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Ahead of Election & After Extrajudicial Killing Breaks Truce, Israel Prepares to Bombard Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

In the aftermath of the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmad Jabiri, Israel has escalated its attacks on the Gaza Strip. At least 19 people in Gaza have been killed.

The Associated Press reported Israeli forces are advancing and closing in on the Gaza border, where they are likely to begin a “ground offensive.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has “authorized the call-up of 30,000 army reservists,” according to BBC News.

Three Israelis have been killed by rockets fired Gaza while two hundred people have been injured in Gaza. Many of the wounded in Gaza are children and the number of wounded have placed a significant strain on hospitals, according to Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba.

Egyptian authorities permanently opened the Rafah Crossing, which lies on the border of Israel and Egypt, to receive injured Palestinians. The move was indicative of how the policy toward Israel and Palestinians has changed since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The Rafah Crossing was closed throughout the Gaza attacks Israel mounted in 2008 and 2009 and, on January 22, 2008, Egyptian police used gunfire to defend the Rafah Crossing from Hamas demonstrators. The same night Hamas blew up a section of border wall and many thousands of Palestinians entered to purchase goods.

Not surprisingly, the US State Department has defended Israel’s escalating military action. “We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel,” stated spokesperson Mark Toner. “And we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence.” Spokesperson for President Barack Obama’s administration, Jay Carney, said, “Hamas claims to have the best interest of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause…Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self-determination.”

The ensuing conflict is steeped in religious fanaticism. As the Ma’an News Agency reported, Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades are “calling the escalation the ‘Battle of Sijjil,’ a Quranic reference to divine intervention on behalf of Muslims in battle” while “Israel’s military has termed the operation launched Wednesday “Pillar of Cloud,” a reference to the Israelites’ divine sign of deliverance in the Bible.”

Two writers have highlighted how the escalating military action by Israel is tied to the upcoming election in Israel. Hani Almadhoun of Mondoweiss argued the military action by Israel is a result of Netanyahu’s “inexorable political pandering to his right-wing coalition.” The logic of “might makes right”—Palestinians have to die—is what one accept if they are prime minister of Israel. It is a “logic of extremes, devoid of dignity, signaling little respect for human rights and the autonomy of democracies” yet it has so much power in Israeli society and government (and also one could add in the United States and other allied countries as well).

Yousef Munayyer for The Daily Beast wrote,“Israel has tried assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades but the resistance persists. Israel launched a devastating and brutal war on Gaza from 2008 to 2009 killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, but the resistance persists.” Why rely on a “failed strategy”? “Because it is far easier for politicians to lie to voters, vilify their adversaries, and tell them ‘we will hit them hard’ than to come clean and say instead, ‘we’ve failed and there is no military solution to this problem.’”

Irrespective of the Obama administration and the wider US government’s enthrallment with Israel, Israel and Hamas had a truce, which Israel broke.

Violence had been mounting for days, but Reuters reported on November 13, “Israel and the Palestinians stepped back from the brink of a new war in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, sending signals to each other via Egypt that they would hold their fire unless attacked.” The prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, “praised the main armed factions in the enclave for agreeing on Monday night to a truce.” Haniyeh said, “They showed a high sense of responsibility by saying they would respect calm should the Israeli occupation also abide by it.”

A day later, Israel extrajudicially killed Jabari.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."