Friday, February 22, 2008
Despite offers of a ceasefire from Hamas, Israel looks set on a full-blown attack on Gaza that could seriously backfire
By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
".....Hamas's predictions to this effect are not without warrant. Israeli leaders, particularly the manifestly hawkish Defence Minister Ehud Barak, have been promising for some time that Israel will embark on a "huge military move" against Hamas in the near future. Western intelligence sources have also been speaking of a probable Israeli onslaught on Hizbullah as part of Israel's overall efforts to restore its army's deterrent value, especially in the wake of the Winograd Report that admitted Israel's defeat in its war on Lebanon in 2006.
The Ramallah regime of Mahmoud Abbas, while saying publicly it is against an all-out Israeli attack on Gaza, seems inclined to stand aside if military action would lead to the decimation of the Hamas government. Abbas and his Fatah aides realise there is no way to recover Gaza save by defeating Hamas and that this goal can only be achieved by Israel. Abbas also realises that appearing to work in cahoots with Israel would expose the PA as a quisling entity.
From Israel's point of view, a decisive campaign in Gaza, whatever that means in real terms, is increasingly desirable, especially for Barak. The former Israeli prime minister, who is trying to endear himself to the Jewish Israeli public for electioneering purposes, would like to project himself as the "leader" who was able to defeat Hamas.
Another important goal Barak hopes to achieve is to use Palestinian division to convince or even bully Abbas into accepting a scandalously dismal "peace deal" on Israeli terms. Consequently, it is probable that Israel will not agree to any ceasefire proposal forthcoming from Hamas.
Indeed, more likely is that Israel will continue to provoke Hamas and other Palestinian factions to continue firing homemade projectiles from Gaza onto Israeli settlements in the vicinity. Needless to say, Israel's main method of provocation is murdering civilians, including children, and creating outrage throughout Gaza.
In this strategy Israel that can always bank on blanket US support, despite its brutal intent and actions. Yet the decimation of Hamas is unlikely to lead to stability, neither in Palestine nor in the region. Added to provocation of the killing of Imad Mughniyah and Israel's standoff with Hizbullah, an attack on Gaza could trigger a far wider war."