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Israel-Gaza : No Victory for Israel Despite Weeks of Devastation  : Information Clearing House - ICH

Israel-Gaza : No Victory for Israel Despite Weeks of Devastation  : Information Clearing House - ICH



Israel-Gaza : No Victory for Israel Despite
Weeks of Devastation




Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza,
and Hamas is still there



By Robert Fisk

’It was
not a famous victory – but that’s what the
Palestinians of Gaza are celebrating. There was
much shaking of heads in the international media
when the fireworks burst over that shattered
land on Tuesday night. After more than 2,100
dead – about 1,700 of them civilians – and
100,000 wounded, what did they have to crow
about? An end to the killing? Peace?
Well,
no. In fact, Hamas – the vicious, horrible,
terrorist Hamas with whom “we” (as in “the
West”, Tony Blair, Israel, the US and all
honourable men and women) cannot talk – has
indeed won a victory.

Israel
said it must be disarmed. It has not been
disarmed. Israel said it must be
smashed/destroyed/rooted out. It hasn’t been
smashed/destroyed/rooted out. The tunnels
must all be destroyed, Israel proclaimed.
But they haven’t been. All the rockets must
be seized. But they haven’t been. So 65
Israeli soldiers died – for what? And from
under the ground, quite literally, clambered
on Tuesday the political leadership of Hamas
(and Islamic Jihad) whose brothers were
participating – much against the wishes of
Israel, the US and Egypt – in the Cairo
“peace” talks.



In
Israel, significantly, there were no
celebrations. The ever-so-right-wing
government of Benjamin Netanyahu had once
more over-egged its victory demands and
ended up with another ceasefire as strong
and as weak as the equally febrile truce
that followed the 2009 Gaza war and the 2012
Gaza war. Physically, the Israelis had won;
all those broken lives and all those smashed
buildings and all that destroyed
infrastructure do not suggest that the
Palestinians have “prevailed” (to use a
“Bushite” word). But strategically, the
Palestinians have won. They are still in
Gaza, Hamas is still in Gaza, and the
coalition government of the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas appears still to be a
reality.




Many times has it been said that the
founders of the Israeli state faced a
problem: a land called Palestine. They dealt
with that problem coldly, ruthlessly and
efficiently. But now their problem is the
Palestinians. Their land may have been taken
for Israel, their surviving land may be
eaten up by Israeli colonies; but the
wretched Palestinians simply won’t go away.
And killing them in large numbers –
especially in front of the world’s
television cameras – is getting to be a bit
much, even for those who still shake in
their boots at the mere whisper of the
calumny “anti-Semitism”. Israeli spokesmen
even ended up comparing their actions to
bloody Second World War RAF air raids,
hardly a propaganda strike in the 21st
century.
But the
world will reflect unhappily on other things. The
Hamas spokesmen, for example, raving about the
destruction of Israel and Zionism, their
exaggerations as preposterous as the Israeli
excuses. The greatest victory the world has ever
seen, indeed! Hamas has achieved “more than any Arab
army has ever achieved against Israel”. Indeed!
Hezbollah drove the entire Israeli army out of
Lebanon after an 18-year guerrilla war – with far
more casualties on both sides than Hamas could ever
imagine.



And then
how quickly we have forgotten the Hamas killer
squads who dispatched at least 21 “spies”, two of
them women, in cold blood against the walls of Gaza
over the past seven days. I notice that they do not
appear in the total list of Palestinian dead. And I
wonder why not. Were they to be treated by the
Palestinians as even less human than the Israelis?
Of course, they were. In a week in which Isis
returned to its execution pit, Hamas showed that its
old killer touch is also still intact. After three
of its top military leaders were liquidated by the
Israelis, what did we expect? But it’s interesting
that not one Palestinian protested at this
no-court-no-jury-no-human-rights “justice”. Nor did
they protest at the execution of 17 “spies” in
2008-9 – forgotten today – and another six “spies”
(also forgotten) in 2012.



And then we
have the “military” casualties. Around 500 were
Hamas fighters; back in the 2008-9 Gaza war, perhaps
200 fighters were killed. But in that earlier war,
only six Israeli soldiers were killed. In this
operation, however, 10 times as many Israeli
soldiers died. In other words, Hamas – and, I
suppose, Islamic Jihad – have learned how to fight.
Hezbollah, the most efficient guerrilla army in the
Middle East, certainly noticed this. And the Gaza
rockets stretched across thousands of square miles
of Israel, notwithstanding the “Iron Dome”. Once you
had to live in Sderot to be in danger. Now you can
find your flight cancelled at Ben Gurion airport.



Mahmoud
Abbas, needless to say, is grovelling to the
Egyptians and Americans in thankfulness for the
truce. But in the new “joint” Palestinian
government, Hamas is going to be telling Abbas how
many “concessions” he can make. Far from isolating
the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and sidelining Hamas
by producing his own made-in-Cairo peace agreement
for the Israelis and Americans – swiftly rejected by
Hamas during the conflict – President Field Marshal
al-Sisi of Egypt has been forced to acknowledge
Hamas as the major Arab participant in the truce
agreement.



An odd
thing, though. Right now, Egypt is bombing the
Islamists of Libya, and the US is preparing to bomb
the Islamists of Syria after bombing the Islamists
of Iraq. But in Gaza, the Islamists have just won.
This surely cannot last.



The
ceasefire deal: Who gains what



Israel and
the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian-brokered plan
to end the fighting in Gaza after 50 days of combat.
The following are the broad parameters of the
agreement, provided by Israeli and Palestinian
officials.




Some of the immediate steps



* Hamas and
other militant groups agree to halt all rocket and
mortar fire into Israel.



* Israel
will stop all military action including air strikes
and ground operations.



* Israel
agrees to open more of its border crossings with
Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, including
humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into
the enclave.



* In a
separate, bilateral agreement, Egypt will agree to
open its 14km border with Gaza at Rafah.



* The
Palestinian Authority to coordinate the
reconstruction effort in Gaza with international
donors, including the EU, Norway, Qatar and Turkey.



* Israel
will extend the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast to
six miles from three miles, with the possibility of
widening it gradually if the truce holds.
Ultimately, the Palestinians want to return to a
full 12-mile international allowance.




Some longer-term issues



* Hamas
wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian
prisoners rounded up in the occupied West Bank after
the abduction and killing of three Jewish students
in June.



* President
Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, wants freedom for
long-serving Palestinian prisoners.



* Israel
wants Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to
hand over all body parts and personal effects of
Israeli soldiers killed during the war.



* Hamas
wants a sea port built in Gaza. Israel has long
rejected the plan, but it is possible that progress
towards it could be made if there are security
guarantees.



* Hamas
wants the unfreezing of funds to allow it to pay
40,000 police, government workers and administrative
staff who have largely been without salaries since
late last year. The funds were frozen by the
Palestinian Authority.



* The
Palestinians also want the airport in Gaza to be
rebuilt.




©
independent.co.uk


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