What’s the Matter With Gaza?

Council for the National Interest Foundation

Posted Dec 29, 2008      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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IS Gaza another Sharpeville Massacre? Nearly fifty years ago, the South African regime attacked a crowd protesting the conditions in the Bantustan of Sharpeville and in a matter of minutes killed some 69 black South Africans. Eventually, after world reaction to this “incident,” sanctions were imposed and they led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.

Using American weapons, Israel has just indiscriminately killed more than four times that number in Gaza. In 1960 there were 20 million black South Africans and today there are only one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza. So the first two days of the American-supported Israeli attempt to wipe out Hamas is sixty times as criminal as the Sharpeville massacre.

No end to the violence is in sight, as a ground attack is threatened and may happen at any hour. Our CNIF team that recently visited the area had advance information about Israel’s intention to go into Gaza and wipe out the leadership of Hamas when we talked with General Ephraim Sneh six weeks ago. His statements in effect said: we Israelis know exactly how to do it and we will do it in spite of the cease fire that was then in effect. The only problem, he indicated, is that Israel (and by inference America) does not have an exit strategy. This was eerily reminiscent of our own generals in Vietnam and in Iraq.

What should the Obama administration’s policy be toward Israeli use of American weaponry against a civilian population? One can probably safely predict that it will not be to sanction Israel by denying her new American weapons. All the indications are that it will be more of the same under Obama. Years of talk and no action. We will try to train Palestinian police nominally under the control of the PLO to pacify Gaza and put down any insurrection in the West Bank. That did not work in 2007 and it will not work in 2009.

A whole new strategy is needed, even if limited to Israeli security and Palestinian self-governance as the only two concerns. Israel backed by America will not be able to eliminate Hamas from either Gaza or the West Bank with a few thousand policemen trained in Jordan. We are only delaying the day when Israel will have to withdraw militarily from Gaza and open the border to Egypt. It is almost too late for this now, with the looming Israeli elections in February. Meanwhile the residents of Gaza have been suffering inhumanely from the Israeeli blockade, even before the bombs were unleashed.

From talks we held with Hamas, and from talks Jimmy Carter held with some of the same people only a few months earlier, it is plain that Egypt can no longer be the only mediator between Hamas and the PLO which holds the key to ending the Gaza adventure by Israel.

There is no good military exit strategy for Israel or the United States in Gaza, only further chaos and enmity throughout the Muslim world if Israel goes in and tries to stay for another two or twenty years.

What is the matter with Gaza? Israel’s generals have once again pushed America and Israel into a no-win situation. Let us sit down and negotiate an American cease fire with whoever is able to end the long siege of Gaza and govern it successfully.

The United Nations General Assembly could be called into session and pass a “Uniting for Peace” resolution as it did in 1950 to confront the North Korean invasion of South Korea. It should call for peace keepers, not just observers, in Gaza. They could rapidly be re-deployed from the UN forces, now numbering close to 20 thousand, that are already on all of Israel’s borders, from Lebanon to Syria to the Sinai Task Force. Why not also on Gaza’s border with Israel to prevent violations by either side of a real cease fire?

That would avoid an almost certain veto by the U.S. in the Security Council of any UN involvement. After all, the United Nations were placed in charge of Gaza from 1957 to 1967. They can do it again.


Statement by the Council for the National Interest Foundation