Saturday, June 21, 2008

Rays of hope from the Gaza ceasefire

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 20 June 2008

"......Some have sought to exclusively blame Hamas for the high Palestinian death toll, saying that the rockets resistance fighters were firing into Israel were "useless" and "toys," and gave Israel the excuse to "retaliate" implying that resistance itself was to blame for the occupier's violence. But the fallacy of this claim is exposed by the fact that the absence of rockets fired from the West Bank and the renunciation of resistance by the US-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, has not spared Palestinian communities there from daily and escalating Israeli violence.

Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed dozens of Palestinians all over the West Bank and injured hundreds of others, including many civilians in their homes, or taking part in peaceful demonstrations against the ongoing destruction and seizure of their land. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, up to mid-June, Israeli occupation forces had carried out over 827 military incursions into West Bank communities (an average of five per day) and had kidnapped or arrested 1,334 civilians since the start of the year. In addition to land confiscation and settlement construction, the Israeli army ransacked, destroyed or closed dozens of non-governmental organizations, radio stations, bakeries and other civic institutions and demolished many homes in the West Bank.......

Instead, as Haaretz's Akiva Eldar put it, Hamas by refusing to buckle under, "once again proved that force is the only language Israel understands." Hamas has achieved a mutual ceasefire and negotiations with Israel are under way to reopen Gaza crossings and exchange prisoners.

The ceasefire also suggests that -- at least for now -- Hamas has managed to achieve some measure of tactical deterrence. Despite constant Israeli threats to wage an all-out war in Gaza, there is a pervasive sense among Israelis that "a lengthy presence, even partial, in the Gaza Strip could turn into a copy of the First Lebanon War, where our soldiers became sitting ducks, targets of roadside bombs and ambushes, for 18 years," as Haaretz military analyst Yoel Marcus put it.

The Israel-Hamas agreement underscores the failure of the policy of military terror, siege and starvation against Gaza supported by the US, the EU and some Arab states. But it also fits into a wider regional picture of the declining influence of the Bush Doctrine........."

No comments: