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‘…and this is a good thing’

Two weeks into Operation Cast Lead, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Foreign Minister at the time, said on Israeli radio…

“We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation, Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on it, it responds by going wild — and this is a good thing.

The question I’ve never seen asked by Likud/Kadima/AIPAC/ et al… Is ‘Why’ Hamas is lobbing homemade Qassam rockets into Israel…?

Something along the lines of what Helen Thomas asked at a recent WH Press briefing about the Undies Bomber…

…Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.

She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did.

Thomas: “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”

Brennan: “Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents… They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”

Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”

Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”

Thomas: “Why?”

Brennan: “I think this is a — long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”

Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”

Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how evil al Qaeda is perverting a religion and exploiting impressionable young men.

Insert Hamas instead of AQ and you get the picture…

The truth about those Hamas rockets

Conscientious Israelis acknowledge that the Hamas rockets rationale is fraudulent. For instance, Jerusalem Post writer Larry Derfner has noted, “We don’t want to see how people in Gaza are living, we block it out of our minds — which, I suppose, is natural for a society at war, but which also keeps that war going longer than it might if we would recognize that Gaza is getting so much the worst of it.

“The [Palestinian] Kassam [rockets] have terrorized the 25,000 people in Sderot and its environs, but have caused very, very few deaths or serious wounds. By contrast, Israel has terrorized 1.5 million Gazans, locked them inside their awfully narrow borders, throttled their economy, and killed and seriously wounded thousands of them . . .

“This is crazy. Israel is the superpower of the Middle East, but because we still think we’re the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, or the Israelites under Pharaoh, we spend a lot more time fighting our enemies than we might if we looked at the whole picture, not just our half of it . . .”

Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker wrote a very penetrating account, entitled… "What really happened during the Israeli attacks?"

…The stated goal for Operation Cast Lead was to “destroy the terrorist infrastructure,” but there were larger aims. “We cannot allow Gaza to remain under Hamas control,” Tzipi Livni, the Foreign Minister at the time, said. Six months before the operation began, Israel and Hamas had agreed to a truce. The Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, warned that Gazans were “bringing upon themselves a greater Shoah, because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate.” Such charged language revealed the degree to which anger permeated the thinking of Israel’s military planners…

…Operation Cast Lead—a three-week-long Israeli attack on Gaza, which began in December, 2008—has left Gaza in ruins. “Half a year after the conflict, we don’t have a single bag of cement and not a pane of glass,” John Ging, the director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, told me in July. (Later that month, Israeli authorities announced that they would allow the U.N.R.W.A. a limited amount of steel and cement. Ging says that that has yet to happen.) Humanitarian supplies that suddenly have been struck from Israel’s list of approved items pile up in large storage warehouses outside the Kerem Shalom crossing, and international aid worth billions of dollars awaits delivery. “For the last two school years, Israeli officials have withheld paper for textbooks because, hypothetically, the paper might be hijacked by Hamas to print seditious materials,” Ging complained. (Paper was finally delivered this fall.) When John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Gaza in February of this year, he asked why pasta wasn’t allowed in. Soon, macaroni was passing through the checkpoints, but jam was taken off the list. According to Haaretz, the I.D.F. has calculated that a hundred and six truckloads of humanitarian relief are needed every day to sustain life for a million and a half people. But the number of trucks coming into Gaza has fallen as low as thirty-seven. Israeli government officials have told international aid officials that the aim is “no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.”

…I walked outside, among shuttered shops. “The term ‘economy’ is no longer valid in the Gaza Strip,” Omar Shaban, the economist, told me. In 1994, the poverty rate in Gaza was sixteen per cent. (In the U.S., it was 14.5.) But by 1996 the Israelis had virtually shut out Palestinian labor. And the second intifada, four years later, ended tourism in Gaza; before then, Shaban said, more than ten thousand people a month had visited the territory, many of them Israelis who enjoyed the beaches and the seafood. Most economic activity came to a halt in 2007, with the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Now, according to the U.N., about seventy per cent of Gazans live on less than a dollar a day, and seventy-five per cent rely on international food assistance. In 1994, Shaban said, one wage earner supported six people in Gaza; the dependency rate is now one earner for every eighteen people. Unemployment is practically universal, except for people working for international organizations, or trading in the black market. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, ninety-six per cent of Gaza’s industrial sector collapsed after Operation Cast Lead.

What prodded me to write this diary, besides the fact the carnage continues, but, that the PTB’s in Israel seem to be finally getting a clue that they might not be above the law, after all…!

Time to lawyer up…!

A decision by Israel to take legal advice during combat marks a belated acknowledgment that its international standing has been badly wounded by last year’s bombardment of Gaza.

Israel now realizes it can no longer ignore criticism of alleged war crimes, which it denies. Still, the move by chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s — involving increased participation of army legal advisers in real time — is a limited step and perhaps a largely cosmetic one.

According to the decision, legal officers will be involved in battle decision-making and a greater emphasis will be placed on educating officers in the rules of war and international law. The officers reportedly did take part in the planning of the three-week operation launched in Gaza in late December 2008 but reportedly were rarely consulted after it was launched.

“It seems that the army has concluded that the world wants to see us do something,” said Yossi Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. But, he added: “This may just be for show.”

The Goldstone Mission has apparently had an impact… Besides Livni’s sudden change in travel plans…

Ashkenazi’s decision, as well as the army advocate-general’s meeting with U.N. and U.S. officials recently, appear to be a step away from the “to hell with world opinion” approach.

But it is certainly worlds away from the state commission of inquiry demanded by Israeli doves or the investigations the Goldstone commission said would be needed to obviate referral to the ICC. An inquiry commission was never a realistic possibility because the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public views the war as a justified response to years of rocket fire. They believe Hamas is responsible for the civilian casualties on the grounds that it used the civilian population as human shields. No politician considering re-election would support a state probe or even anything more than mild criticism of the army.

The apparently cosmetic nature of Ashkenazi’s order appears rings true in his reluctance to move the legal advisers physically closer to the action — say, in battalion headquarters, as is the case with many Western armies — keeping them instead in divisional headquarters.

Moreover, Israel’s leading human rights organization, B’tselem, argues that the problem is not the degree of involvement of the army lawyers but their legal interpretations. It has called on Israel’s attorney-general to investigate “the involvement of army legal echelons in approving attacks on targets that were not legitimate targets.” The military denies that illegitimate objectives were targeted.

“Adherence to the principles of international law such as proportionality does not necessarily stem from inserting the legal people,” said B’tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli.

Ain’t that the truth…!

The ‘Why’ is still left out there hanging…!!!

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