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Why Netanyahu will lose this Gaza war, too

Israel’s military assaults consistently fail to shift the balance of moral power in its war on the Palestinians.

File photo of an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip (Photo by ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)

File photo of an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip (Photo by ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)

On the heels of a military campaign that failed at its only stated objective — to rescue three kidnapped Jewish teens — and instead yielded near-unanimous international condemnation and government-fueled racial attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone all-in on a bet that more violence will somehow reclaim his losses. As others have pointed out, Netanyahu’s gamble has come at the expense of the truth, but it is also costing the lives of more innocents, all of them so far Palestinian.

Let’s set aside for a moment how we got here and instead consider the effectiveness of Israel’s tactics to date. In Gaza, last night’s bombing began just after 1 a.m local time, and by daybreak, Israel had “targeted” 50 sites in 65 airstrikes. By 11 a.m., with rockets still flying defiantly from the coastal strip, the Israeli prime minister had instructed his air force to “take the gloves off,” and within three hours, the number of airstrikes had reportedly risen to 90 — or nearly one every five minutes.

Unlike the “homemade or smuggled rockets” at Palestinian fighters’ disposal, Israel’s payload includes GPS-guided weaponry designed to single out “pixel-sized targets.” Among these, for example, was the 67-year-old founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, who was assassinated by air (in his wheelchair) on March 22, 2004. But if the latest Israeli campaign was aimed at Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza, you wouldn’t know it from eyewitness accounts on the ground there.

As with the Israeli military’s rampage throughout the West Bank these past weeks, which Human Rights Watch and others have labeled collective punishment, the attacks on Gaza have not focused on “military targets.” As of this writing, Gaza’s Tweeps have reported repeated airstrikes against mosques, homes, and refugee camps, and the most recent reports give a tally of 14 Palestinians killed in fewer than 24 hours, including at least two children. Given Israel’s sophisticated weapons systems, one has to assume that these “targets” were specifically selected by military planners to make good on the Israeli premier’s call to escalate attacks.

And therein lies the brutal calculus of Israel’s strategists: to “take the gloves off,” they visit violence, not against a handful of alleged kidnappers in the West Bank or rocket launchers in Gaza, but against a civilian population that has neither an army to protect it nor an avenue of escape. That the majority of Gaza’s civilians are already refugees from villages violently “cleansed” or destroyed by Israel in 1948 should offer some insight into the bankruptcy of this approach. More than six decades on, Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants remain on the land, and despite Israel’s attempts to demonize them as “terrorists” or recalcitrants, they continue to resist longstanding policies to silence them.

In Gaza, those policies have included a suffocating siege by land and sea — one that patrols, at gunpoint, nearly half of the strip’s arable land and some 85 percent of its coastal waters. In the West Bank, Israel maintains daily control of more than 60 percent of the land there, in the territory labeled “Area C.” In all cases, though, Israel — as it has demonstrated in the last weeks — can attack Palestinians at will, anyplace and anytime.

As the usual chorus of Western critics justifies these attacks by condemning Hamas rockets and “rioting” in the West Bank, they might take heed of a question posed this morning by Palestine Center Executive Director Yousef Munayyer, who asks:

The question would be wasted on Israeli lawmakers, of course, who this morning approved the call up of 40,000 reservists, presumably for a pending ground invasion against Gaza. The last time that happened, in January of 2009, it capped an Israeli offensive that claimed up to 1,417 Palestinian lives — and those of 13 Israelis. That “kill ratio” — to borrow a nauseating military term — exceeded 100 to one. But if the current Israeli onslaught is any indication, it did nothing to shift the balance of moral power in Israel’s war on the Palestinians. Like those before him, Netanyahu, too, will lose this war.

Related:
Let’s talk about Gaza, Sderot and the racist valuation of lives
Beyond mission creep: Why Operation Brother’s Keeper isn’t working
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    COMMENTS

    1. Vadim

      Of course we will lose this war, just like we lost all others and just like we lost the second Lebanon war, after which Nasrallah is still afraid to fart in Israel’s direction.

      It’s just more of the same, invented brutality, Palestinian righteousness and their lack of responsibility for anything they do and some rambling about racism.

      I especially loved this part ” the number of airstrikes had reportedly risen to 90 — or nearly one every five minutes.” Now, this is military grade explosives and we’re talking about a densely populated area and a brutal army. The casualties? 10-17 injured. Oh, those brutal Jews, they are worse than the Nazis!

      Reply to Comment
      • David Reiss

        Hey Vadim why don,t you stand up to the evil tyrant Netanyahu?
        It’s clear to me that he is killing on a whim, which makes him a Psychopath “don’t you think”

        Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        Maybe you are winning the wrong war Vadim. Of course Israel has the military strength to pummel people whose arms are limited to crude missiles which cannot travel far or with any accuracy. The assault on Gaza is a duck shoot; not a war.

        The real object of this assault is to break the beginnings of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. This object may be achieved but at what cost? No-one has respect for Israeli toy soldiers who bomb Gaza. If the Palestinians can weather this assault without a break in their reconciliation process, then you lose the ‘war’.

        If Palestinian reconciliation is stymied, then what? You gain the objects of this duck shoot but Israel’s international standing further declines. And this is the real substantive ‘war’ that Israel has been losing at least since Cast Lead if not before.

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          Shooting fish in a barrel is not war,it’s murder,ceremonial bloodletting,”cutting the grass”,”the landlord has gone crazy”.

          That’s why they called this operation “Protracted Itch”

          Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          David Reiss – I don’t understand your comment, nor do I understand how it has anything to do with what I wrote. I don’t consider Netanyahoo to be an evil psychopath that kills on whim, in fact – even bloggers on this site admit he is very prudent. It is best to form your opinion based on facts and not silly antisemitic propaganda. By the way, in Israel there’s no need to stand up to evil tyrants, they can be replaced during elections.

          Eliza – We are winning the only kind of wars we have. Wars that Arabs start in various attempts to drive us out. There are no other wars here.

          I don’t know “the real objectives” behind this war, as I’m not personally familiar with our leaders. I guess your estimation is just your opinion, based solely on anti-Israeli state of mind.

          Oh, the glorious reconciliation – just wait a bit, Hamas will get stronger and some new Fatah guys will get thrown out of rooftops and hanged in the streets. All will be declared Shahid, just in case.

          Maybe at the end of this “war”, people will start realizing that a compromise with Israel is the real deal. If not, they’ll get the chance to “open the gates of hell” for Israel for several more times until they do.

          Shachalnur – we’re currently collecting their blood for the upcoming Passover. 1987 Zionist style.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Of course this “operation” (or as I like to call it – vivisection) will end just like all the other futile military campaigns Israel has conducted in the last decade or so – a ceasefire. But not before Netanyahu gives his rabid dogs (i.e. his voters) their bloody hunk of meat to gnaw on. That’s Israeli politics in a nutshell.

      I have to say that, as heartless as it may sound, I have no sympathy for the residents of Sderot and other towns that continuously find themselves on the front line. The reason being that these towns are traditional right wing (specifically Likud) strongholds, and as such must realize what they are getting each time they vote for Bibi and his friends. Logic dictates that by continually voting for nationalist, militarist governments, these people must be happy with the results, and so I wish them continued “happiness”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Steve

        How very patronizing of you

        Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        I have to say that, as heartless as it may sound, I have no sympathy for the residents of GAZA and other towns that continuously find themselves on the front line. The reason being that these towns are traditional TERRORIST wing (specifically HAMAS) strongholds, and as such must realize what they are getting each time they vote for Haniye and his friends. Logic dictates that by continually voting for nationalist, militarist TERRORIST ORGANIZATION, these people must be happy with the results, and so I wish them continued “happiness”.

        Only I’m not as heartless as you are. I do have sympathy for these people, but that does not abolish their responsibility for supporting the leader they support.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Richard

      “Israel’s military assaults consistently fail to shift the balance of moral power in its war on the Palestinians.”

      You’re absolutely right. As long as Palestinians launch rockets at Israeli civilians, Israeli will continue to have the moral power to bombard Gaza in the eyes of the international community, all of your tired irredentist blather notwithstanding.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        Gaza launched rockets after Israel bombed Gaza for no reason (for something that happened in the West Bank and which Israel has never proven was perpetrated by Hamas).

        Are you saying that Israel has a right to bomb Gaza at will (and does so whenever it feels like it), but Gaza doesn’t even have the right to respond?

        Reply to Comment
        • Marc Schulman

          Danny, based on what do you say Israeli started bombing Gaza. Hamas has been firing at Israel for two weeks

          Reply to Comment
        • Eric

          The first 175 (or so) rockets and mortars from Gaza this year happened BEFORE Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s kidnapping and murder and got almost no media coverage. That is what Israel is defending itself against. Under international law, AKA Article 51 of the UN charter, Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks.

          Reply to Comment
          • Goldmarx

            No media coverage? Not even Ha’aretz?

            If it got no media coverage, then what is the source of your information? Some secret source?

            Reply to Comment
          • Eric

            I said “almost no media coverage,” key word ‘almost. Ynet is fairly good about reporting them but they usually are ignored.

            The Shabak publicizes monthly summaries of attacks:
            Jan: 16
            Feb: 7
            March: 25 (I will admit that were I looked had a different number than the Shabak source they quoted. Shabak was 25 instead of 65)
            April: 23
            May: 9
            June: 36
            Abu Khdeir died July 2. Therefore, ignoring the rockets from July there were a total of 116 rockets, mortars, small arms, and IEDs, fired from Gaza.

            Reply to Comment
    4. rsgengland

      Over 3.5 million Israelis being collectively punished by the crude home made rockets fired at Israel from Gaza.
      They may be crude and they may be inaccurate, BUT THEY CAN STILL KILL.
      They are fired from positions concealed within the Palestinian population.
      That constitutes a WAR CRIME.
      They are directed randomly at Israeli population centers.
      That constitutes a WAR CRIME.
      Israel does its best to target its air strikes to hit specific targets and to try and avoid civilian casualties.
      The incredibly low casualty rate in Gaza is testament to the success of this policy.
      Gaza is densely populated and Hamas hides out among the civilian populace. Considering the damage that is possible if this battle was conducted like that being waged in Syria, the damage and death would be incalculable.
      Israel has also spent billions on creating an infrastructure to protect its citizens.
      Hamas spends its billions on trying to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth

      Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        So, I would suggest that Yousef Munayyer’s question can be posed to you.

        Q: Do **you** therefore support the notion that an outside power should supply Hamas with sophisticated GPS-guided missiles, helicopter gunships, and top-notch fighter jets armed with laser-guided smart bombs?

        And if not then why not?

        After all, you are bemoaning the inaccuracy of Hamas’ weapons, so giving them highly-accurate weaponry is going to be a solution to that problem, is it not?

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          “After all, you are bemoaning the inaccuracy of Hamas’ weapons, so giving them highly-accurate weaponry is going to be a solution to that problem, is it not?”

          No one is “bemoaning the inaccuracy of Hamas’ weapons”, but in case you haven’t noticed – Hamas ONLY target civilian targets. It’s not that civilians get hurt by mistake. Hamas ONLY targets civilians. What were Hamas guys doing in Zikim yesterday?

          You are defending an organization that has only one strategy – fire at Jewish civilians.

          Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          It is not missiles that are the killers, it is their launchers.
          And if Hamas aims their rockets intentionally at Israeli civilians, then that constitutes a WAR CRIME.
          The INTENTION IS TO KILL OR MAIM AS MANY JEWS AS POSSIBLE

          Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “The INTENTION IS TO KILL OR MAIM AS MANY JEWS AS POSSIBLE”

            Utter nonsense. Hamas knows as well as you that they can fire scores of these rockets and not scratch a single, solitary Israeli.

            The “intention” of these rockets is to send a message to the Israelis that the Palestinians can’t be locked away in a cage and then ignored.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            The idea that a terrorist organization that sent people to explode in crowds of Jews, that sent people to kidnap and kill Jews in the past, that has just threatened to “open the gates of hell” for Israel and that has just sent an armed team of terrorists into Zikim to kill Jews – sends subtle political messages by intentionally missing is stupid.

            There’s no way around it. It’s just stupid.

            Reply to Comment
          • Guy L.

            Johnboy-
            Right you are. Let’s assume that you’re correct for a few minutes, and ignore the infiltration attempt into kibbutz Zikim.

            Just to clarify- Hamas wants to send a message to the Israeli public. So in order to stand up against Israeli opression, they fire a salvo (which will not hurt anyone) onto Israeli towns. Because Hamas is a political and national organization after all, they are sending out a political and nationalistic message by firing rockets at civilian targets. And that’s fine by your book?
            I do believe it’s a dictionary definition of terrorism. I even looked it up just to make sure.

            You can add to that Danny’s wonderful statement that “I have no sympathy for the residents of… towns that continuously find themselves on the front line… Because they are mainly right wing voters.”
            I don’t know if you agree with the above statement or not, Johnboy, and I’d hate to put words in your mouth, but I just couldn’t ignore that one.
            Really? My sister (who is definitely not a Likud voter) moved to Beer Sheva to study social work. No sympathy?
            I have a 3 years old cousin that lives in the area, and he’s currently underground. He’s not old enough to vote, or have a political opinion for that matter. No sympathy? None whatsoever?
            Or maybe you can find it in your heart to forgive a 3 years old kid that happened to be born in a freaking warzone.
            At what age do Israelis turn into a faceless, nameless Likud supporting rabid dog with a herd mentality?
            12, 13?

            Before you lot ramble on and turn me into a racist, blood letting, Palestinian eating Hasbara fiend- I do not blindly support my government. I actually have quite a lot of criticism and you’d be surprised at how many things we might actually agree on.
            Nor am I trying to justify this horrible war. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you did before you got shot to shit. I can speak from a grim and terrible experience, that once a human body is spread out over a 5 meter radius, you can’t really tell if he voted Likud, Hamas, or was just a 3 years old. Unfortunately, I’ve seen all three instances of said situations.

            I am not trying to justify the bombings and killings that are done on my behalf. When “we” kill a kid, and when “they” kill a kid, a child is dead. “You” (and I do hate to generalize), however, do seem to justify violence.
            “Oh, it was a horrible and violent action, but what do expect? When you oppress a population for so long, it’s obvoius that they will react. While I don’t condone the action, I can understand it. They are oppressed after all.” This is sickening.

            As I’ve said before- my attempt here is not to wash Israel’s hands clean of this mess and put the blame on the Palestinians. Personally, I think its irrelevant. Both Palestinian leadership and Israeli leadership are equally repugnant and odious to me, and are both responsible for any human life lost.
            And honestly, about 99% of the opinions in here, including writers and commenters from both sides of the political spectrum, share the responsibility.

            For a very long time I thought that my government was paranoind, post traumatic and stuck in a survival trip. It was, in fact, one my biggest and most outspoken criticisms of it. Unfortunately for me, I can’t go to Gaza or Ramallah and strike up a political conversation with a random passerby, so I read 972 and other blogs instead. And boy, after going through and reading articles and opinios I can honestly say that you’ve resored my fate in the Israeli government to some extent.

            It’s ironic, that after 3 years of a horrible military service I came out with a very strong belief that if “we” just leave these people alone, everyone here might stand a chance of a normal lifestyle. You folks managed to demolish my hope in a little over a year.

            This is my criticism of your political opinions, actions, and words, as a person representing a political faction that is reportedly rooting for justice, euqality, and human rights.
            Well, you’re not. You’re not representing any of these things. Rather, you represent Enas’ comment of
            “u want peace? leave our land and get the hell out of our country..”

            Reply to Comment
    5. Alison

      Yet another self righteous condemning article with no solution. Would be very interested to hear how mr badawi would solve the problem…… No doubt it would be super humane and let me guess involve the indiscriminate killing of all Jews…..I’m still waiting for the day when the media stops slamming Israel for every move and starts trying to find a solution that means both sides can live together in peace.

      Reply to Comment
      • errol groves

        One Palestine,one democratic Republic
        lived in by all as equals.
        Tough for Zionist Izraelis to imagine
        but the only solution.

        Reply to Comment
    6. AIG

      So what you are arguing is that if a entity does not have accurate weapons, it can commit war crimes and target civilians. Got it. Israel should destroy its accurate weapons and then obliterate Gaza with inaccurate weapons according to your logic. Then of course you would support Israel’s actions.

      Reply to Comment
    7. AIG

      For 66 years all we hear is that “Israel will lose” this or that war. As usual the Palestinians will lose this round badly. But you are welcome to your illusions.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Enas

      Since 2000, 14,400 Children died in Palestine when 20 dies in the ‘so called’ Israel of yours, 8000 children under the age of 9 are in their prisons vs. ZERO in the palestinian jails,15000 god damn new settlements built on top of demolished homes for innocent ppl, and u still DARE to tell me they are protecting themselves?? from what???? Israel invaded, killed, injured and crushed ppl and their lives for the past 66 years, and u want the palestinians to sit and watch? would they do this in London if they got invaded? or any other country in the world? Is their blood more precious than the palestinians? is this humanity? u want peace? leave our land and get the hell out of our country..

      Reply to Comment
    9. Joe

      Once again Israel is shooting itself in the foot by massacring innocent civilians and children. This will only further the growing calls to boycott Israel which today is gaining more grounds all over the world.

      There are two ways Israel will be able to survive and keep face with the world. Either allow a Palestinian state to be formed and withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank. Or give equal citizenship to Palestinians there and accept to live in a binational state. Get on with the program before you risk losing it all!

      Reply to Comment
    10. wp

      WAR CRIMES committed daily: Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, widely condemned for targeting civilians, have been described as terrorism by United Nations, European Union and Israeli officials, and are defined as war crimes by human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

      Reply to Comment
    11. My opinion is, if somebody step on your foot, step on his feet too, else slap him but never kill him using a machine gun because that is what they say disproportionate reply/response. Look at the ratio of killed, no formula in mathematical science/analysis is appropriate to solve the equation/problem. Let us not forget that God had created humans equally, no superiority above one another, life is so short in this world. Had not the Jews experienced same predicaments as the Palestinians during world war II, what a horrible thing and history is repeating itself, oh come on guys……..

      Reply to Comment
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