In Gaza, a response both rational and corrupt

‘Hamas will not be known as the heroes of the Palestinian people, but as its gross liability. Thankfully, the failures of the Netanyahu administration will also be seen.’

Richard Witty is a former CPA who worked in Brattleboro for many years. He served as treasurer on the board of Vermont Independent Media, which publishes this newspaper. He notes: "I personally don't have TV and have not seen daily video of the results, so I reason from words, stills, and a few videos posted on Facebook."

Why is all this happening?

Without question, the effects of the Israeli military efforts in Gaza have been very harsh, causing significant suffering, and promising much more (even if the bombing stopped).

I read many dissenting critiques from people raging against Israeli actions, and against Israel and any sympathizers with words like complicit. Green light. Genocidal. Sadistic.

One phrase that I've read at demonstrations in Northampton, Massachusetts (and read about in Brattleboro) is for a permanent cease-fire.

I think that would be a good thing.

But the thing about a cease-fire is that it's only one if it is mutual. I, and all Israelis, would love for Hamas to commit to never undertake any military actions on Israeli civilians - not massacres, not rockets, not burning fields. Nothing. Ever.

If that were to happen, I expect it would be confidently reciprocated.

But there are explanations for why the Israeli response in Gaza is happening as it has been - explanations that are both rational and corrupt.

* * *

The rational reasons: On Oct. 7, Hamas and others whom they allowed to cross into Israel, massacred more than 1,000 people in a few hours by automatic-weapons fire, snipers, close-range executions. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of rapes reported, some bodily dismemberment. It was gruesome.

Every reporter who witnessed the aftermath - and the live footage that Hamas and their associates recorded of the massacre - reported sickening experiences.

U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez was reported as emerging from the screening wailing in tears. Leftist Israel reporters like Gideon Levy of Haaretz reported on the gruesomeness of the massacre.

On Oct. 24, when the events were still a mystery - in terms of what happened, who did what - Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad from Beirut declared in an interview that Hamas would repeat, repeat, repeat until Israel was annihilated. Other Hamas officials from their more pragmatic political wing reiterated the same commitment.

The massacre itself would not have resulted in as brutal a military action by Israel. But the combination of the confirmed commitment to repeat indefinitely conveyed to Israel that there was no chance to contain Hamas short of destroying their military infrastructure (tunnels, weapons manufacture, siting). That there would be no stable cease-fire possible.

To make matters worse, for Gazans and the world, Hamas sincerely, cynically, structurally removed themselves from all accountability to Gazan citizens, international law, and Arab world condemnation by hiding deep in the tunnels.

Israel bombed, and the civilians suffered. Israel sought access to the tunnels and, to do so, required clearing the ground. Hamas had food, fuel, and medical supplies, which they kept from the Gazan civilians, even as the hospitals ran short of medicines, fuel, and food.

They sincerely used Gazan civilians as human shields.

The U.S. government concluded - much as Israel's did - that it would be necessary to remove Hamas from power and to destroy its military infrastructure.

* * *

The corrupt reasons include the failure of the Netanyahu government to assist long-term in the development of Palestinian national institutions - instead, adopting a divide-and-conquer strategy to keep the Palestinian Authority weak.

Also, the war will likely continue because Netanyahu personally needs to stay in office to stay out of jail. He has no plan for the day after. All prospects are problems.

Meanwhile, there is nowhere for Gazan civilians to run. Israel evacuated civilians in northern Gaza, yet also bombed them as they fled south. Bombing the only safe place in Gaza does expose Israel to credible accusations of genocide.

Israel has firmly conquered Northern Gaza. It's no longer part of Hamas jurisdiction.

So, for Israel to end its military campaign now, a unilateral cease-fire - a good thing - would result in Hamas losing one half of Gaza, 25,000 total dead civilians (Gazan and Israeli), 12,000 dead Hamas fighters, and destruction of three-quarters of Gazan-habitable buildings. The blockade of Gaza will remain.

The only element of success of their effort will be to have rallied anti-Israeli sentiment in the U.S. and parts of the Arab world, but as soon as the results of their "success" are seen, they will quickly wither.

Hamas will not be known as the heroes of the Palestinian people, but as its gross liability.

Thankfully, the failures of the Netanyahu administration will also be seen.

Israel will unseat him as prime minister and elect a more moderate and competent Zionist government (that will include Arab parties, even the far-left ones).

Hopefully, that government will be able to reform some of the more fundamental injustices of the Israeli state.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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