Friday, January 09, 2009

A second front in the Israel-Hamas war may have opened up as rockets hit northern Israel, while Hamas-launched katyushas have penetrated deeper into Israeli territory, recently hitting 27 kilometers from Tel Aviv, targeting an IAF base. My earlier ambiguity is over. Hamas must be smashed totally so that more population centers of Israel are not opened up to attack or threat of attack. Meanwhile, in Gaza, the humanitarian situation has worsened with the recent blocking of Red Cross aid that has only in the last day gotten through, rescuing about 100 trapped civilians. The apparently extensive use of white phosphorous, an illegal chemical weapon, has gone underreported.

The political ramifications of everything that has gone on and continues to go on could not be more stark and vivid. In elections this February, Israelis are expected to put into power Binyamin Netanyahu (again), and we will see how that goes. Before making an editorial comment, it is important to note that, though the situation on the ground is in constant flux, a few steady patterns have emerged: any Israeli action, whether reactive or proactive, will be accompanied by a storm of publicity that will portray it as completely defensive and righteous; all reports to the contrary, even by respected humanitarian organizations, will be dismissed as irrelevant or the work of enemy propaganda; and each interested side (that is, the apologists for the Israelis and Palestinians) will provide a self-serving, partial narrative that will obscure and mystify rather than illuminate and examine.

A bitter truth is that no side has any rightful claim to a moral high ground, neither the residents of Gaza nor the citizens of Israel, for the actions of their respective leadership and the grievous toll of their weapons of state. Warfare is an amoral affair, it is regretful to say. There is much talk of the laws of war, but in the end survival is what counts; both sides are going to do whatever in their power for the sake of their own survival, their rhetoric notwithstanding.

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