By Gilad Atzmon
Earlier today, just a few hours before the ceasefire collapsed, sources in Jerusalem have disclosed that Israel and the US have agreed to gradually lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, starting with the land crossings and eventually opening up sea traffic. Hamas, so it seemed, has achieved all of its objectives in the latest round of violence. With sparse resources, limited fire power and obsolete ballistic technology, Hamas managed to bring Israel to its knees.
Plainly, the war was unwinnable for the IDF. Israel invaded the Gaza strip without establishing its own military objectives. The Israeli Government sent its soldiers into the streets of Gaza without understanding its own military, political or diplomatic aims. Both the IDF and the Israeli government were attempting to appease Israeli popular demand for revenge. The Israeli people felt humiliated by the Palestinian rockets. These largely harmless homemade rockets interfered with Israeli escapist philosophy. The rockets’ flare reminded Israelis that there are another people who claim the land, and this people, the Palestinians, are named after the land. Once again polls confirmed that Israelis were bloodthirsty, they wanted to wipe out the Palestinians for good, and the populist Netanyahu government rushed to deliver.
But here is a little surprise; Haaretz reported today that Netanyahu tried to hide the Egyptian cease-fire proposal from his cabinet. His deceit came about because Netanyahu understood that the Egyptian draft represented a total defeat for the Israelis. Israel could have lifted the blockade on Gaza and let the Palestinians have a seaport and an airfield without dragging the region into another war. Netanyahu could have ‘freed’ the Gazans without perpetrating another set of colossal crimes against humanity.
Netanyahu’s behaviour was predictable, as was the scale of the devastation perpetrated by the Israelis and their military elite. Hamas managed to pull Israel into Gaza knowing that the IDF would commit monstrous war crimes. Hamas was correct, the level of destruction in Gaza suggests that Israel was using artillery against a civilian population: intentionally killing indiscriminately.
The Israeli Hannibal protocol - a procedure that gives Israeli commanders a directive to risk the life of a captured soldier to stop his abduction, helped create the template for such murderous conditions as Haaretz confirmed a week ago The efforts to stop the capture of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin with the deployment of the Hannibal protocol led to the death of 130 - 150 innocent civilians. Haaretz admitted, “these are likely to be a major focus of international agencies trying to determine if the Israel Defense Forces acted appropriately during its four-week Gaza offensive.”
Yesterday the Guardian, hardly a unbiased media outlet, reported that the “Hague court is under western pressure not to open [a] Gaza war crimes inquiry.” The picture was a little clearer this morning. Netanyahu was given a clear choice by the US – move forward and lift the blockade or end up in the Hague together with your cabinet and your most dedicated soldiers. The latter option would have grave consequences for Israel. It would essentially dissolve Israel’s military force since no Israeli commander would be willing to participate in combat any longer.
Netanyahu was clearly correct in assessing the risk posed by the Hague court. He was pretty much stuck in limbo. In the afternoon it became clear that Israel’s cabinet cannot follow the Egyptian ceasefire draft, it preferred a new round of violence, once again without setting military or political objectives. It has become clear that even God cannot rescue his favorite people.