This is not the first time Israel had attacked the imprisoned people of Gaza, who cannot flee their bombs or bullets. Egypt has limited its response to offering safe passage via the Rafah crossing to wounded civilians in need of hospital treatment but not to terrified families seeking to flee the bombardment. For this our thanks are equally limited.
The current conflict is different from those which have gone before for the following reasons:
1: Hamas missiles have managed to reach as far as the Lod airport terminal in Tel Aviv for the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This resulted in sirens being sounded and the disruption of air traffic for ten minutes. In psychological terms, Hamas fired a warning to international airlines serving Israel and their passengers, as well as the Israeli population.
2: Anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli armoured vehicle near the border. Again, this points to an upgraded resistance force within Palestine, in terms of military hardware, and suggests that if a land invasion does indeed get underway – as Binyamin Netanyahu and his military commanders have threatened – the Israeli side will face unprecedented resistance and losses.
3: The political fall-out will work against the current Israeli regime. While morale among Arabs remains high, despite their suffering and losses, the opposite is true among Israelis. Polls show that support for the Meretz party, which opposes war and the settlement policy, has doubled in the last four days. Most political – and indeed, military – analysts suggest that Netanyahu would stand to lose most in this war, particularly if it develops into a ground invasion which almost half of all Israelis oppose.
4: Rockets were fired into Israel from South Lebanon. The possibility of facing threats from its borders as well as from within is sounding alarm bells with Israel. It is not yet clear which faction sent this message of support to the Palestinians.
Israeli military officials talk of a ‘long war’, and insist that they have money in their war chest and will not stop until they have spent it.
Netanyahu seeks to justify the deaths of so many innocent civilians by claiming that Hamas is using Gaza’s citizens as ‘human shields. How can this make the deaths of normal mothers and fathers, and worse of all, children, acceptable? Gaza is the most densely populated area on the planet. Should Hamas’s leaders stand in whatever open ground they can find, waving to Israeli war planes?
When an innocent Palestinian family did indeed step onto the roof of their home to signal that they were civilians, Israeli pilots – supposedly representative of ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ Western civilization – did not bat an eyelid, and with no feelings of mercy in their hearts, bombed the building and killed the entire family.
I have spent the past nights and days channel surfing between Palestinian, Arabic and foreign media outlets. I witness the growing number of Palestinian appeals to Arab ‘leaders’ for help, be it financial or military. So why isn’t it forthcoming? The West, and their Arab allies, are seeking to destroy the spirit of resistance and dignity.
Worse still, this is a common denominator between Israel’s leaders and the overwhelming majority of their Arab counterparts: how to eliminate the spirit of resistance and human rights values and principles as soon as possible. They want to be left unmolested in their pursuit of ‘normalization’, to enjoy the wealth in their possession and to establish joint economic projects, without being inconvenienced by memories of the Arab national struggle for justice for the Palestinians, let alone pan-Arab dignity and pride. These terms have been erased from most Arab dictionaries long ago.
Mushir Masri, the spokesman for Hamas, said in a television interview on Thursday night that the sole representative of the Palestinian people today is the long-range Qassam missile which made its way to the heart of Haifa.
For the umpteenth time we say that this battle is a battle of will and the winner will be the party with the most resilience, resistance, honour and truth… not the possessor of the most powerful weapons. The people of Gaza have shown time and time again, that they stand stronger and firmer than the Himalayas.
Abdel Bari Atwan is the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, the Arab world’s first Huffington Post-style digital news and opinion website. He is the former editor-in-chief of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi. http://www.raialyoum.com/