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Deconstructing Israeli claims

This onslaught on Gaza was perpetuated in large part because of a sense of helplessness by Palestinian

Daoud Kuttab

Published: Updated:

Before the information revolution, it was a given that a victor writes history. In today’s world, with credible irrefutable information at your fingertips, how come so many people get it wrong? Media spin has gone into overdrive in justifying the Israeli onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza. A careful study of the facts and the reality is in order to set the record straight.

Israel and many of its allies in the world, including the U.S., say that the current military offensive on the 1.8 million Palestinians of Gaza is a mere “defensive act.” The Israelis repeatedly say that no country in the world would tolerate the barrage of rockets that are falling on its population.

Before dealing with the defense issue, it is critically important to note that Israel is no ordinary country. It is an occupying power that has for 47 years held a captive Palestinian population under its military control. Israel, which received its initial legitimacy by the U.N. in 1947, has refused to honor U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 that considered its occupation of Arab lands in 1967 to be unacceptable. Since then, Israel has also violated international law by moving its people into occupied territories, it has illegally confiscated Palestinian land and for seven years collectively punished the people of Gaza with what I feel is an immoral and illegal land and water siege.

Defensive nature

As to the defensive nature of the Israeli attack on Gaza, it is of extreme significance that Israel began the war on the Strip verbally and militarily when three Israelis disappeared in areas under Israeli military control in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Gaza-based Hamas leadership of being behind the kidnapping. In revenge against Hamas, Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinians, including elected parliamentarians, destroyed the homes of two Palestinians it suspects of being involved in the kidnapping/murder and acted against Gaza. The Israeli shelling of Gaza intensified after the discovery of the three killed Israelis.

War is ugly and truth is certainly the first casualty of war

Daoud Kuttab

Before the current war on Gaza began on July 8, my sources say that Israel had shelled the Strip for three days. It is true that Hamas, which had signed a 2012 tahdiya (truce), responded with unsophisticated rockets, but the fact remains that I feel that Israel began the current war and therefore can’t claim that it is a defensive war.

Israelis it seems consider their actions part of a “deterrence policy” that I feel is aimed to give as much pain as possible to their enemy in order to have the other side cease what they are doing.

If Israel’s heavy shelling by land, air and sea, and the response with rockets was not enough, it began what I see as a totally indefensible land invasion on July 17. It is documented that the death toll in Gaza topped 700 by July 24, meanwhile, 29 Israelis are believed to have been killed, with that number including 27 soldiers and two civilians.

What was so defensive about this land invasion? Israel said its tanks rolled in to destroy the tunnels. Yet, once Israeli troops were in, 27 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed compared to more than 700 Palestinian fatalities. Israelis respond that deaths were avoided because of their Iron Dome air defense system and shelters and not because Hamas fighters were not trying.

Myths?

Israelis also propagate various other notions that I see as myths: that Palestinians, trapped from all corners, are using their people as human shields and launching these high-reach, little-damage rockets from hospitals and schools. The very idea of Palestinians using their women and children as human shields I feel has a racist overtone to it. Gaza is a very crowded area and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s note on a hot microphone about the impossibility of “pinpoint[ing]” bombing is totally true. Amnesty International rapped Israel hard on the issue, citing laws of war that require armies to be extremely careful when bombing populated areas. Israel apologists counter that Hamas rockets are not precise. True, but the numbers don’t lie when you look at the number of Palestinian civilians killed versus two Israeli civilians.

War is ugly and truth is certainly the first casualty of war. But I feel that this war on Gaza, which began with a lie, has continued with Israelis and their apologists hoodwinking the world that they had little choice but to go into this war to protect their own people.

This onslaught on Gaza was perpetuated in large part because of a sense of helplessness by Palestinians who see no way out of the decades old conflict. The absence of a political horizon for Palestinians is the result of a conscious Israeli decision to scuttle the U.S.’ peace efforts. Kerry used the term “poof” to describe what happened when Israel failed to deliver its promises to Palestinians in April and decided to build more illegal settlements. Instead of militarily blitzing the densely populated Gaza Strip in an unnecessary war, Israel must realize that the only way to have permanent peace is to end the occupation and illegal settlement campaign and adhere to the international will that supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state that can live in security with the state of Israel based largely on the 1967 borders. Peace talks, not ceasefire efforts or political spin, will end this terrible cycle of violence.


This article was first published in The Jordan Times on July 24, 2014.

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Daoud Kuttab, an award winning Palestinian journalist who resides in Jerusalem and Amman. Mr. Kuttab is the director general of Community Media Network a media NGO that runs a radio station in Amman (al balad radio 92.4fm) a news website ammannet.net and a TV production operation in Palestine Penmedia (penmedia.ps) which is producing the Palestinian version of Sesame street. You can read his blogs on DaoudKuttab.com and find him on Twitter @DaoudKuttab.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.