Invasion of Gaza Continues (Updated)
The Israeli invasion of Gaza continued today:
ON THE ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER: Israeli troops commandeered high-rise buildings in three eastern districts of Gaza City on Monday, expelling residents and shooting Palestinian militants in the streets in the military’s furious effort to destroy Hamas’s fighting ability.
European diplomats, meanwhile, poured into the region seeking a cease-fire.
The 10th day of Israel’s war on the Islamist rulers of Gaza also killed more Palestinian civilians, including about 12 children, pushing the total death toll to 550, and severely strained fuel and water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people.
Israeli planes destroyed what the air force said were dozens of smuggler tunnels in the south and Hamas fired about 25 rockets into Israel, one of which crashed into an empty kindergarten in the city of Ashdod, dolls and shrapnel littering its floor an hour later.
Leaders of Israel and Hamas spoke defiantly of victory. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Israel said after a meeting with officials from the Czech Republic, Sweden and France that Israel would “change the equation” in the region – meaning that it would not permit Hamas to shoot rockets into its cities.
There are several posts from different viewpoints on what’s going on that I think deserve consideration. In the first Juan Cole laid out the demographic and economic conundrum in which the Israelis find themselves:
The main immediate problem for the Israelis is that simply preventing Hamas from waging an ever more sophisticated microwar is an extremely short-term and technical objective. It may or may not be achievable by the methods of the current war, which appear so far to be conventional methods. Its outcome is not very material to a settlement of the larger issues.
The big long-term problem Israel has is that its assiduous colonization of the West Bank has made a two-state solution almost impossible, turning it into an Apartheid state. And if you go on practicing Apartheid long enough, that begins to attact boycotts and sanctions. And forestalling a Palestinian state means that likely the Palestinians will all end up Israeli citizens.
The one thing that I think that Dr. Cole misses is that today’s Israelis belong where they are as much as the Palestinians do. Neither are going away.
In the second Michael J. Totten tried to explain, for those complaining that Israel’s actions lack proportionality, what the concept of proportionality in warfare actually means:
The law does not, however, prohibit Israel from striking legitimate military targets in civilian areas. “Although civilians may not be made the object of a direct attack, the LOAC recognizes that a military target need not be spared because its destruction may cause collateral damage that results in the unintended death or injury to civilians or damage to their property.”
Hamas, then, is legally to blame for all, or nearly all, injuries and deaths of both Israelis and Palestinians.
That Hamas will be held accountable, unfortunately, stretches credulity.
Meanwhile, Megan McArdle expressed my own frustrations in commenting on the situation pretty adequately:
…I’ve heard all the arguments about who’s really to blame about a zillion times. And all I get out of it in the end is that the whole thing makes me sick and sad. I don’t see any untainted victims. I see a bunch of people who have been stomped on by history beating up each other in revenge for past wrongs that can’t be righted, lashing out whenever they think they can get away with it without losing the foreign funding that allows them to continue the fun. And I don’t ever blog about it because one is not allowed to have an opinion on the matter–no matter what I say, I’ll be excusing terrorism or, irrelevantly, the holocaust, or shilling for western imperialism.
Another post worthy of consideration is James’s post over at New Atlanticist in which he sketches the positions on the conflict of our various European allies. He concludes:
America’s virtually automatic support of Israel, even for actions that are not only outside the norms of international law but decidedly unhelpful to our own interests in the Middle East is more puzzling. It is, however, a longstanding and bipartisan facet of American foreign policy. Don’t expect anything different when Barack Obama takes office two weeks from now.
I think that’s about right. The amazing thing about what passes for a foreign policy here in the United States is not how much it changes from administration to administration but how consistent it has been.
It’s one of those things where all the domestic stars line up for a certain policy to be anchored in, plus inertia from the Cold War. Any serious effort to weaken the connection to Israel would be met by major opposition from both parties – or so the narrative goes.
I’m not so sure about that. Didn’t the first Bush Administration actually cut off Israel from aid over a short period to get them to come to the table? It didn’t result in any long-lasting recriminations in Congress, if I recall correctly.
I assume you mean that Israelis belong in Israel, not in the West Bank, which is kind of how it reads to me.
It’s likely that Israel is the only country in the middle east that would take them. As much as other Arab nations vocally support Palestine, the Palestinians themselves are treated like the black sheep of the Ummah, nobody actuallys wants them.
good Hitchens column on this depressing situation.
They got rid of Fatah, and they got Hamas in its place. Who will step into the vacuum if they get rid of Hamas? Will that group be better? After all this?
That’s what I’m wondering, too – do they actually have an idea as to who will replace Hamas? I suppose Fatah could take advantage of Hamas’s weakness to try to re-take Gaza, but it’d be risky to them. They’re already tainted with the label of being “stooges” to Israel (by many Palestinians, but of course also by many Arabs willing to fight to the last Palestinian) – how would it look if they “piggybacked” on Israel’s power back into Gaza?
I suppose the Israelis could just govern Gaza directly again, but that would be expensive.