In unity, Palestinians say they are in it for the long haul and will not agree to ceasefire conditions that don’t include a lifting of Israel’s inhumane blockade of Gaza. President Abbas has now backed Hamas’ ceasefire demands. Al-Akhbar News:
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday endorsed demands by Hamas for halting Gaza hostilities with Israel, a closing of ranks … as the Palestinian death toll in the Israeli assault rose to 693.
The New York Times gets around to mentioning those demands a little bit late in its coverage, “In Israel, Kerry Sees ‘Work to Do’ to Get Deal on Cease-Fire:”
The aims of his visit seemed to be to get a better sense of the Israelis’ bottom line, to support the United Nations effort and to enhance the stature of Mr. Abbas, whose influence among Palestinians is being eclipsed by that of Hamas.
Mr. Abbas…early Wednesday appeared to have aligned himself more with Hamas, whose leaders have said they will not halt the hostilities until several demands are met. Those include opening crossings into Egypt and Israel, easing restrictions by Israel on farming, fishing, imports and exports, and releasing prisoners who were recently rearrested by Israel after having been freed in a 2011 exchange for a soldier Hamas held captive for five years.
“The demands of Gaza to end the aggression and lift the blockade are the demands of the entire Palestinian people,” said a statement read on Palestinian television by Yasser Abed Rabbo of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee.”
Kerry also said that the Egyptians have provided “a framework and a forum for [Hamas] to be able to come to the table to have a serious discussion together with other factions of the Palestinians.”
You’d think that Kerry had seen the folly of “frameworks” before this? Especially when Palestinians have set forth their terms, which are the opposite of Israeli conditions, rolled out by the compliant media as an “Egyptian framework.” But it was not an Egyptian proposal.
Even Richard Engel reported it on NBC last night: Palestinians are willing to undergo even more attacks if they will end their “prison” conditions in Gaza. The latest framework is yet another empty promise of what’s to come after Hamas complies to Israeli demands. And nothing comes of these empty promises except more of the same; it amounts to slow strangulation verses choosing to be annihilated now, in the view of many Palestinians.
So what does it mean when The New York Times reports that Kerry’s visit is “to get a better sense of the Israelis’ bottom line”? It means our State Department has likely gotten the message the Palestinians are not budging. It means it’s Israel’s turn to comply, something they are completely unfamiliar with. As I argued in my piece last week, Israel is in a pickle, All Israel knows how to do when it doesn’t get its way from Palestinian society is to inflict violence. And this time, all the killing is actually hurting it in the court of world opinion.
I’ve just been in Lebanon, and the Arab press says that Israeli intelligence is woefully lacking. That Israel doesn’t know where the weapons caches are, how many there are, what quality they are, or how to get to at them. They want missiles and rockets to stop flying over Israel but are unwilling to address the reasons they keep coming. They cannot face the fact that it was their own actions that started this war– abhorrence over Palestinian reconciliation and unity, followed by weeks of retribution and pogroms in the West Bank under a false pretense — and that they have violated earlier agreements with Hamas (re-arresting Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Shalit).
From the beginning of this savage operation weeks ago, analysts on Arab television said this time it was different. This time Israel was rudderless and lost. As the world witnesses carnage, Israel can’t stop until its needs are met and their extremists are calling to “exterminate the enemy”, to completely destroy Gaza if necessary.
For the most part the western press isn’t even mentioning the roadmap that everyone in the Arab world sees in Gaza: this time around, Hamas is using Hezbollah tactics. Those tunnels Israel keeps deploring? “Copying Hezbollah:”
The Lebanese Shiite militant group built its first prototype of an underground bunker in the mid-1980s, which can be seen today at its tourist museum in Mlita, Lebanon.
But it wasn’t until Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 that Hezbollah began building up an extensive system of underground bunkers and rocket launchers, with an estimated 1,000 facilities by the time of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. During the fighting, some massive underground networks were found, including one with air conditioning, a cafeteria, dorms, medical facilities, and 3-foot-thick cement ceilings – all built secretly in view of a United Nations outpost along Israel’s border…
Many Israeli analysts say that Hamas gleaned its tunnel-building expertise from Hezbollah, though it is unclear whether they traveled to Lebanon, hosted Hezbollah operatives in Gaza, or shared knowledge remotely.
The tunnels have allowed both militant organizations to build up their rocket capabilities and preserve an element of surprise in their attacks against Israel, though Hezbollah’s capabilities far outweigh those of Hamas.
Those tunnels mean that Israel becomes enmeshed:
Last fall, Israel discovered and destroyed a mile-long tunnel built more than 60 feet under the border over the course of about a year. An officer who formerly served in the IDF’s geology unit told the Times of Israel that it was professionally done and heavily reinforced with concrete. The fossilized sea shells and deeper water table in that part of Gaza make it more conducive to tunneling, the officer said.
“The decision to go in 1 to 2 kilometers (0.6 to 1.2 miles) is our decision. But once you’re in 1 to 2 kilometers and you stay there, you’re sitting there and you’ve become targets that you were not before,” says Col. Eisin, noting that the rocket fire that prompted Israel’s escalation is likely to continue. “Unless you physically conquer all of the Gaza Strip, which takes longer than a week … until the last day there will be firing of rockets.”
So what we’re seeing now is Israel’s attempts at “physically conquer[ing] all of the Gaza Strip.” Which amounts to the obliteration of one neighborhood after another. And that famed intel? It was reported in the Arab press that after the massacre in Shuja’iyeh, Israeli soldiers captured civilians for the purpose of extracting information from them where they might find the tunnels. No doubt this tactic is being used in Khan Younis. It suggests that Israel has been unable to extract helpful information from the thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.
None of this bodes well for the future. Again, as the world stands by witnessing the ongoing genocidal slaughter, the best advice for Israel is to end the blockade.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed complete Palestinian solidarity on this point. “No One will Enjoy Stability as long as Gaza Children Do not:”
It is time that we all raise our rightful voices in the face of Israel’s killing and destruction machine. Israeli forces have crossed all lines and broken all international laws and humanitarian values with the utmost brutality. We know we do not have planes or artillery tanks but what we have is stronger than this fire power and arrogance. We have the strength of righteousness and justice; we are the owners of this right that no force on earth can erase; it is a historical right baptized with heavy sacrifices. We have our unity and our resolve and so I call on all to rise above our differences at this difficult time and have national responsibility, stay away from narrow factionalism and realize that the main goal of this Israeli onslaught is to destroy our national cause and abort reconciliation.
We reiterate to our people that we are committed to national unity and ending the split and the national consensus government. We will go to the far side of the world to stop this onslaught and retake our legitimate rights. We will pursue those who commit war crimes against our people no matter how long it takes. These crimes will not go unpunished.
I repeat the importance of getting the Palestinian cause out of any tug-of-wars and to halt this policy of double standards because one drop of blood from a Palestinian child is more precious to us than anything in the world.
To our people in Gaza: your pain is our pain and the pain of the entire people and your suffering has dug a deep wound in our hearts. We have no words to explain what we are feeling. Your wounds are our wounds and our anger is huge. We will never forget nor forgive and our people will not kneel to anyone but God. No one in the world will enjoy stability and safety if this is not granted to the children of Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank and all of Palestine’s children.
Glory and eternity to our faithful martyrs. Right, justice and the Palestinian people’s will will emerge victorious. We will not be terrorized by killing nor destruction. We will rebuild what the aggression has destroyed and we will mend our wounds until our inevitable victory arrives and our flag waves over our capital Jerusalem at the Aqsa Mosque and the Holy Sepulcher.
“Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.”