Opinion: Truces in Mideast always temporary

November 25, 2012


— Why was there an Israel-Gaza war in the first place? Resistance to the occupation, say Hamas and many in the international media.

What occupation? Seven years ago, in front of the world, Israel pulled out of Gaza. It dismantled every settlement, withdrew every soldier, evacuated every Jew, leaving nothing and no one behind. Except for the greenhouses in which the settlers had grown fruit and flowers for export. These were left intact to help Gaza’s economy — only to be trashed when the Palestinians took over.

Israel then declared its border with Gaza to be an international frontier, meaning that it renounced any claim to the territory and considered it an independent entity. In effect, Israel had created the first Palestinian state ever, something never granted by fellow Muslims — neither the Ottoman Turks nor the Egyptians who brutally occupied Gaza for two decades before being driven out by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel wanted nothing more than to live in peace with this independent Palestinian entity. After all, the world had incessantly demanded that Israel give up land for peace.

It gave the land. It got no peace.

The Gaza Palestinians did not reciprocate. They voted in Hamas, who then took over in a military putsch and turned their newly freed Palestine into an armed camp from which to war against Israel. It has been war ever since.

Interrupted by the occasional truce, to be sure. But for Hamas a truce — hudna — is simply a tactic for building strength for the next round. It is never meant to be enduring, never meant to offer peace.

But why, given that there is no occupation of Gaza anymore? Because Hamas considers all of Israel occupied, illegitimate, a cancer, a crime against humanity, to quote the leaders of Iran, Hamas’ chief patron and arms supplier. Hamas’ objective, openly declared, is to “liberate” — i.e. destroy — Tel Aviv and the rest of pre-1967 Israel. Indeed, it is Hamas’ raison d’etre.

Hamas first killed Jews with campaigns of suicide bombings. After Israel built a nearly impenetrable fence, it went to rockets fired indiscriminately at civilians in populated areas.

What did Hamas hope to gain from this latest round of fighting, which it started with a barrage of about 150 rockets into Israel? To formally translate Hamas’ recent strategic gains into a new, more favorable status quo with Israel. It works like this:

Hamas’ new strength comes from two sources. First, its new rocketry, especially the Fajr-5, smuggled in from Iran, that can now reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, putting 50 percent of Israel’s population under its guns.

Second, Hamas has gained strategic strength from changes in the regional environment. It has acquired the patronage and protection of important Middle Eastern states as a result of the Arab Spring and the Islamist reversal in Turkey.

For 60 years, non-Arab Turkey had been a reliable ally of Israel. The vicious turnaround instituted by its Islamist prime minister, Recep Erdogan, reached its apogee on Monday when he called Israel a terrorist state.

Egypt is now run by Hamas’ own mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is simply the Palestinian wing. And the emir of Qatar recently visited Gaza, leaving behind a promise of a cool $400 million.

Hamas’ objective was to guarantee no further attacks on its leaders or on its weaponry, launch sites and other terror and rocket infrastructure. And the lifting of Israel’s military blockade, which would allow a flood of new and even more deadly weapons. In other words, immunity and inviolability during which time Hamas could build unmolested its arsenal of missiles — until it is ready to restart the war on more favorable terms.

Yet another hudna, this one brokered and guaranteed by Egypt and Turkey, regional powers Israel has to be careful not to offend. A respite for rebuilding, until Hamas’ Gaza becomes Hezbollah South, counterpart to the terror group to Israel’s north, with 50,000 Iranian- and Syrian-supplied rockets that effectively deter any Israeli pre-emptive attack.

With the declaration of a cease-fire on Nov. 21, Israel seems to have successfully resisted these demands, although there may be some cosmetic changes to the embargo. Which means that in any future fighting, Israel will retain the upper hand.

Israel has once again succeeded in defending itself. But, yet again, only until the next round, which, as the night follows the day, will come. Hamas will see to that.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 7 months ago

"Truces in Mideast always temporary"? Of course.

The Middle East has seen countless wars, mostly forgotten, for well over 2,000 years. Wars in the Middle East were old, old news when Israel was established in 1948.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

  • Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Fancy that-- Chuckie supplies yet another wholly one-sided and distorted recounting of history, complete with the lie with respect to occupation of Gaza.

To repeat an analogy I recently heard, to say Gaza isn't under occupation is similar to saying that a fishbowl in your house isn't under your complete control simply because you aren't in the bowl swimming with the (starved and battered) goldfish.

BTW, Hamas was largely a creation of Israel for the sole purpose of weakening the PLO and politically destabilizing the Palestinians. This made it possible for the Israelis to steal ever more Palestinian land, and weaken any Palestinian negotiating position. That was a completely successful strategy, although it comes with the price of needing to run the largest prison camp in the world, and the occasional need to murder a few thousand Palestinians.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

Fancy that - Bozo complains about a wholly one-sided and distorted diatribe and then supplies us with a wholly one-sided and distorted diatribe.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Presenting inconvenient facts about war crimes and genocide is not distortion.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

You gave no facts. You gave opinions. You frequently confuse the two.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

You often label facts you find uncomfortable as opinion. I'd say the confusion is yours, but I believe it's motivated by an intent to obfuscate and mislead.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I disagree, Bozo. Your interpretation of Chuckie's analysis is your opinion. Your analysis presented in your BTW section was likewise your opinion. And your fishbowl analogy is of course someone else's opinion, repeated by you. You gave no facts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

So Israel doesn't have an ironclad blockade of Gaza? Israel doesn't kill Palestinians, mostly women, children and other civilians, by the thousands? Israel didn't prop up Hamas during the 80's in order to politically destabilize Palestinians. Israel doesn't restrict the movements of all Palestinians and their rights of association, even those who hold citizenship? Israel doesn't regularly bulldoze Palestinian houses and even entire villages, along with farms and orchards?

All of the above are facts, whether you have the intellectual integrity to acknowledge them or not.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

Israel has blockades, but clearly they are not ironclad as thousands of Iranian missiles have found their way to Gaza, then fired into Israel.

Women and children are killed, it's been true in every war man has ever fought. That Gaza militias put them in danger by conducting military operations from inside schools, mosques and apartment buildings is truly unfortunate. That fighters chooses not to wear uniforms, making themselves virtually indistinguishable from civilians also increases the risk that women and children will be put at risk.

Israel did attempt to destabilize the PLO at a time when they were dedicated to Israel's destruction. If that meant creating friction within various Palestinian factions, so be it. But that does not mean Israel "largely created" Hamas, as your original post said. Every country has the right to destabilize those who would eliminate you.

Surely Israel restricts movements inside Israel. I cannot move about this country with complete immunity. I cannot drive onto a military base. But the fact is that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live inside Israel while zero Jews live in Gaza. Calls for a Palestinian state call for the Jews living there now to be removed.

Israel does indeed bulldoze houses and orchards. They even build a high wall where those orchards once stood. But why? To prevent the infiltration into Israel of suicide bombers. You accuse me of intellectual dishonesty when it is you who only gives one side of the story, while complaining loudly that others (Chuckie) only give one side of the story.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Translation-- Jews are God's chosen people, so their murderous hypocrisy and oppression of Palestinians is required by God.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

Translation - Bozo can't argue facts so we're back to opinion and hyperbole.

Plan_Dalet_and_Operation_May 5 years, 6 months ago

. No no, the Israel/West Bank border is about 300km long - the wall is about 700 km long and cuts INTO the West Bank cutting Palestinians off from their water and agricultural lands, that the Israeli Illegal colonizers in the West Bank then steal.

Get your information right, scooter.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

The Israeli government calls these actions. "Mowing the grass"!

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

Here are some facts regarding your "sacred terrorism" .

Edward Herman and Gerry O'Sullivan Excerpt from The "Terrorism" Industry Pantheon Books, 1989

Event or Class Date Numbers Killed Fraction or Multiple of PLO Killings (Row 1) PLO Killings 1. Total Israelis killed by PLO 1968-81 282 1

Israeli Killings 2. Deir Yassin April 10, 1948 254 (100+ women/children) 0.9 3. Doueimah Oct. 28, 1948 350-1,000 1.2-3.5 4. Qibya Oct. 14-15, 1953 66-70 (¾ women/children) 0.2 5. El-Bureig Aug. 31, 1953 50 0.2 6. Kafr Kassim Oct. 29, 1956 49 (29 women/children) 0.2 7. Khan Yunis Nov. 3-4, 1956 275 1.0 8. Rafah Nov. 12, 1956 111 0.4 9. Abu Zaabal Feb. 12, 1970 70-80 0.2-0.3 10. Bahr al-Baqr April 8, 1970 40-47 (all children) 0.1-0.2 11. Syria (9 air raids) Sept. 9, 1972 200-500 0.7-1.8 12. Refugee Camp May 1974 200+ 0.7+ 13. Refugee Camps Dec. 2, 1975 57 0.2 14. Lebanon Nov. 9, 1977 70-100 0.2-0.4 15. Beirut July 17-18, 1981 300+ 1.1+ 16. Refugee Camps June 3-4, 1982 190+ 0.8+ 17. Sabra-Shatila Sept. 16-18, 1982 1,800-3,500 (large % women/children) 6.4-12.4 18. Beqaa Valley Jan. 1984 100 (many children) 0.4 19. Majdal Anjar Aug. 28, 1984 100 0.4 20. Tunis Oct. 1, 1985 75 0.3 21. 1987-89 uprising May 1989 438 1.6 22. Aggregate of rows 2-21 4,795-7,496 17.0-26.6

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

There was a lot more genocide and crimes against humanity under Hussein in iraq than has ever happened in Israel. How many times did the Jews gas the Palestinians? How many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are buried in the desert?

You complain about the Jews and give the Baath party in Iraq a free pass because they were socialist and the republicans impeached Clinton and everything Bush Jr did was wrong. You don't know anything but distortion.

As for war crimes, is walking onto a bus full of civilians and detonating a bomb a war crime? Frankly, every person in Gaza and the west bank needs to wake up every morning and thank their lucky stars they are firing missiles into Israel and not America because we would be 1000 times more retaliatory than Israel can be.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

WTF do the actions of Saddam Hussein have to do with the slaughter of Palestinians by Israel?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

The problem, Bozo is that you keep wanting to narrow the focus to Israel vs. Palestinians. That ignores the history of the region. Today, Iranian rockets by the thousands find their way into Gaza to be fired into Israel. So Iran becomes part of the equation. At one time, Saddam supplied the Palestinians and rewarded the families of suicide bombers. So Iraq was a part of the equation. Israel seized Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan during wars of aggression, so they became and remain part of the equation.

For your purposes, you'd like to keep the focus narrow, as it presents a picture of a strong military power suppressing a lone indefensible entity. Contrary to your argument, that does not reflect the reality of that region. Israel has been and is currently engaged in a struggle against a vast Arab and Muslim group that seeks to destroy Israel and has been held in check only because of the huge military that defends it. The resources the Arab and Muslim have vastly outweigh anything Israel has, belying the notion of Israel being the super power and the other side being the defenseless entity.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

To be fair, you must acknowledge the terrorism of Israel. Stop narrowing your focus

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I have no problem acknowledging the wrongs of Israel. Nor do I have a problem expanding the focus to include U.S. support of Israel into the equation. It's a large and complicated equation, taken as a whole.

Given that, let me just give you one example that happens often, but is talked about infrequently. Upon the creation of Israel, about 700,000 Palestinians were displaced. That number comes from the U.N. There are a variety of reasons for this. For each action of Jewish militias where women and children were killed, I could give a speech by an Arab military leader, a political leader or a religious leader imploring the civilian population to leave so that the invading armies of the Arab nations could drive the Jews into the sea. So, were they terrorized into leaving or were they implored by their own people to leave? Yes to both.

But what is rarely mentioned is that 750,000 Jews left Arab countries, most settling in this new Israel. They too faced a barrage of anti-semitism, though certainly some left simply to be a part of something new. So were they terrorized into leaving or did they leave of their own accord. Again, yes to both.

That one became a political pawn in a greater struggle while the other assimilated into their new country is never talked about. That one group became permanent refugees and the other became citizens isn't mentioned either. That one group blames the other, while the other group moved on with their lives isn't mentioned.

I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again, bells cannot be un-rung, we cannot go back in time. The two sides cannot to begin discussions with an agreed upon date. Not 1967, not 1948, not the Palestinian Uprisings with the resulting Peele Commission reports. We can talk until we're blue in the face about what happened yesterday, yesteryear, yesterdecade. Or we can move forward. Yes, recognize the role of the U.S. Yes, recognize the role of Iran. Of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Arab Spring, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas' continued declarations to destroy Israel. Speak of the hundreds of civilians killed but also speak of the firing of rockets from the rooftops of apartment buildings. Mention the use of mosques to store weapons when you mention that mosques were targeted. Mention it all.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

" That one group blames the other, while the other group moved on with their lives isn't mentioned."

This statement alone shows me you believe Israel to be in the "right". Is it because of god? They are the chosen people afterall.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I am not a religious person at all. As for the Jews being the Chosen People, if they are, then I wish God (if there is a God) would choose someone else for a while.

As for my statement that you referenced, it's a matter of choosing a different strategy to deal with their problems. Refusing to be refugees for generations, refusing to be victims forever has worked out better for them than the intergenerational refugee status that others chose. "Right" for them, yes. "Right", as in morally correct, or superior? I can't really speak to that.

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

Israel is right because their enemy kills civilians with calculated intent. Some country harbored people that enabled killing American civilians and we took their country away.

Israel has been merciful.

Liberty275 5 years, 7 months ago

States commit acts of war. Entities other than states commit terrorism.

Plan_Dalet_and_Operation_May 5 years, 6 months ago

Israel is involved in colonization and expansion. At the expense of Palestinian's basic human rights and in violation of international law.

You have to be pretty dimwitted or blind to not see this.

Plan_Dalet_and_Operation_May 5 years, 6 months ago

Way to stay off-topic

I expect nothing less from a Zionist / Neocon troll

tomatogrower 5 years, 7 months ago

These people, Arab and Israeli, are trying to get revenge for what happened thousands of years ago. The middle east culture has no capacity for forgiveness. And I don't even think it's tied into their religions. I think they just use their religions as an excuse. We went to war with Japan and Germany, but they are now our allies. That is never going to happen in the middle east, unless their culture dramatically changes. And I always had sympathy for the plight of the Jews, but they move to the middle east and start acting no better than the others there.

I did have a coworker once tell me that it was lack of shade trees. That the heat there gets to everyone, just like violent crimes often rise during a hot summer around here. Kind of funny, but it's as good an explanation of what goes on over there as any.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 7 months ago

Some, notably a poster above, don't seem to realize that Israel is just the first in line. After that will come Christians, and then all the Western nations. I suspect Russia and China will be last in line, as they have zero tolerance for takeovers. We're all infidels that stand in the way of a worldwide caliphate.

(Note: That applies only to fundamentalist Muslims. As with just about every other religion, there are movements/denominations/sects that are very tolerant. For instance, has anyone ever heard of a Sufi Muslim terrorist? I don't think so.)

But, there is a very important trend in history. No Arab country has ever won a war against a non-Arab country for over 1,000 years, so maybe we'll be OK. An interesting read:

'Why Arabs Lose Wars', by Norvell B. De Atkin, from 'Middle East Quarterly', December 1999.


Plan_Dalet_and_Operation_May 5 years, 6 months ago

That's strange

Unless my college professors are wrong, Egypt put the smack down on the British during 1956 Suez Crisis, kicked them out and ended a 74 year-long western occupation.

Also, don't forget, Israel's tank battalions were destroyed in 1973 war by Egypt. Carter came to Israel's rescue - but Israel was hobbling on one leg up to that point.

There is also Hezbola who despite their outdated and light weapons were able to put the hurt on Israel, killing at least 120 Israel troops. Meanwhile, Israel with all their jets, tanks and helicopters killed 400 Hezbola and then destroyed Lebanon's infrastructure - and killed over 1,000 civilians.

Learn history BOY! LOL

Plan_Dalet_and_Operation_May 5 years, 6 months ago


Charles Krauthammer, author of this pro-Israel article and also authored the mind-numbing neoconservative dribble in articles such as: "Cheers for the Bush Doctrine" wants us to believe Israel is somehow innocent. (chuckle chuckle)

  • 2005 Gaza "Pull-Out" = 9,000 Illegal Israeli colonizers out of Gaza and 12,000 Illegal Israeli colonizers INTO the West Bank --- Cost to U.S. tax payer for relocating Illegal Israeli colonizers (while violating international law) = $2.2 Billion *[on top of the $3 Billion we already gave Israel that year]

THEN, Israel bombs the Gaza powerplant cutting electricity / clean water to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians for almost a year. THEN, when foreign donors (Americans) give Gaza a new generator for their powerplant - ISRAEL BOMBS IT AGAIN! *[ - COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT - VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS = WAR CRIMES]

I love how Neoconservatives and Zionists gloss over facts.



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