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Tragedy in Gaza


Yesterday, members of the Ralia family enjoying themselves on a Gaza beach were killed by an explosion. Palestinians -- and most of the world-- blame Israel for the explosion, but Israeli authorities were unable to pinpoint the source of the fire. Israelis claim Palestinians are not providing accurate information that would allow verification of the source. Israelis claim the IDF was not firing in the area at the time, though the explosion might have been caused by a stray artillery shell.

However, it was caused, the tragedy underlines the major weak point of all the grandiose peace plans and roadmaps and Prisoners documents: they are not related to reality. Reality is the problem that dogged the Oslo peace process as well. As we should have learned from the Oslo process, Peace is not a piece of paper.

Mahmoud Abbas is going to press ahead with the referendum on the Prisoners' Document regardless of the "massacre." The Israeli government likewise will enter into negotiations while the Qassam rockets continue to issue forth from Gaza with increasing regularity.

In the reality of Gaza, the tragedy of the Ralia family, and the bigger tragedies that will happen, were a debacle waiting to happen. It was set up and scripted. The unending rocket fire on Israeli settlements required a response, but the IDF has proven powerless to stop it, short of invading Gaza, a "solution" which would entail more violence. Instead of taking effective action which was impossible, IDF resorted to artillery shelling, which either had no effect, or killed civilians as in this case. The complicity of the Hamas-led PNA government in the rocket fire was brought home when Israel attacked a rocket launching site and killed the Jamal Samahadna chief of the Hamas "security" force who was there, overseeing the launching of the rockets. The Hamas, in turn, can claim that their "resistance" is due to the continuing Israeli blockade of Gaza, which in turn, Israelis blame on the need to prevent arms smuggling. It is beside the point to describe a "vicious cycle of violence." It is not a chance set of acts and reprisals, but rather a carefully orchestrated script.

Against the background of this reality, negotiations and peace processes are an absurdity that cannot gain the support of either the Palestinian or Israeli people. At another level, the proposals bandied about by the Palestinians and the Israelis are unreal as well. They are not peace proposals, but rather part of the adversarial script, just as much as the violence. In large part they are generated in response to internal conflicts and political problems, without even intending to satisfy the requirements of the other side.

On the Palestinian side, President Mahmoud Abbas has been built up to be a hero of peace for his advocacy of the Palestinian Prisoners' Document, which is opposed by the Hamas. The reality is that this document represents a serious regression, rather than a peace proposal. Ehud Olmert has pointed out that the Prisoners' Document calls for right of return of refugees, and asserts the right of "resistance," (continued violence) in violation of the conditions of the road map.

On the other hand, Ehud Olmert's "convergence" proposals, viewed by Israeli hawks as dangerous concessions, are viewed as a land grab by Palestinians. Even in negotiations, Olmert is not going to offer Palestinians what they were offered by Ehud Barak and US President Clinton in 2001. Both sides have therefore retreated from previous positions, and are trying to market unacceptable maximalist positions as "peace proposals." The "peace proposal" of the Palestinians to the Israelis is "Why don't you commit suicide by accepting a few million Palestinian Arab refugees, and why don't you accept our right to continue killing you?" The "peace proposal of the Israelis to the Palestinians is "Why don't you commit suicide by accepting Israeli annexation of large areas of the West Bank?" Not surprisingly, national suicide is not popular on either side.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000473.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 4 comments

And lets say it is our fault.
I’m not saying it is, the jury is still out, but for the purpose of argument let us say it is.
Since the first qassams fell after the disengagement, Israel had rained hundreds of artillery shells on their lunching areas in northern Gaza. Artillery is a weapon that at its most harm can decimate tanks columns and infantry divisions, the havoc it can place on the civilian population is horrific, anyone who saw the images from Grozny knows that.
As horrific as the images from the Gaza coast are, there are barely an ounce of the harm artillery can do.

Which raises a simple though unpopular question, how can one of the most destructive weapons in the conventional arsenal, can cause harm so far below its designated capabilities.

There is only one answer for that, one and one alone: Only a meticulous, persistent effort by the users of this weapon can keep the enemy casualties this low.

Posted by Dvar Dea @ 06/11/2006 09:20 AM CST

i agree with every thing you said except the coment on the peace proposal from the israelies to the palistians- the anexation of land the israelies are suggesting, are they really so large? the area of the west banK is almost as big as all of israel, i though the isrealies were mainly interested in the large settelments near jerusalem.

Posted by bracha @ 06/12/2006 05:16 AM CST

Bracha, the West Bank isn't nearly as big as Israel. Have you looked at a map?

Posted by Spike @ 06/13/2006 07:44 PM CST

Ami, your analysis seems to me to be absolutely right. I have been called defeatist, pessimistic and so on for offering similar thoughts. But I agree with you; what you describe is the reality. So what should our leaders do given this inevitable and endless conflict. If it is a daydream to think about the conflict ending then the conflict should be managed. Sanctions against aggressors is one route that could be explored. Strict control of arms sales to both sides is another. Alas I fear that the vested intersts in the arms trade will not like that one. Any suggestions on how to limit and moderate the damage caused by the conflict which we agree is unstoppable?

Posted by Clear Eyes @ 09/06/2006 12:02 AM CST

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