Meanwhile, in Gaza

Meanwhile, in Gaza

As Gaza experiences another spike in Israeli attacks the corporate media wheels out the same tired story, with the same tired propaganda.

Tl;dr version here:

First off, I say “same tired propaganda” because the propaganda being used to justify Israel’s attacks in Gaza today is the same as it was six years ago, when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27th, 2008. In order to understand what is taking place today, I think it is pertinent to provide an analysis of what occurred between Hamas and Israel from June of 2008 to January of 2009.

In June of 2008, a ceasefire was signed between Hamas and Israel stipulating that Hamas would end its rocket attacks into Israel and in return Israel would lift the siege of Gaza and end its bombing attacks into Gaza. Let me give an idea of what these terms meant for each side. Every month since 2001, Hamas had fired an average of 1,000 very crude rockets at Israeli villages bordering Gaza. These rockets had claimed the lives of just over 20 Israelis between 2001-2008. In the first half of 2008 alone, Israeli had killed 550 Gazans. Additionally, the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip means: that Gazan fisherman are not allowed to fish more than 3 miles from the shore, that there is no ability to import construction equipment to repair buildings (such as the sewage treatment plant) which Israel has destroyed, there is no ability to export goods, that there is severely limited ability to import medicine and food, and finally that Gazans who have relatives living outside of the Gaza Strip will never be able to see their relatives until the siege is lifted. This, in addition to a host of other problems.

Now, as soon as the ceasefire was signed Israel made clear it had no intention of upholding it. While Hamas’ rocket attacks stopped completely, Israel refused to lift the siege of Gaza even slightly. However, Israel had stopped its bombings into Gaza, and this was huge for the people of Gaza and probably the people of the Hamas government who themselves lived in constant fear of sudden death from Israeli attacks. This situation continued, with Gazans living in miserable poverty, at least thankful that they were no longer being slaughtered. The situation continued until November 4th, 2008. On the same day as the election in the U.S., which we can safely assume was no coincidence; Israel launched an air strike into Gaza killing six members of Hamas. Hamas responded with a volley of rockets and immediately requested a renewal of the ceasefire. Tit for tat attacks continued into December, with Israel clearly not at all interested in a ceasefire while simultaneously trying to convince the world that they wished to end the violence. In December, Israel began massing troops at the border with Gaza. On December 27th, the big day finally came, and Operation Cast Lead was launched. 150 Palestinians were blown apart or incinerated by bombings within the first five minutes of bombings as Israel targeted marketplaces when they were the most densely packed. Soon the poorly equipped hospitals were mobbed with casualties, often not even able to find adequate space for the dead. An Israeli ground incursion soon followed and the great Hamas menace was revealed for what is was. Despite Hamas promises to “rain hell” on Israeli soldiers, Israeli forces suffered just around 15 deaths, 4 from friendly fire. Finally, January 18th, 2009, (again not coincidentally two days before Barack Obama was sworn in as president) Israel unilaterally declared the ceasefire they could have upheld since June of 2008. The bombings stopped and 1,300 Palestinian men, women, and 300 children lay dead.

So that was the situation then. The situation now? Well a tiny difference, yes this time some Israelis were actually killed. Three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered. A shameless crime no doubt. Six Palestinian teens have been killed since the beginning of this year, but Palestinians are not humans in the eyes of the corporate media, their right to “self-defense” is non-existent. As Chomsky likes to say, in the eyes of the West they are “unworthy victims”.

Posted By

Soapy
Jul 10 2014 16:12

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Werner Harding
Jul 11 2014 00:00

Just heard bebe deliver the same justification used during the '82 invasion- terrorists are taking hold in hospitals and schools, so the killing of the sick and children is their fault. This rationale was 'tired' from the moment of its inception. I'm not an apologist for the PLO nor Hamas (it is true that they did/do shamelessly take up arms near hospitals and schools), but places like Gaza, Sidon, Beirut are so densely populated that where ever 'terrorists' set up shop is bound to be within reach of civilian population.

Soapy
Jul 11 2014 15:56
Werner Harding wrote:
Just heard bebe deliver the same justification used during the '82 invasion- terrorists are taking hold in hospitals and schools, so the killing of the sick and children is their fault. This rationale was 'tired' from the moment of its inception. I'm not an apologist for the PLO nor Hamas (it is true that they did/do shamelessly take up arms near hospitals and schools), but places like Gaza, Sidon, Beirut are so densely populated that where ever 'terrorists' set up shop is bound to be within reach of civilian population.

Yeah good example of another justification that has been used for decades. Obviously just because "terrorists" take up position near hospitals and schools doesnt make bombing the hospitals and schools any less heinous. Of course it is often the case that hospitals and schools are bombed when no "terrorists" are anywhere nearby. So for example during Operation Cast Lead the UNRWA schools where families of refugees were taking shelter were repeatedly bombed, shelled, and gassed with phosphorous leading to around 100 deaths. Red Cross ambulances were also singled out for target. The only possible explanation for the attacks on the UNRWA schools was that they had been deliberately targeted. Even Israel later admitted that there were no "terrorists" operating near the schools and it is simply not possible that they were repeatedly bombed and gassed accidentally. Same goes for the red cross ambulances.

Additionally, during the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon Israel really went on and on about "human shields". A study done by the US Army War College following the 2006 invasion determined that Hezbollah had gone to great pains to ensure their positions were located outside of civilians areas so the Israelis would have no reason to bomb civilian positions. So here we see that not only is this justification awful morally speaking, but it is actually not true at all in many cases (although in the case of 1982 Lebanon it is kind of true).

Soapy
Jul 12 2014 04:19
iexist wrote:
Can you link to that war college study?

Study is here:http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=882

Quote:
the villages Hezbollah used to anchor its defensive system in southern Lebanon were largely evacuated by the time Israeli ground forces crossed the border on July 18. As a result, the key battlefields in the land campaign south of the Litani River were mostly devoid of civilians, and IDF participants consistently report little or no meaningful intermingling of Hezbollah fighters and noncombatants. Nor is there any systematic reporting of Hezbollah using civilians in the combat zone as shields. The fighting in southern Lebanon was chiefly urban, in the built-up areas of the small to medium-size villages and towns typical of the region. But it was not significantly intermingled with a civilian population that had fled by the time the ground fighting began. Hezbollah made very effective use of local cover and concealment (see below), but this was obtained almost entirely from the terrain—both natural and man-made.

This a more critical version of what has been written by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

All these groups, the Israelis, Hamas, Hezbollah...every government and military organization on this planet, they all just want to further their own interests, morally speaking they are all the same. Even boiling it right down to small scale criminal operations in the developed world. From drug lords to the president, every group just wants power. Governments like Israel are just what happens when a murderous guerrilla group (in this case the Irgun) win, and through a combination of ruthlessness, strategic planning, and good timing they are able to gain a seat amongst the respected criminal organizations.

It's just that ordinary people suffer, from all of these groups. They are all our enemies, every last government and guerrilla group. People join them because they offer careers, from the FAR in the Congo to the CIA, they offer young men (and now sometimes women too) a chance at an interesting career where they can gain respectability, a steady income, and a chance to come into work everyday doing something new and interesting. And all of them commit brutality on a scale that is so amazing, and so unbelievably detailed and meticulous.

But too many people don't understand this. They either buy into the spectacle by being a conservative or a liberal, or they buy into some perverted form of the spectacle by being a Stalinist or a Leninist or god knows what else. It's all just so much crap.

Tyrion
Jul 12 2014 14:01

Great blog!

hamsey
Jul 17 2014 23:40

I am an anti-racist. The governing party in Gaza, Hamas, is racist. They want to expel all Jews from Palestine.

Hamas and those who support them must be opposed and neutralised.

Fleur
Jul 18 2014 02:07

hamsey

Quote:
opposed and neutralised.

As of 10pm EST, 247 dead, including 48 kids. 1920 seriously injured.
Would that be what you mean by neutralised?

Werner Harding
Jul 18 2014 02:44

I always thought ethnic cleansing was kinda racist.

hamsey
Jul 18 2014 08:51
Fleur wrote:
hamsey

Quote:
opposed and neutralised.

As of 10pm EST, 247 dead, including 48 kids. 1920 seriously injured.
Would that be what you mean by neutralised?

So you accept that Hamas is racist. You just reject the stupid and incompetent Israeli self-defence.

ocelot
Jul 18 2014 11:07

Obvious troll is obvious. Time for the ban hammer.

no1
Jul 18 2014 11:29

Hamsey are getting paid for this ?

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.541142

Quote:
Prime Minister's Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara battles
PMO and national student union to create covert units at universities to engage in diplomacy via social media; unit heads to receive full scholarships.

Fleur
Jul 18 2014 14:04

It always comes down to the same damned thing, doesn't it? Criticize the actions of nuclear weaponized, with the world's fourth largest military, ethnic cleansing, slowly genocidal state of Israel but just make sure that you don't forget, no don't ever forget, not in the same sentence, to criticize Hamas too, just in the interest of balance. Like they are in any way on an equal footing.

Great blog Soapy.

Caiman del Barrio
Jul 18 2014 14:18
hamsey wrote:
I am an anti-racist. The governing party in Gaza, Hamas, is racist. They want to expel all Jews from Palestine.

I understand that this guy is a douche, but is there any reason to disagree with this statement? The left is soft as fuck on Hamas and desperately scrabble to justify them. Their agenda is no less one of ethnic cleansing than that of the Israeli state, the main difference being they haven't got the weaponry to execute it.

I'm always flabbergasted by the amount of energy people put into defending the racists in power in Palestine, when quite clearly, an actual solution to the conflict is to be found in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together against the ethnic agendas of their respective authorities.

I'm also unconvinced that there is much of a 'media blackout'. This is an absurd phrase trotted by, um, Trots everytime their shitty death march doesn't get front page billing (cf: the 'People's Assembly' demo in London, which launched a campaign against the BBC for not writing it up, when it actually did). I don't watch TV news but I listen to BBC radio and I've heard far more coverage of Palestinian suffering than Israeli (it'd be hard to equate the two, but the BBC often bends over backwards to do just that). In fact, the Israeli FM was interviewed on the World Service recently, and he accused the presenter of having an anti-Israeli agenda live on air. Obviously she wasn't even really grilling him, but she was certainly pressing him on the issue of proportionality.

simiangene
Jul 18 2014 14:58

WOW factor in predictable responses,,,is that a defensive instinctual reflex? Umm, I'm on a different level here people, I'm thinking the solution lies in migrating thousands of randy hippies and anarchists into the Semitic Holy Triangle of Irreconcilability so that they can out breed and thus overwhelm this dreary 2 thousand year old Weltanschauum.

Devrim
Jul 18 2014 15:26
Fleur wrote:
It always comes down to the same damned thing, doesn't it? Criticize the actions of nuclear weaponized, with the world's fourth largest military, ethnic cleansing, slowly genocidal state of Israel but just make sure that you don't forget, no don't ever forget, not in the same sentence, to criticize Hamas too, just in the interest of balance. Like they are in any way on an equal footing.

Are you suggesting that HAMAS shouldn't be criticised and that everything should be concentrated on Israel?

In the country where I live virtually everybody supports Palestinian nationalism from the government to the far right and the far left. Everybody criticises Israel, so that it would be essentially meaningless to do so. Should we then all get behind the government criticise Israel, and refuse to criticise the Palestinian nationalists?

While most people aren't in this situation the people that most of the left end up addressing (i.e. the rest of the left) do generally support Palestinian nationalism, so in that way it is quite similar.

Devrim

Black Badger
Jul 18 2014 17:32

The word is Weltanschauung.

Fleur
Jul 18 2014 17:57

Devrim - I'm a bit sleep deprived and all over the place today and I've been trying to work out how to say this without sounding shouty and even part way coherent, which would usually be my cue to shut up and not say anything, but you asked me directly. I'm not disagreeing with what you are saying and if it comes across as a bit combative, it's not meant that way.

You asked

Quote:
Are you suggesting that HAMAS shouldn't be criticised and that everything should be concentrated on Israel?

No, not at all. The left are far too uncritical, often to the point of being supportive of Hamas. The search function on this site isn't really working atm, but if I were to do a search I doubt that I'd find too many George Galloway type Hamas supporters. I kind of take it for read that Libcom and it's regulars aren't nationalists and I don't have to articulate that I don't support or I am soft on Hamas here. However, I don't live in a place where pro Palestinian views are dominant, so every other conversation I have,( with people who don't come from the ME,) I do have to. It seems sometimes that most people can't discuss this without having to pick a side of which nationalism they support and I'm really weary of having to qualify myself as not supporting any nationalism anywhere.

So to clarify, Hamas should be criticized, along with Fatah and Israel and any other nationalist group or state. As Soapy said

Quote:
It's just that ordinary people suffer, from all of these groups. They are all our enemies, every last government and guerrilla group.

But this week, the top of my list is Israel. This probably makes me a really shit commie but sometimes the emotional stuff bubbles up and takes precedence over whether or not my politics are good. I'm never going to unsee that photo of that dead little boy (and you know the one I mean if you've seen it) or the kids killed playing football on the beach, who had the same surname (a very common name, no relation) to my best mate who has relatives in there and I have no idea what I'm going to say to her tonight when I see her. And it all sounds a little woolly headed and emotional but I'm in no damned mood to spell out my objections to Hamas yet again right now. At some point in the future I will have to, I'm just not doing it this week.

simiangene
Jul 18 2014 19:57
Black Badger wrote:
The word is Weltanschauung.

Typo and thingking too hard wink

Black Badger
Jul 18 2014 20:23

"Thingking" is even better. Talk about reification!

simiangene
Jul 18 2014 22:09
Black Badger wrote:
"Thingking" is even better. Talk about reification!

If you can thingking you are a know-all! Einstein and relativity, Israel and the myth of Zion, these things are swept over, tenancy is not a spiritual or ideological argument hmm?!

Black Badger
Jul 19 2014 02:03
Quote:
Einstein and relativity, Israel and the myth of Zion, these things are swept over, tenancy is not a spiritual or ideological argument hmm?!

Does anyone know what this means?

Devrim
Jul 19 2014 09:53
Fleur wrote:
I've been trying to work out how to say this without sounding shouty and even part way coherent, which would usually be my cue to shut up and not say anything, but you asked me directly. I'm not disagreeing with what you are saying and if it comes across as a bit combative, it's not meant that way.

You don't come across as shouty, incoherent or combative at all.

Fleur wrote:
It seems sometimes that most people can't discuss this without having to pick a side of which nationalism they support and I'm really weary of having to qualify myself as not supporting any nationalism anywhere.

As you say a lot of people, particularly on the left, have difficulty addressing these sort of issues in a different way than they would address a football match, they have to pick a team to support. Unfortunately, however much it may tire us, I think that it is necessary to have to qualify ourselves as not supporting any nationalism anywhere, time after time after time.

Fleur wrote:
But this week, the top of my list is Israel. This probably makes me a really shit commie but sometimes the emotional stuff bubbles up and takes precedence over whether or not my politics are good.

That is understandable, for various personal reasons, it is top of my list this week too.

Devrim

Steven.
Jul 20 2014 12:56

Caiman, in terms of what hamsey said, I don't disagree about Hamas being racist or needing to be opposed. However the bit about "neutralising" those who support them sounded like a justification for the Israeli mass murder of Palestinian civilians. Supporting Hamas is no more reason for someone to be killed than supporting the Republicans would be a justification for killing some of those who died in the twin towers.

Hamsey, do you only have a problem with Hamas or would you also have a problem with the racism - and much more devastating racist policies - of the Israeli government?

Simiangene, this is a warning to stop making nonsensical posts. If you continue, you will be banned

simiangene
Jul 21 2014 07:53

My apologies, it was insensitive of me, I can be a dick sometimes, wont happen again sad

ocelot
Jul 21 2014 15:12

Interesting reading. Obviously there's a big difference in how the Israeli/Palestinian media war works in different national contexts - in Ireland the Israeli side tends to do badly during these periodic offensives, but then in the grand scheme of things, we're pretty much irrelevant in this context. However the assumption is that the US end will be firmly tied up, as it always has been up until now. Cracks in the edifice or wishful thinking?

'Telegenically Dead Palestinians': Why Israel Is Losing the American Media War

Soapy
Jul 21 2014 16:20
ocelot wrote:
Interesting reading. Obviously there's a big difference in how the Israeli/Palestinian media war works in different national contexts - in Ireland the Israeli side tends to do badly during these periodic offensives, but then in the grand scheme of things, we're pretty much irrelevant in this context. However the assumption is that the US end will be firmly tied up, as it always has been up until now. Cracks in the edifice or wishful thinking?

'Telegenically Dead Palestinians': Why Israel Is Losing the American Media War

Hi, appreciate the compliment.

I think that what is most important about the situation in Gaza is that compared to how complex the corporate media makes this situation sound, this is an amazingly simple narrative.

For every picture of a dead Palestinian child there is a tweet about Israel's right to "self-defense" and nobody is left with a full clear picture of what is happening.

This is because the spectacle obfuscates reality, turning it into a series of images with no context. A conflict that can be explained in three paragraphs is now an insanely complex web of misunderstandings and impassioned politicos dutifully regurgitating the lies of PR specialists the world over.

ocelot
Jul 22 2014 13:09

Actually I don't agree that what is actually happening is a simple story at all.

In fact this particular Israeli offensive appears uniquely perverse, to the point of approaching genuine incoherence.

We have become used to regular onslaughts on Gaza in the past years, usually in the lead up to Israeli elections. These operations are usually referred to by the inhuman term "mowing the grass" - i.e. a regular operation to degrade Hamas military capabilities and decapitate the current operational leadership and capable troops. Some sources have painted this operation as just another such episode.

However, it's not Israeli election time yet - the timing of this operation has been determined by other precipitants. I say precipitants, as opposed to the particular trigger event (the kidnapping and murder of the three settler youths). The actual precipitant appears to be the announcement of a peace deal between Hamas and Fatah and the initiative to form a Palestinian government of unity.

This event, in turn, stems from Hamas' current weakness in the aftermath of some bad developments in their situation as a result of post Arab Spring fallout. With the initial fall of Morsi next door in Eqypt, and the seemingly irresistable rise of their Muslim Brotherhood brethren, Hamas felt secure enough to come out in support of the Sunni insurgents in Syria, burning their bridges with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. A move which subsequently went sour with the Egyptian counter-revolution suppressing the Ikhwan and re-installing another pro-US/Israeli military dictatorship. With renewed cooperation from the Egyptian side, in closing the border and locking down the blockade, Hamas suddenly found themselves friendless, cashless and strangling. With serious dissent amongst the various factions on their public service payroll, now going unpaid, and rising unpopularity amongst the suffering Gaza populace, Hamas' decision to make nice with Fatah made sense in a situation where the idea of a united authority was far more popular than either party with the Palestinian public.

However, a united Palestinian authority, with commitments to accept the existence of Israel and re-open negotiations for a two-state settlement, represents an existential threat to Israeli "no state" policy.

That the current Israeli onslaught is an attempt to drive a wedge back between Hamas and Fatah, is not itself the uniquely perverse bit. Many commentators have pointed out that these periodic massacres, despite, or perhaps even because of, the bloodletting, tend to increase Hamas' popularity amongst it's captive Gazan constituency. Especially if the spectacle (and its mostly spectacular nature must be emphasised) of resistance is maintained until the ceasefire. This effect is put down to being an unintended consequence of Israeli action.

The unprecedented perversity here is that this time, given the threat of Palestinian unity sprang from Hamas' weakness in the first place, this consequence is no longer unintended, but part of the object of the exercise - which is also simultaneously being projected to the Israeli public (forget the rest of the world for the moment) as a "mowing the grass" exercise. This is uniquely incoherent. Which is perhaps why the passage to ground operations - under the pretext of the "death tunnels" - does not seem to have clear objectives or victory conditions. Which is why there seems to be no obvious exit point at the moment, despite IDF casualties already nearing twice those of Cast Lead.

Even for the Middle East and Israel/Palestine, the situation appears extraordinary.

Soapy
Jul 22 2014 13:39

I think that maybe "simple" was an improper word choice. I am trying to articulate something which I am having trouble doing. I am trying to say that the spectacular narrative gives people a lot of representations of the reality of the conflict without giving anyone a strong grasp on any fundamental facts.

Soapy
Jul 22 2014 14:38

@Ocelot

But in terms of what you wrote here that's some interesting stuff I have never read before. However, while I do think all of what you wrote signals that there are some interesting new developments in the conflict, the concept of Israel responding to the threat of peace like this is not new. Chomsky cites some internal Israeli government documents and various other sources to argue in his fantastic (although imo subtly pro-PLO) book Fateful Triangle that part of the reason that Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 was in order to counter a "peace offensive" from the PLO. At the time the PLO was strongly and openly pushing for a two-state solution undermining the credibility of Israeli claims that the PLO was unwilling to negotiate a solution to the violence.

ocelot
Jul 22 2014 16:33

In fairness, Ilan's piece over on anarkismo says something similar. I'm just drawing out the logical incoherence of the Israeli politico-military establishment trying to fix the collapse of their divide and rule strategy - a collapse born of Hamas' weakness - by attacking Hamas and the Gaza populace.

At a presser with Ban Ki-Moon in Tel Aviv 2 hours ago (according to the Guardian liveblog) "Netanyahu said that [Hamas] does not want a two-state solution.". Whereas in fact, of course, the truth is exactly the opposite - it's Israel that doesn't want a two-state solution, and they've spent the last two decades since Oslo building up Hamas as their alibi for why they won't negotiate one with the PA (which is also why they don't just hive off Gaza to the Egyptians - the Gazans are hostages/prisoners of a lie).

Operation Protective Edge is more like Operation Lost Divide, and that makes it more unpredictable and schizoid than usual.

Soapy
Jul 22 2014 18:22

On another note I haven't really figured out a good way to bring this up but I think this is kind of amazing. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting discovered an ABC report in which pictures of destroyed homes in Gaza were accompanied by narration from Diane Sawyer saying

Quote:
We take you overseas now to the rockets raining down on Israel…. And here an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can, one woman standing speechless among the ruins.

Of course the images were of homes in the people in Gaza, not Israel. I think the same thing happened with a Fox News report. People make fun of North Korean propaganda but there is plenty of propaganda in the corporate media that is just as unsophisticated. http://www.fair.org/blog/2014/07/10/why-abc-thought-suffering-palestinia...