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Why did Netanyahu take aim at Gaza's tallest towers?

The answer has nothing to do with alleged militants.

The third of three Gaza towers felled by Israeli F-16s housed, among other offices, a media consultancy representing several international news organizations. But when Al Basha Tower was hit early Tuesday morning, that consultancy had already been driven out by Israeli shelling, which had destroyed its eighth-floor office on July 30.

“The first time we were hit, it was a random Israeli shell,” said Saud Abu Ramadan, who has owned the office since 2007 and works as a stringer for American, Spanish, and Japanese news outlets. “But this time,” the 50-year-old Abu Ramadan told +972, “the IDF called building occupants and told us to leave.”

The remains of the Zafer 4 tower in Gaza. (photo:  Jehad Saftawi)

The remains of the Zafer 4 tower in Gaza. (photo: Jehad Saftawi)

Unprecedented in their scale and impact, Israel’s attacks over the last 50 days have made a random shelling seem like a free pass. But with three high rises leveled in the last three days, some observers of Netanyahu’s war are asking why. Why have the Israelis upped the ante – from shelling a building randomly to executing what amounts to a demolition order?

The answer has nothing to do with alleged militants-in-hiding. After all, Israel deliberately encouraged the buildings’ occupants to leave. According to residents, the military called several of them and told them to flee along with hundreds of others in neighboring buildings, also rumored to be on the strike list. If there were some massive clandestine operation that “required” Israel to destroy a whole building, it could have done what it had no qualms doing before – killing entire families to extrajudicially “target” a single suspect. But this time, there was no attempt to strike without warning. No, Israel wanted the world to watch as the towers fell.

If that sounds all-too-familiar, it should. The parallels with America’s 9/11, which killed close to 3,000 people, would end there. Except that it was Netanyahu himself who used the 2001 attacks to fashion his tactics against the Palestinians. Speaking to a New York Times reporter the day of the attacks, Netanyahu called them “very good” for U.S.-Israel relations, and, within just six months, his country’s government was using them to justify its massive invasion of the West Bank, which killed nearly 500 Palestinians. The death toll echoed Netanyahu’s comments, made just before 9/11, that Israel had to deliver “blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne.”

Fast forward 12 years. To understand just how ineffective Netanyahu’s scare tactics, however sadistic, have been, consider this: The 2002 assault on the West Bank, dubbed “Operation Defensive Shield” and executed by Ariel Sharon, killed 55 Palestinian children; in “Operation Protective Edge,” Netanyahu has already killed 10 times as many.

And yet, even with such savagery, the Israeli premier has not brought Gaza to heel. With his approval numbers dropping dramatically (just 38 percent of Israelis are “satisfied” with his performance, according to the most recent poll)  it’s little wonder that Netanyahu is taking aim at towers. Bringing down buildings is about ratings, not military gain.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz at the Defense Ministry. (photo: Haim Zach / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz at the Defense Ministry. (photo: Haim Zach / GPO)

If anything, this might be the awful truth behind Netanyahu’s war: It is a spectacle for Israeli consumption, even as it consumes the lives of Palestinian innocents.

The towers weren’t the first spectacle, of course. When the media office at Al Basha was first shelled, Israeli tank units were laying waste to vast swaths of Gaza’s eastern and northern border towns, including Shejaiya and Beit Hanoun. The indiscriminate attacks displaced tens of thousands of residents and created apocalyptic scenes of destruction.

A few miles away, Gaza City residents could hear the shelling and see plumes of smoke rising on the horizon. Like everyone along the 25-mile-long Strip, they heard the constant hum of drones and the F-16 sorties. Some of these took aim at Gaza City, striking homes, the Islamic University, a soap factory not far from the Gaza port. But the scorched earth was always to the east and north, where rubble had replaced homes, and everywhere were scenes of despair.

Not anymore. Now Netanyahu has given Gaza City its own spectacular destruction. But to judge from the defiance on display throughout Gaza – residents pitching tents near the Zafer 4 tower hit two days ago, journalists driven from Al Basha and working today from their homes – Palestinians are determined to bear Netanyahu’s “blows.” Indeed, given the siege imposed upon them, the people of Gaza have no choice but to stand firm. And that, ultimately, is why Netanyahu will lose this war.

WATCH: Whole Gaza neighborhood destroyed in an hour
Gaza deaths aren’t worth a mention in leading Israeli newspaper
What would Israelis say to families of civilian casualties in Gaza?

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    1. Whiplash

      Another propaganda piece from the parrot of Hamas. “The people of Gaza have no choice but to stand firm.” This is funny because Hamas hides in holes and tunnels beneath hospitals and people’s houses while firing missiles at Israeli citizens and exposing their own civilians to lethal harm from Israel’s self defense.

      People of Gaza could choose to demonstrate for peace and the disarmament of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The people of Egypt took on Morsi and won.

      Samer also thinks the readers here are idiots. It was no random shell that had hit the 8th floor of the high rise mentioned.

      What Samer does not tell you is that with these strikes on high rises Israel took out,

      1. A Hamas command center;
      2. Hamas ministry offices used for military purposes;
      3. PLFP’s radio station used for broadcasting military commands.

      Israel also targeted a house in Rafah 30 meters under which in a tunnel room 3 highest Hamas commanders in Southern Gaza were eliminated. It also targeted Hamas’ head terrorist leader, Deif and may have killed him.

      The Israeli strikes have a military purpose and are not indiscriminate. Take a look at this video showing Hamas’ military positions and what Israel struck.


      Reply to Comment
      • Lauren

        All thses comments about tunnels. What do you call the people who were in an open air prison who have a series of tunnels to smuggle food, medicine & arms to fight the occupiers.
        I would call them freedom fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII. One man’s terrorist is another man’s resistance of oppressors and murderers.
        Sad you dont even know your own history.

        Reply to Comment
        • Whiplash

          Hamas tunnels into Israel had nothing to do with food, medicine and importation of small arms. These were lethal attack tunnels. They held rockets for firing 4000 missiles on Israeli civilians. They held mortars, anti-tank rockets, rocket launchers and shoulder launchers for grenades, explosive devices and rooms for hiding soldiers or captives.

          Hamas is not fighting for freedom. Israel left Gaza free in 2005. Hamas actions against Israel and Fatah caused a legal blockade to be established against Gaza. Hamas has caused the very restrictions which its says it wants lifted yet they are not prepared to disarm or pursue a path of peace.

          The bottom line is Hamas is a fanatical Islamic terror group sworn to the annihilation of Jews and the destruction of Israel.

          Reply to Comment
    2. “People of Gaza could choose to demonstrate for peace and the disarmament of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The people of Egypt took on Morsi and won. ”

      I know. The people of Gaza could also demonstrate in favour of a continued siege and Occupation. Surely that should please you. Showing their solidarity with poor little Israel, you know?

      As regards Morsi, he was ousted in a military coup, no less. But we know the Israelis and Americans much prefer a dictatorship of THEIR choice in Egypt. See also Mubarak, now Sisi.

      Reply to Comment
      • I’m not holding my breath but it’s to be hoped that twits like ‘whiplash’ know that Israel initially supported Hamas and why they did that?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Goldmarx

      The whiplash has been a favorite instrument of the most cruel slavers and oppressors, so the name is well-chosen.

      Abner Cohen admitted to the Wall Street Journal in 2008 that Israel, to his deep regret, created Hamas.

      I suspect that Bibi’s manhood was threatened by the size of the towers, so they had to go.

      Reply to Comment
      • bor

        Abner Cohen was speaking metaphorically, as the rest of that very article explains. You should learn to read critically.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      The Palestinians must organize an international class-action lawsuit that will hammer Israel with direct culpability for all the destruction in Gaza, and direct responsibility for its reconstruction. Some estimates peg the cost at more than $10 billion.

      For Israel to be hammered with that bill would send shock waves in Israel, and would put Israel into serious economic difficulty (already there are talks of tax hikes in Israel to pay for the direct cost of the war).

      The ball is in the Palestinians’ court.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Rubbish in leftists’ heads is really funny. Indeed, silly leftists could not possibly comprehend that the government of Gaza had declared war on Israel, therefore Israel has a legitimate right to pound Gaza as much as it pleases.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Joe Rich

      Gaza will need major rebuilding when this crazy war is over. Let us make Israel pay for this! I do not want one dollar to come from the Gazan natural gas supplies off the coast, or from the U. S. people. U. S. stop payments to Israel until Israel pays up.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        What natural gas supplies? There has not been and there is no scheduled development of the small gas field off Gaza. What company will develop the field and ship the gas to Gaza where consumers do not pay their bills.

        Reply to Comment
      • Jim Hyder

        WE are complicit in what happened in Gaza. WE voted for what WE got that was supposed to be looking out for American interests not Israel’s. So WE might as well killed a few children or elderly or some young college boy or girl, take yer pick.
        Next time look before you vote. Ask questions when or wherever they turn up.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Richard

      Oh, the savagery. How very savage of those savages.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Average American

      Danny in support of your concept, I’d like to see Israel pay for its own tanks and planes and ships. Right now, Israel buys them yes, but with money given to it by USA. I’d like to see Israel pay for all its own bills, why isn’t it? Israel is the regional superpower, that’s what it wanted to be, now let it stand on its own two feet. This Gaza thing is stupid, it’s small potatoes, but it’s presented like a big battle so it can feed national pride, race-defined nationalism, pure-race nationalism.

      Reply to Comment
      • Terrence

        Actually, the american aid to Israel covers only a minority of Israel’s security expenses. Only recently it was published that Israel purchased 2.6 billion dollars worth of jet fuel, while the entire yearly american aid is 3 billion. Obviously the IDF has other expenses beyond jet fuel.
        As for your musing on a “race-defined nationalism” – correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the US place Japanese Americans in camps during WW2? Did you hear of any Israeli Arabs held in camps during operation Protective Edge? Nope, they were free to do as they please, whether it’s to go to the beach or to pelt stones at drivers to express their frustration with the political situation.

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          That’s what I mean, trying to compare Gaza to WW2. Giving Gaza an “operation” name. Photos of Netanyahu and his men looking stern in a “command center”. Israel is just mowing people down, there’s no epic battle. It’s silly. It shows how desperately Israel needs to feed its ultra-nationalism. Why not just occupy Gaza? It would take 15 minutes. Then no more rockets, no tunnels, no Hamas.

          Reply to Comment
    8. Uri

      “The answer has nothing to do with alleged militants-in-hiding. After all, Israel deliberately encouraged the buildings’ occupants to leave.”

      Well, you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t… Seems like pathetic anti-Israeli writers just look for a reason to bitch and write conspiracies with absolutely no facts to prove their arguments…

      “No, Israel wanted the world to watch as the towers fell…”

      Do you have any proof for this blood libel, Mr. Badawi?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Saud Abu Ramadan

      Thanks Samer.

      Reply to Comment