I was most pleased to see Mr. Alex Stein here debunking Mondoweiss’ spurious attempts to absolve Hamas of responsibility for the current conflict. A browse over at Mondoweiss by me caught notice of another tidbit of revisionist history: An attempt by them to blame Israel and absolve Hamas of responsibility for the last Gaza War of 2008. Said Mondoweiss in “Israel’s History of Breaking Ceasefires”:
“2008 – In November, Israel violates a ceasefire with Hamas and other Gaza-based militant groups that has been in place since June, launching an operation that kills six Hamas members. Militant groups respond by launching rockets into southern Israel, which Israel shortly thereafter uses to justify Operation Cast Lead, its devastating military assault on Gaza beginning on December 27.”
And now, what really happened.
A six month lull/cease-fire established in June 2008 was disrupted on November 4, 2008 when Israeli troops crossed into the Gaza Strip near the town of Deir al-Balah and targeted a tunnel that Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence 250 meters away from the border and directly adjacent to an IDF border outpost, not unlike the one they used to snatch Gilad Shalit. Four Israeli soldiers were injured in the operation, two moderately and two lightly. One Hamas gunman was killed and they then launched a volley of mortars at Israel. An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. In response, Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel, one reaching the city of Ashkelon.
“This was a pinpoint operation intended to prevent an immediate threat,” the Israeli military said in a statement. “There is no intention to disrupt the cease-fire, rather the purpose of the operation was to remove an immediate and dangerous threat posted by the Hamas terror organization.”
According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report: “Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings” published in March 2010:
“November 5 marked the beginning of the second period of the lull’s deterioration. It began with an abduction attempt prevented on November 4, which was supposed to be carried out through a tunnel near the border fence (in the vicinity of Kissufim). The preventive action conducted by the IDF was based on intelligence which began accumulating towards late October 2008, about a tunnel built by Hamas for an abduction in the region near the Kissufim outpost.
The planned Hamas operation included the specific training of operatives for an offensive mission, and the nature of the training and the equipment indicated that Hamas was preparing for an abduction. At the same time, it was learned that the excavation of the tunnel was about to end and that Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives were conducting unusual activities. Reliable information in early November indicated the intention to activate the tunnel. As a result, Israel made the decision to launch a preemptive operation in the Gaza Strip to prevent the abduction attempt.
Based on intelligence, on the night of November 4 an IDF force operated about 300 meters inside the Gaza Strip to prevent the abduction. As the IDF attacked the tunnel, it became clear that Hamas had taken the possibility into consideration and booby-trapped both the house at the end of the tunnel and the tunnel entrance. IDF forces blew up the house and left the Gaza Strip following the operation. Six IDF soldiers were injured, two of them seriously; seven Hamas operatives were killed and several were injured.”
The tunnel skirmish of November 4, 2008 was then met by Hamas in the launching of some 193 rockets and mortars in November, and some 290 between December 1 and December 24, every one of them a war crime.
On November 8, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said to Al-Jazeera TV: “the lull is coming to an end and we will not renew that lull.” Khaled Mashaal, chief of the Hamas political bureau, said to Al Quds TV on December 14: “The lull was set for six months and it is ending on December 19. After December 19, the lull will come to an end and will not be renewed.”
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said to Al-Aqsa TV on December 17: “The lull will end on December 18, and I believe that it should not be renewed between the Palestinian factions and the Zionist occupation. And in light of this assessment of the lull and our consultations with the Palestinian factions, all of the Palestinians, both our people in the West Bank and Gaza, do not wish to extend this lull, which the Zionist occupier has converted to his benefit.” This was echoed by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida on the same day, who also (again) announced on the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website that the lull would not be renewed.
As a reward for this terrorist aggression, the Hamas regime now demanded the following terms for a renewal of the lull/cease-fire, which lapsed on December 18: a complete opening of all border crossings, an opening of the Rafah border with Egypt, and a ban on all IDF activity in Gaza. Hamas was thus now demanding a removal of all the restrictive measures and “IDF activity” that the terrorist actions they had previously committed, and were currently committing, had made absolutely necessary.
On December 24 Hamas launched “Operation Oil Stain” to the accompaniment of a 60 rocket and mortar volley. On December 25 Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said: “I am telling them now, it may be the last minute. I’m telling them stop it. We are stronger.” This was met with an attack of 5 rocket and 14 mortar attacks, and the next day there were 12 more. All efforts to constrain or contain the attacks being ineffective, on December 27 Israel commenced Operation Cast Lead, a three-week sustained military strike on Hamas’s terror infrastructure and rocket launching sites in an effort to thwart future attacks.
It has been asserted by many that Israel had planned to disrupt the ceasefire, and a Wikileaks memo of August 2008 is often cited by Andrew Sullivan and others as proof of this. It is certainly true that the operational details of Cast Lead had been prepared for many months in advance, that the IDF had also rehearsed and war-gamed the operation extensively, and that they had honed special tactics peculiar to the fighting they expected to encounter. However, the notion that Cast Lead was launched for any other reason but for Hamas’ aggression, is false.
Here is what the Wikileaks memo of August 2008 says in full:
“Regarding the Tahdiya, Hacham (MOD Arab Affairs Adviser David Hacham) said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas’ ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table. The Israelis reluctantly admit that the Tahdiya has served to further consolidate Hamas’ grip on Gaza, but it has brought a large measure of peace and quiet to Israeli communities near Gaza.”
The memo, read honestly, makes nonsense of any assertion that Cast Lead was launched for any other reason than self-defense. It had everything to do with Hamas rocket and mortar attacks (some 601 between Nov. 4 and Dec. 27 alone) and the Wikileaks memo simply states that Israel was “concerned by Hamas’ ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table.”
Let us not forget: Hamas had fired some 2473 rockets and mortars into Israel between January and the June 2008 cease-fire alone. Barak was simply speaking in general terms about what everyone knew was inevitable, and expressing his concerns about the use that Hamas was putting the cease-fire to build up their arsenal. Sullivan acts as if these were not legitimate concerns. In any event, there is not a shred of evidence here in the memo that he (or Israel) were plotting to sabotage the cease-fire and it most certainly indicates no planned, premeditated intention to do so in the November 4 incident. The same cannot be said about Hamas.
According to the ITIC report:
“Hamas’ unilateral decision to the end lull and the escalation it initiated played a major role in the events which ultimately led to Operation Cast Lead. On September 18, the Hamas leadership met to discuss whether or not to extend it. Opinions in the Gaza Strip leadership of Hamas were divided, while the Damascus leadership, headed by Khaled Mashaal, chief of the political bureau in Damascus, decided to bring it to an end in an attempt to achieve a new lull with better conditions for Hamas. The decision was made knowing that it would lead to an escalation. The leadership, however, assumed Hamas would be able to control and contain it. Hamas was joined it its decision to end the lull by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The Palestinian Authority opposed the escalation initiated by Hamas. Prior to Hamas’ announcing the end of the lull, Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, said that they supported its extension, and that firing rockets was useless because all it did was provide Israel with a pretext to attack Hamas. Accordingly, the Palestinian Authority attempted to make Hamas reconsider, claiming that such a step would lead to a blockade of the Gaza Strip and worsen the Gazans’ situation, and that it could lead to an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in the future.
Mahmoud Abbas’ referred to his attempts to persuade Hamas to extend the lull in a speech he gave at the opening ceremony of the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting (October 2009). He said that one week or ten days prior to the launch of Operation Cast Lead (i.e., December 17, 2008), he had called two Hamas activists, Ghazi Hamad and Ahmed Youssef, informing them of the coming Israeli attack. He added that all they had to do to avoid it was to extend the lull. When they did not respond, he said, he ordered Sa’eb Erekat to contact the Hamas leadership in Damascus. After they, too, did not agree, Mahmoud Abbas contacted the president of Syria and asked him to convince the Hamas leadership to extend the lull (Palestinian TV, October 16, 2009), to no avail.”
It thus cannot be denied: As with today, Hamas in 2008 wanted war, provoked war, and got war. Hamas’ total culpability for the Gaza War, their abrogation of the lull, and their refusal to renew it for their lunatic view that their continued terrorist aggression would somehow yield them better terms (spelled out by them before the Nov. 4 incident), is thus beyond serious dispute. Like Hezbollah in 2006, they grievously miscalculated Israel’s response. Just as they did recently.
Interestingly enough, Hamas, according to the Times of Israel, are making the exact same delusional demands now that they were making on the days leading up to Cast Lead, apparently with the same idea that they are somehow in a position to obtain better terms. Said the TOI:
The Islamists view the current round of fighting as an opportunity to pry open the borders of Gaza, which slammed shut in 2007, after Hamas wrested control of the territory from its political rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In response to the takeover, Israel and Egypt — then under Morsi’s pro-Western predecessor Hosni Mubarak — sealed off Gaza to disrupt Hamas rule.”We will not accept a cease-fire until the occupation (Israel) meets our conditions,” said Izzat Rishaq, a senior Hamas official who is involved in the cease-fire efforts in Cairo.
In any event, it is thus disingenuous to portray this Israeli act of self-defense as a “violation” of the cease-fire, and an act of aggression. The Nov.4 incursion was a necessary and completely justifiable action of self-defense. To brand this as an “aggression” is to blur the dynamic of the conflict, where every Israeli counter-terrorist action taken in defense of its civilians and soldiers is thus an excuse for another Hamas terrorist attack, thus becoming a “response” to Israeli “aggression.”
Democracies, where governments are accountable to those whom they rule, rarely provoke wars. Acts of unprovoked aggression are almost solely the domain of totalitarian regimes whose absolute power, control over media and information, and lack of accountability allow them to wage wars and to lie their people about how and why they are doing so. What Edmund Burke once said of the Jacobins of the French Revolution could apply to the Hamas of today without changing a word:
“Individuality is left out of their scheme of government. The state is all in all. Everything is referred to the production of force; afterwards, everything is trusted to the use of it. It is military in its principles, in its maxims, in its spirit, and in all its movements. The state has dominion and conquest for its sole objects–dominion over minds by proselytism, over bodies by arms.”
Israel and America both govern their societies with ideas of justice based on reason and inclined toward moderation, while the savages of Hamas and al-Queda rule by force, fraud, and murder, and are inimical to the very idea of justice, progress, or moderation.
Mondoweiss, along with the others in the fever swamps of the anti-Israel left are besotted with a noxious relativism that impels them to see a moral equivalence between Israel and its terrorist enemies. In their Kafkaesque, upside-down world views of reality, they mark victims as perpetrators and vice-versa. Such people, as Winston Churchill once put it, are unable to choose between the fire brigade and the fire.
Both Gaza and South Lebanon have been converted into defacto military fortresses by paramilitary terrorist groups wedded to lunatic ideologies of violent jihad and martyrdom. When not oppressing and torturing their subjects, the bulk of their resources and activities are almost solely dedicated to the next round of martyr-making with Israel. They are merchants of death, and nothing but. They worship it, preach it, practice it, and industriously instill it into their youth as if nothing else in the world mattered. All for jihad. For this, they will happily convert the whole of their dominions into rubble-strewn scrap-heaps of smoke and flame again and again. I sometimes wonder how Mondoweiss and their BDS fellow traveler friends would feel if they themselves had to actually live under the brutal jackboot of the Hezbollah or Hamas regimes in these future killing grounds, and not just observe them from the safety and comfort of their computers or an occasional visit.
The philosopher Plato could afford to admire Sparta because he did not have to live in it. By the same token, Mondoweiss and others here can afford to sympathize and admire Hamas and Hezbollah from a comfortable distance because they don’t have to live under them. Maybe they should.