Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Mar 12, 2012
This article was originally published by The Electronic Intifada and is republished with permission.
By this Sunday evening in Gaza, a weekend of relentless Israeli bombing has left 18 people dead and dozens wounded. Israeli propaganda insists that the attacks are about preventing “terrorism” and stopping “rockets.”
But in fact, Israel provoked this violence and according to some Israeli commentators its goals are to escalate pressure for war with Iran and to drag Hamas away from diplomacy and back into violence.
The latest of Israel’s victims today include Ayoub Useila, 12, of Jabalya refugee camp, whose seven year-old cousin was injured, and Adel al-Issi, 52, a farmer near Gaza City. Others suffered horrifying injuries, as recounted by doctors at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.
Israel launches attack on Friday
The Israeli assault began on Friday, when Israeli forces carried out the extrajudicial executions of Zuhair Al-Qaisi and Mahmoud Al-Hannani of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), whom Israel alleged were “masterminds” of an attack near Eilat last year. Except, as Max Blumenthal demonstrated, this is untrue, as even Israel previously acknowledged.
This weekend’s attacks have followed a typical pattern. Israel launches a lethal attack knowing full well that Palestinian resistance factions will respond. It then uses the response—dozens of rockets falling on Israel rarely causing injuries or damage—as the very pretext for continued bombing. Israel also claims to have shot down several dozen incoming missiles using its US-subsidized “Iron Dome” anti-missile system.
On Twitter, the Israeli military spokesperson even praised Israel for its “restraint” as if Israel hadn’t started the violence itself on a completely false pretext:
Recall that after the Eilat attack last August, Israel launched a ferocious assault on Gaza, also on false pretexts, killing 14 people including a 2-year old child, a 13-year-old boy and a doctor.
Beyond the propaganda, informed Israeli commentators, even those supporting the action, acknowledge that Israel chose to initiate the current escalation of violence:
In the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz wrote:
In other words, Israel was prepared to carry out an extrajudicial execution, a war crime, knowing that there would be retaliation. Israel’s routine policy of executing Palestinians in occupied territories without charge or trial, based on flimsy allegations made by the killers themselves, is a major violation of international humanitarian law and makes a mockery of Israel’s claim to be a “democracy” by any possible measure.
Even in China, Iran, and the United States, all prolific users of the death penalty where no doubt many innocent people have been put to death, authorities at least go through the formality of a trial. Not so in Israel, where in the past decade hundreds of Palestinians have been sentenced to death in secret and then executed in their beds, on the street, while riding in cars, or even when confined to wheelchairs, along with hundreds of bystanders.
Of course now, the Obama administration has openly adopted Israeli-style extrajudicial execution even of its own citizens—just another example of the “shared values” US and Israeli leaders are always eager to proclaim.
Israeli commentators cut through the official propaganda
In Haaretz, Gideon Levy undercut the official propaganda, that extrajudicial executions—“targeted killings”—are ever justified, let alone in this instance:
Also in Haaretz, Zvi Bar’el cast further doubt on the Israeli claim that the executed PRC men posed a threat that would justify the Israeli attack:
“Mowing the lawn”
Perhaps the most chilling explanation of why Israel was bombing Gaza came, again, from Yaakov Katz in The Jerusalem Post:
So 12 year-old Ayoub Useila is not even an animal. He’s just part of a “lawn” of faceless nameless Palestinians, to be bombed into submission as routinely as an Israeli settler on stolen West Bank land maintains his suburban-style yard and swimming pool.
Hamas “completely uninvolved”
Katz himself had already acknowledged that Israel set off the round of violence by its assassination of the PRC activists but then he goes on to admit that Hamas isn’t even involved. Hamas, the usual bogeyman and justification for Israel’s aggression on Gaza “is completely uninvolved in the sense that its operatives are not firing rockets into Israel.” That’s quite an admission.
Indeed it has been reported that leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are completely uninterested in escalating violence with Israel and are committed to a “ceasefire.” That would be consistent with their long-term policies which are to retaliate against Israeli aggression but not to seek out confrontation.
“The escalation in Gaza is good for Israel”
So given all this, why has Israel decided to kill people in Gaza for no discernible reason? According to Bar’el in Haaretz it has everything to do with Israel’s effort to build support for an attack on Iran:
Bar’el sees at least one other compelling reason why Israel chose violence once again: the ‘threat’ from Hamas’ ever more determined turn to reliance on diplomacy over armed struggle—which Bar’el attributes in part to Hamas’ need to maintain good relations with Egypt:
What that “opportunity” will be no one yet knows, but what is sure is that innocent people will pay with their lives.
Facts behind Israel’s rocket propaganda
Whenever you hear Israel’s tired hasbara refrain about rockets, rockets, rockets, remember to ask the question Yousef Munayyer recently asked: Why don’t Israel’s spokespeople ever tell us how many rockets, missiles and bullets Israel has fired on Gaza?
Of course the answer is because it is by orders of magnitude greater in both number and explosive power than anything Palestinian armed groups have or ever could muster against Israel. There are some data, however.
In one 18-month period between September 2005 and May 2007 in which Palestinian armed groups fired 2,700 rockets toward Israel killing four people, Israel fired 14,617 heavy artillery shells into Gaza killing 59 people, including at least 17 children and 12 women. Hundreds more were injured and extensive damage caused.
This data comes from a 2007 Human Rights Watch reported titled Indiscriminate Fire, which states in addition that:
The report adds:
That report dates from 2007, but in the years before and since, thousands more Palestinian civilians were killed and injured in Israeli attacks, by what must be tens of thousands of Israeli munitions. This included the 2008-2009 assault called “Operation Cast Lead” and Israeli fire has been an almost daily occurrence since its end claiming many innocent lives.
And Operation Cast Lead itself was launched on the false pretext—echoed ad nauseam by media—that Palestinians were firing unprovoked barrages of rockets into Israel leaving it no choice to attack in “self-defense.” That too was a lie as Israel’s own official figures showed at the time.
As Munayyer notes, citing UN statistics:
That is why Israeli official propaganda has to be so distorted and selective.
Tags:gaza Operation Cast Lead Human Rights Watch rockets hasbara Popular Resistance Committees Hamas Islamic Jihad Gideon Levy Zvi Bar'el Ayoub Useila Zuhair Al-Qaisi
Home > News & Analysis > From the Media > "Mowing the lawn": On Israel's latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it