Thursday, May 17, 2007

Airstrikes in Gaza

Here we go again. Hamas and Fatah, trying to draw Israel into their internecine bloodfest, let loose a big barrage of Qassam rockets and hit a high school in the Negev. Now the IDF has responded, and according to the latest news reports, airstrikes are underway inside the Gaza strip. Hamas has vowed to send new suicide squads across the border to wreak vengeance. Israelity bites.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Idiotic Calculus in Gaza
Le Monde |

Thursday 17 May 2007

Have the Palestinians decided to self-destruct? The reprise of fratricidal battles in Gaza since May 11, their growing intensity and their ever-heavier death toll once again weaken the Palestinian cause as it drowns in Palestinian blood. Struggling for power, the two principal Palestinian movements - Fatah and Hamas - have launched into hand-to-hand infighting from which they know neither can emerge victorious. It is doubtful Fatah can succeed in crushing its rival. It is just as unlikely that the Islamists can definitively eradicate the nationalists, including in the West Bank. One could settle for deploring this nihilism were this purely a Palestinian affair. But it's far from that, even though the Palestinians' responsibility for the situation is not the least.

It's not surprising that the troubles are concentrated in Gaza. For years, warnings have been discharged, notably by the World Bank, report after report, about the powder keg that this narrow band of overpopulated and totally asphyxiated land constitutes. Never has life been as denuded of meaning. The illusion of unilateral Israeli withdrawal that assured Ariel Sharon an advantageous posture is today dispelled.

Under siege, impoverished and isolated, Gaza no longer manufactures anything but extremism and folly. On top of that, one must add irresponsible international diplomacy, which in recent months has methodically broken down what it had previously constructed: the Palestinian Authority. And from the moment when some of its institutions - the government and the legislative Council - had fallen under the control of Hamas following the most democratic elections the Americans ever dreamed of in the Near East.

Boycotted, the Palestinian Islamists - after standing their ground on positions incompatible with a possible peace process - took the first step under pressure from the Saudis. The Mecca Agreement, from which a coalition government with Fatah laboriously emerged as well as the relaunching of the Arab initiative - which links normalization with Israel to the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders - would have allowed an exit from a deadly impasse. Israel and the United States, which openly hope that Fatah would eliminate Hamas, have decided differently. The Europeans, as happens all too often, hesitate.

Settlement of the Palestinian question is deemed more problematic and more costly than its simple management, comprehensively controlled from a military perspective by Israel and absurdly financed by Arab and European countries. This calculus is undoubtedly coupled with the hope that the issue will disappear from international priorities in spite of its power and symbolic charge. That calculus and that wager are idiotic.