There has been a virtually universal condemnation of Israeli massacre of unarmed Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza with the exception of Bush administration and Gordon Brown of Britain. As the US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped Saturday (December 27) over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing more than 200 persons, the Bush administration was one of the first to offer its support for Israel's attacks by blaming the victims for the massacre.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe blamed Palestinians by saying "Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop." Similar views were expressed by the secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. “The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza,” she said.
The rationalization for Israel's massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the media, is that Israel is acting in "retaliation" for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December. Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by Israel in just a few days.
As the Israeli bombardment of thousands of defenseless Palestinian men, women and children continued on the third day (Monday), Israel's defense minister announced an 'all-out war' against the Gaza Strip. "This operation will be extended and deepened as we find necessary. Our goal is to strike Hamas and stop the attacks on Israel," Ehud Barak told a special meeting of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). "This is an all-out war against Hamas and its branches... The security establishment has been preparing for such an operation for many months," Barak said.
The leading candidate to become Israel's next prime minister, Tzipi Livni, vows as a "strategic objective" to overthrow Hamas by military, economic and diplomatic means. Her main opponent, Benjamin Netanyahu, pledges to "topple the Hamas regime" and end its effective resistance against an oppressive occupation.
Hamas was democratically elected. It's the legitimate Palestinian government. It has every right to resist an illegal occupation under international law. It observed a unilateral ceasefire for months and extended peace overtures numerous times in the past. Israel spurned them by dividing Gaza and the West Bank, co-opting Mamoud Abbas, inciting Fatah against Hamas, isolating Gaza, and pursuing a policy of aggression, killings, targeted assassinations, mass incarcerations, and torture with full support from Washington and the West.
To borrow Neve Gordon, the chairmain of the Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, after its notable humiliation in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, the Israeli military has been looking for opportunities to reestablish its global standing. Last Spring it used Syria as its laboratory and now it has decided to focus on Gaza. “Emphasizing the mere three minutes and forty seconds it took to bomb fifty sites is just one the ways the Israeli military aims to restore its international reputation.”
The first bombardment on Saturday took three minutes and forty seconds. Sixty Israeli F-16 fighter jets bombed fifty sites in Gaza, killing over two hundred Palestinians, and wounding close to a thousand more. The bombings were timed to cause the maximum number of casualties. They occurred at approximately 11:20am on a bustling Saturday morning, just as schools were changing shifts and many children were either leaving for home or coming to afternoon classes; when offices were filled with their employees, and streets busy with the late morning crowds out getting lunch or on quick errands of one sort or another.
According to Neve Gordon, another objective has to do with Israel’s upcoming elections. The assault on Gaza is also being carried out to help Kadima and Labor defeat Likud and its leader Benjamin Netanyhu, who is currently ahead in the polls. It is not coincidental that Netanyahu’s two main competitors, Livni and Barak, were invited to the press conference – since, after the assault, it will be more difficult for Netanyahu to characterize them as “soft” on the Palestinians. Whether or not the devastation in Gaza will help Livni defeat Netanyhu or help Barak gain votes in the February elections is difficult to say, but the strategy of competing with a warmonger like Netanyhu by beating the drums of war says a great deal about all three major contenders.
On the inter-Palestinian front, Hamas and Fatah have not yet reached an agreement regarding how to proceed when Mahmoud Abbas ends his official term as President of the Palestinian National Authority on January 9th, 2009. One of the outcomes of this assault is that Abbas will remain in power for a while longer since Hamas will be unable to mobilize its supporters in order to force him to resign, observes Neve Gordon.
It will not be too much to say that Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its allies in Europe or the Bush Administration.
The fact that the Israeli military has used U.S. supplied F-16 jet fighters, Apache attack helicopters, and other lethal weapons, will, unfortunately, only reinforce a negative image of the United States and further fuel anti-American sentiments in the Muslim world, especially among the young who constituted close to 70% of the 1.4 billion worldwide Muslim population. President-Elect Obama, however, could turn the tide of world opinion in favor of the United States by playing a leadership role in finding a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.