Israel’s War Aims

The army of Israeli officials and spokespersons speaking to media emphasis over and over that Israel is "not seeking to topple Hamas," but that they want to establish a new "security situation" in the south.  Israel, they say, just wants the rockets to stop.  What are Israel's real war aims?

Let's start by pointing out that during the sixth month ceasefire ending December 19, Hamas did not initiate a single unprovoked attack at Israel.  Hamas upheld its obligations under the ceasefire.  It is Israel that attacked Hamas on November 5, killing a number of Hamas members and civilians.  Since the ceasefire, Israel failed to live up to its obligations under their agreement with Hamas.  Not only has Israel attacked Hamas militarily, but it has also failed to allow food, medicine, fuel and other supplies to enter into Gaza, as it is required to do under the ceasefire agreement.

So the timeline and course of events is uncontroversial:  Hamas held its fire until Israel violated the ceasefire agreement.  The violence has escalated since.  This casts serious doubt on Israeli claims that it only wants calm in the south.

But history, of course, did not begin six months ago.  Since January 2006, when Hamas was victorious in Palestinian parliamentary elections, Israel has been tightening its blockade of Gaza.  Israel has been choking 1.5 million Palestinians to a slow death.  Food, fuel and medical supplies cannot get in.  UNRWA has had to suspend its operations due to the closure.  Most of the bakeries in Gaza have had to close.  Israel's only power plant has had to close on numerous occasions and has insufficient fuel to supply constant power to Gaza's population.   Unemployment in Gaza is at least 50%.  Poverty is at 80%.  Israel is keeping the noose around 1.5 million people, mostly refugees.  One thousand five hundred Gazans were killed by Israel in the two years from January 2006 to December 19, 2008 (before the most recent round of bombing).

Why?  Statements made by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during her most recent visit to France help elucidate Israel's war aims.  The New York Times today reported that while in France "Ms. Livni emphasized in Sderot that Israel would not accept Hamas rule as legitimate unless the organization fulfilled conditions set by the international community including recognizing Israel, renouncing all violence and accepting previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, conditions that Hamas has so far rejected."  (Read the full article here.)

In other words, Israel wants full capitulation.  It wants the Palestinians to lie down and accept whatever Israel does to them.  Land confiscations continue unabated.  Assassinations are a part of daily life.  Settlements expand.  Ten thousand Palestinians languish in Israeli prisons.  Life is a living hell for most Palestinians, and when they fight back, they are called "terrorists" and punished for doing what every people has an inalienable right to do.

Let's be clear, no people can use war crimes to justify war crimes.  So suicide bombings against civilians not bearing arms are unjustifiable.  But such actions are desperate attempts to lash out from a people who have lost hope.  People who commit suicide attacks on Israeli civilians have a fairly consistent profile.  They have seen fathers, mothers, siblings or children die in front of their eyes.  They have seen their loved ones humiliated publicly.  They have seen all hope vanish under the boot of an Israeli soldier.

But suicide attacks are an Israeli canard.  As with the last sixth months, the history of Palestine is one of Palestinian retaliation to Israeli provocation, not the other way around.  Sadly, so many people here in the US (and most Israelis) are convinced of the opposite, due to the diet of lies which they are spoon fed.  If you want to find the real aggressor, the real source of violence, look to Israel.  Israel's human rights violations surpass anything any Palestinian could do.

One is reminded of the words used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to describe the United States in a speech voicing his opposition to the Vietnam War.  Dr. King said that the U.S. is the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."  Today, Israel and the U.S. are the greatest purveyors of violence in the world.  They want to crush all indigenous resistance to their policies and punish whomever resists.

What are Israel's warm aims?  They are plain to whomever has the clarity of vision to see them.

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About Jonah Ayoub

Jonah Ayoub is a writer and artist living in Portland, Oregon. He was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

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