“Guernica in Gaza”


 “Gaza is the place with the highest population density in the world, which means that when you bomb from a height of ten thousand metres, you’ll inevitably butcher many civilians. You’re aware of it, you’re guilty as charged, it’s no error, no case of collateral damage.”

Vittorio Arrigoni

Journalist, Gaza.


On ideological grounds I’m not a supporter of Hamas, but like it or not, these are the people who the Palestinians chose to lead them. After all, Hamas has always been cleaner than Fatah (its main political rival) and had a much better record in respecting the democratic process in Palestine since its inception. And this democratic choice was the natural result of years of Israeli systematic  humiliations, harassment, disdain for whomsoever claims leadership, and of course political assassinations and state terror.


When in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even during the 80’s, most of Palestinian militants were secular and mostly fighting a “conventional” war of liberation (i.e. not targeting civilians, and avoiding terror tactics -except the exceptions-), Israel responded with the same brutality and pushed the Palestinians little by little to the extreme.


The tactic today is not much different from the past: brinkmanship, brutal creation of new realities on the ground, and, let us not forget, cynical usage of bombs for electoral purposes (a general election is due next February in Israel with the far right, Likud party leading in the polls; although one must always remember that in Israel almost everyone is indeed ‘far right’). Fascist tactics that, one might think, shouldn’t be permitted in our day and age.


And as Israel is –apparently– preparing for another ground invasion of Gaza, it’s important to remember, as Le Monde Diplomatique’s columnist Alain Gresh reminds us, and contrary to what most of the Western media utters ad-nauseum, why the six month cease-fire failed:


“The deal consisted, apart from the cease-fire itself, of an end to the blockade and a commitment from Egypt to open the Rafah passage. What happened was that, not only Israel violated the truce by attacking and killing numerous victims on November the 4th [the day Obama got elected incidentally,] but the passage points to Egypt were only partially reopened and the Blockade hardened. As a result, the population, mostly in favour of the accord in June, wants now a clarification: either the war, or the unconditional opening of the gateways to Egypt and an end to the permanent blackmail that Israel uses to starve the Gazan population.”


If peace is to be achieved one day, it has to be negotiated with the Palestinians through their representatives. Hamas is today the legitimate gate keeper. And Israel knows that. Hence the ongoing onslaught.


Here is what Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader said in Le Monde Diplomatique less that a week ago:


“Hamas and the Palestinian forces have offered a golden opportunity to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unfortunately this has been ignored by the Americans, Europeans and the Quartet. Our will [to end the conflict] has conflicted with the refusal of Israel that nobody dares to oppose. In the 2006 National Reconciliation document, that all the forces signed (except Islamic Jihad), we clearly stated our acceptance of a Palestinian state inside the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as a capital, free of settlements, and including the subject (mawdoo’) of the right of return. This is the common program of the Palestinian forces. Some want more others less[…] Arabs want something similar. The problem is in Israel. The U.S. play the role of a spectator in the negociations and they support Israel’s reluctance. The problem is therefore not Hamas, nor the Arab countries: it is Israel”




It sums it up really.

4 thoughts on ““Guernica in Gaza”

  1. The eminent political philosopher Michael Walzer has written the following:

    When Palestinian militants intentionally use civilian human shields to launch rocket attacks from civilian areas which intentially target other civilians, they are themselves responsible–and no one else is–for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire.

  2. Well prof Ethan, let us make an analogy here, never mind what “eminent political philosophers” say:

    In Europe hundreds of thousands of innocent people were parked by the Nazis in a ghetto in the city of Warsaw, Poland, for no other reason than they were Jews. Imagine the picture: innocent women, children and men living in the most miserable conditions. A terrible injustice. They were stripped of their properties, their fortunes, their belongings, their hopes, but they kept their dignity… and they fought back. They decided that if they were to die, at least they would have fought for their dignity; they would have fought for justice. And what was the reaction of the fascists then? They bombarded the hell out of the ghetto; they ruthlessly executed whole families, whole neighbourhoods because they refused to denounce the fellow Jew who was fighting for them.

    How come that the descendents of those same brave men and women ended up turning themselves into terrible oppressors.

    Surely prof Ethan you have some empathy (if not sympathy) with those women crying the death of their brave sons; surely somewhere in your heart you can feel the despair of a young man trapped in an open sky prison enable to escape, not allowed to hope, demonized by the whole world because he tries to fight back, to resist, and to keep his dignity.

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Morocco: “We Are All Gaza”

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