Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'This round has already been won'

Hamas May Survive Offensive, Israel Says
Washington Post: Despite public vows by Israeli politicians to destroy Hamas' military capability, Israeli officials said Tuesday that the movement had lost only a fraction of its fighters and retained a large stockpile of rockets and other armaments. A 'few hundred' Hamas fighters have been killed, out of a total force of 15,000, according to a senior Israeli military official... 'We do not see where they have a shortage of personnel to fight.'

The National: The Conservative MP Sir Patrick Cormack: 'Many of us who have been in this House for a very long time and who have been proud to call ourselves friends of Israel now feel ashamed because Israel is not behaving as a civilised state...'

The Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman: 'May I ask what the international reaction would be if Hamas had slaughtered nearly 900 Israelis and subjected nearly 1.5 million Israelis to degradation and deprivation? Is it not an uncontrovertable fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass-murderers and war criminals -- [Interruption.] Yes. And they bring shame on the Jewish people whose star of David they use as a flag in Gaza...'

The MP Marsha Sing: 'The killing goes on. Is it not time for stronger action? Is it not time that we expelled the ambassador of Israel and brought our ambassador back from Israel? Is it not time that we called for international sanctions against Israel?'

Barak Ravid, Haaretz: A few days ago, I met a European ambassador stationed in Israel. The man, a great friend of Israel, launched an emotional monologue and spoke from the bottom of his heart... 'The international organizations in Gaza are talking about 200 dead children,' he said. 'I don't know how to explain these things to myself, never mind to my government.' ... 'Your action is brutal and you don't realize how much damage this is causing you in the world. This is not only short term. It's damage for years. Is this the Israel you want to be?' Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union Commissioner responsible for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, said to Peres: 'I am telling you, Mr. President, Israel's image in the world has been destroyed.'

Paul Woodward, War in Context: How many Palestinians do you need to kill in order to become prime minister of Israel?... Once the fighting stops the global media is eventually going to be let inside Gaza and the scale of devastation and carnage is not only going to be broadcast around the world but will also filter into Israel... For Israelis, the question: Is this a just war? (to which they have almost universally answered yes) will shift to: What have we accomplished? The rational goal -- the one adopted because it was felt that this is what could make this a 'winnable' war -- was deterrence... The government of Gaza now knows that Israel is willing to let loose without fear of causing huge civilian casualties or receiving international condemnation. Israel is no longer deterred from liberating the full force of its violent capabilities.

Haaretz: Senior defense establishment officials believe that Israel should strive to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas, and not expand its offensive in Gaza.

Alastair Crooke, Royal United Services Institute: When it does end, Israeli and American experts will point to the benchmarks of claimed success: militants killed, tunnels destroyed, homes levelled. But the fact of their strategic defeat will be lost within this torrent of pseudo-empiricism. Archetypal images in this region are more powerful than benchmarks: Gaza has become the Sunnis' 'Kerbala' (the battle at which Hussein was killed) and Hamas the new Hezbollah. This round has already been won.
Image: Tara Todras-whitehill/AP, Beersheba, via BAGnewsNotes