Why Israel Attacked Gaza?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dr. Seyf al-Reza Shahabi

In December 1968, Israeli planes and helicopters attacked Beirut airport and destroyed 13 large passenger airplanes each with a cost of several million dollars and inflicted a loss of $100 million plus.

Forty years in the same month, Israeli planes and helicopters attacked Gaza martyring over 300 people and injuring more than one thousand others. They also inflicted huge losses on the Palestinian town.

One of the differences between the two actions is that the attack on Beirut was condemned by the US and British governments at that time but the attack on Gaza was endorsed by them. The reason is that the attack on Beirut was an adventure which had no benefit whatsoever for the US, Britain and the Arab governments in the region. But the attack on Gaza had some benefits for Washington, London, Tel Aviv, the Arab states in the region as well as for the government of Mahmoud Abbas, for reasons to be explained below.

But before an evaluation of the causes of this incident, it must be noted that following the announcement of ceasefire between Hamas and Israel six months ago, the Israeli imposed an economic siege on Gaza since two months ago putting pressure on the 1.5 million residents of the city. As the truce expired in December, Gaza announced that its extension would depend on an end to the economic siege of Gaza. But on the pretext of retaliating for the rocket attacks of Hamas, the Israelis created another human tragedy by bombing innocent Gazan on December 27.

The following reasons can be cited for the Israeli economic siege on Gaza although the ceasefire was holding between the two sides:

1.    Israel intends to force the people of Gaza to halt their support for Hamas by making life so difficult for the Gazans. It also aims to strengthen the establishment of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) so that he would extend his chairmanship which expires on January 9, 2009.

2.    Elections will be held in Israel in February 2009 to elect a new prime minister. The incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister Tzipi Livni (who is a contender), aim to consolidate the position of Kadima Party among the voters by exercising the policy of iron fist. They also want to undermine the harsh slogans of Ehud Barak (Labor Party) and Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Party).

3.    Certain Arab governments like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia consider Hamas an agent of Iran in the region and are concerned over its growing power. Therefore, by giving the green light to Tel Aviv they are trying to get rid of Hamas and thus check Iran’s influence and power in the region.

4.    The Israelis decided to inflict a heavy blow on Hamas in the last days of the Bush Administration so that the Islamic Resistance would be unable to show off for a long period of time. Israel hopes that with the inauguration of Barack Obama the conditions would thus be ready for the Arab governments to recognize the Zionist regime.

5.    Bush too supports escalation of the crisis in the Middle East because now that he has failed to fulfill his promise to resolve the crisis by the end of 2008, he would rather leave behind an ill-omened legacy for his successor.

6.    Saudi Arabia is seeking to implement King Abdullah’s peace plan and regards Hamas an impediment. Therefore, Riyadh believes a fatal blow on Hamas would be in the interest of the peace plan.   

In addition to the above-mentioned reasons, today the sentiments of the international community, including Muslims have once again been injured as a result of the Israeli crimes and this helps the hostility towards Tel Aviv and its global and regional supporters grow further. The United States, Israel and the Arab governments must know that they will not be able to yield whatever they wish from the seeds of violence they have sowed.


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