[Marxism] "The IDF is Hungry for War" and Washington hopes that spreading the war can save Iraq

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Jul 15 19:23:45 MDT 2006

One of the best articles I have seen on the Israeli aspect of the
events, particularly the role of the militry.  Of course, since retreat
is hard even with Hamas ready to negotiate a long-term cease-fire.
Hence the impulse to leap from this to achieving broader Israeli (and US
imperialist goals) in Lebanon and Iran.  If they have the crazy nerve to
do this, they will have transformed the Iraq war into a general war in
the Islamic region (don't forget Afghanistan and Pakistan).
Fred Feldman

Bastille Day Weekend Edition
July 14 / 17, 2006
The IDF is Hungry for War
What Are They Fighting For?


Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the
Israeli armyís war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst
Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack
months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of
destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army
initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a
senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling
of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Governmental authorization for action on
a larger scale was already given by 12 June, but it was postponed in the
wake of the global reverberation caused by the killing of civilians in
the air force b! ombing the next day. The abduction of the soldier
released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June with the
destruction of infrastructure in Gaza and the mass detention of the
Hamas leadership in the West Bank, which was also planned weeks in
advance. (1)

In Israeli discourse, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza when it
evacuated its settlers from the Strip, and the Palestiniansí behavior
therefore constitutes ingratitude. But there is nothing further from
reality than this description. In fact, as was already stipulated in the
Disengagement Plan, Gaza remained under complete Israeli military
control, operating from outside. Israel prevented any possibility of
economic independence for the Strip and from the very beginning, Israel
did not implement a single one of the clauses of the agreement on
border-crossings of November 2005. Israel simply substituted the
expensive occupation of Gaza with a cheap occupation, one which in
Israelís view exempts it from! the occupierís responsibility to maintain
the Strip, and from concern for the welfare and the lives of its million
and a half residents, as determined in the fourth Geneva convention.

Israel does not need this piece of land, one of the most densely
populated in the world, and lacking any natural resources. The problem
is that one cannot let Gaza free, if one wants to keep the West Bank. A
third of the occupied Palestinians live in the Gaza strip. If they are
given freedom, they would become the center of Palestinian struggle for
liberation, with free access to the Western and Arab world. To control
the West Bank, Israel needs full control Gaza. The new form of control
Israel has developed is turning the whole of the Strip into a prison
camp completely sealed from the world.

Besieged occupied people with nothing to hope for, and no alternative
means of political struggle, will always seek ways to fight their
oppressor. The imprisoned Gaza Palestinians found a way to disturb the
life of the Israelis in the vicinity of the Strip, ! by launching
home-made Qassam rockets across the Gaza wall against Israeli towns
bordering the Strip. These primitive rockets lack the precision to focus
on a target, and have rarely caused Israeli casualties; they do however
cause physical and psychological damage and seriously disturb life in
the targeted Israeli neighborhoods. In the eyes of many Palestinians,
the Qassams are a response to the war Israel has declared on them. As a
student from Gaza said to the New York Times, ìWhy should we be the only
ones who live in fear? With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too.
We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together.î (2)

The mightiest army in the Middle East has no military answer to these
home-made rockets. One answer that presents itself is what Hamas has
been proposing all along, and Haniyeh repeated this week - a
comprehensive cease-fire. Hamas has proven already that it can keep its
word. In the 17 months since it announced its! decision to abandon armed
struggle in favor of political struggle, an d declared a unilateral
cease-fire (ìtahdiyaî - calm), it did not participate in the launching
of Qassams, except under severe Israeli provocation, as happened in the
June escalation. However, Hamas remains committed to political struggle
against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In Israel`s view, the
Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time
they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian
interests rather than just collaborating with Israel`s demands.

Since ending the occupation is the one thing Israel is not willing to
consider, the option promoted by the army is breaking the Palestinians
by devastating brutal force. They should be starved, bombarded,
terrorized with sonic booms for months, until they understand that
rebelling is futile, and accepting prison life is their only hope for
staying alive. Their elected political system, institutions and police
should be destroyed. In Israel`s vision, Gaza should be r! uled by gangs
collaborating with the prison wards.

The Israeli army is hungry for war. It would not let concerns for
captive soldiers stand in its way. Since 2002 the army has argued that
an ìoperationî along the lines of ìDefensive Shieldî in Jenin was also
necessary in Gaza. Exactly a year ago, on 15 July (before the
Disengagement), the army concentrated forces on the border of the Strip
for an offensive of this scale on Gaza. But then the USA imposed a veto.
Rice arrived for an emergency visit that was described as acrimonious
and stormy, and the army was forced to back down (3). Now, the time has
finally came. With the Islamophobia of the American Administration at a
high point, it appears that the USA is prepared to authorize such an
operation, on condition that it not provoke a global outcry with
excessively-reported attacks on civilians.(4)

With the green light for the offensive given, the army`s only concern is
public image. Fishman reported this Tue! sday that the army is worried
that `what threatens to burry this huge military and diplomatic effort`
is reports of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hence, the army would
take care to let some food into Gaza. (5) From this perspective, it is
necessary to feed the Palestinians in Gaza so that it would be possible
to continue to kill them undisturbed.

Tanya Reinhart is a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and
the author of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 and The
Roadmap to Nowhere. She can be reached through her website:

*Parts of this article were translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall.

(1) Alex Fishman, Who is for the elimination of Hamas, Yediot Aharonot
Saturday Supplement, June 30, 2006. See also Alex Fishman, The
safety-catch released, Yediot Aharonot June 21, 2006 (Hebrew), Aluf
Benn, An operation with two goals, Ha`aretz, June 29 2006.

(2) Greg Myre, Rockets Create a `Balance of Fear` With Israel, Gaza
Residents Say. The New York Times, July 9, 2006.

(3) Steven Erlanger, ìU.S. Presses Israel to Smooth the Path to a
Palestinian Gazaî, New York Times, August 7 2005.
(4) For a detailed survey of the U.S. administration`s present stands,
see Ori Nir, U.S. Seen Backing Israeli Moves To Topple Hamas, The
Forward, July 7, 2006.

(5) Alex Fishman, Their food is finished, Yediot Aharonot, July 11,

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