Friday, January 02, 2009
Hamas Winning PR Battle in Gaza
The Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza offers an interesting study in modern warfare. Hamas has the weaker hand with only a handful of fighters, a tiny budget but, crucially, a stack of rockets with the range to strike nearby enemy cities. Few dispute that Hamas have provoked the current conflict with rocket strikes into Israel from early 2008. Quite possibly the rockets were smuggled through tunnels to Egypt either whole or in sections during the past year.
They have thereby called down upon themselves a furious Israeli response aimed at their leaders and administration which has so far caused 400 collateral civilian deaths compared to the single figure fatalities caused by Hamas's best efforts. It seems to me Hamas are doing two things.
'Guantanamo Analogy'Firstly, they are trying to argue that conditions for the million or so Palestinians in Gaza's 140 square miles are so bad that firing rockets is merely responding to prior Israeli aggression. It's as if Gaza conditions are as so bad they resemble the torturous conditions of somewhere like Guantanamo thus justifying retaliatory action. Anyone who has read The Iron Wall by Avi Schlaim, the radical Jewish Oxford historian, will accept that the basic unresolved issue remains the fact that millions of Palestinians were displaced, 'ethnically cleansed' or terrorised into leaving in the years after 1945.
'Suicide Bomber' AnalogySecondly, by causing their civilians to be slaughtered through their continuation of the rocket strikes, they are effectively using the suicide bomber tactic of sacrifice in the collective cause.
Israel, meanwhile are relying on their old method of massive retaliation for the relatively small number of fatalities they have incurred, convinced that Hamas will be brought to heel by their firepower and determination to ratchet up the ante to full scale invasion if it is thought necessary. However, Hamas represent the new irrationalism of terrorism: they have supporters prepared to give up their lives to continue what they see as their justified struggle. So far it's 400 and counting but I suspect it could exceed one or even two thousand and Hamas would still not back down.
How many deaths will world opinion accept before even the USA peels away its support? How determined is Israel to ignore world opinion and become a reviled pariah state? Israel, with its masive superiority is winning the military battles but it seems to me that in the battle of perceptions by the rest of the world, Hamas is winning this tragic contest hands down.
But for me, the analysis is unnecessarily gloomy. Israel is winning. The military is achieving its goals very quickly with remarkably few casualties. Even the media(which is for the most part anti-semitic and ignorant of the suffering of Israel) accepts that AT LEAST 75% of the dead are Hamas(and thus murderers). May they burn in hell.
I am sorry for the deaths of innocent civilians. And so is Israel. But this conflict was inevitable when the people of Gaza turned to Hamas.
Quite a few of my aquaintances, including a prominent journalist firend of mine, argue the BBC is precisely the opposite: rabidly pro-Israel.
Wiping out Hamas' present leadership, HQ buildings and even loads of their numbers, won't solve anything- thousands of new recruits have been spawned by the recent attacks and invasion.
If only the morons protesting in West London cared so much about Israelis being slaughtered for 18 months, then I would have a lot more respect for them.
There won't be talks with Hamas. I am glad Israel has finally acted to defend it citizens. And I am proud that Britain and America have stood by them.
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