Israel continues to pound the Gaza Strip from land, sea, and air, inflicting hundreds of casualties, mainly amongst innocent civilians, and reducing hundreds of buildings to rubble.
Israeli and Palestinian sources alike speak of as many as 800 air raids on Gaza in the past 72 hours, between 14 and 16 of November, 2012. More than 150Israeli warplanes and as many as 300 tanks are taking part in biggest Israel assault on the Gaza Strip since the 2008-2009 blitz on the coastal enclave, which killed some 1,500 Palestinians, including 340 children.
According the latest medical reports from hospitals in Gaza, 31 Gazans have been killed and as many as 250 people injured; many of the injured sustained serious wounds and burns. Among the dead and injured are children, elderly men, women, and pregnant women. Hence the death toll is likely to rise significantly as Israel is planning to broaden its aggression and possibly start a ground onslaught. The Hebrew media quoted military officials as saying that troops would enter Gaza in hours.
In the early hours of Saturday, Israeli warplanes bombed Prime Minister’ bureau, a mosque, and several ministry buildings. Several houses belonging to Islamist activists were also targeted.
In the meanwhile, Israeli military commanders and political leaders continued to make vitriolic statements, threatening to overrun Gaza and liquidate the Hamas-run authority there. However, several observers argue that the bellicose statements are part of the psychological warfare and saber-rattling accompanying the current wave of violence.
Hamas Hits Back
While Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic liberation group, absorbed the initial Israeli attacks, which started with the assassination of the group’s military commander Ahmed al-Jaabari on Wednesday Nov. 14, Hamas and other resistance groups have also fired as many as 800 missiles on Israeli targets. Some of these missiles landed in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, forcing millions of Jews to stay in shelters.
And while these missiles are notoriously inaccurate and have limited destruction power, they have wreaked a devastating psychological effect on most Israelis, many of whom crying hysterically.
Israeli sources said four Israelis were killed and dozens injured, many of shocks resulting from fear following the landing of missiles in their vicinity.
The paralysis of life in central and southern Israel is expected to cost the Israeli economy massive losses, amounting to several billion dollars, especially if no truce is reached soon.
Hamas and all other Palestinian resistance groups is no match for the Israeli military machine, the biggest in the Middle East, thanks to unrestricted and unlimited support which Israel receives from her guardian ally, the United States. For example, a single F-16 fighter-bomber can inflict more damage in one raid than would many missile of the types used by the Palestinian resistance.
Nonetheless, the resistance hopes that by firing upgraded missiles on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem they will create a kind of deterrence which would make Israel refrain from attacking the Palestinians at will as, indeed, the Israeli occupation army has been doing for years.
However, with Israel’s disproportionately greater firepower, it is unlikely that Israel will agree on symmetrical ceasefire arrangements with Hamas.
Israel claims it is responding to rocket attacks on Jewish settlers in southern occupied Palestine. Israel also claims that its forces don’t target Palestinian civilians deliberately. However, every time Palestinian resistance groups fire missiles on Israeli territories it is always in response to deadly Israeli attacks and acts of murder.
Hamas’ spokesman Ismael Radwan said Israel would like to see Palestinians murdered quietly.
“They (Israel) would want to see us killed without any reaction or response from the Palestinian side. They also understand a ceasefire as unilateral pact that obliges only the Palestinians to cease fire whereas the occupation army has a carte blanche to murder our children and kill our farmers on a daily basis. We just can’t accept this insolence and arrogance of power.
“Besides, has Israel forgotten the fact that it stole our ancestral homeland, destroyed our homes and villages, and expelled the bulk of our people to the four winds. And now these fanatical Jewish supremacists have the temerity to call us terrorists, when God and man know that terrorism and Zionism are two sides of the same coin.”
Israel carried out numerous attacks on the Gaza Strip ever since it withdrew its forces and settlers from the coastal enclave in 2005, killing thousands of Palestinians. In 2006, Israel imposed a draconian blockade on Gaza, wreaking unprecedented havoc on the enclave’s 1.7 million inhabitants. Israel hoped that the hermetic seizure would prompt the populace to revolt against Hamas.
Israel detests Hamas because the Islamist group refuses to lower the ceiling of Palestinian rights, including the paramount right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their home in what is now Israel at the hands of Jewish invaders, mainly from Eastern Europe.
Hence, the Zionist state hopes that the eradication or serious weakening of Hamas would allow the secular Palestinian Authority (PA) relax the “tough” Palestinian demands for a possible peace deal with Israel.
There are several motives behind the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza.
The first and main motive is to expedite re-election prospects for Israeli Prime Minister Benyamine Netanyahu. One Israeli journalist told this writer that Israeli “voters would almost innately give their votes to whoever sheds more Palestinian blood.”
Hence, it seems that Netanyahu, a disciple of former Israeli prime minister and certified war criminal Menachem Begin, has fully understood this formula and is acting on it.
The Israeli elections are slated to be held in January and the Israeli far right is expected to win a clear victory over the other less extremist parties. The Israeli Jewish society is drifting toward secular jingoism and religious fascism, which augurs very badly for whatever remaining chances for the already moribund peace process.
In addition, it is likely that Israel wants to send a certain message to the new leadership in Cairo, namely that the Arab Spring would never change Israeli behavior vis-à-vis the Palestinian subject. Israel suffered a strategic loss with the downfall of regional allies, especially the defunct regime of Husni Mubarak.
However, the manner in which the Egyptian government has responded to the Israeli aggression is quite disquieting for the Israeli leadership. Israel wants to torment and pummel the Palestinians as harshly and savagely as possible and at the same time maintains “normal” relations with Cairo. However, the pro-active Egyptian response in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, at both the official and popular levels, suggests that the two tasks are decidedly incompatible.
Finally, Israel may also be aiming to impede and disrupt Palestinian plans to seek a non-member status at the United Nations later this month. Israel has threatened to annul the Oslo Accord if the PA makes good on its UN bid.
On Friday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in a brief speech in Ramallah that the Israel onslaught on Gaza was an aggression targeting all Palestinians, not just Hamas.
He said he hopes the aggression would unify the Palestinians in the face of Israeli intransigence and arrogance of power.