Special Bulletin Gaza Report #11
© January 19 2009
To be published until present crises ends
Readers are encouraged to distribute these bulletins freely
In This Issue
Unilateral Cease Fire
What of the Future?
The Closed Circle
Unilateral Cease Fire
The Israeli Government declared a unilateral cease fire as of 02:00 am, Sunday, January 18th. The Government further stated that, if Hamas will desist from firing, it will remove its troops from Gaza within a short while. “We didn’t set out to conquer Gaza, we didn’t set out to control Gaza, we don’t want to remain in Gaza and we intend on leaving Gaza as fast as possible”, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at a dinner with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic. On Sunday evening, Israeli forces began deploying outside of Gaza and a larger number were withdrawn on Monday, deployed along the Gaza border should Hamas breach the cease fire.
Hamas’ initial response was a barrage of 17 rockets shot into Israel in the course of the day and a number of attempts to attack Israeli troops stationed in the Strip. Israel did not respond to the rocket attacks beyond finding and destroying the launching pads. Hamas combatants who shot at Israeli troops were killed in the ensuing gun fire.
Throughout the fighting, Israel evacuated Palestinian wounded to Israeli hospitals. Israeli ambulance drivers risked their lives to bring Palestinians to safety. An emergency ward and Operating Theatre has been established by Israeli medical authorities near the border with Gaza in an effort to cater for the needs of a still greater number. Services are offered gratis, at the expense of the Israeli Government. Scores of volunteers, with the support of some paid workers, are manning this humanitarian effort.
The ruling party in Egypt issued two unprecedented directives on Sunday. The first to the Information Ministry, instructing it to order the Television and Radio Authority not to broadcast Palestinian national songs and “to make do with low-key songs.” The second to the Education Ministry telling it to ban national songs from being played in schools, and to avoid all songs on Pan-Arabism and jihad in the coming days.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, and Arab leaders meet at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheich on Sunday in an effort to consolidate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. They pressed for an end to weapons smuggling in Gaza and for the opening of the coastal territory to humanitarian aid.
The Europeans later meet in Israel with Prime Minster Ehud Olmert. Mr. Olmert expressed extreme sorrow over Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza but emphasized that these were the inevitable consequence of Hamas’ choice to operate from within a
civilian population, the support that many in the population gave Hamas and Hamas’ determination to use civilians as human shields, at times forcing them to remain in combat areas. Israel took every measure possible to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties, often at the expense of the success of their mission. Over 200,000 telephone calls were made to Gaza residents to warn them of impending attacks. Milli0ons of leaflets were dropped, sometimes with specific addresses to which residents were encouraged to move and where they would be secure.
Hamas’ decision to operate from within densely populated areas, from within or in the vicinity of schools, hospitals, UN institutions and clinics led – as it was intended to lead – to casualties and to damage of such facilities. Hamas even desecrated mosques by converting them into military depots, command posts and storage-areas, sometimes firing from them at Israeli troops. The organization then cynically shed media tears over the intended consequences of its strategic choices.
Hamas responded to the Israeli unilateral cease fire by announcing a cease-fire of its own, giving Israel a week to pull out of Gaza. Ayman Taha, a Hamas official in Cairo for talks with Egypt on a truce deal, demanded the immediate and unconditional opening of all Gaza’s border crossings to meet the “basic needs for our people.” In the course of the fighting, Israel assisted the transfer of foods and medical supplies into Gaza equal to approximately twice the daily amount that entered the Strip prior to the commencement
of recent hostilities. In response to Hamas’ demand Israel has said that it will allow the free flow of foods, medicines and any other civilian commodities, but it will not concede the importation of weapons or of other military materiel.
The European leaders have called upon Hamas and Israel to desist from all forms of
violence, with specific reference with Hamas’ rocket firing into Israel. They also committed the expertise and resources of their countries to forestalling Hamas’ efforts to re-arm. Egyptian President. Housni Mubarak, has insisted that the border crossing between his country and Gaza will only open on condition that Hamas is not represented at the crossing, and that Palestinian Authority and European forces are represented. Moderate Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudia, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are equally concerned that Hamas is not allowed to re-arm and to convert Gaza into a forward staging ground for Iranian radical Islamic expansionism.
Gordon Brown of Britain said on Saturday that Britain had offered naval resources that could be used to help prevent arms smuggling into Gaza as part of an arrangement to
end the fighting. Brown told reporters that France and Germany had made similar offers in a bid to curtail the bloodshed.
In Germany, Merkel’s office released a statement indicating that she, Brown and Sarkozy wrote Israeli and Egyptian leaders, expressing a willingness to take a series of concrete
measures to combat arms smuggling. She said they all expressed support for the efforts of the Israeli and Egyptian governments to reach a lasting cease-fire in Gaza, demanded that Hamas put an end to its rocket firing and called upon both sides to maintain peace.
Hamas vowed to rearm in defiance of any Israeli and international efforts to prevent the Islamist militant group from replenishing its arsenal of rockets and other weapons after the Gaza war. Speaking on Monday, January 19, Abu Ubeida, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, told a news conference: “Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons.”
What of the Future?
The ball is now in Hamas’ hands. The IDF presence on the ground, combined with the fact that the crossings will remain closed for the time being, may prompt it to continue firing rockets into Israel. Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, threatened on Saturday that “If we don’t get what we want, we will continue to fire rockets.”
The key question as far as Israel is concerned is how to respond to the next rocket attack. Israeli Governments have failed that test thrice in the past: After the pullout from Lebanon in 2000, after the disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and during the cease-fire
with Hamas in 2008. In all the aforementioned cases, the threat of a harsh response on Israel’s part turned out to be empty. Hostilities against Israel continued to trickle, eventually resulting in a major conflagration.
In the longer run, Israel is hoping that the combination of the deterrence it has gained vise a vie Hamas, and an international arrangement to prevent smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through will bring peace to the people of southern Israel for a relatively long period of time. Israel is under no illusions that Hamas will set aside its charter, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement by an Islamic State.
That is Israel’s greatest dilemma. Readers of these special bulletins are warmly encouraged to read Bat Yeor’s two excellent books Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002) and Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005), as well as David Pryce-Jones’ The Closed Circle (Paladin Books, London, 1989). The first of these describes the fundamental Islamic world view and its attitude to non-Islamic cultures and nations. The second documents determined, designed and developing Islamic encroachments in Europe as a means on implementing the world view described in the first book. Pryce-Jones’ book, from which an extended quote appears below, is an attempt to analyze Islamic Arab culture and to review its practical consequences in Islamic Arab societies. The threesomes, written by well-informed individuals, make for enlightening but very disconcerting reading.
The Closed Circle
The following is taken from Pryce-Jones’ Conclusion of his above-mentioned excellent book. Published in 1989, many of its statements are almost prophetic.
“The Arab world has no institutions… under guarantee of law…. No mechanism exists so that people may participate in whatever is being decided and performed in their name
and ostensibly for their sake.. vital issues of peace and war and life and death are at the sole disposition of whoever has power.
“A handful of absolute despots oppress and attack with every available stratagem all those within reach… Politics in practice is reduced to the black arts of applied force, and in any emergency, of terror. In all relationships, domestics, private and public, internal and external, violence is therefore not only customary but also systematic and utterly impervious to piecemeal reform or amelioration.
“Concession of rights to one another, or to members of other tribes and religions, entails loss of supremacy. Anyone who granted equal rights to outsiders and strangers, or who managed to construct participatory institutions to that end, would be consider to
have harmed and diminished himself and his own kind pointlessly and heedlessly, and he could not survive what would be perceived as humiliation…
“Individual Arabs frequently and movingly express grief and dismay at what they have to suffer by way of systematic persecution and rapacity, but not one so far has profoundly analyzed the cause and proposed and published a cure. On the contrary, the Arab collectivity shows more sign of maintaining faith with itself into the indefinite future than of evolving into modern participatory societies. It is as though the Arabs have trapped themselves into a closed circle form which they sense they must break out for their won good, but within which identity and its supportive values paralyze endeavors of rescue.
“Islamic revival has nothing to do with worship and man’s relationship with God or nature, but is a fictitious catch-phrase on which anyone with a will for it may mount a bid for power… without political form, strictly emotional in thought and practice, the appeal of this alleged revival lies in its apology for weakness, and in the converse of its apparent defiance of Western vitality.
“Until such a time as the restraining circle is breached, the Arab approach to the modern world must peter out in inadequacy and frustration. The very defensiveness has an obvious and intimate connection with positive envy and temptation…. As usual, the collectivity still divides as power holder and challenger comes to a test of strength, after which it settles for a breathing space until the next man steps forward with ambitions to seize the State and its treasury.
“Conspiracy, manipulation and deception of opinion at home and abroad are still the requisite skills of pretenders to power, with exile and death the fate of losers… to compromise is only to search for advantage by other means. But thanks to imported arms and communications, the price paid by the masses for these practices is each time costlier and more bloody, ripping away and cancelling material progress that has been made.
“Westerners habitually and ignorantly misconceive the responses they are likely to encounter from the Arabs, unsuitably and even laughably projecting their own political and moral attitudes where these cannot apply… Israel is in a similar predicament, routinely obliged to arbitrate by force while fruitlessly pleading for democratic procedures of compromise and civility to resolve a conflict that would be redundant, indeed would never have assumed its historic form, if such procedures had been available in the first place.
“Apparently busy as sponsors and clients, the Arabs are in reality stalemated in intentions and ambitions and rivalries that duplicate, neutralize and, finally, oppose one another. A distribtu9ion of the once-and-for all oil wealth follows, but so random that it is often indistinguishable from wastage.
“How Arabs choose to organize their affairs is, naturally, their own business. For an outsider to prescribe some alternative is vain – even a tentative recommendation of democracy, for example, is evidently Eurocentric as well as wishful in the context. Neither self confidence nor a scientific outlook can be dispensed. At present, an Arab democrat is not even an idealization, but a contradiction in terms.
“In the absence of institutions in which otherwise exclusive tribal and religious identities may all partake, however, and pending hem the introduction of pluralism in whatever form may be suitable, the Arab masses must remain uninvolved in influencing their own fate, unable to exercise the element of choice without which there is neither creativity nor true independence, nor even a genuine nation.
“In the first instance, the Arabs are the losers, a danger to themselves, dropping out of the making of history, but beyond that the rest of the world is deprived of what ought to be the valuable contribution of these people.”
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These Special Bulletins are written by Baruch Maoz and intermittently issued by Soli Deo Gloria (Israel). They offer an informed Christian view of the Middle East Conflict.
I am an Israeli. I am Jewish. I am therefore warm-heartedly and unapologetically committed to the welfare of my people. I am also, first and foremost, a Christian. My Christian convictions should override my patriotic assumptions. I hope they do. Thirty Three years of Christian service in Israel show that I am not indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians, or to the failings of my own people. Readers are welcome to request papers I wrote in the past concerning the Middle East Conflict. These will evidence my views.
I am grateful to belong to a nation that seeks and is held to higher moral standards than the majority, including many among those who now criticize us for defending.
I make no claim to objectivity, but will have never and undertake never to manipulate facts or knowingly report an untruth. Should I discover that any of my reports conveyed incorrect information, I undertake to publish an immediate correction.
Comments are welcome and free distribution of this bulletin is encouraged.
Baruch is known as a long-time friend of the Palestinian people and has repeatedly called for church unity between Jewish and Arab Christians in Israel. He served as Pastor of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation in Israel since its founding in May 1976. He retired from the pastoral ministry in December 2008 and is now engaged in writing original expository and doctrinal literature in Hebrew.
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