Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Is Israel's Goal in Gaza?

According to the Washington Post, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told President Shimon Peres, "Nobody in this world understands what are Hamas' goals and why it continues to fire missiles."

Olmert's observation begs the question: if Hamas is so unpredictable, exactly what is Israel's goal in continuing to fire missiles on Gaza?

The Post goes on to say, "Israel sealed off an area around Gaza on Monday, declaring it a "closed military zone," amid indications that the army may be preparing for a ground offensive. Meanwhile, Israeli jets continued to strike targets across the narrow coastal strip, including a security compound and the homes of suspected Hamas operatives."

Yesterday, I observed that the Israeli operation was unlikely to end Hamas' rule in Gaza. The Israeli government has appeared to have reached the same conclusion: so long as there are any Palestinians in Gaza, Israelis will have to contend with rockets.

The Post goes on to write, "Israeli military officials said Monday that their target lists have expanded to include the vast support network that the Islamist movement relies on to stay in power in the strip."

The vast support network that the Islamist movement relies on? Is that strategy, or justification?

Hamas' intentions may be unclear, but Olmert's intentions are obvious. He will not stop. This much is obvious in the Post story.

Does this seem alarmist? Extreme? I hope it isn't the case - but denying the possibility won't help anyone. When an Israeli soldier tells international media that his mission in Gaza is "cleansing" and then the Israeli Army censors the video, what else can we assume is going on that we don't know?

Both Ban Ki Moon (Secretary General of the United Nations) and the European Commission have called for an end to all hostilities.

The Jerusalem Post has been positive in its coverage, insisting that the Operation has won international support and has killed only terrorists. Today, a headline declares the Israeli government will consider suspending the operation. But the story makes clear that Olmert is not, in fact, considering a suspension. (Ha'aretz runs the same story under the headline, "Olmert: Gaza offensive to go on until aims achieved.) The JPost story also says that the operation has killed "mostly uniformed terrorists." The JPost's characterization is, on the surface, absurd. Terrorists are not a country. They are not an organized Army. They do not, by definition, wear uniforms. The "uniformed terrorists" statement is unusual enough that it almost demands further explanation. But none is forthcoming.

Ha'aretz (fast becoming my favorite source for news on the Gaza situation) says, "
most of them members of Hamas security forces but at least 64 of them civilians, according to UN figures." "Hamas security forces?" Very different phrasing from "uniformed terrorists."

The Palestinian News Network refers to the Operation as a "massacre," saying "Targets are vast while those hit include children and families in mourning." No mention of Hamas at all.

(I should mention that the Palestinians have responded with rocket fire of their own. So far, their rockets have claimed the lives of 4 Israelis. Israel's rockets have killed 360. This is certainly not a battle between equals nations.)

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