Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Dear Sir,

                       Subject: Apropos the article “Tightening the noose around Gaza” – By Styabrata Pal – The Hindu August 11, 2014

                        Mr. Satyabrata Pal hits the nail on its head with his conclusion that “Israel’s plan is to increase the rigour of the blockade until the residents of Gaza turn against Hamas, which they elected to govern them”.

                        But his language is too mild, probably in keeping with the Traditions of ‘The Hindu’, because he refers to the affects of the Sustained Air and Ground offensive of Israel over the last one month or so on the Israeli Blockade of Gaza as “An increase in rigour of the blockade” where as the most appropriate word ought to have been “Misery” in place of “rigour” since that’s what the Gazan Civilians are being made to face with every, so called “ Defencive (?) Blitzkrieg” that Israel unleashes against them on some pretext or the other, inflicting Massive Collective Punishment on Men Women and Most importantly Children as young as less than Two years and some being infants too! It may also be noted that Gaza was under a DIRECT OCCUPATION / SEIGE of the Israeli Army before 2005 precisely to Thwart and RESIST which, the HAMAS was formed AND that Israel was inflicting similar collective punishment through brutal measures much before HAMAS started its Armed Intifada.

                       No other people of the world have been Betrayed and let down as much by the World community as the Palestinians, and that too, consistently over almost, the last 67 years! The UNO has till date passed scores of resolutions against Israel’s intransigence and its brutal treatment and Repeated War Crimes against Palestinians whose territory it has Forcibly Occupied, but to no avail. Since every time the world body has tried to reign in Israel, the American Zionist Lobby AIPAC has so far, managed to force the American Administration to bail out Israel through repeated use of the American Veto Power.

                                    One hopes that since this time around all the horrors of the Israeli Carnage in Gaza were Most Graphically Revealed through the SOCIAL MEDIA, despite the attempt of much of the worldwide Electronic Media under the control of Zionists - (Zionist TV news channels and Websites) to UNDERPLAY or to totally Cover up this GENOCIDE of GAZAN civilians, under the spacious argument of this being “Only an Inevitable Collateral Damage” to the Gazan civilians of a LEGITIMATE (?) and Defencive (?) Campaign by Israel (!), whereas CONCRETE EVIDENCE now exists and has EMERGED most ELOQUENTLY through the Social Media, that the Monstrous Israeli War Machine had time and again, Deliberately and Brutally targeted UN Schools that were housing refugees that had gathered there to avoid Lethal Israeli Missile attacks, the World Community hauls over the coals at the International Court at Hague, the Israeli Government under its Terrorist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also its Armed Forces for the Glaringly Inhuman, Barbaric, Ghoulish and Macabre Genocide of Gazan Civilians that Clearly Amounted to Blatant and Gory War Crimes.

Shahabuddin Nadeem,

Tightening the noose around Gaza

Satyabrata Pal
AP What Israel is doing in Gaza is heartless, brainless and eyeless. A displaced Palestinian child stands in a classroom, at the Abu Hussein U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip.

Israel’s plan is to increase the rigour of the blockade until the residents of Gaza turn against Hamas, which they elected to govern them

For a month now, many in Israel have been under great stress — their lives constantly interrupted by sirens and explosions of incoming rockets intercepted by Israeli missiles. According to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), 2,830 rockets were fired from Gaza in July, some capable of targeting every corner in Israel. The Israeli government has a duty to protect its citizens and invokes it to justify the offensive in Gaza, which, it says, will make them more secure. But will Operation Protective Edge do that and is that what it is meant for?
These questions arise because this is the continuation of an operation called Brother’s Keeper, launched by several IDF brigades in West Bank after the kidnapping and murder on June 12 of three Israeli teenagers. Without a shred of evidence, the Israeli government blamed Hamas, which strenuously denied its involvement. That operation, supposedly meant to rescue the boys and find the kidnappers, failed on both counts.
Instead of calling off the operation, Israel intensified it. It called on the  Prime Minister of Palestine to abjure the agreement of April 23 between Fatah and Hamas and targeted Hamas, which almost by definition could not have been responsible once the involvement of the Qawasameh (a clan that ostensibly supports Hamas and which owns the land on which the victims’ bodies were found) became known. Several innocent Palestinians were killed and hundreds of Hamas leaders and cadres arrested, including those who had been released in a prisoner-exchange agreement.
Promoting a strategic objective

It became increasingly obvious that the Israeli government was exploiting the murders to promote a strategic objective to purge the West Bank of a Hamas presence, and break its pact with Fatah, which united and strengthened the Palestinians politically. The Israeli government had opposed the pact and objected to the formation of the new Palestinian government. The military operations followed within days. By June 26, 566 Palestinians were detained, six were shot dead, and over 120 wounded. And it was only after this sustained provocation that Hamas played into Israel’s hands and resumed firing rockets, something it had not done after the last ceasefire came into effect.
This might seem diabolical. Why would a government deliberately expose its citizens to deadly rocket fire? The answer is that the Israeli government knew that it could thwart the rockets quite easily and minimise casualties among its Jewish citizens. The fact-finding mission sent by the U.N. after the last assault on Gaza in 2008 found that Israel had a sophisticated system of sensors, early-warning sirens and fortified shelters, which had protected most of its citizens from rockets.
The mission also found that these safeguards had not been provided to the villages of Bedouins (who were Israeli citizens), and expressed its concern “about the disparity in treatment of Jewish and Palestinian citizens by the Government of Israel in the installation of early warning systems and provision of public shelters and fortified schools.”
Since then, Israel has developed a sophisticated missile defence shield called Iron Dome, which determines the trajectory of incoming rockets and intercepts those that would hit populated centres the government wants to protect. As a result, the 3,360 rockets fired at Israel till August 9 have, so far, killed two persons there. No Jewish citizen — the only ones whose lives matter to the Israeli government — was killed by a rocket; one was killed by a mortar. The IDF also estimates that 475 of the rockets fell inside Gaza, which has no defences, so the chances are that they killed a great many Palestinians.
Despite this, the Israeli Air Force retaliated as soon as the first rockets were fired, killing and injuring several civilians in Gaza. It was a foregone conclusion that Hamas would be forced to step up its rocket fire, which it duly did. The Israeli government intensified its air campaign, followed by the ground assault. Over 1,800 Palestinians have been killed, of which 216 were Hamas combatants; the civilian casualties are hugely disproportionate to Israel’s losses.
Lifting the blockade

Israel has announced that its ground offensive now is not only to find the rockets and launchers, but also the tunnels through which Hamas fighters infiltrate. While Israel gives a daily update on the tunnels it has destroyed, what it does not say is that tunnels also run into Egypt and are desperate measures, implemented at great cost, to try to break the economic blockade.
The Israeli government argues that the Palmer report commissioned by the U.N. had held that the blockade was legal. It extrapolates from this to argue that all its attempts to quarantine the Palestinians, in both Gaza and the West Bank, are legal. However, the truth is that the Palmer Commission, while holding that international law recognises the right of blockade, also made it clear that “the imposition of a naval blockade as an action in self-defence should be reported to the Security Council under the procedures set out under Article 51 of the Charter” and “states maintaining a naval blockade must abide by their obligations with respect to the provision of humanitarian assistance.” Israel has done neither.
The destruction of the tunnels now is therefore only partially a defensive measure; the real objective is strategic — to tighten the noose around Gaza, making it much harder to smuggle in essential items kept out by the blockade. Israel’s plan is to increase the rigour of the blockade until the residents turn against Hamas, which they elected to govern them. This is both cruel and illegal. If terrorism is defined as acts of unlawful violence against civilian populations to intimidate them and pressure their governments, then the Israeli government’s actions come perilously close to matching that description.
How will all this help Israel or improve security for its citizens? The more the Palestinians are victimised, the more they will turn to those who will stand up to Israel. That led to the emergence of Hamas, which does not want to be outflanked by outfits like the Islamic Jihad. Israel’s latest military misadventure will only weaken Hamas militarily for a while. It will not sap its resolve or the support it receives from the population of Gaza. Unless Israel realises this and lifts the blockade, permitting life to return to some semblance of normality there, and in the West Bank, the cycle of violence will resume sooner rather than later.
The U.N. Mission noted in its report in 2009 that “Israel is therefore also failing to protect its own citizens by refusing to acknowledge the futility of resorting to violent means and military power.” That damning conclusion applies equally to the current conflict which Israel has unleashed. Already, Hezbollah, which fell out with Hamas two years ago, has reached out to it in solidarity after the Israeli offensive began. The rapprochement compounds Israel’s security problem. With deadly accuracy, Israel is shooting itself in the foot. It is astonishing that it does not see this. What it is doing in Gaza is heartless; it is brainless and eyeless as well.
(Satyabrata Pal is a former member of the National Human Rights Commission.)

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