By Joharah Baker
Israel, folks, is no fool. Israel does not react to events. It precedes them, plots for their outcome and always, always, keeps its eye on the ball: Israel’s long-term, strategic interests. What is so chilling about all of this is how it does so with such cold-hearted calculation and with such self-righteous arrogance. But on second thought, why shouldn’t it? Is has the “superpower” the “leader of the free world” giving it a free hand. Yes, it has the United States of America.
The March 9 start of Israel’s military invasion of Gaza caught us all by surprise, at least initially. After months of relative calm, there was no indication that all hell would break loose. But like all things in politics, we have to take a closer look, to read between the dirty lines to see what is really happening. And nothing is ever what it seems to be.
Israel wants one thing, into which it pours all of its military, political and diplomatic efforts to achieve, which is to prevent a Palestinian state from ever coming into being. This has been the case ever since Israel’s creation in 1948 over the ashes of what was Palestine. And it is the case today; its recent invasion of Gaza is just one more piece to the quickly forming puzzle.
So far Israel has killed 23 Palestinians since Friday afternoon. A few hours ago a 17-year old boy was killed near his school. On March 11, 12-year old Ayyoub Esseileh was killed by an Israeli missile in Jabaliya. But the attack ostensibly started because Israel claimed that Popular Resistance Committees head Zuheir Al Qaisi, who was targeted in his car on that fateful Friday afternoon had planned the attack last year on Egypt’s border with Israel which killed seven Israelis. PRC has always denied involvement.
This is not the reason though. Neither are the rockets, which if we want to be objective may cause panic among Israelis but are barely a threat to their existence. Statistics speak for themselves. Of the thousands of rockets Israel says Palestinians have fired into Israel since the start of its attack, no Israelis have been killed or even injured. But this does not seem to be a problem for the United States.
“We call on both sides to make every effort to restore calm…We condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel,” were the words of US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on March 10. Extrajudicial killings, the death of children and the injury of scores of Palestinian civilians does not seem to cause even a blip on the US government radar.
The reason, as mentioned earlier, is Israel’s multi-faceted plan to prevent any viable Palestinian state. At the diplomatic level, along with the United States of course, it has foiled every opportunity to reach a just and lasting solution. But, some may say, this has been going on for years, so why the invasion of Gaza now?
For one, Israel does not like even a whiff of Palestinian reconciliation. Even though we Palestinians have failed miserably in bringing about unity, Israel sees the effort itself as a threat. So what better way to push back even these feeble efforts than to bomb Gaza, undermine Hamas’ authority there and hopefully pit one faction against the other in a blame game of who resisted Israel less and who stuffed up the unity efforts in the first place.
Then of course there is Iran. Israel is like a hyperactive child who has to get its excessive energy out one way or the other. So, if Israel can’t bomb Iran – President Obama told his buddy Benjamin Netanyahu to wait it out just a bit more – then who better to beat on than the Palestinians? Anyway, the benefits are manifold. First, it curbs any “crazy talk” of reconciliation among the Palestinians; second, it stymies all the diplomatic efforts to restore the peace process and finally, it allows Israel to flex it military muscles against a people who it knows will not be able to fight back on equal grounds. And in the meanwhile, it tells the world and its people that it took out the “bad guys”, even 12-year old boys who, in their logic, will probably grow up to be “terrorists” anyway.
Israelis are not the only ones with a long term goal though. We Palestinians want one thing too. After we honor our dead, lay them to rest in peace, rebuild our houses destroyed by Israel’s military machine and hopefully watch as Israel is finally held accountable for its crimes against us, we would like quite simply, to be free.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at [email protected]