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The Gaza Siege

Xenophon's picture
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Your Tax dollars at work:

The current squeeze on Gaza began in 1991. It was tightened with the institutionalization of the Israeli occupation enabled by the Oslo Accords of 1993. It was tightened further with the intensification of the occupation in response to the second intifada in 2000. It was tightened further still when Israel redeployed its settlers and troops from inside Gaza in 2005 and transformed the territory into what John Dugard, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, referred to as a prison, the key to which, Dugard said, Israel had "thrown away." It was tightened to the point of strangulation following the Hamas electoral victory in 2006, when Israel began restricting supplies of food and other resources into Gaza. It was tightened beyond the point of strangulation following the deposition of the Hamas-led government in June 2007. And now this. Link

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bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

[hey xeno; 'sup?]

It would be so much easier to see one group as “right” and another as “wrong” but that is not the case. On all sides, Israel as much as Hamas and the PLO, the US and the Arab countries and the Persians and the Russians, the commitment is to continuation of conflict. Every leadership group in every engaged nation depends on maintaining a regional policy of death and destruction, while nowhere is there a viable movement that leads to peace and prosperity.

Everyone involved has blood on their hands. Until some greater power imposes a solution the conflict will continue, with nothing for the mass of people but suffering and pain and despair. The whole world should be ashamed.

After eight years of malign disengagement from BushCo on top of years of distracted neglect by Clinton, the US has abdicated any pretense at the moral high ground and our current involvement is only to supply weapons and money to the Israelis while the Palestinians are left to starve. The US government is seen as so wholly impotent, morally bankrupt and unable to engage that the last time Condi Rice came to Tel Aviv she couldn’t get a hotel room much less an appointment with anyone in charge - on either side. Except as a supplier of death and destruction we have been completely marginalized, and that will only lead to our further humiliation on the international stage and reduce our ability to be a force for good.

Obama has a lot on his plate, but withal this is an issue he needs to engage and sooner rather than later. Like the Balkans and Northern Ireland, both areas of seemingly intractable multi-generational conflict that have been largely resolved through cooperative international pressure focused on imposing a settlement on the local participants, this kind of brutality cannot be allowed to continue. The long-term cost to the prospects of the world as a whole far exceeds the short-term expense of an enforced settlement.

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

While the people of Israel are of one mind the apartheid government's position is quite another.

Let us remeber that the position of Israel's government was to:

Change the nature of its relations with the Palestinians, including upholding the right of hot pursuit for self defense into all Palestinian areas and nurturing alternatives to Arafat’s exclusive grip on Palestinian society.

How did they do this? By shutting down the Palestinian government with a siege.

Israel ignored international pleas to reverse its invasion of this West Bank city and instead expanded its punishing military offensive and tightened its siege of Arafat. Israeli forces rounded up hundreds of Palestinian men–including emergency medics and police–in what the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has described as a hunt for terrorists.

Sharon declared Arafat an enemy last week, dispatched scores of tanks into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and mobilized 20,000 reservists for a “long and complicated war” against the Palestinian chief and the suicide bombers and other extremists who have attacked Israelis. Link

And then claiming that

Israel has no obligations under the Oslo agreements if the PLO does not fulfill its obligations. If the PLO cannot comply with these minimal standards, then it can be neither a hope for the future nor a proper interlocutor for present. To prepare for this, Israel may want to cultivate alternatives to Arafat’s base of power.

Because the Palestinian government was ineffective. (Well lift the Siege and we'll see)

I think Israel has gone too far. If they want to go out there and establish themselves as the Don of the middle east go ahead - "The strong do what they will ..." I just don't think we should support them. Espesically when they are dead wrong.

It's not like we haven't been down this road before. Israel's pipe dream lead us into Iraq remeber this?

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. By establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria's regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq. This has triggered a Jordanian-Syrian rivalry to which Asad has responded by stepping up efforts to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom, including using infiltrations. Syria recently signaled that it and Iran might prefer a weak, but barely surviving Saddam, if only to undermine and humiliate Jordan in its efforts to remove Saddam.

Since Iraq's future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging — through influence in the U.S. business community — investment in Jordan to structurally shift Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon. link

It's time we parted company with Israel, they have become a liability. Now they are exacerbating problems in the muslim world

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Folks also need to realize that Israel doesn't need us, like they continue to peddle, for their imminent survival, anymore. They got a disproportionately huge and developed/highly-advanced army for their size capable of taking on nations much larger in size. People need to wake-up to the fact that we (the US) are being used to legitimize the military exploits. They aren't anymore our friends than the Palestinians and never were. We've always been used as the fall guy so that they won't receive all of the criticism they deserve for their actions. Israel is more than capable of defending its interests, and has been for many years, now.

Amazingly, we continue to subsidize their army to the tune of $2-fuckin'-billion dollars every year, even since they've long since became a military power of their own. Even more amazingly, given Obama's former stance on the Levant issue (he was much more objective than he is, now), he's taken sides.

To call that situation a cover is actually being rather nice. It's a course to any who get involved in it in a militaristic way.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

and any day now, everything is going to work out just fine for those Palestinians:

"...this president [GW Bush] has laid the groundwork for a Palestinian state, being the first president, as a matter of policy, to say that there should be one, and now, I think, laying the foundation that's going to lead to that Palestinian state...."

IIRC Obama meetings with Netanyahu were cordial but Obama was cool to the obvious ploys advanced by the Israeli and pressed instead for talks leading to a viable Palestinian state. I don't agree that we should disengage from either side, but we do need to shift the focus from conflict to resolution. Who knows, at this point, what Obama may actually intend but I'm suspicious that perhaps this unjustified offensive is being conducted now because there are concerns within the Israeli leadership that once Obama is in office the opportunity to assault the Palestinians without consequence will be diminished.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

And, I was talking about disengaging, entirely, but definitely militarily. That means to completely stop our subsidization of the IDF.

As for the "two-state solution", it sounds great, but I think the Israeli's realize that they don't really have any incentive to seek it out. I think they realize what a bunch of us realize, and that is that even if there are two states that both agree to, you've still got the issue of the Arabs who live in Israel that make up more than 20% of the Israeli population (not counting the territories) and are the fastest growing segment. Even if there are two states, the real problem is that it's still "seperate but equal" and that the vast majority of Arabs in Israel aren't leaving, regardless.

The issue that no one ever speaks about is that Arab Israeli's will eventually make up a majority of the Israeli population. Israel long-term problem is going to be what happens when the Israeli Jews find themselves the minority in their own Jewish state? The problem with Israel has always been that's its an apartheid "Jewish state" as opposed to a state in which Jews lived. The "Jewish state" is unsustainable, and they know it. I'm dreading the day when they decided whether they'll allow democracy to run its course, of if they are going to violently cling to an apartheid state.

Jewish Israeli's deny it up-and-down and all day long, but their Arab countrymen are not treated the same under their law, and culturally, they are most definitely seena and treated as second-class citizens and even worse, as foreigners. Hell, even the "white" Ashkenazi Jews treat the native Mizrahi Jews like second-class Jews, but they will never admit the copious amounts of racism that shape Israeli society. I never quite understood it.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

... In a statement on Monday, the Israeli Army said some areas around Gaza had been declared a “closed military zone,” a move which some analysts depicted as a potential precursor to a ground offensive. The military said the declaration meant that civilians, including journalists, could be denied access to an area up to two miles from Gaza. ...

A military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, said the closed zone around Gaza had mostly to do with concerns of safety. She said the military had information that Hamas may employ either suicide bombers or more powerful missiles from the border area and it wanted to clear the area. She said she was sure journalists would be permitted to return.

“No one is trying to hide anything,” she said. ...

(sure.)

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

some great posts by Ezra Klein --

Fear --

...The way to secure Israel is not to firebomb the Palestinian people and flood the Arab world with photographs of maimed children and dead mothers and charred schoolyards. It is to end those images. ...

Need --

... Hamas engages in asymmetric warfare against Israel. Israel is destroying Hamas's conventional -- which is to say, symmetric -- capacities. They are obliterating Hamas-as-governing-authority and strengthening Hamas-as-popular-terrorist-group. It's mindless. The broader aim seems to mirror that of the blockade: Cause enough pain to the Palestinian citizenry and they will eventually reject Hamas. It's a strategy that has not worked, and will not work. Ask yourself if Abbas is stronger today than he was a year ago. ...

Israel, Wrong --

... The rocket attacks were undoubtedly "deeply disturbing" to Israelis. But so too are the checkpoints, the road closures, the restricted movement, the terrible joblessness, the unflinching oppression, the daily humiliations, the illegal settlement -- I'm sorry, "outpost" -- construction, "deeply disturbing" to the Palestinians, and far more injurious. And the 300 dead Palestinians should be disturbing to us all.

There is nothing proportionate in this response. No way to fit it into a larger strategy that leads towards eventual peace. No way to fool ourselves into believing that it will reduce bloodshed and stop terrorist attacks. It is simple vengeance. There's a saying in the Jewish community: "Israel, right or wrong." But sometimes Israel is simply wrong.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Haaretz -- Barak: We'll use every resource to stop 'criminal' rocket fire from Gaza --

... We have an all-out war against Hamas and its kind," Barak said, using a term he has employed in the past to describe a long-term struggle against Israel's Islamist enemies.

Barak also cited a comment made by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who visited Sderot during his election campaign earlier this year.

"Obama said that if rockets were being fired at his home while his two daughters were sleeping, he would do everything he could to prevent it," Barack told the plenum.

The defense minister went on to say that Israel is engaged in a "war to the bitter end" against Hamas in Gaza. ...

Barak told the assembled lawmakers that the defense establishment spent months preparing for the Gaza operation.

Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Arab protests while calling on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to dismiss minister Raleb Majadele, the lone Arab serving in the cabinet.

Arab MKs repeatedly accused the government of waging a war for electioneering purposes and the defense minister of intentionally killing children. Russian-Israeli MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) proposed that the Arab lawmakers relocate to Gaza and not return. The Arab MKs retorted by calling him a "Fascist," and insisted that he should return to the country where he came from.

"There are those who are counting bodies and at the same time counting Knesset seats," Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) said. "Bodies for votes - this is done primarily by the Labor Party." ...

Xenophon's picture
Submitted by Xenophon on

Ten days before they started bombing Gaza Ehud Barak
Speaking at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, the defense minister said the world should press Iran to stop it from building nuclear weapons.

"If it built even a primitive nuclear weapon like the type that destroyed Hiroshima, Iran would not hesitate to load it on a ship, arm it with a detonator operated by GPS and sail it into a vital port on the east coast of North America,"

Link

Six Months before this attack a "SIGNIFICANT EXERCISE" was held by Israel.

The New York Times quoted defence department officials as saying that more than 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s took part in the exercises, flying more than 1,450 kilometres - roughly the distance from Israel to Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. The exercises also reportedly included refueling tankers and helicopters capable of rescuing downed pilots. Link

While at the same time Israel was planning to bomb Gaza.

Israeli media reports, by usually well-informed correspondents and analysts, alluded yesterday to six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint Hamas targets including bases, weapon silos, training camps and the homes of senior officials. The cabinet spent five hours discussing the plan in detail on December 19 and left the timing up to Ehud Olmert, the caretaker prime minister, and his defence minister Ehud Barak. Preparations involved disinformation and deception which kept Israel's media in the dark. According to Ha'aretz, that also lulled Hamas into a sense of false security and allowed the initial aerial onslaught to achieve tactical surprise - and kill many of the 290 victims counted so far. Link

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

... Activists trying to bring aid to Gaza today claimed their boat had been rammed by Israeli gunboats in a "criminal attack" in international waters.

The Free Gaza Movement said its vessel, the Dignity, was intercepted by several Israeli vessels as it was heading to the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli aerial bombardment since Saturday.

One gunboat rammed the Dignity on the port bow side, causing heavy damage, although no one was hurt, the group said.

"[The Dignity] is taking on water and appears to have engine problems," the movement said on its website. "When attacked, the Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza.

"The gunboats also fired their machine guns into the water in an attempt to stop the mercy ship from getting to Gaza. ...

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, told Reuters there had been no shooting, although two ships made "physical contact".

Palmor said the boat had failed to respond to Israeli naval radio contact and an Israeli vessel "clashed with the ship". He said nobody was hurt and the Israeli ship escorted the aid boat back to Cypriot territorial waters.

Israel declared the coastal territory a closed military zone after it launched air attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday in response to Hamas firing rockets into Israel. Israel said the Free Gaza movement boat would not be permitted to dock in the Gaza Strip. ...

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I saw the "after" pictures of the boat, and it was no way they were rammed by accident. That is absolutely insulting for them to try and portray it as such. As Xenophone said, blockades are acts of war, and this is one of the most greivous injustices in the whole situation is the blockade. They are making it so that there is no possible way that the leadership can provide for an environment in which a mainstream economy can thrive, and minus that, you're essentially helping recruit people for Hamas. The blockade is such an incredibly backwards move it kind of just shows you how genuinely the Israeli leadership is in finding a lasting peace. That is, no genuine at all.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Bloomberg -- Gaza Tunnels to Egypt for IPods, Viagra Foil Blockade

... The beehive of tunnels beneath the tent city has become a vital lifeline for Gaza, giving its 1.4 million residents a way around an Israeli blockade that has choked off supplies of gasoline, fresh meat and consumer goods ranging from washing machines to iPods. It may also turn into a bombing target for the Israeli air force following the expiration of a six-month cease- fire with the Hamas leaders who rule Gaza, Israeli strategists say.

“There is hardly any economy left in Gaza without the tunnels,” says Omar Shaban, an economist who runs a consulting group in Gaza City. “It is distorted to have an economy that is so completely dependent on the black market, but it’s a natural result of the borders being closed.”

Ninety percent of all products entering Gaza each month --as much as $40 million worth of contraband -- comes through the tunnels from Egypt, Shaban says. The underground network is also a crucial source of revenue and weapons for the militant Islamic Hamas movement, which charges a one-time digging fee of 11,000 shekels ($2,750) for each tunnel.

...