Some questions about the situation in Gaza.

The following are questions that I genuinely don’t know the answer to about the Israel/Hamas conflict. And please, if you’re one of those people who reads the first question and decides that “Well, he’s obviously on the side of X!” then piss off and don’t waste your time reading the rest. The questions aren’t in any particular order or rating of importance.

1. What effort is the Palestinian National Authority’s security forces making to stop its area being using to fire missiles?

2. What is the Israeli justification for building settlements in the occupied area?

3. What is Hamas’ actual objective in firing missiles into Israel? It can’t be for a military victory, surely?

4. If Israel will not permit a proper Palestinian state, and won’t make Palestinians full citizens of Israel, how is Israel different from the apartheid South Africa’s National Party, controlling the lives of millions of non-citizens indefinitely?

5. Have Israel or Hamas provided evidence to a credible independent third party that Palestinian civilians/humanitarian buildings are/are not being used as military locations by Hamas?

6. Is Israel willing for the status quo in Palestine to continue indefinitely?

7. Does Israel not talk to Hamas not because they are terrorists but because Israel is genuinely not afraid of them? Israel has a treaty with Egypt, a country that tried to destroy Israel. The British spoke to the IRA. Reagan spoke to the Iranians.

2 thoughts on “Some questions about the situation in Gaza.

  1. You might appreciate these depressingly realist analyses of the situation. I think they go a long way to explaining why each side is acting as it is. Israel’s actions, in particular, cannot be understood by reference to its stated PR.

    Bibi has built his electoral offering on a hardline approach, and Israel’s current position of strength gives him little incentive to compromise or think long term. I also wonder if the revolting sight of Arabs being slaughtered next door in Syria and Iraq has dulled Israel’s moral conscience.

  2. 1. I presume you are talking about the Palestinian Authority here? The Palestinian National Authority was established to govern pockets of territory in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as part of the Oslo Accords. Its authority extended only to the West Bank after Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2006, and the Palestinian Authority now calls itself the State of Palestine after the UN voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state last year.

    As for rockets, none are fired from the West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Hamas had been arresting splinter groups that fired rockets from Gaza into Israel as late as the 25th of June of this year, but began firing rockets against after Israel accused the organisation of kidnapping three settlers and began raiding thousands of homes in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of Hamas affiliated Palestinians and killing protesters. The rockets from Hamas only resumed on June 30th, following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza that killed one person and injured three others.

    2. There is no official justification, beyond the odd innuendo about the need to secure the West Bank or something like that.

    3. Hamas fires rockets for a number of reasons. It’s a show of resistance to keep the people on board, especially in face of frustration with Fatah’s regular capitulation to Israeli demands. The rockets decrease dramatically whenever Israel is willing to negotiate or offer concessions, though. Rockets diminished to basically nothing after the dismantling of Israeli settlements in Gaza but resumed following Israeli incursions in 2006. Generally, the rockets are instrumental; if Hamas can achieve its goals through other means, they will. When other means have failed, and Israel is killing Palestinians and bombing infrastructure, the rockets start again. Hamas was strictly obeying a ceasefire agreed to in 2012 before Israel began raiding homes in the West Bank and bombing Gaza on the pretext of finding the kidnapped settlers. It’s since come to light that the Israeli government knew the teenagers were dead before the West Bank incursions, and they knew Hamas was not responsible, so it’s fairly obvious they just used it as a pretext to weaken the unity government announced by Fatah and Hamas earlier this year following the break down in the most recent peace talks.

    4. It isn’t.

    5. No, Israel has never proven that anything Hamas has done in Gaza amounts to the use of human shields. Amnesty found no evidence for this claim when it was made during Operation Cast Lead. In fact, Amnesty found that Israel had used Palestinian civilians as human shields in 2009, forcing them to investigate dangerous areas, building command outposts where civilians lived, etc. It seems Israel uses some poetic license with the term “human shields” when pushed, arguing that Hamas may not force Palestinians to be human shields, but that the presence of fighters around civilians and TV broadcasts urging people not to leave their homes nonetheless amount to it. This isn’t very plausible, however. Israel is invading urban centres in Gaza, so it’s a bit ridiculous to suggest Hamas could fight back by staying out of densely populated areas. Moreover, the television broadcasts urging people not to flee are probably more about preventing panic among the Palestinian population. Refuge centres have a limited amount of space and simply cannot accommodate the number of people that are fleeing.

    6. Yes.

    7. I think your history is a bit off. The Arab-Israeli War in 1947-8 only started after Israel had expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs. The Six Day War was provoked by Israel, though, ironically given Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the foreign minister at the time justified Israeli aggression by arguing that Egypt’s blockade of an Israeli harbour constituted an act of war. Israel doesn’t talk to Hamas because the phony narrative of Palestinians as terrorists is vitally important to maintaining international impunity and domestic support. Israel actually created Hamas, in a sense, by tacitly supporting the organisation as a counterweight to secular groups like Fatah and leftist groups like the PFLP. Israel is still playing rival Palestinian factions off one another, and its isolation of Hamas and the recent attack on Gaza can be seen as another means to prevent Palestinian unity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *