Another wasted opportunity: Back to business as usual between Israel and Gaza


Three days after it started, the ceasefire between the Israeli military and Hamas terrorists (one might describe both sides as terrorists in this instance) ended with the resumption of rocket attacks by what the BBC describes as “Palestinian militants”.

Hamas said it had resumed the rocket attacks because Israel had failed to meet its demands.

This raises several issues.

Firstly, is Hamas saying that it wanted Israel to capitulate completely to every demand made by the Palestinians? That was never going to happen because Hamas is not in a position of power. If Israel wanted, it could pound the entire Gaza Strip into rubble and defy the rest of the world to do anything about it. Both sides seem determined to be unreasonable about what negotiation can achieve, and cavalier about the fate of their own civilians while hostilities continue.

Secondly, Hamas is stupid to risk losing international sympathy by sending rockets towards Israeli civilians. With 1,890 Palestinians dead, against only 50 Israelis, many onlookers have seen this as a ‘David and Goliath’ contest, with plucky Muslims utterly outmatched by their Jewish neighbours – but these attacks suggest that it is a false interpretation; we are watching two equally vicious politically-motivated opponents acting in their own interests, without a moment’s thought for the collateral damage.

Thirdly, a saying has been doing the rounds, here on the Net, for some time now. It contends that a definition of madness might be the belief that doing the same thing repeatedly will yield different results. By this definition, the leaders of Hamas must be mad. With Israel reacting in typical manner, their leaders must be equally unhinged.

Israel has refused to negotiate while Hamas is firing upon its citizens, and that very violence is a good reason to refuse other Palestinian demands, such as the release of prisoners (to add to the violence?) and lifting the blockade of Gaza (to allow terrorists access to more deadly weapons?) – but of course this makes Israel appear the overbearing bully in this situation.

Let’s be honest – it was futile to expect a three-day ceasefire to resolve the situation. The more one examines it, the more reminiscent it becomes of the Irish Question. Peace in Northern Ireland was gained over a period of around 10 years – and remains fragile to this day. Even now it must be defended, to prevent either side from returning to the old ways.

For peace efforts to have any chance of success, talks must be overseen by an impartial mediator, with no interest – either moral or financial – in either side.

And that means the UK is ruled out of the process straight away.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Stephen Paul Tamblin August 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Of course conservative woint get involved in Israel because thay and usa sell guns and missiles yet children are killed camoron and Obama are murders have them up for warcrimes

  2. Gordon Powrie August 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    I would say that the problem is finding an arbitrator who is a) tough, on BOTH sides and b) impartial

  3. John August 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Based on your article and the initial comments above, I am disappointed and surprised to see you have all been taken in so completely by Israeli hasbara propaganda.
    Hamas has wide support among Gazans, just as the freedom fighters in Warsaw did when they rose up against Nazi oppression in August 1944 – 70 years ago.
    While the Polish Underground fought the Nazis in Warsaw, the Red Army simply sat on the outskirts of the city, allowing the Nazis to defeat the Poles and to wreck their capital city completely. Ring any contemporary bells?
    Substitute the US, UK, EU and any other similarly-minded entities for the Red Army and the Israel military for the Nazis, and you have an almost mirror image of today’s reality.
    The Israeli National Judaism – virtually identical to National Socialism – is intent on the complete destruction of the Palestinians – and always has been since the 1947 Nakba.
    They are achieving the same outcome in slow motion and with the complicity of quislings Abu Mazen and the Palestine Authority, Al-Sisi and Egypt, Obama and the US Congress.
    People – including apparently intelligent people – talk as though there is some sort of equivalence between the murderous forces of National Judaism and the minor fighting resources available to Hamas and others in Haza – which is utterly ridiculous.
    The reason the conflict continues is because Hamas and all those living in Gaza know and realise that Israel is intent on their utter extinction.
    Read what some of the Israeli politicians have been saying recently – such as the Knesset deputy speaker and the MK woman who is a former Chief of Netanyahu’s Office.
    Hamas and the Gazans are literally fighting with their backs to the wall and are vastly outgunned by Israel’s Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. They know that – of course they do.
    If Hamas and the Gazans agree to a restoration of the former status quo they leave themselves in a situation where they are being steadily starved to death in a few years.
    That is why they have resorted to continuing their largely fruitless rocket attacks, so that they can continue endeavouring to end the blockade of the borders of Gaza, including their sea borders, which are crucial to the development of billions of dollars worth of natural gas off their shore line, which Israel is trying to steal from them, with the added assistance of Tony Blair, British Gas and BP in this country.
    If you were in their position – much as Britain was in 1940, when it too stood alone – would you capitulate to National Judaism or would you fight on to eventual victory?

    • Mike Sivier August 9, 2014 at 12:58 am - Reply

      I don’t think I have been taken in by Israeli propaganda and on the basis of the article I wrote, I certainly don’t think much of your comment applies to it.
      I am not saying Israel is right to do what it is doing – and you must separate Israel (the state) from Judaism (the religion). This is a political matter.
      I am saying that Hamas is being unrealistic. Its demands would require Israel to allow Palestine the ability to import bigger weapons and escalate the bloodshed.
      The Muslim nations of the Middle East have never accepted the presence of Israel and it is their sworn intention to drive out what they see as the invader.
      Israel has the upper hand at the moment and has no reason to capitulate to any demand that could lead to its humiliation or eradication.
      The answer is mediated negotiation, to ensure that all parties (including civilians on both sides) have a chance to enjoy freedom and self-determination, and to discourage any recourse to bloodshed.
      There is no acceptable alternative, in my opinion.

      • John August 9, 2014 at 2:04 am - Reply

        Mike: you are being naive. Netanyahu and his assorted bunch of National Judaist thugs have no intention whatsoever of negotiating with Hamas or anyone else to achieve a peaceful resolution to the situation in Gaza, the West Bank, the whole of historic Palestine – or anywhere else. Why should he/they?
        First Britian and now the US have had their back on everything for so long that they now treat everyone else – including the US – with comtempot and impunity.
        Expecting reasonableness from Netanyahu’s gangsters is unrealistic.
        When ben Gurion ordered the implementation of Plan Dalit, one of his Haganah generals asked what they should do about the Palestinian civilian population.
        Ben Gurion said nothing – but swept his arm across his desk. The general understood.
        That is why half the Palestinian population in 1948 were either murdered or pushed out of historic Palestine. I repeat: HALF THE POPULATION.
        Many of the Palestinians living in Gaza are refugees or descendants of refugees from Plan Dalit. Further refugees and their descendants live principally in the West Bank or in adjoining countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
        The Zionists have a standing ambition: Eretz (Greater) Israel, which encompasses all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan – though others say their ambition is to occupy and control all the land between the River Nile in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Iraq. They have no declared boundaries. Why is that?
        They will not stop until they have either killed or expelled all Palestinians from areas within that greater set of boundaries.
        That is why the Gazans are fighting a fight to the death – not to defeat Israel (which is impossible, as it is the most powerful military force in the region) but simply to survive.
        The UN and the UK government have both stated that Gaza will be unliveable within 5 years. 90 per cent of the water is undrinkable. The Israelis are treating the Gazans in the same way as the Nazis allegedly treated people in their concentration camps.
        The Zionists have put the Gazans on a diet.
        By controlling minutely all food shipments into Gaza they keep them barely alive.
        How many fat Gazans do you see in news reports? Not many at all, I think you will see.
        That is because they are all on a gradual starvation diet, ruthlessly enforced by Israel.
        That is why the Gazans must continue their actions until they get the blockade lifted.
        They have no other real alternative. Either that or starve to death, as Israel wants.
        In their situation, what would you do?

        • Mike Sivier August 9, 2014 at 11:35 am - Reply

          None of what you say here has the slightest bearing on the assertions I made in my article.
          Both Israel and Palestine will stay at each other’s throats until a peaceful solution is achieved, and that cannot happen without a successful third-party mediator.
          Your historical comments refer to actions by political and military leaders against civilian populations and does not mention the unremitting hostility of the Muslim world against Israel from the moment that state was created. You are blinkering yourself by refusing to see a huge part of the story.
          But I repeat: This is a squabble between political organisations over land, in which neither side cares about its civilian population. Religion has nothing to do with it.
          In their situation, I would go to the negotiating table and hammer out a deal using reason. It is the only way forward.
          Hamas will never get its blockade lifted by terrorism.

          • John August 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm

            I had previously thought you were just naive but your last sentence betrays the fact that you have been successfully mind-washed by National Judaist hasbara propaganda.
            That really is a shame.
            ‘the unremitting hostility of the Muslim world against Israel from the moment that state was created.’? They have been hostile to the imposition of a Western colonialist project on their land, involving the mass murder and expulsion of HALF the Palestinian population from historic Palestine. It is astonishing that you are prepared to be so sanguine about such war crimes.
            The Muslim world may have been hostile towards the illegal imposition of “Israel” by the West on Palestine but it is “Israel” which has routinely invaded and occupied the land of other countries and peoples – not the Muslim world.
            The death toll and misery caused by “Israel” is by now almost incalculable.
            They have invaded and stolen land from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and massively repressed people in the West Bank and Gaza, with a death toll currently on the verge of 2,000 and people wounded and maimed in the region of 10,000. Something like a quarter of their victims are children, with more thsan 95 per cent being innocent civilans.
            And you think “Israel” deserves sympathy?
            You don’t really believe ‘Religion has nothing to do with it.’ – do you?
            Just read some of the speeches of the ultra-orthodox rabbis in “Israel”.
            Go to Masada – as I did last year – and see how IOF soldiers are inducted into the Army.
            True, it is a cultural link but rabbis are now attached to all army units of any size.
            They act as religious commisars to the soldiers.
            It is not unusual to see soldiers donning religious garments while alongside their tanks.
            They paint religious slogans on to the shells they fire into the Gaza concentration camp.
            And you still ‘religion has nothing to do with it’?
            You need to update yourself on what is going on inside “Israel” when members of the Knesset, including the deputy speaker and a former Chief of Netanyahu’s Office openly call for total ethic cleansing the mass murder and/or expulsion of Palestinians.
            I’d like to see you take on the role of negotiating with them and others in the government.
            Following the well worn hasbara propaganda line, you accuse Hamas of terrorism.
            They – and the people of Gaza and Palestine – are not the terrorists.
            It is “Israel” which is a terrorist state; it was founded on terror and it sustains itself through terror. Remember Sabra and Shatilla? What was that, if it was not terrorism?

          • Mike Sivier August 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm

            I think it’s pretty clear which of us has been brainwashed. We’ll let other readers make up their own minds now.

          • John August 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm
          • Mike Sivier August 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

            I’ll bookmark it along with all the other relevant sites.

      • Catherine Cooper August 9, 2014 at 9:14 am - Reply

        Thank you Mike, for this excellent, unbiased, appraisal of the Gaza and Israel problem. It is very obvious what the problems are, but a very large number of people refuse to look at both sides of the problem and blame Israel for everything. I totally agree that it needs a neutral person/organisation to sort this mess out and a strong UN force to protect both civilian sides.

        • Mike Sivier August 9, 2014 at 11:03 am - Reply

          On the contrary – thank you for the praise. I was trying to present an impartial view, and I’m glad that at least one reader saw it as such.
          When I get comments from people like John it can become hard to tell whether I achieved my intention or not.

  4. amnesiaclinic August 9, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

    A proper arms embargo on Israel and remove Tony Blair. Take Israel to the ICC and if necessary Hamas as well. Then proper and robust impartial peace negotiations which will be very hard but in the end the religious element is causing much of the problem. It is not political – it’s religious and surely everyone needs religious freedom and the freedom to live in safety and security.
    If you look at the money Israel is throwing into Gaza to destroy lives and infrastructure and take that and rebuild and reconstruct the daily $500m would create paradise.
    Your religion is your business and no one else’s and should only be between consenting adults. Keep the children out of it and hey presto peace.
    Let’s all grow up.

    • Mike Sivier August 9, 2014 at 11:05 am - Reply

      I don’t agree that it’s about religion; it’s about grabbing land.
      If all those involved followed their respective religions to the letter, there would be no fighting.
      And please, all you anti-Muslims, don’t get started about “It says so in the Koran”.

  5. Phil August 10, 2014 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Totally agree with you, Mike, and I think John is deliberately ignoring much of what you actually wrote. It’s relief to read something on this subject that isn’t total hyperbole.

    • Mike Sivier August 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Cheers. While John is very clearly – and self-confessedly – on the Palestinian side here, he does still have worthwhile points to make, once you accept that they come from a certain point of view.

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