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How Netanyahu provoked this war with Gaza

His antagonism to all Palestinians – to Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority no less than to Hamas – started and steadily fueled the chain reaction that led to the current misery.

On Monday of last week, June 30, Reuters ran a story that began:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas on Monday of involvement, for the first time since a Gaza war in [November] 2012, in rocket attacks on Israel and threatened to step up military action to stop the strikes.

So even by Israel’s own reckoning, Hamas had not fired any rockets in the year-and-a-half since “Operation Pillar of Defense” ended in a ceasefire. (Hamas denied firing even those mentioned by Netanyahu last week; it wasn’t until Monday of this week that it acknowledged launching any rockets at Israel since the 2012 ceasefire.)

So how did we get from there to here, here being Operation Protective Edge, which officially began Tuesday with 20 Gazans dead, both militants and civilians, scores of others badly  wounded and much destruction, alongside about 150 rockets flying all over Israel (but no serious injuries or property damage by Wednesday afternoon)?

We got here because Benjamin Netanyahu brought us here. He’s being credited in Israel for showing great restraint in the days leading up to the big op, answering Gaza’s rockets with nothing more than warning shots and offering “quiet for quiet.” But in fact it was his antagonism toward all Palestinians – toward Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority no less than toward Hamas – that started and steadily provoked the chain reaction that led to the current misery.

Israeli tanks on the border with Gaza. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli tanks on the border with Gaza. (photo: Activestills)

And nobody knows this, or should know it, better than the Obama administration, which is now standing up for Israel’s “right to defend itself.”

It was Netanyahu and his government that killed the peace talks with Abbas that were shepherded by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry; the Americans won’t exactly spell this out on-the-record, but they will off-the record. So a week before those negotiations’ April 29 deadline, Abbas, seeing he wasn’t getting anywhere playing ball with Israel and the United States, decided to shore things up at home, to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza, and he signed the Fatah-Hamas unity deal – with himself as president and Fatah clearly the senior partner. The world – even Washington – welcomed the deal, if warily so, saying unity between the West Bank and Gaza was a good thing for the peace process, and holding out the hope that the deal would compel Hamas to moderate its political stance.

Netanyahu, however, saw red. Warning that the unity government would “strengthen terror,” he broke off talks with Abbas and tried to convince the West to refuse to recognize the emerging new Palestinian government – but he failed. He didn’t stop trying, though. At a time when Hamas was seen to be weak, broke, throttled by the new-old Egyptian regime, unpopular with Gazans, and acting as Israel’s cop in the Strip by not only holding its own fire but curbing that of Islamic Jihad and others, Netanyahu became obsessed with Hamas – and obsessed with tying it around Abbas’ neck. Netanyahu’s purpose, clearly enough, was to shift the blame for the failure of the U.S.-sponsored peace talks from himself and his government to Abbas and the Palestinians.

But it wasn’t working. Then on June 12 something fell into Netanyahu’s lap which he certainly would have prevented if he’d been able to, but which he also did not hesitate exploiting to the hilt politically: the kidnapping in the West Bank of Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19.

Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the kidnapping. He said he had proof. To this day, neither he nor any other Israeli official has come forward with a shred of proof. Meanwhile, it is now widely assumed that the Hamas leadership did not give the order for the kidnapping, that it was instead carried out at the behest of a renegade, Hamas-linked, Hebron clan with a long history of blowing up Hamas’ ceasefires with Israel by killing Israelis. Besides, it made no sense for Hamas leaders to order up such a spectacular crime – not after signing an agreement with Abbas, and not when they were so badly on the ropes. Khaled Meshal, while refusing to confirm or deny giving the order, and saying he had no idea of the three boys’ whereabouts, lauded the kidnapping as a means of freeing Palestinian prisoners. This showed a certain moral idiocy on Meshal’s part, and on the part of his audience – the many, many Palestinians who likewise cheered the kidnapping – but it did not show that the Hamas leadership had ordered the deed. And we are still waiting to see that proof.

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, June 18, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, June 18, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

But Netanyahu used the kidnappings to go after Hamas in the West Bank. The target, as one Israeli security official said, was “anything green.” The army raided, destroyed, confiscated and arrested anybody and anything having to do with Hamas, killed some Palestinian protesters and rearrested some 60 Hamasniks who had been freed in the Gilad Shalit deal, throwing them back in prison.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Israel had already escalated matters on June 11, the day before the kidnappings, by killing not only a wanted man riding on a bicycle, but a 10-year-old child riding with him. Between that, the kidnappings a day later and the crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank that immediately followed, Gaza and Israel started going at it pretty fierce – with all the casualties and destruction, once again, on Gaza’s side only.

Read: ‘They left us no choice’ – On military escalation and its Israeli rationale

And that was basically it. Netanyahu had given orders to smash up the West Bank and Gaza over the kidnapping of three Israeli boys that, as monstrous as it was, apparently had nothing to do with the Hamas leadership. Thus, he opened an account with Israel’s enemies, who would wish for an opportunity to close it.

On June 30, the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli boys were found in the West Bank. “Hamas is responsible, Hamas will pay,” Netanayhu intoned. That payment was delayed by the burning alive of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 15, which set off riots in East Jerusalem and Israel’s “Arab Triangle,” and which put Israel on the defensive. It probably encouraged the armed groups in Gaza to step up their rocketing of Israel, while Netanyahu kept Israel’s in check. Then on Sunday, as many as nine Hamas men were killed in a Gazan tunnel that Israel bombed, saying it was going to be used for a terror attack. The next day nearly 100 rockets were fired at Israel. This time Hamas took responsibility for launching some of the rockets – a week after Netanyahu, for the first time since November 2012, accused it of breaking the ceasefire.

And the day after that, “Operation Protective Edge” officially began. By Wednesday afternoon, there were 35 dead and many maimed in Gaza, Israelis were ducking rockets, and no one can say when or how it will end, or what further horrors lie in store.

Netanyahu could have avoided the whole thing. He could have chosen not to shoot up the West Bank and Gaza and arrest dozens of previously freed Hamasniks (along with hundreds of other Palestinians) over what was very likely a rogue kidnapping. Before that, he could have chosen not to stonewall Abbas for nine months of peace negotiations, and then there wouldn’t have even been a unity government with Hamas that freaked him out so badly – a reaction that was, of course, Netanyahu’s choice as well.

But Israel’s prime minister is and always has been at war with the Palestinians – diplomatically, militarily and every other way; against Abbas, Hamas and all the rest – and this is what has guided his actions, and this is what provoked Hamas into going to war against Israel.

Related:
Live blog: Escalation in Gaza – July 2014
Dispatch from Gaza: You can never be emotionally ready
Why Netanyahu will lose this Gaza war, too

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  • COMMENTS

    1. hala gabriel

      How is this a war? Only one armed entity and a bunch of unarmed civilians. It’s not a war.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Joel

      Once again, Larry, you proven that your an ass.

      Reply to Comment
      • Khaled Khalid

        Joel….go to hell.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Vadim

      Larry, that’s probably the most racist thing I have read in a long time.

      According to you, Palestinians can’t think or plan ahead, or even resist the most basic of urges. I mean, you really want to say they know what Israel is capable of but are totally unable to restrain themselves because they are provoked?! By a bad attitude?! What is this? Some kind of uncontrollable rage?

      While the entire Israeli public is somehow responsible for the horrendous murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, Hamas is not responsible for a clan linked to it which (according to you) they know is problematic?

      I don’t agree with you. I think they plan their actions and are fully responsible for them. They share at least half of the blame for not pursuing a peaceful coexistence with Israel and if Israel is so bad and evil then maybe they should compromise a bit more or stop complaining.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mikesailor

      This latest round of death and destruction has been instigated by Israel. From foot-dragging and not discussing final borders whil announcing new settlement building during the “talks”, to the killing of the two Palestinian teenagers in May which Israel still has not acknowledged. And now, the technicolor light show has begun with the IDF killing the never-named, only numbered Palestinian civilians, especially children and then whining how Hamas, and every other Palestininan in this open-air prison, uses civilians, who can’t escape nor protect themselves as “humman shields”. The lies will be eagerly swallowed by Zionist supporters who have lost any ability, they may have once enjoyed, to think critically. So, they can all sit back and enjoy the slaughter while bemoaning their own ‘victimhood’.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Once again, Larry, you’ve proven to be an indispensable source of political insight and vision. Thanks for your great work.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Danny

      What I don’t understand is how Obama is able to look himself in the mirror and not feel a wave of nausea engulf him each time. How he voluntarily turned into the lame duckling that he is, and way before presidents normally turn lame, is a mystery. Yesterday I read that Obama offered to meet Rick Perry at an airport they were both waiting in, and the latter said no. Why is Obama even interested in meeting Rick Perry? He is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Danny, you’re quite wrong. Obama is a neo-conservative from the liberal wing of that ideology who fooled the American people and the many people around the world big time. That – or the conspiracy theory that the President of the USA has no real authority and defers to the dictates of an ever imperialist and venal bureaucracy is true.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Obama is a man of ideals – I have to believe that. It’s just that he happens to be one of the biggest coward to EVER sit in the White House. His supplication to the Republicans is pathetic; I don’t think there has ever been a president as friendly and accepting of such bitter enemies, and I suspect it has something to do with a deep-seeded inferiority complex. Obama should have cut Israel loose back in 2012 when Netanyahu was openly helping Romney’s campaign. But instead, what did he do? Came for a friendly visit to Israel. I still shake my head in disbelief at his naivety.

          Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            Danny, generally I agree with your comments and usually empathize because I know too what it’s like to grow up in the Zionist circus. However, look at the evidence, especially in foreign policy. Obama has “double downed” on neoconservative objectives in the world in the most cynical and underhanded ways possible. How could a man of ideals support a coup attempt against a popular and democratic government in Venezulea? How could any idealist turn away from the rhetoric of “subhumans”, “filtration camps” and “obliteration” of the Washington backed Kiev government? Would an idealist sign the death warrant for a US teenager in Yemen? Would an idealist hound every whistle-blower and journalist that reports on the US security-bureaucracy with greater vigor than Bush-Cheney?

            If you see Obama for what he is then you will see that nothing good will come of American involvement in Israel for ordinary human beings there.

            Reply to Comment
    7. diana

      You forgot to mention that HAMAS has lots of money to buy ARMAMENT. Where do they get it? Who gives them so much money? If they are such saints, why do they need money for guns? Give me a break, Hamas STINKS! And a Palestinian nation made up of Gaza and the W.Bank is an impossible dream. The W. Bank should go back to Jordan and Gaza to the Egyptians. BTW, the Egyptians do not want to mediate between both sides because they also want Israel to destroy Hamas=Muslim Brotherhood. The region is a cauldron…………

      Reply to Comment
      • Alex

        The money comes from the same banks that have funded every single conflict world wide. Our treasury, our banks, western banks that also fuel Israel’s military complex. Don’t be fooled. The propaganda machine has multiple heads and it’s message is perpetuated by fear.

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          You’re correct on descibing how things were upto now,but have you entertained the possibility of the Bankers pulling the plug on their creation(Israel)for their own reasons and goals,that Israel has served her purpose for the Bankers and is being dumped now?

          Reply to Comment
    8. Deborah

      Does it make you feel better to demonize Netanyahu and blame it all on h? The facts dont seem to have disturbed your analysis.
      There was a small sentence that you buried deep in your article “nearly 100 rockets were fired at Israel”. Maybe that could help you throw some light on the situation….

      Reply to Comment
    9. N Shana

      You’re wrong about the rocket fire into Israel from Gaza. January 2013 there were no rockets fired. Since then there has been a steady and constant increase every month.This information is documented and readily available if you just choose to look it up.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Brian, Seattle, WA

      Once again Larry Derfner correctly diagnoses the root problem, the cause of the multisystem failure now besetting the current, gravely ill, Israel-Palestine “body.” Any doctor will tell you that “disseminated intravascular coagulation” for example)–a rampaging catastrophe leading to multisystem shock and failure–is caused by more proximate things that might have been successfully treated before it got to this dire stage. Netanyahu is like an evil doctor who secretly ignores the known cure (working honestly with Abu Mazen and his allies) and treats symptoms because he never really wants to cure the patient, he wants to keep charging the fees and honors he collects for stringing the patient along in a debilitated, ever more complicated state and even works secretly to sustain one of the pathogens (Hamas)! All the while his citizens remark on what a good Jewish doctor he is, how “restrained” he is, how safe they feel with him. Thanks for once again identifying the malpractice, Dr. D.!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Fred

      What bullshit is this article?! One propaganda after the other and just nonsense. Bibi is absolutely right and hopefully the IDF will ramp up Gaza, destroy and kill Hamas and it’s responsible schmocks.Am Israel Chai!

      Reply to Comment
    12. Rab

      This article was satirical. Right? Right?

      You’re a funny guy, Larry.

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        Maybe you’d like to explain what you find incorrect?

        Reply to Comment
    13. Jan

      For Hamas or any other group to fire their ineffective rockets at Israel, the world’s 4th most powerful military is stupid and in the end leads only to massive Israeli bombing and the deaths of many Palestinians.

      Surely Israel’s dreadful response will not lead to peace, only to more and more hatred not only from Palestinians but from the world.

      Furthermore it must never be forgotten that had there been no Occupation there would likely be no Hamas. Hamas was not formed until after 20 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In the beginning Israel even supported Hamas which it saw as a counterweight to the more secular PLO.

      Occupation of any kind breeds resistance and the Occupation gave birth to Hamas just as the British occupation of Palestine gave birth to the Jewish terrorist groups, Irgun and Stern Gang.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        Hmmm,

        I’m afraid it was Israel herself that gave birth to Hamas around 35 years ago,as a counterweight against Fatah.

        Reply to Comment
        • Rab

          Wrong.

          Myth.

          Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            If Rab says so,it must be a myth,cause Rab never lies, or spreads disinfo for 1897 Zionism.

            Reply to Comment
          • GilGamesh

            say the guy who admitted posting a story that was given to him by “hasbara central”. too funny

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Gil Chamesh,

            What are you babbling about,do you have somekind of personal obsession with me,or are you just stalking me for fun?

            Reply to Comment
          • GilGamesh

            when asked why you posted the phoney Algerian soccer team story, you replied that it came directly from “hasbara central”. You outted yourself.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Oh.

            Reply to Comment
      • Rick

        Jan, How would you like an ineffective rocket to land on your head?

        And do you believe everything you read. Saying Israel is the”4th most powerful military” just makes you look stupid. As for Hamas, they existed before Israel occupied Gaza or the West Bank under their previous name, The Muslim Brotherhood.

        Reply to Comment
    14. Eddie

      What a load of crap?!
      All those who calls boycott Israel I wish your neighbour will throw stones on your house on a daily basis till you get fed up and go smash his face , there is a chance that you will mistakenly hurt his family member and that’s a shame but you know that it will not stop until you do it !,

      And you are all hypocrits , how many children dying in siria daily , how many atrocities happening there , people get killed daily and the world is num.

      I guess when a Muslim kill a Muslim its OK but when a Jew defends himself from the enemy all the world wakes up like it’s not israel right .

      I hope bibi did antagonise the Hammas I would as well, those people in case you didn’t know calls to destroy Israel in their agenda so please spare me the crap in this article and focus on the truth that non of you commenters here would have a put with this situation a day had it been you !

      You want to boycott israel?

      Stop using :
      Stent for the heart
      Pacemaker
      Facebook(Jewish creator)
      And the list goes on.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bilal

        So how about if Jews started to get killed , how about if another Hitler is born. Trust me the world seems to be big to these Israelis but when there end will come they won’t find a single corner to hide .

        Reply to Comment
    15. Rab

      You know, it’s funny to read this upside down article that gets everything wrong and then to witness his silence over straightforward unapologetic lies from those he’s taking at face value:

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-eyes-the-hague-as-abbas-accuses-israel-of-genocide/

      Go ahead Larry, write a piece about how this is all some grand manipulation by Israel even as the liars are standing there right before your very eyes.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Nathan

      It’s interesting that you refer to the matter as kidnapping. The tapes clearly prove that they were shot while trying to phone the police. There was not kidnapping; just plain murder of Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel on national grounds. However, the fact that the Israeli government levied the situation and called it kidnapping instead of murder in which the bodies were not found, enabled a small money transaction for the IDF of 1.5 billion dollars in addition to the growing 55 billion dollar budget. They used the death of those kids to instigate against the Palestinians and the Arab population and enter the West Bank on false pretense that they were looking for the murdered kids while the k-n-e-w for a fact they were already dead.
      That was the real crime of the Netanyahu government. A sound betrayal of its people. It’s tough being an Israeli these days.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Akiva

      This article claims that had Israel looked for it’s kidnapped kids NICELY, Hamas would not have attacked? The murder of Muhammed Khdeir is barely related, apparently. It’s been two days and already we are seeing revisionism. First of all, the kidnappers were Hamas terrorists who were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit. That they should turn around and kidnap again for the purpose of releasing more prisoners explains the aggression with which Israel looked for it’s kidnapped kids. It was to make a strong point that would stop the cycle of kidnapping. If Hamas hadn’t ordered the kidnapping, it could have chosen to understand the IDF’s response and kept still — after all Hamas has nothing to do with the kidnapping so why respond to it. The logic of the article is obviously flawed. There was a kidnapping, an army was sent out to find the kids, and now the entire country is being bombed because the army tried to find it’s kids. And it all has little-to-nothing to do with the murder of Khdier. Further, Rockets have been falling on Israel almost daily since the beginning of April! If it’s from Hamas’ territory, then they are ultimately responsible. They are the govt. there. It is their jurisdiction. The proof is simple. If Hamas wants’ the violence to end, stop launching rockets. And it’s over. He is all but suggesting that Netanyahu is launching the rockets at Israel. It’s not Hamas’ doing at all!!

      Reply to Comment
    18. shachalnur

      Don’t agree with your theory that Bibi wanted this blow up,he only wanted to drive a wedge beteen PA and Hamas ,and failed.

      Going into Gaza has several serious disadvantages:

      Risk of Israeli soldiers getting killed,and the risk of the myth of the”Invincible Zionist Army” getting another knock.

      Even whiping out Hamas,if that’s fysically possible ,might create a blowback and worse replacements for Hamas that can not be overseen.

      A free for all in Gaza,with a high deathtoll might set the West Bank and Palestinians inside Israel on fire where most support Hamas for at least not being a “Palestinenser Rat”,and when the bodycount hits 1000+ support from US and EU public will disappear.

      The party that’s being provoked and cornered is Israel,she’s being pushed into entertaining an “Endlösung”,i.e. massmurder in Gaza and transfer of Palestinians in the West Bank to Jordan.

      I think this is a coordinated effort by PA and Hamas,with Hamas taking the hit,which can not be much worse than daily life in Gaza and slow starvation by withholding food(is Israel still counting carbohydrates at the entrance of the largest open air prison in the world)) and hope.

      PA and Hamas are calling Israel’s bluff:”Try killing us all and you’ll see what happens.

      We’re facing the confrontational crux that was woven into the 1897 Zionist entity from the beginning,because stealing someone’s land is possible but what are you going to do with the people that lived there before and don’t accept the invasion?

      Transfer,imprison, or kill them all?

      Behind the scenes the real discussion is going on internally in Israel,go all the way or calm it down untill the next round.

      With 1897 Zionist Israel’s historical supporters,sponsors and enablers dumping Israel ,the plan is to let Israel push the self-destruct button.

      Israel’s govt, is aware of this ,but to avoid this scenario is not easy,and people with any historical knowledge could see this coming over a century ago.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Craig Vale

      I can’t help but to compare conditions in the Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto in as much as you have 1.6 million or so Palestinians stuffed like sardines in a tin. Every element of their lives controlled by outside forces and oppressor in Chief Bibi who along with his cohorts control everything that comes into and out of the Gaza strip.Be it bandaids to cooking oil, cement to spatula’s. Israel has withheld millions of dollars in tax payments due the PA and continues to squeeze the life out of the people. Is it any wonder Gazan’s hate the Israeli’s. Decades of having their lands taken from them, pushed to the waters edge. The only thing left for Bibi to do is to push them into the sea. The only bright spot in all of this is that the once iron grip on the narrative that was firmly in the grasp of the Hasbaran propaganda machine, has been loosened by the advent of social media, cell phone video and the like. Do you think for a minute the soldier who violently smashed his boot into the face of the dead Palestinian’s cousin would have ever faced scrutiny w/o the video that surfaced. Doubtful much will ever happen to him but it does confirm what the rest of us suspected all along and that is the wanton brutality faced by Palestinians every single day of their lives.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Stan Squires

      I am from vancouver,canada and I wanted to say that the western govs.are complicit in this attack on Gaza by the apartheid Israeli gov.There are very few govs.in the world that are doing the right thing and supporting the Palestinian People.The gov. of Venezuela supports the Palestinian People.More govs. should do the same.If they don’t support the Palestinian People the govs. are part of the problem and should be condemned

      Reply to Comment
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