Israel is using a sledgehammer to crack nuts

opinion July 13, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

Mounting death and injury toll among Palestinians risks further alienating the world community

If all the wars and conflict around the world over these past centuries teaches anything is that how the war is fought will determine how the peace is unfold. 
Of course, this logic doesn’t apply for the ongoing bloodshed in Gaza where Israeli jet fighters pounded Hamas targets relentlessly since Tuesday in retaliation for the flimsy rocket attacks launched by the Palestinian group and its allies. 
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 1,000 injured. Not all the victims are Hamas, by the way. By Friday, at least 22 of the victims were reportedly children. No Israeli deaths had been reported.
One can always make the argument that it was Hamas who threw the first stone and Israel was merely responding to the attacks. And it is true that no one country could tolerate rockets raining down on its citizens. Indeed, Israel has done a good job, a wonderful job, in painting the picture that the people of the Jewish state are the victims. 
But reality on the ground tells a different story. Let’s start with firepower. Israel has jet fighters, apache helicopters and missiles, drones and a nuclear bomb should the government wish to use it. On the Palestinian side, well, there isn’t much except ineffective rockets fired from Gaza, which Prime Minister David Cameron described as a “prison camp” because of the fact that all its borders – land and sea – are besieged by the Israeli Defence Force. By the way, most of the rockets fired by the Palestinians landed in open fields. But that doesn’t seem to matter in many people’s calculation. 
If the 2008 and 2012 wars are any lesson, this latest assault on Gaza will lead to more or less the same outcome – back to where they were before the escalation started.  Peace, in the end, will continue to be pushed back even further. 
Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition government believe he can actually achieve something tangible out of this massive retaliation. Militarily speaking, probably not. 
But politically, it is a big dent to the Palestinian unity government between the Fatah and Hamas. 
The assault helps Netanyahu’s government coalition to remain in tact, especially the coalition partners who have no qualms about doing all sorts of nasty things in occupied territories, including illegal expansion, that could humiliate the country’s Western backers.
Besides, Israel has a new friend in Cairo now who probably doesn’t think much of Hamas anyway, given the fact that the Palestinian Islamist movement is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. 
Israel can come with all sort of justification it wants but as long as the Jewish state continues to occupy Palestinian territory, violence will continue. It’s so sad that the Western countries who are backing Israel are somewhat indifferent to the reality on the ground in Gaza. But as the number of casualties and death counts continue to grow, more and more are coming out to call for a halt to the campaign. 
Given the stated political necessities it is inconceivable that Netanyahu will call off his assault.