So the blood of Palestinians has become a political capital in the hands of Israel. By the time you finish reading this piece probably more people have died in the State of Palestine as a result of Israel’s bombardment. The terror unleashed on Gaza, which already is under siege by Israel has diverted attention from another terror taking place in Syria. The question to be asked is why did Israel attack now, what will the Netanyahu government benefit by killing innocent civilians under the pretext that Hamas is firing rockets into Israel, ignoring the fact that the emergence of Hamas itself is a reaction to the occupation of Palestine by Israel? There are at least five possible reasons for the attack on Gaza.
The first is a political strategy to get Netanyahu re-elected in the January elections in Israel. Politicians in the so-called advanced democracies for a long time have been using war as a way to get voters attention. They use conflict to shift public opinion to issues of national security rather than economic well-being. Two examples are useful here. Before the 2004 presidential election, the American economy was showing signs of decline, which is not good for an incumbent, more especially one like George Bush who inherited a healthy economy from Bill Clinton. The war on Iraq, though already in the agenda of some neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld, was brought forward, linked to the war on terror, and Bush was re-elected. But it does not always work. Former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, used the attack on Libya and the ousting of Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast to improve his approval rating. The rest is history.
The second reason behind the attack is the reconstruction effort in Gaza. Since the 2008 assault on Gaza by Israel, there has been more sympathy for the people of Palestine. Of recent, there have been series of visits by foreign governments in order to reconstruct Gaza, the most recent being the visit by the Emir of Qatar who promised more investment and reconstruction. Much earlier than that, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has pledged, on behalf of the Arab governments, the sum of £1 billion dollars towards reconstruction in Gaza. Although the world will prefer to see more concrete steps towards ending the occupation from the Arab governments, at least the reconstruction can bring some relief to the people. The Turkish president was also on his way to provide additional support. But in whatever form support will come, Israel sees it as detrimental to its interest. As King Abdullah of Jordan stated in his recent autobiography, the ultimate aim of Israel is to expel all Palestinians and occupy the remaining areas in West Bank and Gaza, and suggest Jordan as the new country of Palestinians; this even by the standard of King Abdullah, one of the Arab leaders who believe in the myth of two states solution, is unacceptable and could result in war.
The third reason Israel unleashed terror on Gaza is the re-election of Barack Obama. Binyamin Netanyahu had openly supported the candidature of the Republican Party nominee, Mitt Romney, because of the doubts he has about Obama’s approach to the Palestinian issue, even though supporting Israel by American presidents is like an article of faith. But Israel still doesn’t like the approach of presidents like Obama and Jimmy Carter, who though pro-Israel, also believe that unquestionable support for Israel hurts American interest in the Middle East. As such, immediately after Obama’s re-election, Israel tied the hands of the American president by starting an aggression. So instead of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmud Abbas and Israel, effort will now be made towards stopping the aggression. And by the time Obama spend two years in office without conducive atmosphere for peace talks, he would have become weak, with the US again entering an election mood — first the midterm congressional election and then the presidential election. At election time, politicians normally withhold their plan on foreign policy due its implication on their campaigns.
The fourth reason for the attack on Gaza is that Israel wants to test the military capability of Hamas, and the real foreign policy position of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. The position of the Egyptian government is becoming clear now – the hands of Muhammad Mursi’s government are tied, and refusing to support the people of Gaza will cause outrage among Egyptians. Open confrontation with Israel will attract economic problems from western governments, particularly the aid from the US which has been used to blackmail Egypt, and Mursi has not been in power long enough to put Egypt on the path of economic independence.
The fifth reason for the latest attack is to link the response of Hamas with Iran, something the international media is already promoting. As reported by NewStatesman newspaper, on 16th November, BBC’s Today radio programme interviewed chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. At the end of the interview, unaware that he was still live on air, he was asked about the attack on Gaza, and he responded, “I think it’s got to do with Iran, actually”.