Four notes on the upcoming war in Gaza, “Scorching Summer”

Who turned down the ceasefire: In a couple of months, when the operation takes a turn for the worse – either when some soldiers get hit by an IED (improvised explosive device), or when an IDF missile will miss its target, as usual, blowing up a Gazan kindergarten – we’ll have to remember: Hamas asked for a ceasefire last night. In response, the IDF continued its attacks on the Gaza Strip. As far as its leaders are concerned, the Palestinians haven’t shed enough blood. The new chief of staff, Benny Gantz, after all, must demonstrate that he is as virile as the former one.

Now, if there was any achievable goal to “Scorching Summer”, turning down the ceasefire offer would make sense. Since there isn’t any – despite all its bloviating, the Israeli government won’t bring down the Hamas regime and will not re-conquer the Strip, that’s the last thing on its mind – all we’ll see is pointless bloodletting. To show the vengeance-demanding population that we can still hurt them more, much more. The use of violence to intimidate – around here this is called “deterrence” – is, especially when used against civilians, generally considered to be terrorism.

A war crime: The son of a bitch who aimed an anti-tank missile at a school bus, and then pulled the trigger, is a war criminal. Since, as Judge Richard Goldstone found recently to his surprise that Hamas does not cleave to the laws of war, any reasonable act by Israel to kill him – no, Gantz, I do not consider taking out a whole apartment building to be “reasonable” – would be welcome. Mad dogs ought to be put down.

The son of a bitch who aimed a rocket from a chopper at a Palestinian ambulance (Hebrew), and then pulled the trigger, is a war criminal. Despite what Goldstone may think, Israel will not indict him, and should anyone try to do so, it will wail this is “lawfare” – that oh so useful idiom intended to make a judicial act look like a terrorist one.

Goldstone: During the past week, Richard Goldstone managed to become hateful to both sides. On the one hand, he wrote a rather problematic article, where he praised Israel as being better than Hamas. On the other, after official Israel went mad with glee, he had to make a public statement that he stands behind his report, and that it is still valid.

Given the amount of Schadenfreude expressed by the government, however, it is perfectly possible that in 50 years we’ll find out that Goldstone’s hesitation, his yes and no momemnt, was one of the elements promoting this operation.

The War Mongers: Make no mistake: This operation was not hastily put together yesterday. The Hamas gunmen who fired the rocket at the bus just gave the IDF and Ehud Barak the excuse they were looking for. If it didn’t happen yesterday, it would have happened in a week’s time. If the Hamas had failed to provide the IDF with an excuse, the IDF would have twisted its arm so it would. It has been escalating the Gaza front for a month now.

This little war is good for everyone, except the civilians who’ll have to pay the price. It’s good for Netanyahu, distracting the public from his and the Lady’s latest flight scandal. It’s good for Barak – he becomes a person of importance again, and, who knows, maybe public support for him will rise so much it may actually reach a positive figure. It’s good for the IDF, because it always likes risk-free wars – and it stopped considering risks to civilians as a factor a long time ago; at the most, it is an excuse to use even more force. For months, it refused to deploy the Iron Dome batteries, which it praised to high heaven yesterday; defending civilians was simply not all that important.

And the war is good, oh so good, to Hamas. Now it has the chance to change its image: it is no longer an anachronistic, oppressive force, putting down demonstrators demanding reform and a unity government. It no longer has to fear suffering the same divisions suffered by the mother movement – the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – after the revolution there. Instead of becoming hated as an occupying regime, it can now wave the bloody shirt of “resistance”. Suddenly this organization, even though it may be scum, is once again the group fighting Israel on behalf of the common Gazan. Firing Qassam rockets, not to mention firing anti-tanks rockets at a school bus, is definitely easier than attempting to provide over a million people with a decent living.

And since the war is good for so many, there’s a good chance it’ll continue.