Sunday, January 4, 2009

Israel and Gaza at War....Politics

The Political Perspective

I plan on presenting both sides of the political battle here as best as I can. Please keep in mind that Israel has a more open media policy than does Hamas. In fact, the information regarding the Hamas perspective, their goals, and their ideology has mostly come from US sources such as; the FAS (Federation of American Scientists) and the CRS (Congressional Research Service), and the Washington Institute. Now, while I would like to think these are reliable sources, it does need to be noted to anyone reading this that this is where the information has come from. I also read the news from the Al Jazeera web site, that’s about as close as I can get to any actual Palestinian political input. The following pictures of the Israeli government and Hamas are presented in a manner that, without doubt, influences the senses into one of civility VS terror, but keep in mind, too, that access to Hamas photos is also very limited. My past experience in activism and input from friends has also influenced my perspective, so please keep all of this in mind. Thank you.


Israel was given a large majority of Palestinian land between the 1920s and the 1950s by the UN. By 1967, due to wars/attacks instigated both by Israel and Arab nations Israel came to occupy the West Bank and the Gaza strip, originally dedicated to Palestine in 1947. It’s easy for Israel to look at the West Bank and Gaza as a benefit of war. When one country wins a war it’s only natural for that country to occupy the land in which it has claimed. This outlook has been around since the dawn of time. So, in the eyes of Israel, they fought and died for their right to exist not only in Israel proper but also in the occupied territories. In their agreement to give the West Bank and Gaza back over to the Palestinians they feel they have made a great compromise. Israelites will be displaced, some who have lived in the occupied territories for a long time, and new accommodations within Israel proper will need to be made for them. The main thing that Israel is asking for is that the Arab nations recognize their right to exist as a nation, and allow them to live in peace and safety.

Israel states that in 2005 they withdrew from the occupied territories, allowing for the self-government of the Palestinian people. After the Palestinian elections in 2006 the West Bank fell under the jurisdiction of Fatah (formerly the PLO), while Gaza fell under the authority of Hamas. Fatah has been recognized as a legitimate governing body by both Israel and the UN. Hamas, on the other hand, is only recognized by the Arab states; in the eyes of Israel and the US Hamas is a terrorist group. This has brought on two different forms of negotiation between Israel and the West Bank, and Israel and Gaza. While fighting has lessened in the West Bank an onslaught of attacks has continued between Israel and the Gaza strip. The latest outbreak that we are now witnessing has occurred because Hamas claims Israel broke the latest peace treaty by denying the entry of essential food and medical supplies into the Gaza strip, and so began unleashing rockets in retaliation. Israel claims that the accusations from Hamas are untrue and that they have been under sporadic rocket attack all year. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA) claims that 1,212 rockets and 1,290 mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip have struck southern Israel since the beginning of the year (Jan-Nov 2008). They believe Hamas has broken the truce and they feel it is their duty to defend the Israeli people. Israel does not recognize Hamas as a legitimate government; they see them solely as terrorists and will not concede to a Palestinian terrorist state. Israel claims that they are deeply concerned for the humanitarian condition of the Palestinian peoples within the Gaza strip, but they believe their ultimate safety and well being falls to the responsibility of Hamas. Israel is basically saying, enough is enough, lets end this now. They are tired of dealing with hostile people who they believe will not stop until Israel is conquered, and so, they must defend themselves until a sure victory is had.


Came into being in 1967 as a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, They grew into Hamas during the first intifada in the 80s. Their agenda is based strongly on Islamic Fundamentalism and their popularity within the Gaza strip has grown over the years. In the 2006 elections Hamas was voted into power and recognized as the ruling authority in Gaza by the Palestinian people. Fatah was elected by the peoples of the West Bank as their governing authority. The ideologies of Hamas and Fatah are deeply at odds when it comes to the recognition of Israel. Fatah is willing to recognize Israel as a state and negotiate with Israel. Hamas on the other hand takes the position that Israel never had a right to their land, that it was given to Israel under false pretence and that they hold no rights to it. They are calling for the complete withdraw of Israel from Palestine proper according to the Pre-1947 boundaries. It is widely believed that should Hamas be victorious that open warfare between Hamas and Fatah would follow.

Many of the Palestinians who have chosen to support Hamas have done so because they feel that Fatah has been ineffective in resolving the Palestinian crisis. They have seen year after year of occupation and oppression. They have been removed from their land, denied many basic human rights and feel that Israel is their enemy. They believe Israel’s primary goal is to eliminate them as a people and that Fatah is helping them to achieve that goal by negotiating with them. They strongly believe that Israel is a terrorist state. Combine that belief with the belief that Israel has taken their lands illegally and you have one volatile mixture.

It is believed that Hamas is being funded primarily by Iran, and probably by Jordan and some groups in Saudi Arabia. Hamas relies on violence as its chief means of achieving its goals. They believe that a truce is to be used as a means of regrouping and regaining their strength. Until Israel makes them a “serious” offer, which includes the complete withdraw from Palestine (pre-1947), they will not end the jihad (holy war). They have openly declared in propaganda pamphlets that Palestinians should “increase attacks with knives, grenades, and guns against the cowardly Jews in their houses and turn the day into darkness and the nights into intolerable hell * * * view every Jewish settler as a target to be killed, whose blood and money are for the taking.” [From the FAS / CRS ]

Looking at things through this perspective certainly gives one a feeling of hopelessness when it comes to seeking a tolerable solution to this problem. Keep in mind, though, that there are many, many Palestinians who do want peace. They would like nothing more than to be able to raise their children in safety, send them to school, go to work, and have a “normal” life. These are the people who unfortunately become the victims of this horrific battle. There have been so many painful and intolerable acts committed on both sides of this war that I believe its very difficult, if not fully impossible to cast blame on any one people. The fact of the matter is this…the politics of this situation has cost too many people their lives. Men, women, and children have been suffering for generations and the political aspect, negotiations, and wars have done little, if anything, to resolve the crisis. I believe that the only solution is to be found through a united humanitarian front. That front begins with educating people about the humanitarian crisis that has taken place and continues throughout the lands of Israel and Palestine. The next post will be an attempt to do just that.

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