Coldly Calculating

Netanyahu may just have miscalculated in Israel’s latest instalment of slaughter in Gaza. Gazans’ capacity to endure will not have been missed in Netanyahu’s considerations. However what was likely absent in Israeli calculations is Hamas’s capacity to inflict pain on Israel.

Every rocket fired after 1100 Palestinian deaths and 100s of Israeli air strikes is not only an obvious act of defiance, but also an illustration that no matter what Israel throws at Gaza and her children, the occupants of the “largest prison camp on earth” retain the ability to strike back. No matter how unlikely serious military damage Israel will result from such rockets, Netanyahu cannot claim to have made Israel safe while even one unpredictable rocket remains able to be launched. Short of nuking Gaza, Netanyahu’s declared ‘war’ aim of ensuring no more rocket’s can be fired is unattainable. Having committed himself to achieving this, and subsequently being unable to deliver this goal, he risks being associated with, if not defeat by Hamas, then at least failure of policy.

Another Netanyahu objective, that of destroying all Gaza’s tunnels, is similarly unattainable and failure to achieve this carries the same risks as not stopping Hamas rockets.

The real Israeli objective of course is the disarming of Hamas in the hope that the resistance of Gaza will be neutered and its siege be resumed without hindrance from the troublesome natives. Hamas can then be replaced by the compliant and embarrassingly ineffective Fatah. Normal service will have been resumed, regardless of the democratic will of the Palestinian electorate. Hamas, though western media (itself embarrassingly compliant) won’t willingly remind us, won an election to form a Palestinian government over all the Occupied Territories (occupied illegally for decades by Israel and in defiance of numerous UN resolutions. You may search in vain on such web sites as BBC News for reference to these facts).

After three weeks of airstrikes, a ground invasion and over 1000 Palestinian civilians killed, it’s clear that to come close its objectives Israel will have to continue to slaughter woman and children on the same scale – if not higher – for longer than expected. While the Israeli population, long brainwashed to the point that elected officials and prominent people advocate the murder of Palestinian children (described as “snakes”) will accept the death of 1000s of Palestinian civilians, they may not be as readily accepting of Israeli troop casualties. Being raised and reminded daily of the invincibility of the IDF (notwithstanding it’s seemingly forgotten bloody nose of 2006, delivered by Hezbollah) and believing themselves to be superior in every way to the Palestinian “cockroaches” it has come as something of a shock that over 50 Israeli soldiers have now been killed in combat by Hamas and other resistance fighters. This number of IDF casualties probably did not figure in Netanyahu’s calculations.

Also, the threat of a ground invasion, instead of striking fear into resistance fighters, must have inspired them, knowing that the chance to inflict meaningful damage to the IDF was being handed to them on a plate. Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians is “disproportionate”, Israelis believing that an Israeli life is worth 100 Palestinian lives. But the other side of that coin is that 53 dead Israeli soldiers, using that obscene calculus, equates to thousands of IDF casualties. The Israeli superiority complex can boomerang into a PR at home disaster pretty quickly. How many IDF casualties will the Israeli public stand for? 100? 150? One wonders how many IDF casualties Netanyahu will have cynically budgeted for.

While Israelis will accept 1000s of Palestinian civilian deaths, the rest of the world’s people will not. Sure, the cynical governmental Realpolitic of Israeli allies such the EU and US, and of Israel’s secret allies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others (despite their leaders’ unconvincing displays of “outrage”), will encourage Israel to continue, knowing that no real sanction will be applied. But what is different in 2014 is the level of protests around the world, organised and attended by 100,000s who have lost faith not only in their own government’s ability to empathise with human trauma, but also with their media’s ability, or willingness, to report meaningfully on the slaughterhouse of Gaza.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have stepped into the media vacuum, and the protesters have stepped into the moral vacuum left by the elected leaders of the free world. We are left to ponder the disassociation of the political class along with their corporate media lackeys – and the people they are meant to serve and inform. Another more important disassociation has come into focus however, that of the political/media class – and normal human feeling which will not accept the merciless ghetto slaughter of Gaza’s citizens, men woman and children. That may not only be Netanyahu’s miscalculation, but also that of the leaders of the “civilized” world.

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