Ravaging Gaza: The War Netanyahu Cannot Possibly Win

When the bodies of three Israeli settlers – Aftali Frenkel and Gilad
Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 – were found on June 30 near
Hebron in the southern West Bank, Israel went into a state of mourning
and a wave of sympathy flowed in from around the world. The three had
disappeared 18 days earlier in circumstances that remain unclear.

The entire episode, particularly after its grim ending, seemed to
traumatize Israelis into ignoring harsh truths about the settlers and
the militarization of their society. Amid a portrayal of the three as
hapless youths, although one was a 19-year-old soldier, commentators
have failed to provide badly needed context to the events. Few, if
any, assigned the blame where it was most deserved – on expansionist
policies which have sown hatred and bloodshed.

Before the discovery of the bodies, the real face of Netanyahus
notoriously right-wing government was well-known. Few held Illusions
about how peaceful an occupation could be if run by figures such as
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett,
and Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon. But because children the
term used by Netanyahu himself – were involved, even critics didn’t
expect an exercise in political point-scoring.

There was sympathy elicited for the missing settlers case, but it
quickly vanished in the face of an Israeli response (in the West Bank,
Jerusalem and later in a full-scale war on Gaza) largely seen in the
crucible of world opinion as disproportionate and cruel. Rather than
being related to the tragic death of three youths, this response
obviously reflected Netanyahu’s grand political calculations.

As mobs of Israeli Jews went out on an ethnic lynching spree in
Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank that some likened to a pogrom,
occupation soldiers conducted a massive arrest campaign of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly Hamas members and supporters.

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas said it had no role in the death
of the settlers, and this appears plausible since they rarely hesitate
to take credit for something carried out by their military wing.
Israeli military strategists were well aware of that.

This war on Hamas, however, has little to do with the killed settlers,
and everything to do with the political circumstances that preceded
their disappearance.

By Ramzy Baroud

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