Everyone a loser in Gaza conflict

opinion August 01, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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A generation of Palestinian children is going to grow up with hatred, making any future peace just that much more difficult

Sooner or later, Israel’s vicious bombardment of Gaza will come to an end and both sides will claim victory. 
Israel will say it achieved success because its army has destroyed Hamas’ rocket-launch sites and the secret tunnels that linked Gaza to the Jewish state. It will thank friends in Cairo for doing their part in shutting down the tunnels linking Egypt to Gaza after coming to power. 
Israel’s logic behind the merciless attacks on Gaza is simple: Hit the Palestinians so hard they’ll never ever think about firing cheap rockets at them again. 
Never mind that Palestinian mothers and children are at the receiving end of the missiles fired from air, land and water, or the fact that much of the world has condemned the Israeli government for its action. Most of the dead are innocent civilians, not combatants. Israel has no qualms about blowing up an entire house full of people if one of the family members is deemed an appropriate target. If this is permissible in international law, then there is something seriously wrong with the law. 
The same rule appears to have been applied to rescue workers. Seven members of Palestinian rescue teams have been shot dead by Israeli defence forces and 16 have been wounded over the past two weeks. The Israeli logic seems to be that anyone going to help the enemy deserves to be killed. Never mind that these enemies were attempting to repulse an invading army. 
Hamas, for its part, will claim success because it has destroyed the myth that the Israeli military was indestructible. This despite the political backing of the US government and American lawmakers, who shamelessly support Israel through legislation approving more aid money, as if Israel really needs help. The aftermath of this latest war could see Hamas gaining more ground in the West Bank, the traditional stronghold of Fatah, the faction that tried to negotiate with Israel the creation of an independent state for the Palestinians.
But then there is the big question: Was it all worth it when you take into account all the lives lost?
If Hamas grew out of the first intifada (uprising), which was mostly confined to throwing rocks at Israeli security forces, just imagine what it will be like when young Palestinians who survived the current bombardment reach adulthood in 10 years’ time. Israel’s so-called victory will come at a price, and it will continue to haunt it because how this war is fought will determine how peace unfolds. 
Washington is trying to play an honest broker, when in fact it is part of the problem. As long as the United States does not recognise the more meaningful issues, such as the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, as well as the land-grabbing frenzy by Israeli settlers, any ceasefire brokered by Washington will have no meaning whatsoever.
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but never intended it to be free in any real sense. Air space and coastal waters remain under the control of Israel forces and Gaza remains an occupied territory, an open-air prison, perhaps the largest of its kind in the world. To Israel’s sympathisers, pulling out of Gaza in 2005 was a generous act. But looking back, that act has permitted successive Israeli governments to drag their feet about negotiations and debate the kind of concessions it is willing to make to the Palestinians. Moreover, the unilateral withdraw also hardened Hamas and made future disengagement from other occupied territory that much harder, probably so hard that a peace settlement would be virtually impossible to achieve. 
Occupation, by land or via remote control, it seems, will continue. But claims of victory from both sides will be hollow because, sooner or later, those young Palestinians boys who survived this onslaught will grow up, and they will seek to settle old scores.