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Israel's war against Hamas

Added on January 3, 2009 at 22:07 Swiss time
Israeli ground forces have entered the Gaza Strip today. The Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak announced that it will be neither short nor easy an operation. Is this the clean up of the Hamas mess to which I referred to rhetorically at the end of my 2007 article about the  Civil War in Palestine and the beginning of Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip? Only a regime change would “justify” a large scale military intervention which could lead to the death of countless civilians. As an educated guess, at least some 20,000 soldiers would have to occupy the Gaza Strip to prevent the security situation from going out of control.

Article added on December 31, 2008
Today is the fifth day of Israel's War against Hamas. According to public surveys, the military action has an 81% support among the Israeli population. This may change when - not if - the results will be counterproductive in the eyes of the majority, as has happened with the 2006 war in Lebanon.

The steady rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targeting nearby Israeli towns and settlements is unacceptable. Clearly, the Hamas leadership has not done its homework. What can Israel do to secure its territory?

It is an illusion to think that bombarding the tiny Gaza Strip of the size of the small Swiss Canton Schaffhausen, but with a population of 1.5 million people, will bring a long term pacification. With such a dense population, an important number of civilian casualties and, therefore, the creation of new terrorists and possible suicide bombers, is unavoidable. Kassam (or Qassam) rockets are the weapons of the poor in a guerilla type war. Without the help of the local population, such a war is unwinnable.

If ever, Israel had to occupy the Gaza strip with the help of ground forces. But this would mean a gigantic military effort. Can you control 1.5 million angry people? We may soon find out. The Israeli government may have come to the conclusion that the PR disaster has already happened and that it is best to go the anti-Hamas strategy all the way.

Like Sharon “the Bulldozer”, Prime Minister Olmert had no serious peace agenda. Some may remember the 2007 Abbas - Olmert summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. Olmert is a master of empty rhetoric, maybe the best Israel has ever had, but never anything came out of his meetings and initiatives. He seems to have followed Sharon's strategy: postpone the creation of a Palestinian state indefinitely.

Sharon at least had the excuse that
Arafat was his counterpart, a man who could not be trusted. However, Olmert can and could deal with Abbas and Fayyad, two reasonable personalities. Since 2005, the Abbas option is on the table. Nothing has happened.

 
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Haniyah and Hamas never had a future. A Hamastan in the Gaza Strip was never a viable option. It would have been enough for the Israeli leaders just to let Hamas produce a disaster without any boycotts, embargos and military actions hurting innocent bystanders. In the end, the population would have stood up against its own leaders.

At the same time, Israel should have produced positive political and economic results in its relations with the West Bank aka Cisjordan. The difference between a territory living in full cooperation with Israel and the isolated Gaza Strip would have sent a powerful and positive message to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Olmert and Abbas have almost no fruits of cooperation to show to their peoples.

Abbas himself is not blameless either. He is the acceptable face of Fatah. However, since the outbreak of
the Civil War in Palestine between the Fatah and Hamas factions in June 2007, he has not been able to clean up the corrupt and incompetent Fatah organization. If he wants to remain a credible leader in the future or just to hand over power as a successful president, Fatah should be positioned as the more credible option in the Palestinian power struggle, not only regarding its leadership, but also when it comes to its overall organization and to delivering results to its people.

Israeli politics have been paralyzed by a corrupt and incompetent leader who refused to step down in time. Olmert still holds out as Prime Minister. His successor as the head of Kadima, Tzipi Livni (*1958), may be the first untainted Israeli leader in a long time. She is not surrounded by a fog of corruption. She is also no ex-general. However, she was not only unable to form a government herself and therefore become prime minister before new elections were scheduled, she is now also closely associated with Israel's War against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which is unlikely to succeed.

The 2009 election in Israel seems to overshadow the actions of the current government. To be more precise, the shadow of Netanyahu as possible next prime minister makes some people in Israel lose their common sense.

As for the Palestinian side, Haniyeh and Hamas have cynically calculated an escalation by ending the cease-fire. With Israel attacking, the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip may forget that the economic crisis in Hamastan is homegrown.

We all know that peace in the Middle East can only come through a political solution. Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian state will officially have to recognize Israel's right to exist. Israel and Palestine will have to cooperate on all levels, including politics, economics and culture. Jerusalem may become the symbol and the capital of both the Israeli and the Palestinian state. Let's do it in the next four years, during President Obama's first term and with the help of (Hillary) Clinton. HOPE and CHANGE!

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Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.