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Blood for gas: Why Bibi is punishing Gaza

By       Message Pepe Escobar     Permalink
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Cross-posted from RT

So Bibi's got his brand new war. Operation Protective Edge, the current slow-motion ethnic cleansing super production conducted in Gaza by the Israeli Attack, sorry, Defense Forces (IDF), is Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's wet dream.

A quick recap is essential. US Secretary of State John "Bullhorn" Kerry was conducting a sham exercise known as "peace talks" between Israel and Palestine. As expected, it failed miserably. Hamas and the PLO in Palestine then formed a technocratic unity government. Bibi was, predictably, furious.

Then two Palestinians -- not Hamas -- kidnapped three Israeli teenager settlers hitchhiking at night near Hebron. One of the hitchhikers somehow managed to call an Israeli police emergency number on his mobile. The kidnappers freaked out and shot the hitchhikers on the spot, dumping their bodies.

Then all of Israel freaked out. For three weeks, tens of thousands of soldiers were involved in search parties. The media went berserk -- immolating Palestinians in a racist funeral pyre.

There's wild speculation all across the Arab street that this has been an Israeli false flag. Evidence, though, seems to point to the 10,000-strong Qawasmeh tribe in the Hebron region -- which is known historically to openly antagonize Hamas and attack Israeli settlers. There's also the possibility the kidnappers wanted to use the hitchhikers for an exchange with Palestinian prisoners.

Bibi and Shin Bet military intelligence knew from the start the three settlers were dead -- and who was responsible. But Bibi simply could not pass up the opportunity to use the incident -- during the frenzied three-week search -- as a build-up to go after Hamas in both West Bank and Gaza, an operation planned way in advance.

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This past Tuesday, the Israeli military spelled it all out: "We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard." And in perfect Newspeak, the operation was branded a "just war." (A detailed background to the conflict can be seen here.)

Palestinians gather around the remains of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 14, 2014.(Reuters / Mohammed Salem )

Israel wants it all

The numbers don't do justice to the appalling carnage. By Monday, over northern Gaza, after Israel warned residents to leave the area to avoid airstrikes, at least 167 people were killed -- the majority of them women, children and elderly civilians, 30 by Israeli rockets -- and over 1,000 injured. Two hundred houses, not military installations, were totally destroyed and over 1,500 houses partially damaged.

Compare it to zero deaths in Israel. An IDF spokesperson gruesomely boasted that Gaza -- a de facto slum/concentration camp -- was being bombed every 4-1/2 minutes.

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Each homemade rocket fired by the Palestinians cost less than $1,000. Meanwhile, a single Israeli Iron Dome missile supposed to intercept them costs up to $100,000 (without including the launching and control systems). On top of this, since Thursday a ground invasion has been dubbed "imminent."

That Bibi is able to get away with this is all the Arab street -- and most of the Global South -- needs to know about America's battleship/aircraft carrier in the Middle East. What most people don't know about is those 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, worth at least $4 billion, discovered 14 years ago off the Gaza coast.

It's easy to forget that at the time of Israel's previous invasion of Gaza -- Operation Cast Lead -- gas fields in Palestine were outright confiscated by Israel. This "operation" was already an energy war, as Nafeez Ahmed analyzed here.

Then there is the Bigger Picture - the 122-trillion cubic feet of gas plus the potential 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin spread over the territorial waters of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and -- of course -- Gaza. These waters are as incandescently disputed as rocks and shoals in the South China Sea. Needless to say, Tel Aviv wants it all.

And to complement the picture, Israel faces an upcoming energy security nightmare, detailed here.

Even Tony Blair, the Phantom of the Opera, is involved. As the (failed) Quartet Middle East envoy, Blair came up with the brilliant plan of "developing" the Gaza gas fields via an agreement between British Gas and the Palestinian Authority, totally excluding Hamas and the people of Gaza.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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