Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Hamas

A state engaging in an illegal occupation has no right of self-defense; it has an obligation to withdraw. A state enforcing an illegal blockade likewise has no right of self-defense, only an obligation to end its blockade. But Walzer ignores all this, wondering only how Hamas can be attacked without killing quite so many civilians.

[I]t is rather uncontroversial to conclude that for Israel the invasion of Gaza has essentially disrupted everyday life in the areas close to Gaza, but that for Palestinians in Gaza it has been experienced as devastation on an unprecedented scale. It will take years for Gaza to recover from the Israeli army’s material destruction, and even longer for Palestinians’ psychological scars, grief, and wounds to heal — if, that is, Israel allows them to live without bombs and invasions in the future.

The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after eight days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever.

In 2011, over 9,000 patients from Gaza received emergency care in Israeli hospitals. Many of the admitted were injured in Israeli attacks on the strip. The director of Physicians for Human Rights’ occupied Palestinian territories division and Khamis al-Essi, emergency physician at one of Gaza’s largest hospitals, talk about why Gaza’s healthcare system fails to treat the thousands of injured who are forced to seek treatment outside the strip.

The beauty lies in the way Israel divides the conflict with the Palestinians into separate battlefields to avoid a comprehensive diplomatic solution… [T]he results of the January 2006 elections in the territories brought Hamas to power and gave Israel the excuse to deprive the PA of its representation. The two parts of the Palestinian state became independent entities and by their own doing fulfilled Israel’s desire to apply the principle of divide and rule.

The academic Orientalists experts who sold the defense establishment the Shi’ites, and Hamas thereafter, “in order to stop the PLO,” failed in their understanding of the simplest matter: Occupation gives birth to opposition; opposition gives birth to death; death leads to more conflict, etc.

News that Israel and Hamas had reached agreement on a prisoner exchange instantaneously displaced the PLO bid for full UN membership from the headlines in mid-October. Arguably, Hamas and Israel had a common interest in this regard. More importantly, the Palestinian Islamists, no longer relegated to the margins of the Palestinian UN initiative by the rival leadership in Ramallah, can now resume reconciliation talks from a position of relative equality.

While hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and Gilad Shalit return home, hundreds others go into exile, and thousands remain jailed in Israel.

Some 203 prisoners from the West Bank will not return home: 40 will be exiled outside to other countries and the rest will be sent to Gaza, the official said.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Israel will release 1,027 prisoners in two stages. Within a week, 450 will be swapped for Shalit and the rest will be freed two months later. Twenty-seven women are among those on the release roster.

Hamas needs a blockade to regulate from within so that the subjects of “independent Gaza” will be exposed as little as possible to different realities and will not question its policies. Hamas needs the blockade and needs Gaza to be cut off from the rest of Palestinian society to ensure the continuation of its regime.

Following last week’s terror attack in which eight Israelis died on the Southern border with Egypt, the Israeli air force escalated its bombardment of Gaza. On Saturday, despite predictions that the cycle of violence would dissolve the rising social protest movement in Israel, thousands poured onto the streets and chanted “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Two terror attacks shook Israel on Thursday and Friday. By the weekend, eight Israelis were killed and nearly forty injured. Immediately after the attacks, the Israeli air force bombed many locations in Gaza. Nine were killed and nearly thirty injured. In an interview with The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky, Lt. Col. Avital Liebovitz admits the army does not connect the attack to the Popular Resistance Committee, whom the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames but that the army targeted and killed its leader anyway.

State Department announcement comes in light of Hamas demands to audit the books of US charities, New York Times reports, which would violate U.S. policy against direct contacts with Hamas.

Bilin’s popular resistance leader Muhammad al-Khatib: ‘I am not for one state or for two states. I am for equality. The principles of equality and human rights are global principles, and they are no less applicable here than elsewhere.’

Hamas spokesman: “The US administration will fail, just as all others have in the past, in forcing Hamas to recognize the occupation.”

Money aside, a PA crisis and/or collapse resulting from a boycott of the new Hamas-Fatah government could ultimately lead to further violence and chaos. This is what happened when the first Hamas-Fatah national unity government, formed under the Mecca Agreement in 2007, failed, after the decision by all the Quartet’s members but Russia to boycott and isolate it.

Palestine Studies TV speaks with Rashid Khalidi, professor at Columbia University and editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, on the Fata-Hamas reconciliation agreement.

Hamas did not die when the Israeli air force killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the paralyzed founder, ideologue and symbol of Hamas. As a martyr he was far more effective than as a living leader. His martyrdom attracted many new fighters to the cause. Killing a person does not kill an idea.

On April 28th, formerly rivaling Palestinian parties announced their intention to begin reconciliation and hold an election within one year. Hamas is in power in the Gaza strip and Fateh is the leading party in the Palestinian Authority, ruling the West Bank. Since 2006 the parties have fought each other, leading to hundreds of casualties and many failed attempts to reach reconciliation.