"They even killed the cats!"

Some 50,000 Palestinians have been left homeless by the Israeli war on the people of Gaza, with 400,000 now lacking access to running water. Rebuilding what the Israeli military destroyed will cost billions of dollars.
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Ashraf Khalil of the LAT reports that the Israelis destroyed 21,000 buildings. Khalil writes from the scene:

‘ In the village of Fukhari, outside Khan Yunis, it seemed as if a powerful earthquake had struck, flattening a collection of 15 homes belonging to a single extended family, a swath of destruction the size of a city block. Israeli tanks and bulldozers rolled through this agricultural patch last week, destroying every building in sight. . . “They even killed the chickens and the turkeys!” shouted Faour Atteya, a 50-year-old high school teacher. “They killed the cats!”‘

Aljazeera English reports on innocent civilian families buried in the rubble of farmhouses and other buildings demolished by Israeli air strikes.

Saudi Arabia pledged $1 bn. toward rebuilding Gaza at the Arab summit in Kuwait. This aid will likely be the main source of reconstruction, since Europe and the US refuse to deal with the Hamas government of Gaza, which the Israelis failed to dislodge. It should be pointed out that Saudi money will likely come with some strings attached, and may be disbursed in such a way as to try to spread the rigid Wahhabi branch of Islam. The Palestinians are the most secular people in the Arab world, but Israeli actions are pushing them into the arms of the conservative Gulf states. I don’t think the Israelis will like the outcome down the road very much. But they seem to be unable to foresee the likely consequences of their actions. They invaded and occupied southern Lebanon in 1982, and seemed surprised when that occupation turned the Shiites against them and produced Hizbullah. They encouraged Hamas as an alternative to the secular Fatah in the late 1980s, and now seem surprised that Hamas overshadows Fatah.

The Israelis’ brutal murder of hundreds of innocent Gazans, and wounding of thousands of women and children, in the war they just concluded will rebound on them in some horrible way. The campaign likely has already probably ensured the reelection in Iran of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had faced a tough campaign this June. Likewise, the war much weakened the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah party of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, because the Palestinian public perceived it to be implicated in the attack on Gaza. The US and Israel won’t talk to Hamas, and if Fatah has been discredited with the Palestinians, then the Iraelis really have no one to talk too. That may suit them now, but timeis not on Israel’s side.

I recommend to both sides Leo Tolstoy’s short story, “A Lost Opportunity.”

Anyway, it seems obvious that Hamas’s control of Gaza has not been destroyed, if that was the goal of the Israeli leadership, since Hamas’s security men reemerged on Monday to combat looting and gouging among the survivors.

Stephen Walt points out at his new blog that the Israelis think they got deterrence with regard to Hamas because the operation restored their own confidence. But you only get deterrence if you break the will of the enemy, which manifestly did not happen.

If the point was to stop the rockets being fired by Hamas, the ceasefire of last June did that, despite Olmert’s propaganda to the contrary, and a further ceasefire could have been arranged. If the point was to destroy Hamas, well, they didn’t accomplish that.

Palestinian-Israelis, about 20% of the Israeli population, were deeply traumatized by the Gaza war and the government’s repression of dissent. By 2030, a third of Israel will be Arab, and social peace inside the country is increasingly threatened by the Iron Wall tactics of the right-Zionist leadership. Some Israelis, such as Avigdor Lieberman, dream of making Israel Arabrein, but that might not be so easy to accomplish without significant negative consequences.

Israeli troops seemed to be withdrawing from Gaza with some speed on Monday.

Only 41 percent of Israelis thought that the war was a success, apparently convinced that the government of Ehud Olmert could have done more to completely wipe out Hamas.

Mark Levine asks, “Who will save the Palestinians?”

Tomdispatch.com has been doing good work intracing military influence on civilian society in the US.


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