Behind the Gaza ceasefire Israel and Hamas talk potential peace

By James m. Dorsey Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Synopsis

Israel and Hamas have significantly moderated their attitudes towards one another despite official denials. Indirect talks in Cairo designed to achieve a lasting ceasefire between the two war weary parties effectively constitute negotiations about the parameters of a potential future peace agreement. Continue reading “Behind the Gaza ceasefire Israel and Hamas talk potential peace”

Battle of the Ceasefires:? Israel, Hamas Struggle for Moral High Ground

By James M. Dorsey

Gaza being bombed on 30th July 2014
Gaza being bombed on 30th July 2014

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Synopsis

If Israel came close to destroying Hamas in two earlier confrontations in 2008/9 and 2012, it has succeeded in the latest round of fighting to rescue the group from potential demise. Hamas is emerging as the key player capable of cornering Israel politically and diplomatically despite its military superiority.

Commentary

THE EFFORT to achieve a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip resembles a see-saw with at times Israel and at other times Hamas rejecting a halt to hostilities or violating a brief silencing of the guns in a bid to ensure its collapse. The back and forth reflects in the first instance a battle between Israel and Hamas to occupy the moral high ground.

But more importantly it highlights a growing realisation that Hamas is emerging politically strengthened from the death and destruction in Gaza while Israel is fighting a rear guard battle to turn military success into political victory.

Hamas forcing Israel into a corner

Israeli spokesmen have projected the acceptance by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups of a United Nations call for another 24-hour ceasefire as an indication that Hamas had been seriously damaged by the three-week old Israeli assault. More likely is that Hamas hoped to force Israel into a corner after Israel had rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a seven-day halt to hostilities because it would have legitimised Hamas’ demands for a lifting of the seven-year-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, the opening of all the territories border crossings, the free flow of goods and services into the strip and the release of funds for payment of Gazan public sector salaries.

A Hamas spokesman, hours before the group’s acceptance of the UN ceasefire proposal, left little doubt that the Islamist militia had ensured the collapse of an earlier 12-hour ceasefire negotiated by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Qatar, Turkey and Egypt. The spokesman charged that the ceasefire would only allow Israel to prepare its military and intelligence resources for a second round in Gaza.

High stakes

The stakes for both Israel and Hamas are high: Israel cannot afford a halt to hostilities that opens the door to acceptance of Hamas’ demands. Otherwise this would invite questioning of its refusal to deal with Hamas, undercut its effort to undermine the recently agreed Palestinian national unity government supported by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well as Hamas, and derail its determination to choke Hamas by blockading Gaza. Hamas for its part needs to demonstrate even if the current conflagration was engineered by Israel that the terrible toll in terms of human life and physical destruction ultimately produced a significant improvement in the lives of the 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza.

With pictures of utter destruction and bodies being pulled out of rubble where once home stood dominating television news, Hamas is gaining the upper hand. Mr. Kerry’s emphasis on Hamas’ demands while referring in his ceasefire plan to Israeli security concerns in only the most general of terms reflects the swing of public empathy towards the Palestinians even if the Obama administration continues to officially uphold Israel’s right to defend itself.

Nonetheless, the realisation that Israel could emerge the real loser from the latest fighting is beginning to take root in Israeli government circles as well as the country’s political and security establishment. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has effectively called for an end to Israeli attempts to undermine the Palestinian national unity government by suggesting that Abbas, who until now controls only the West Bank, extend his writ to Gaza as part of what he termed a reconciliation government.

Senior Israeli officials have suggested in recent days that they were never opposed to a Hamas-backed unity government even though Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu broke off US-sponsored peace talks after Abbas reached agreement with Hamas. Ayalon was echoing a plan drafted by the Economic Co-operation Foundation, an Israeli think tank.

Hamas’ instrument

Hamas’ demand for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza is also garnering support from senior Israeli figures such as Yuval Diskin, the former head of Shabak, the internal security service, who has become a dove since retiring.

“Israel is now an instrument in the hands of Hamas, not the opposite. Hamas doesn’t care if its population suffers under the attacks or not, because the population is suffering anyway. Hamas doesn’t really care about their own casualties either. They want to achieve something that will change the situation in Gaza. This is a really complicated situation for Israel.

“It would take one to two years to take over the Gaza Strip and get rid of the tunnels, the weapons depots and the ammunition stashes step-by-step. It would take time, but from the military point of view, it is possible. But then we would have 2 million people, most of them refugees, under our control and would be faced with criticism from the international community,” Diskin told German magazine Der Spiegel.

Israel’s dilemma is evident. Its definition of ensuring security exclusively through military superiority and heavy-handed repression rather than political compromise is increasingly costing it international support, particularly in the United States, its major ally, and strengthening calls for boycotts and sanctions.

“I think the government may bring this problem onto the country. We are losing legitimacy and the room to operate is no longer great, not even when danger looms… There are plenty of people within Shin Bet (another name for Shabak, the Israeli internal security service), Mossad (Israel external security service), and the army who think like I do.

“But in another five years, we will be very lonely people. Because the number of religious Zionists in positions of political power and in the military is continually growing,” Diskin said referring to the growing influence in the military of more religious segments of Israeli society as well as the right-wing drift among Israelis.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.

The Gaza Bombardment – What You're Not Being Told

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXRO1YFreNA
The corporate media isn’t just distorting the facts on the Gaza assault, they’re flat out covering them up.

On July 7, 2014 Israel began a massive assault on the Gaza strip of Palestine. In the first week aloneIsrael dropped over 400 tons of bombs, killing over 130 Palestinians. Most were civilians, about half of them were women and children. By the time you are watching the the number will be higher.

Israel’s official justification for this wholesale slaughter: the murder of three Israeli teenagers which Israel blames on Hamas. That’s not the real reason. First of all Israel has not produced one single piece of evidence implicating Hamas or even a Palestinian in the murders, and in fact the the evidence we do have indicates that that murderers were Israeli. You see on Tuesday July 1st, The Jerusalem Post released the audio of the kidnapped teen’s distress call to police, and in that call the kidnappers can be heard telling the boys to put their heads down in HEBREW. According to the Jerusalem Post prior to being leaked to the public this audio was being held under a gag order by the Israeli government.

So why is Israel really attacking Gaza? It’s not about self defense and it’s obviously not about avenging those three teenagers. Those are just cover stories for the naive. What this is really about is natural gas.

It turns out that Gaza has quite a bit of natural gas on its coastline. One of the largest sources in the region. British Gas, which holds a joint exploration agreement for the area estimates that the fields hold at least 1 trillion cubic feet of gas. That gas belongs to the Palestinian people and they should be the ones to benefit from it. Israel disagrees.

(An interesting side story on this issue: At one point Russia was bidding for a chance to develop Gaza’s gas fields.)

After the death of Yasser Arafat, under questionable circumstances, Israel has controlled those fields, and British Gas has negotiated with Tel Aviv.

With power divided between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Palestinians have been too weak to put up any meaningful ,resistance and Israel would like to keep it that way. The Unity Government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority threatens Israel’s control of those fields, and as such it has to be destroyed.

It’s pretty basic really. These are the real motives of all wars: resources, territory and power. They’ll always come up with an excuse, and it’s easy to fall for them if you don’t do your research, but there’s also a really easy way to avoid getting duped: always stand against wars of aggression. Period. Make it a matter of principle, and the facts and morality will always end up being on your side.

And speaking of morality, even if those teenagers had been killed by Hamas, what kind of psychopath thinks that this gives Israel the right to go and kill over a hundred people who had nothing to do with it? We’re talking about little kids here.

I’m not going to show you the pictures of the dead or dying children here in this video, but I have looked at them, and as a father it’s almost unbearable to see. If hearing about those bombs falling doesn’t phase you emotionally, if this is just a political debate for you, then go look at the pictures (these for example). You have no right to defend what Israel is doing, if you don’t have the courage to even glance at the consequences.

And anyone who would justify these crimes after seeing the civilian casualties should be ashamed of themselves.

The bombing heavily populated residential areas is a war crime, and the U.S. government is funding it with your tax dollars. That’s right. Israel receives over 3 billion dollars in foreign aid from the U.S. each year. (But hey, it’s not like the American people actually need that money, the national debt is only 17 trillion dollars.)

Of course it’s no accident that you’ve never had face what’s being done to the Palestinian’s in your name. If you turn on the mainstream media at any point during this crisis all you’ll see is constant stream of reports focusing on the Palestinian rockets being fired in response. These reports conveniently fail to mention that as of yet these primitive rockets have not killed one single Israeli.

The Obama administration is also running with this artificial narrative.

But the rockets, the rockets! Let’s all bring this back to the puny homemade rockets that the Palestinians are launching out of desperation and frame this as a question of Israel’s self defense.

Pretend for a moment that this wasn’t happening in the Middle East, but rather in the south west of the United States. Hey, just for kicks let’s say it was happening in Palestine Texas. So three teenagers from Mexico are visiting Palestine Texas and they get killed, by somebody, we don’t know who. Mexico of course takes this as an invitation to launch airstrikes, on the entire on the entire region. For ten days the Mexican air force dutifully pummels Palestine Texas, and the surrounding villages, but unfortunately these darn rednecks were unaware that this was perfectly within Mexico’s rights, so they started taking pot shots at Mexican fighter jets with their shotguns and deer rifles, and some started shooting in the general direction of the Mexican border. The bullets didn’t reach their targets, but still they tried to defend themselves, and THAT is unacceptable.

Sound absurd? That’s what you people sound like when you parrot the mainstream media and talk show pundits without thinking. Totally incoherent.

Israel isn’t defending itself against the Palestinians any more than the Europeans were defending themselves against the natives of the Americas. Year after year the Israelis have taken more Palestinian land, bulldozed more homes, set up new settlements, and systematically expelled the inhabitants. You can make up justifications or deny it all you want, but the maps don’t lie.

This isn’t defense, this is ethnic cleansing.

Of course there are those who are actually ok with what these maps tell us. There are people who like to assert that Israel has the right to steal every square inch of Palestinian land because supposedly one thousand five hundred or so years ago their Jewish ancestors were expelled. They call this the right of return.

Ok, let’s go with that.

Rights are an interesting topic. The thing about rights, is that if human right actually exists then it would have to universal to all of humanity.

So what about the Palestinian’s right of return?

Don’t you find it a bit odd that one of the primary stipulations that Israel always imposes upon the Palestinians during negotiations is that in order to reach a peace agreement the Palestinians have to accept that they have no right to return to the land that was taken from them in the past 50 years? We’re not talking about people who have some kind of abstract ancestral claim, these are the actual people who lost their homes, and their farms, and their businesses in this lifetime.

So is the right of return an actual right or is it not? You can’t have it both ways without exposing the dirty underbelly of this issue: which is that Zionism is a fundamentally racist and fascistic ideology.

The video below is an extreme display, but it’s not unique in Israel these days. If you do a little research on the topic you’ll find that hardline Zionism very much resembles a neo-nazi movement.

And no, Zionism is not inseparable from Judaism, and it has nothing to do with who you are genetically.

So what can we do to help the Palestinians? Start by actively engaging this debate everywhere it comes up. Don’t avoid the conversation just to be polite. Women and children are being massacred in Gaza right now, and silence in the face of oppression is to take the side of the oppressors.

It’s time to start confronting those who support what Israel is doing right now. This isn’t a matter of opinion or preference. To defend the use of the military against civilian populations, is shameful, it’s immoral and it has consequences.

A particular weight of responsibility sits on the shoulders of those in the so called conservative churches of the United States, because this is where the bulk of the support for Israel is found. It’s up to you who see what is really going on to wake the people in your church up. If the Pastor in your church defends bombardment of Gaza, or any war for that matter, you need to confront him, and if he doesn’t respond when you confront him in private then confront him publicly. If that sounds extreme to you, then go look at those pictures of the little kids who are on the receiving end of this. Go take a glimpse, but understand that the horror of seeing a photo of a dismembered child is nothing like what their parents are feeling.

And to the people of Israel, you need to do some serious soul searching. Is this the image you want the world to have when they think of Israel? An image of a brutal oppressor that murders civilians without hesitation? But more importantly, is this what you want to be?

Bonus Videos
1. Miko Peled Son of a high ranking Israeli general tells the real story of the Palestinian occupation:

2. Norman Finkelstein ends the argument properly:

You take my water

You take my water
Burn my olive tree
Destroy my house
Take my job
Steal my land
Imprison my father
Kill my mother
Bomb my country
Starve us all
Humiliate us all
BUT
I am to blame: I shot a rocket back
You take my water

Today in Gaza

You who are silent
You who leave it to others
You who do not hear the screams

Every bomb that falls
Every ‘call for restraint’
Every blood clot etched in the sand

Calls out in vain
Calls out in pain
Calls out your name

Remember you let it happen
Remember you turned away
Remember you were silent


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This letter arrived this morning:
Dear Shahidul
This is from my friend Selim, about yesterday’s aggression. As you know I worked on year in Gaza (as the head of the UNRWA health services that provides primary health care to 20,000 refugees daily. So far more than 200 dead and more than 700 wounded, many civilians as there is no “clean” war in urban settings and surgical strikes; The horror is there. And foreign governments recommend restraints on both sides as if it was a solution. Hamas respected the truce for many months and saw no improvement.
Thanks for doing what you can.
Pierre Claquin
———————————————-
Today in Gaza
It was just before noon when I heard the first explosion. I rushed to my window, barely had I looked out when I was pushed back by the force and air pressure of another explosion. For a few moments I didn’t understand, then I realized that Israeli promises of a wide-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip had materialized. Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzpi Livni’s statements following a meeting with Egyptian President Hussni Mubarak the day before yesterday had not been empty threats after all.
What followed seems pretty much surreal at this point. Never had we imagined anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me and I’m in the middle of it and a few hours have passed already passed.
6 locations were hit during the air raid on Gaza city. The images are probably not broadcasted in US news channels. There were piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you looked at them you could see that a few of the young men are still alive, someone lifts a hand here, and another raise his head there. They probably died within moments because their bodies are burned, most have lost limbs, some have their guts hanging out and they’re all lying in pools of blood. Outside my home, (which is close to the 2 largest universities in Gaza) a missile fell on a large group of young men, university students, they’d been warned not to stand in groups, it makes them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. 7 were killed, 4 students and 3 of our neighbors kids, young men who were from the same family (Rayes) and were best friends. As I’m writing this I can hear a funeral procession go by outside, I looked out the window a moment ago and it was the 3 Rayes boys, They spent all their time together when they were alive, they died together and now their sharing the same funeral together. Nothing could stop my 14 year old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He hasn’t spoken a word since.
What did Olmert mean when he stated that WE the people of Gaza weren’t the enemy, that it was Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who were being targeted? Was that statement made to infuriate us out of out state of shock, to pacify any feelings of rage and revenge? To mock us?? Were the scores of children on their way home from school and who are now among the dead and the injured Hamas militants? A little further down my street about half an hour after the first strike 3 schoolgirls happened to be passing by one of the locations when a missile struck the Preventative Security Headquarters building. The girls bodies were torn into pieces and covered the street from one side to the other.
In all the locations people are going through the dead terrified of recognizing a family member among them. The streets are strewn with their bodies, their arms, legs, feet, some with shoes and some without. The city is in a state of alarm, panic and confusion, cell phones aren’t working, hospitals and morgues are backed up and some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them. Outside the destroyed buildings old men are kneeling on the floor weeping. Their slim hopes of finding their sons still alive vanished after taking one look at what had become of their office buildings.
And even after the dead are identified, doctors are having a hard time gathering the right body parts in order to hand them over to their families. The hospital hallways look like a slaughterhouse. It’s truly worse than any horror movie you could ever imagine. The floor is filled with blood, the injured are propped up against the walls or laid down on the floor side by side with the dead. Doctors are working frantically and people with injuries that aren’t life threatening are sent home. A relative of mine was injured by a flying piece of glass from her living room window, she had deep cut right down the middle of her face. She was sent home, too many people needed medical attention more urgently. Her husband, a dentist, took her to his clinic and sewed up her face using local anesthesia
200 people dead in today’s air raid. That means 200 funeral processions, a few today, most of them tomorrow probably. To think that yesterday these families were worried about food and heat and electricity. At this point I think they -actually all of us- would gladly have Hamas sign off every last basic right we’ve been calling for the last few months forever if it could have stopped this from ever having happened.
The bombing was very close to my home. Most of my extended family live in the area. My family is ok, but 2 of my uncles’ homes were damaged. We can rest easy, Gazans can mourn tonight. Israel is said to have promised not to wage any more air raids for now. People suspect that the next step will be targeted killings, which will inevitably means scores more of innocent bystanders whose fate has already been sealed.
This doesn’t even begin to tell the story on any level. Just flashes of thing that happened today that are going through my head.
Peace
Selim
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Identity Card, a poem by Mahmoud Darwish
gaza-holocaust-report
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