Sunday, January 04, 2009

End Game in the Gaza War? Part II

Part II. (Cross-linked with Informed Comment: Global Agenda)
by Augustus Richard Norton and Sara Roy

Go to Part I
In rhetoric reminiscent of the Israeli campaign in Lebanon in 2006, Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, have denied that the Palestinians of Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis. The evidence shows otherwise: as of January 2, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), “80% of the [Gazan] population cannot support themselves and are dependent on humanitarian assistance. This figure is increasing. According to the World Food Programme, the population is facing a food crisis [with] food shortages of flour, rice, sugar, dairy products, milk, canned foods and fresh meats. The imports entering are insufficient to support the population or to service infrastructure maintenance and repair needs. The health system is overwhelmed having been weakened by an 18-month blockade [and] utilities are barely functioning: the only electric power plant has shut down [leaving] some 250,000 people in central and northern Gaza [without any] electricity at all due to the damage to fifteen electricity transformers during the air strikes. The water system provides running water once every 5-7 days and the sanitation system cannot treat the sewage and is dumping 40 million liters of raw sewage into the sea daily. Fuel for heating . . . and cooking gas are no longer available in the market.”

Yet Livni, the Kadima party candidate for prime minister in the February elections, refers to the Israeli battle with Hamas as a struggle between moderates and extremists, and portrays the war as a chance to strike a blow against Islamist radicals in the Arab world, not least the venerable Muslim Brethren. She suggests that Israel is finding common purpose with “moderate” Arab regimes.

A recent Jerusalem Post article by veteran journalist Herb Keinon argues that Israel’s objective in Gaza is to undermine and delegitimize Islamist power by creating a state of chaos that will make it impossible for Hamas to rule, hence, the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure. This state of chaos will have the added benefit of weakening Iran’s influence. Other Israeli analysts have suggested that by devastating Gaza and Hamas, Israel may provoke an attack by Hezbollah or Iran, which would justify an Israeli counterattack.

Go part III

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