A planned and pre­de­ter­mined tragedy in Gaza

Jerusalem Post - - FRONTLINES - • By YO­RAM SCHWEITZER

The lat­est hu­man tragedy on the Gaza-Is­rael border – which threat­ens to spread to the West Bank – has not sur­prised any­one who is fa­mil­iar with the oc­cur­rences in this area and its rulers. The vi­o­lence was planned in de­tail and chore­ographed by Ha­mas. Its lead­ers did not con­ceal their in­ten­tions to de­vise a scenario that would gen­er­ate a high num­ber of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties on the Pales­tinian side in or­der to res­cue them from the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic dead-end of their move­ment, which took over the Gaza Strip by bru­tal force and ex­treme vi­o­lence ad­dressed to­ward their Pales­tinian ri­vals over a decade ago.

Yahya Sin­war, the cur­rent leader of Ha­mas in the Gaza Strip, ad­mit­ted that the move­ment’s lead­er­ship had failed to gov­ern and en­able Gazans to con­duct a nor­mal and proper life.

How­ever, he re­frained from shar­ing with the world the fact that he and his col­leagues in the Ha­mas lead­er­ship, who en­joy a com­fort­able life, pre­fer to turn Gaza into a mil­i­tary fortress while crim­i­nally ne­glect­ing civil so­ci­ety. Ha­mas has avoided in­vest­ing the great re­sources fun­neled there to re­con­struct the ru­ins re­sult­ing from the mil­i­tary adventure against Is­rael in 2014.

In the vastly over­pop­u­lated Gaza Strip, a high num­ber of ca­su­al­ties is al­most al­ways guar­an­teed in any mil­i­tary con­flict that in­volves cit­i­zens. This hap­pened again this time when more than 30,000 civil­ians were charg­ing the Is­raeli border fences un­der the guid­ance of the Ha­mas lead­er­ship – which was hid­ing be­hind them.

There is no doubt that the num­ber of dead and wounded along the Gaza border is a hu­man tragedy. Is­rael should not ig­nore this. But it is also clear that these were vic­tims who were de­lib­er­ately sac­ri­ficed by their lead­ers who sought to lu­bri­cate their pro­pa­ganda ma­chine to dis­credit Is­rael.

This is a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy con­ducted by “armies of ter­ro­r­illa,” which are pro­tected by civil­ians serv­ing as hu­man shields. It is a pre­planned strat­egy em­ployed by move­ments like Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah in or­der to stain and dis­grace in the eyes of the world the images of democ­ra­cies that fight them. The images of dead civil­ians help them dis­guise their true na­ture and por­tray them as de­fend­ers of the vic­tims while they use them as pawns.

Is­rael has the right and, in­deed, the moral obli­ga­tion to pre­vent in­fil­tra­tion into its ter­ri­tory and pro­tect its towns and pop­u­la­tion, es­pe­cially those just a few hun­dred me­ters from the border. There is noth­ing more le­git­i­mate and le­gal that Is­rael can do than to pro­tect the peo­ple liv­ing in its sovereign ter­ri­tory – ter­ri­tory rec­og­nized in UN res­o­lu­tions – from at­tacks by in­flamed mobs that would have rushed to Is­raeli towns as a mur­der­ous, un­con­trolled herd caus­ing many more ca­su­al­ties if not stopped by Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces.

The preach­ing and shock in the in­ter­na­tional

me­dia are ac­com­pa­nied by hor­ri­fy­ing images framed un­der mis­lead­ing head­lines. Such images cre­ate a par­tial re­al­ity, ig­nor­ing the re­al­ity out­side the fo­cused frame as well as the wider con­text.

They do not ex­press the dan­ger in­her­ent in mass demon­stra­tions by civil­ians, in­clud­ing men, women and young boys and girls, and lead to mis­un­der­stand­ings about the ac­tual dan­ger to hu­man life in­her­ent in “cold” weapons. Be­hind them are well armed squads with a clear in­ten­tion to ex­ploit the chaos to shoot, plant bombs or kid­nap Is­raeli sol­diers and civil­ians.

The cre­ation or even re­flec­tion of a nar­rowly pre­sented and framed re­al­ity un­der­mines the im­age of Is­rael – as pre­cisely planned by Ha­mas. This is a rep­e­ti­tion of the ob­jec­tives of the Mavi Mar­mara flotilla in many ways. It is quite clear that there will soon be a de­mand for the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­ter­na­tional com­mis­sion of in­quiry into so-called Is­raeli war crimes.

Yet those in Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions who crit­i­cize Is­rael al­most au­to­mat­i­cally should ex­am­ine how their donations to re­ha­bil­i­tate the Gaza Strip have been used to fi­nance and pro­mote the cur­rent hor­ror the­ater on Is­rael’s south­ern border in­stead of be­ing set aside for civil­ian pur­poses.

For its part, Is­rael is re­quired by its high stan­dards to self-ex­am­ine whether and how it could have acted dif­fer­ently. Could the use of non-lethal means have stopped this pre­planned at­tack? On the face of it, it ap­pears that Is­rael has no ad­e­quate means of stop­ping a large, in­cited mob storm­ing its fences and that the use of live am­mu­ni­tion in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions is in­evitable. How­ever, af­ter suc­ceed­ing in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time to deal ef­fec­tively with the Ha­mas terror-tun­nel chal­lenge – which seemed in­sol­u­ble – it can in­vest in an ef­fort to de­velop new op­er­a­tional tech­nolo­gies to con­front what we have wit­nessed in Gaza. Most prob­a­bly, Is­rael will have to deal in the near fu­ture with the re­sults of the Ha­mas move, which might be in­tended as a launch­ing pad for an­other mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion in the South. In the West Bank, too, one way or an­other it will have to meet the chal­lenge that comes with the ex­pected de­par­ture of Pales­tinian Author­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas.

The dan­ger to the sta­bil­ity of the PA lies in the tran­si­tional pe­riod. There are Pales­tinian play­ers in the West Bank – first and fore­most Ha­mas - who are wait­ing for this op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate chaos and then take over the en­tire Pales­tinian peo­ple.

(Mo­hammed Salem/Reuters)

A PALES­TINIAN kicks a burn­ing tire at the Is­rael-Gaza border Mon­day. ‘Images cre­ate a par­tial re­al­ity, ig­nor­ing the re­al­ity out­side the fo­cused frame as well as the wider con­text.’

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