Friday, January 16, 2009

Groundhog day

If you're starting to have that feeling of déjà vu all over again, well, welcome to the club. As Omri at Mere Rhetoric has so aptly put it:

... [N]ow Israel is getting tangled in international agreements and stuttering ceasefires. Today there was that anti-smuggling understanding with the US that won't work. And tomorrow Israel's cabinet will probably wrap up the whole thing by declaring a unilateral ceasefire. Why unilateral? Because Hamas has made it clear that they won't stop their attacks on Israelis.

(Click through for the links.)

Let's review.

In August of 2005, Israel pulled every last soldier out of Gaza, dismantled some twenty-one thriving communities, uprooted several thousands of its citizens (most of whom still remain without livelihood or permanent housing), and subsequently sold 3,200 extremely productive greenhouses to private donors with the intent of turning them over to the Palestinian Authority.

By the end of that year, the greenhouses had been destroyed and cannibalized for weapons parts. The rocket attacks from Gaza into nearby Israeli civilian communities, which had steadily increased since they began in 2001, had not only failed to abate but had escalated. Israel suffered more than five times the number of rocket hits in 2006 that it had in 2005.

In January, 2006, Hamas won a stunning victory in the palestinian parliamentary elections. And in June, 2007, Hamas tossed the "moderate" President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party out of Gaza in a violent and bloody coup backed by Iran.

And all the while, the rocket attacks continued to increase, in volume and in range, and the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza from Egypt continued to surge. By the end of 2008, rockets had been successfully launched into Ashdod and Beersheva.

The international aid that has been pouring into Gaza has been appropriated by the Hamas to buy weapons. Fuel has been diverted from civilian to military use. And with all of the military build-up, bomb shelters have not been built. In fact, infrastructure projects are non-existent. And still, the alleged "humanitarian crisis," ever on the brink of destroying life in Gaza, has been exposed as a fraud.

Hamas terrorists direct women and children to sites (some of them apartment buildings, schools and mosques, all of them loaded to the gills with explosives or serving as bases of attack on Israeli soldiers) that Israel has announced, in an effort to reduce civilian casualties, they are going to bomb. Directs them to these sites rather than evacuating them from these sites. Hamas terrorists cower in underground bunkers built as humanitarian projects by Israel during the dreaded "occupation" while they send their people out to act as human shields and media bait.

The story goes on. And on. And on. Who is committing the war crimes here? Who is deliberately targeting civilians and who is making every effort to avoid civilian casualties? How in this day and age can an event happening right under our eyes be so distorted and twisted by the media, the basic facts ignored by so many among the consuming public?

And after all of it, the eight years of forebearance, the tremendous cost, in so many ways, of launching such an offensive, once again it appears that Israel is ready to leave the job undone. Condi Rice and Tzipi Livni have, after all, signed an agreement.

While we're on the subject of U.S. brokered agreements, let's not forget this:

In the aftermath of the Gaza disengagement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brokered the Rafah Crossing Agreement on November 15, 2005, to regulate the Gaza-Egyptian Border. The agreement provided for third-party monitors who were supplied by the European Union. The European monitors did not succeed in halting the flow of weapons or cash to the terrorist organizations. Moreover, as the security situation in the Gaza Strip deteriorated in 2006 and 2007, the EU monitors repeatedly withdrew from the border crossing area. In addition, Egypt has been completely unhelpful in the Rafah border area; Cairo even allowed Hamas operatives to leave Gaza in transit to Tehran, where they were trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) before returning to Gaza.

Let's not forget the terms under which Israel agreed to a ceasefire in Lebanon in 1982. And again in 2006. How's that working out for them?

Since Hamas will agree to nothing, Israel's cabinet is now set to deliberate a unilateral ceasefire.

Uniteral actions, like Barak's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, have not been a resounding success.

I'm out of time and sometimes I feel like I'm running out of hope.

Shabbat Shalom.