Friday, January 9, 2009

About those thousands of rockets out of Gaza....

There are always two sides to any story. Israel has carefully mobilized its media blitz to explain in great detail the fear and terror of living under an unceasing rocket attack (even though deaths are in fact so rare that Israeli partisans never want to mention them).

Steve Niva takes a careful look, however, at the dynamics which actually broke the ceasefire, and finds that the story is not so one-sided at the US Senate, the Israeli Defense Force, or new Obama-appointee to the State Department Dennis Ross might have you believe:

Israel has repeatedly claimed that it had "no choice" but to wage war on Gaza on December 27 because Hamas had broken a ceasefire, was firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and had "tried everything in order to avoid this military operation," as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni put it....

There was a genuine lull in rocket and mortar fire between June 19 and November 4, due to Hamas compliance and only sporadically violated by a small number of launchings carried out by rival Fatah and Islamic Jihad militants, largely in defiance of Hamas. According to the conservative Israeli-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's analysis of rocket and missile attacks in 2008, there were only three rockets fired at Israel in July, September, and October combined. Israeli civilians living near Gaza experienced an almost unprecedented degree of security during this period, with no Israeli casualties.

Yet despite the major lull, Israel continually raided the West Bank, arresting and frequently killing "wanted" Palestinians from June to October, which had the inevitable effect of ratcheting up pressure on Hamas to respond. Moreover, while the central expectation of Hamas going into the ceasefire was that Israel would lift the siege on Gaza, Israel only took the barest steps to ease the siege, which kept the people at a bare survival level. This policy was a clear affront to Hamas, and had the inescapable effect of undermining both Hamas and popular Palestinian support for the ceasefire.

But Israel's most provocative action, acknowledged by many now as the critical turning point that undermined the ceasefire, took place on November 4, when Israeli forces auspiciously violated the truce by crossing into the Gaza Strip to destroy what the army said was a tunnel dug by Hamas, killing six Hamas militants. Sara Roy, writing in the London Review of Books, contends this attack was "no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June."

The Israeli breach into Gaza was immediately followed by a further provocation by Israel on November 5, when the Israeli government hermetically sealed off all ways into and out of Gaza. As a result, the UN reports that the amount of imports entering Gaza has been "severely reduced to an average of 16 truckloads per day – down from 123 truckloads per day in October and 475 trucks per day in May 2007 – before the Hamas takeover." These limited shipments provide only a fraction of the supplies needed to sustain 1.5 million starving Palestinians.

In response, Hamas predictably claimed that Israel had violated the truce and allowed Islamic Jihad to launch a round of rocket attacks on Israel.

I keep wondering when we're going to see this part of the story in the MSM.

Or even in the Delaware blogosphere, anywhere except here and Delaware Watch.

I'm thinking about holding my breath while I wait.

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