Hamas is responsible, but …
Outgoing, corruption-haunted and altogether discredited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed on Sunday that Israel would respond “disproportionately” to the continuing, albeit sporadic, firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip. In the long, sad and bloody history of disproportionate responses by Israel, Olmert’s comment may actually set a precedent, in that the Israeli leader no longer even attempted to hide the fact that his country’s military is breaking international law. Put through the political doublespeak filter, what Olmert essentially said was “we shall break international law.”
Two additional ironies marked the warning.
First, despite an intense 19-day bombing campaign in Gaza to “end” the firing of rockets into Israeli territory, causing about US$2 billion in damage to the Gaza infrastructure, killing 1,300 Palestinians and injuring thousands, rockets are still being fired, a humiliation of Israel’s military that is reminiscent of similar adventurism in Lebanon in 2006.
Second, while Jerusalem and its shrinking list of equally discredited supporters have blamed Hamas for the rocket attacks and, with odd logic, the devastating response by Israel, the latest rocket attacks (which caused no damage or injuries) were claimed by a wing of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group belonging to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction. In Israel’s book (and likely in US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton’s, as well as special envoy’s George Mitchell’s), Hamas are the bad guys, while Fatah (or at least Abbas) are the “moderate” Palestinians, the ones that “peace” can be negotiated with.
Now that the “good” guys — the “good Arabs” of the non-“terrorist” sort — are also firing rockets into Israel, who will Israel talk to? Quite the quandary, indeed. Could it be that Olmert’s latest disproportionate response in Gaza in December and January managed to anger even the portion of Palestinians it thought it could deal with? Could this mean that Israel’s US-backed blunt approach to peacemaking is finally backfiring, proving that “peace” at the end of a cannon, “peace” that isn’t accompanied by justice and respect for international law, can turn even one’s “friends” into enemies?