In an earlier post in this blog called “Great Expectations”, ringing in the new year, we had expressed our wish for more responsability, more involvement and desperately more information. We already knew that drastic times were coming forth, in the shape of  a historical recession and what seems to be the most international war since the Balkans: a radical escalation of the violence in the Gaza Strip.

this is what a legitimate war looks like.

this is what a "legitimate" war looks like.

Since the stabbing of Itzhak Rabin in 1995 and the death of Yasser Arafat, chances of peace in the Middle Eastern region have considerably thinned by the minute. Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon had angered the international community to the point that Israel’s first and foremost ally, the United States, had threatened Israel to reduce, if not put a halt to any military aid until they renounce their deadpan aggressive ways. Since the creation of Israel in 1949,  and the colonization of what used to be Palestine despite an international climate prompt to uphold the self-determination of people, Palestinians and Israelis alike have created a seemingly never-ending hemhorrage.  “Hope in the Middle East” has become a joke as nothing is about peace anymore – it’s about the compromising and faithless language of ceasefire, statu quo, and segregation.

This blog could easily make a list of all the violations of international law committed by Israel since the mid-80s; but it would be pointless. It has already been highly documented, up to the erection of the Jerusalem Wall, another scar on the face of the former Palestinian State and a blatant insult to all European Union-engineered efforts towards reconciliation. Twenty years after the fall of the same disgraceful, disrespectful, and obsquieously obsolete mother version in Berlin, Israel and its Defense minister, Ehud Barak, continues to assiege its reluctant Arab neighbours like a pseudo-modern version of William of Orange. Progress has obviously never reached the Israeli Parliament.

Over Christmas, shocked and rightly scared by the rapid rise of fundamentalist party Hamas, leading the elections for the last four years in Palestine specifically in the extremely tense area of the Gaza Strip, Israel launched an offensive, dropping bombs over villages, hospitals, schools, in an effort to plunge the Hamas’ proverbial head under water until it stops wriggling. This wasn’t the case. As in all the cases history showed as proof, violence only gave incentive to more violence, and repression only gave way to more retaliation: the Hamas called for a new Intifada, a process calling for all civilians and soldiers alike to fight the oppressor with whatever weapon at hand – traditionally in the area, rocks. A rock has never defeated a tank, granted, but there is no underestimating the power, strength, and endurance of a population kept at bay from their own territory, watching their own homes burn and their own lives flow away. Supported by nearby Arab countries, favoring an international alliance of all islamic fundamentalism, Hamas has even gathered the support of Christian and secular Palestinians. This was so predictable, the international community, mainly the European Union and the new American administration have called to Israel’s better half, Foreign Affairs minister Tzipi Livni, to put an eventual infantry mission on hold, begging on their collective knees to exhaust all diplomatic means before waging what can only be called a war. A war with no possible end in sight.

Israel didn’t heed the call. Ehud Barak hardly listened to any prayers and on January 3rd, Israeli troops entered Gaza. As reported by the Associated Press, “The ground operation was preceded by several hours of heavy artillery fire after dark, igniting flames in the night sky. Machine gun fire rattled as bright tracer rounds flashed through the darkness and the crash of hundreds of shells sent up streaks of fire.” If this imagery feels like a strange reminder of the first Gulf War, it’s because of the eerie similarities. There is the same disturbing disproportion in military capacity, with Israel pumping as much gas as the Palestinians run out of air, water, and medical supplies to handle the casualties. Hardly before had a single daily attack created that much bloodshed among a mostly civilian population. “This will not be easy and it will not be short,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a televised address shortly after the ground invasion began. “I don’t want to disillusion anybody and residents of the south will go through difficult days,” he added.

Again, those words are an uncanny echo of those pronounced by the Hamas leader on the wake of the military move. “Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell,” Hamas warned Israeli forces. Spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a televised speech Gaza will “become a graveyard” for Israeli soldiers. Both democratically elected and legitimate leaders are in for blood, to the point it now seems to the outsiders that this could only end with a complete wipe-out of the region. Yet, as heart-wrenching as it is, the international community continues to side with the Palestinians, not to be confused with the Hamas. One must absolutely understand that only in moments of complete stress and duress, absolute fear and overwhelming violence does extrememism rise and prosper. Without Israel’s help in perpetuating the hatred and the war, the Hamas would have struggled to gain the necessary votes to become the number one leading party. Without the Hamas, there could be a  diplomatic exit. Radwan made it clear he did not want to negotiate with Israel. He is on a holy mission. It is not known exactly how Barak would qualify his intervention on the Gaza Strip, but one thing is for sure, it’s that he downgraded himself to the same level as hardcore religious fanatics with no rational goal in mind. It is with intense fear that we are watching the blood flood the streets of Gaza.

A week later, we are now counting 460 dead on the Palestinian side, and 4 on the Israeli side due to rocket fire; and this is extremely unlikely to stop. Israel is not making a secret that its military ressources are far from drying up and that they are all focusing on destroying Gaza. “We have many, many targets”, Israeli army spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich told CNN. “To my estimation, it will be a lengthy operation.” Repeated, unconcealed, unabashedly conspicuous violations of international criminal law are no obstacles to Israel when it comes to destroying as many “enemies” as they can – regardless of how legitimate the enemy’s actions are. This forcible backwards entry to medieval times has been confirmed by the Hamas, which broadcasted a message in Hebrew on Israeli airwaves :“Be prepared for a unique surprise, you will be either killed or kidnapped and will suffer mental illness from the horrors we will show you,” the message said. For lack of availability, Joan of Arc will unfortunately not be able to lead any peace-building troops towards Gaza.

All over the world, major cities organized protests in order to manifest their discontentment with Israel’s decision. It seems safe to say that everyone understood that the Hamas could only disappear once every threat had been stopped. Fundamentalism strives on pain and fear. Israel has made a bloody, self-destructing pact with the Hamas to never end this war. In a way, Hamas’ best ally and best friend, most reliable partner in this slow and painful descent into hell is the Hamas, as hand in hand will they bring the region down. Israel could defend itself from the Hamas; Palestine can’t defend itself from Israel. Why is it so hard for Israel to recognize what the international community has already figured out – that the Hamas is just another instrument of doom propulsed by a worldwide coalition of fundamentalism to marginalize and isolate every initiative for peace? As Allison Kilkenny pointed out in this remarkable article, “scholar Stephen Zunes explains […] that the picture of Hamas as an organization of wide-eyed radicalism without electoral legitimacy or the support of a significant portion of the Palestinian population is simplistic. In this important piece, Zunes examines the ways in which Israeli and American policy-makers encouraged the rise of the conservative religious group Hamas in an effort to marginalize secular and leftist elements within the Occupied Territories”. Calling the United States out on their unlawful and unforgivable support not only to Israel’s military domination but also underground help to the Hamas’ rise to power is not another chapter on the book of conspiracy theory. It’s a well-known strategic analysis that all concerned should become informed about.

That is, before we spend most of 2009 in our seats watching thousands of people die for no rational reason. I wouldn’t be surprised if we all end up developing some sort of Lady McBeth’s syndrome if inactivity keeps on prevailing.

As reported by Stephen Zunes for Congress Watch, the financial aid provided by the United States to Israel between 1949 and 1997 was up to $91 billion. Total Cost to U.S. Taxpayers: $134,791,507,200. Your money finances the war against Palestine. America, this is the moment to raise your minimum rage.