magazine also ran a story immediately declaring

United Nations investigators say they have uncovered no evidence to support a claim by the Israeli military that Hamas fighters were holed up in a Gaza school, prompting a deadly attack by Israeli forces that killed 40 civilians, many of them children.

(McGirk, Tim, “UN: No Hamas Fighters in Bombed Gaza School“, Time, Inc., January 7, 2009)

Immediately the outcry from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and from vehement anti-Israel activists such as Dr. Mads Gilbert was that Israel was committing flagrant war crimes and atrocities right in front of the world. However, the truth is somewhat more convoluted than these individuals would like to admit. With regards to the UN school, the UNRWA in early February finally retracted the claim that the school had been attacked. In the retraction the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that “‘The humanitarian coordinator would like to clarify that the shelling, and all of the fatalities, took place outside rather than inside the school” (“UN retracts claim over Gaza school attack“, RTE News, February 4 2009). This retraction came several weeks after the accusation was initially made by the UNRWA and after reports began to surface that the UN staff made efforts to stifle the truth. In the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz the article in the Canadian Globe and Mail noted that

a teacher in the UNRWA compound at the time of the strike “was adamant” that no people had been killed inside the compound.

The newspaper [Globe and Mail] quoted the teacher as saying that, “I could see some of the people had been injured… But when I got outside, it was crazy hell. There were bodies everywhere, people dead, injured, flesh everywhere.”

(Harel, Amos, “UN backtracks on claim that deadly IDF strike hit Gaza school“, Ha’aretz, February 3, 2009)

In the article “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutiny” in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Patrick Martin writes of an interview in which a teacher gives his account of what happened

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: “Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.”

“Three of my students were killed,” he said. “But they were all outside.”

(Martin, Patrick, “Account of Israeli attack doesn’t hold up to scrutinyGlobe and Mail, January 29, 2009)

Why did Israel fire mortars into the streets outside the school? It turns out that Hamas militants fired from the streets just outside the school.

The army said two Hamas militants — Imad Abu Askar and Hasan Abu Askar — were among the dead.

Two neighborhood residents confirmed the Israeli account, saying a group of militants fired mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets. Israel then opened fire. (emphasis added)

The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the Abu Askar brothers were known low-level Hamas militants.

(Barzak, Ibrahim and Steve Weizman, “Israel shells near UN school, killing at least 30“, Associated Press reprinted in the Detroit Free Press, January 6, 2009)

The tragedy of this whole event is that a large number of innocent civilians lost their lives in this incident. The tragedy also is that Hamas cynically uses its own people as human shields and the world remains silent. What remains as an indisputed fact is that when the incident occured the world was immediately there to shout and vilify Israel for committing an alleged atrocity. However when the truth comes out it comes out as a whisper and the world says nothing.

Now that the fighting has ended the posturing begins to claim total victory in the latest round of fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. What were Hamas’ objectives in starting this fight? In an interview to Hamas’ magazine, Al-Risala, Mousa Abu Marzouq, Hamas’ second in command in Damascus discusses the Tahdiah [calm] and argues that “The [Tahdiah] had become ‘a ceasefire [in exchange for another] ceasefire,’ with no connection either to the crossings and [the goods] transported through them, or to the siege. Terminating it was [thus] a logical move.” (Marzouq, Mousa Abu, Al-Risala, December 12, 2008, excerpt found at MEMRI Special Dispatch – No. 2177). After the beginning of Operation Cast Lead Hamas then claimed a second objective: inflicting significant military casualties on the Israelis (Kramer, Martin, “Dig Hamas really win in Gaza?”, found at http://sandbox.blog-city.com/did_hamas_really_win_in_gaza.htm, January 28, 2009). Hamas claimed that “Israel was falling into ‘the trap that our fighters had prepared for its soldiers and tanks.'” and that “the Zionist enemy will see surprises and will regret carrying out such an operation and will be a heavy price. Our militants are waiting with patience to confront the soldiers face to face.” (“Hamas: Gaza will become graveyard for Israeli troops“,Haaretz, January 4, 2009).

As noted elsewhere, Hamas basically collapsed, their fighters quickly shed their uniforms, donned civilian clothes and melted into the civilian population (even going so far as to fight from inside civilian enclaves to ensure that Israel would be accused of targeting civilians) (Kramer, Martin, “Did Hamas really win in Gaza?“, MartinKramer.org, January 28, 2009). As one Israeli soldier put it “We set a date with Hamas, and they didn’t come. They were afraid to come and face us, and they ran away,” (Friedman, Matti, “Despite its threats, Hamas put up light resistance,” Yahoo News, January 19, 2009). Most of Israel’s military casualties came from friendly fire.

The question now turns to whether Hamas or Israel won the fight. Both sides immediately claimed victory in the fight — Israel claiming that they had achieved their primary objective of limiting the number of rockets being fired on a daily basis into southern Israel (from a pre-war high of 70 down to 20 on the last day of the war) and Hamas, according to Rashid Khalidi, can claim victory since “all it has to do in order to proclaim victory is remain standing” (Khalidi, Rashid, “LRB Contributors React to Events in Gaza“, London Review of Books, January 15, 2009) — a rather low standard a victory. While Hamas may have emerged politically stronger in Gaza based on the premise that they survived the war they, as Hezballah in Lebanon discovered in 2006, are now the target of public resentment given the level of damage caused to homes and infrastructure in Gaza. Unlike Hezbollah who was able to dispatch teams to assess the damage of the 2006 war and to hand out money to rebuild homes and rebuild its militia Hamas has neither the finances nor the efficiency of Hezbollah and must overcome the obstacle that Gaza remains a closed area for all intents and purposes. (Ferziger, Jonathan, and Daniel Williams, “Israel, Hamas Both Claim Victory After Cease-Fire in Gaza Strip“, Bloomberg.com, January 19, 2009).

Based on traditional concepts of warfare it would is clear that Israel won a substantial victory on the battlefield as well as maintained firm control on the Gaza crossings (a key objective of Hamas at the outset of the fighting being that the crossings would be opened completely). Hamas proved that their “military” wing was anything but capable and relied solely on firing rockets into southern Israeli cities as their only means of resistance. In the end Israel achieved many of its initial, stated objectives for the operation and Hamas achieved nothing other than the scorn of the outside world for starting the fight and then using their own people as human shields.

(Update: Since posting this originally, the Times did finally post my comment…it’s #62 in the list).

Once again the New York Times editorial board has chosen not to post my comment on an editorial op-ed that they have published. In their op-ed, “A Way Out of Gaza?” the Times’ editorial board call for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and a return to peace negotiations as “the only real hope for guaranteeing Israel’s long-term security.” (“A Way Out of Gaza“, The New York Times, January 16, 2009). The Times starts the opinion piece with a bold statement : “We agree that Israel had to defend itself against Hamas’s rocket attacks” (“A Way Out of Gaza“, The New York Times, January 16, 2009) and then immediately backtrack as though the previous statement was a momentary lapse of reason. But what really irks me is that my comment, which is reasoned and balanced, is not worthy of acceptance whereas nearly all of the other comments, which are vociferously anti-Israel, are.

Here are some examples of the comments that the editorial board of the Times consider worthwhile to accept:

The NYT refuses to recognize the reality that Israel has gone berserk with indiscriminate violence. (comment #7, “A Way Out of Gaza“, The New York Times)

What are the boundaries between a “civilized war” and outright mass murder? I don’t know; as in many things, the best we can hope for are general principles that should be interpreted in good faith to specific situations. Here the principle of proportionality has been violated. Israel has crossed the line, in my humble opinion, between legitimate defense and an unjustifiable infliction of death to cow a populace into submission.(comment #16, “A Way Out of Gaza“, The New York Times)

Despite tragic loss of lives, near complete destruction of infrastructure and homes in Gaza, it is clearly evident that the occupying regime has failed to accomplish any of their objectives. Additionally the onslaught has become a public relation disaster for the Zionist camp.(comment #29, “A Way Out of Gaza“, The New York Times)

It’s really nauseating to hear about Israel’s right to defend itself when that terrorist nation is murdering in cold blood hundreds of people everyday.(comment #31, “A Way Out of Gaza“, The New York Times)

In a blatant attempt to claim that they are “balanced,” the New York Times editorial board intersperses between the venemous anti-Israel comments a token few comments from individuals, mostly in Israel, supporting Israel’s case in this conflict. But if you submit a truly “balanced” comment as I did, don’t bother…the editorial board doesn’t want to hear it. It doesn’t “add” to the conversation apparently. So, having had my say, I give you the text of my comment:

It never ceases to astound me that the world is content to sit quietly by while Isrealis die from continual rocket barrages by Hamas (even during a 6 month “truce”) and then when Israel says “enough is enough” and goes to take care of the problem the first thing the world says is “let’s make nice.” How can Israel be expected to make “nice” with Hamas when it’s sole aim is the destruction of the state of Israel along with the concommitant explusion or mass extermination of the Jews there? You talk about the conditions for peace. Peace will only happen when the Palestinians truly accept that Israel is the Jewish homeland, that Jews have a right to live there in peace and quiet and when the Palestinian leadership understands that the two-state solution is their only option.

You mention that President Abbas “believes in a two-state solution” — a statement which is not credible since the PA still displays the entire land of Palestine on their emblem. In addition, the findings of a February 2007 report by the Palestine Media Watch on the content of 12th grade Palestinian schoolbooks show that students are systematically taught that Israel does not have a right to exist nor do the Jews have any ties to the land. I find your claim that Abbas truly believes in a two-state solution specious given the evidence.

A two-state solution IS the only way out – but all parties must be committed to this solution — completely. Israel must be willing to make the hard sacrifice of stopping the settlements and to help develop the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza strip. However, the Palestinians must truly be committed to this as well…and that means abandoning Hamas, abandoning terror, and embracing coexistence. Lip service from both sides will simply prolong the conflict and result in the death of many more innocent lives that are caught in the middle — both Palestinian AND Israeli.

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