Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The big picture

Decapitation, massacres, destruction of holy shrines, destruction of mosques, destruction of churches, murder of opponents...Gaza?  No, Iraq, the Islamic Republic is in the process of consolidating its power in Mosul, the second largest city in what was Iraq.  Shia Muslims are being massacred, Christians have been given the option, convert to Islam or die (many choose to flee).   Syria, every day in fierce fighting about 1,000 civilians are killed since both sides show no consideration for civilians, neither the Syrian Army nor Hizbollah supporting the regime of Bashar Assad nor the Islamic militants of the al Nusrah Front.  
Meanwhile the eyes of the Western world are focussed on Gaza, where after 21 days of fighting, 50 Israelis and ca. 1000 Gazans have been killed.  Yes, it is a large number, but actually since the UN, based on Hamas figures, estimate that 75% were civilians and Israel esimates only 20% were civilians, if we take 40% to be civilians, since a majority of those killed were likely Hamas combatants, then that corresponds to ca. 400 civilians killed, which is a very small number given that the IDF has been attacking Gaza, a densely populated area, from ground, sea and air for three weeks.  I defy anyone to tell me that this is a huge number of non-combatants, even if you take 75% it certainly is very much less than the civilian casualties that the US caused in the Iraq war.  So instead of focusing on the poor Gazans, the world should be focusing on what is happening in Iraq, Syria and Libya, where the US was forced to close its Embassy due to a civil war.  In fact, the Gaza war is a side-show to the general breakdown of civil society and civilization in the whole Arab world.  That's what your news organizations should be telling you, and that is the story that they ignore in order to bring you pictures of children tragically killed in the Gaza conflict.  They are not showing you the important bigger picture. 
Note also that while Israel is blamed for all Gazan casualties - out of the ca. 2,400 missiles fired by Hamas into Israel during this conflict, at least 100 missiles fired from Gaza have landed within Gaza territory and have exploded there killing innocent Gaza civilians.   This has not been mentioned by the media, but is important given the incident Monday of an explosion in a Gaza City park that killed ca. 10 children.  While Hamas has of course attributed this to the IDF, the IDF have announced that they were not firing in that region and attribute the incident to a self-inflicted errant Hamas missile. 
Although the UN and everyone else was calling for an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, this was rejected by Hamas because it was based on the Egyptian proposal, that Israel had accepted.  But, instead on Monday Hamas went on the offensive, and fired dozens of missiles into Israel, sent a terrorist squad to infiltrate into Israel, but they were spotted just short of their civilian target at Nahal Oz and some were killed by the IDF, but 5 IDF soldiers were also killed.  Also, 4 IDF soldiers were killed in a mortar strike into Israel near the Gaza border.  These incidents caused the Israeli Cabinet to decide to continue the ground offensive into Gaza.
Another aspect of this issue is, why does Hamas seek a direct confrontation with Israel now, given that it will certainly be hit hard and there will be many civilian casualties?  According to the analysis of Jonathan Spyer of the IDC, whose work I greatly admire, Hamas and its main backer Qatar are forced to seek relevance due to the loss of Iran as a sponsor of Hamas, and the loss of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and their lack of support elsewhere in the Arab world.  He points out that the demonstrations in favor of Hamas in London and Paris have been far larger and more vociferous than those in any Arab capital.   In Cairo they are against Hamas, in Amman they couldn't care less, in Baghdad they have bigger fish to fry and in Damsacus, well there is hardly a city functioning there anyway.  But, the chief test is that there are no large-scale demonstartions in favor of Hamas in Ramallah, capital of the PA, and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories.  Ask the demonstrators in Paris, London, LA and elsewhere which Palestinians they support, those that support Hamas or the majority that are opposed to Hamas.  Hamas and their supporters in Qatar also greatly underestimate the strength of the IDF and the resilience of the Israeli people (see ) . 


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