Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why Was Gaza Differnt Than Berlin?

An Israeli soldier was wounded and three were injured when their Jeep was hit by a roadside bomb as the soldiers patrolled near the kissufim crossing along the Gaza Strip.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader, said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Al-Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a lull in fighting.

Israeli political sources were quick to respond, calling for a withering attack in response to the bombing. Yideot Achranot military commentator Ron Ben Ishai said Israel had to respond with extreme force to deter Hamas from starting another unceasing hail of rockets on the southern border towns.

Israel’s Forign Minister Tzipi Livi, leader of the Kadi party called for a quick and hard attack on Hamas. Defense Minister Barak told a group of military cadets that Israel had to respond to the Hamas attack but that Israel should chose when, and how. Barak also told Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet that Israel had to strike back hard at any group that attacked, presently ,or in the future. Both Livni and Barak are competing for the Prime Minister’s seat against Likud front runner Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyhu.

According to the polls, Netanyhu’s Likud leads with nearly 30 Knesset seats, followed by Livni’s Kadima with 26 and Barak’s Labor with 20. Right-wing nationalist Avigdor Leiberman’s new party has risen in the polls to approximately 17 seats. Leiberman’s daughter made headlines today with reports she’d been arrested for running a money laundering business.

Leiberman is on the books of his daughter’s company for a salary of approximately $600,000 a year. Police claim they have 2,500 documents as evidence of Leiberman’s corruption. The investigation against Leiberman has been going on for nearly 10 years. Leiberman claims the latest uproar is politically motivated, falling too close to the elections to be coincidental. The police deny any connection between the investigation and the elections.

A group of European nations that volunteered to supply gunships to patrol the waters off Gaza to keep arms shipments from reaching Hamas were asked not to bring their ships near the Gaza coast. Egypt’s president Husnei Mubarak warned that these ships might upset ‘Arab sensibilities.”

Reports in the press state that Hamas is quickly rebuilding it’s network of tunnels, and already receiving arms shipments.

The world’s press has been pouring over the Gaza strip, reporting on the damage, death and injuries. The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure is daunting, horrific in some cases. The IDF today published pictures of Hamas rocket teams using the walls of a UN school as protection as they fired against Israeli targets.

Pundits have asked about the double standards of the world’s press, and some governments. Clearly, the pundits say, there’s opportunism at play, the popularity of harshly criticizing Israel while taking the side of the hapless Palestinians, the unfortunate women and children, killed by the IDF strikes on Gaza.

However, they point out, the EU envoy visiting the region blamed Hamas for the death of civilians because Hamas used them at ‘human shields.’

Analysts point out that Hamas was the popularly elected representatives of the Palestinian people in Gaza. The people of Gaza support Hamas and its fight against Israel. Not all, of course, but the majority.

Today is International Holocaust Memorial Day. Military analysts say that in Germany during World War II, Hitler thought nothing of sending the Lufwaffe to blanket bomb London, sending the civilians into the subways seeking shelter. The Allies, when their turn came, carpet bombed German cities, like Koln, Dresden, Munich and Berlin, leaving cities in rubble. Civilians, women, children, were killed in these attacks. The loss of life was terrible.

These analysts ask ‘When Hamas fires rockets at Israel from Gaza, or Hezbollah rockets at Israel from Lebanon, are they any different than Hitler and his Lufwaffe? Than the Blitzkrieg? If so, how?’

Israeli commentators say that it is truly unfortunate that this destruction had to come to Gaza. Israel didn’t ask for it. Israel withdrew from Lebanon. Israel withdrew from Gaza’s Israeli settlements. Israel even withdrew from Gaza after operation Cast Lead. None of these moves towards peace had any effect on Hamas.

Hezbollah, Israel’s minister of defense Ehud Barak says, was so beaten up by the War in Lebanon II, so much damage done to Beirut, that they were in no hurry to start another shooting war with Israel.

Analysts thought Hamas learned the same lesson. The idea, according to the analysts, was to use such overwhelming force against Hamas that not only would Israel’s soldiers be protected, but the damage would be so horrific that Hamas would think twice before any further attacks.

The attack on the Gaza border this morning may have been a test of Israel’s determination to respond to Hamas. Hamas knows Gaza is under the world’s microscope. Hamas knows that the arrival Wednesday of George Mitchell, special envoy to the Middle East sent by newly elected US President Barak Obama will temper any strong Israeli response.

Political observers look to Barak Obama as the great hope for solutions to all sorts of problems, from finance to solving the crisis in the Middle East. Obama, they say, plans to talk to Arab leaders before fighting, which they think is a laudable goal. Israel, they point out, has tried to talk to Hamas, to Hezbollah, to other radical groups, to no avail. President Obama may quell the warlike tendencies of Iran towards the USA, but when it comes to Israel the situation is different.

Historians point out that Chamberlain couldn’t talk Hitler out of trying to take over the world. The destruction of much of Germany by US and Allied forces was the result. Observers say that the Hamas types are like the fanatic Nazis. Fanatics don’t want to talk.

Israeli pundits say all Israel can hope is that people start to see that Hamas, and her supporters like Iran and Syria, are more like Nazi Germany than any civilized Western country. Even amid the rubble, it appears as if Hamas plans to keep on attacking Israel, drawing fire, bringing negative press down on Israel’s head as Gaza’s citizens become ‘Shahidim’ martyrs in the fighting.

Unfortunately, as long as Israel can respond to Hamas, the answer will only be more rubble. But as one pundit put it, if President Obama can talk Hamas, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and even Al Queda, out of belligerency, then he deserves more than the Nobel Peace Prize, he deserves a crown, a throne, and anointing oil.