What Israel got out of the Gaza operation

This article is a translation of "De oogst van Israëls Gaza-operatie"

The Israeli operation in Gaza according to the Defence Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, has cost 9 billion US dollars, a big chunk out of the annual defence budget of 14 billion. And these are only the direct military costs, because Israel has also incurred serious losses in the tourism domain. According to a recent opinion poll, Hamas on the other hand has only become more popular. And by the way, after the deposition of Morsi in Egypt Hamas is one of the few if not the only elected government in the Arab world.

Hence, to speak with Israeli commentator Uri Avneri, one of the few dissenting voices that remain in the air in spite of the racist climate gripping the country, it was ‘a war for nothing’. 50 days, and on the Israeli side, 71 dead, of whom 66 soldiers and one child. Among the Palestinians, 2,143 dead, of whom 577 children, 263 women, 102 elderly. 11,230 injured, and then also 12 demonstrators, most of them children, shot dead on the occupied West Bank. Once again, Gaza’s infrastructure flattened. That is Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’, a solemnly repeated principle also in our country, one that makes all discussion superfluous.

The trigger was the abduction of three religious students near Hebron on the West Bank by Hamas members who acted on their own initiative in the hope of buying free incarcerated comrades—getting prisoners out of jail, according to Avneri, is the overriding preoccupation of every Palestinian militant, because Israel does not stop imprisoning them. However, the abductors were amateurs and the operation ended in a fiasco—when one of the students used his mobile phone, they panicked and shot their prisoners.

Israel used the event to execute a plan that was ready to be enacted—all Hamas activists in the West Bank, including those released in exchange for the captured Israeli, Gilad Shalit, were arrested again. This violated agreements with Hamas, which could not abandon its members in the West Bank and hence opened fire with its missiles. This in turn led to the invasion of 80,000 Israeli soldiers and, still according to Avneri, ‘a festival of destruction’. Incidentally I would emphasise myself that Israel’s aggression first of all is caused by the rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah. But back to Avneri.

On the Israeli side, losses were limited by comparison. But the prestige of the country in the world has suffered heavily, according Avneri. The image of Israel has changed from a small courageous country into that of a brutal monster. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, because this is the country of the Jewish people and most Jews defend Israel.

“In Israel itself, fascism, vile and unmistakable, has raised its ugly head. ‘Death to the Arabs’ and ‘Death to the Leftists’ have become legitimate battle-cries. Some of this foul wave will hopefully recede, but some may remain and become a regular feature.” So far Avneri’s piece.

That does not mean that Israel has not earned something by this criminal campaign. Because within a month after having savaged Gaza, the US Senate last Thursday unanimously approved the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act –in May, the House of Representatives already gave the bill its consent with 410 against 1. So in the entire US Congress there is one member who considers it less opportune at this point to give Israel a range of benefits, like new jet fighters and preference in the sale of surplus materiel of the US armed forces, in addition to energy and other cooperation programmes.

It is, once again, a baffling sign of the power of the Israel lobby in the United States, ‘the tail that wags the dog’.

Kees van der Pijl

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