[News] "Mowing the lawn": On Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 12 10:25:21 EDT 2012

"Mowing the lawn": On Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza and the lies behind it

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Sun, 03/11/2012 - 22:40

By Sunday evening in Gaza, a weekend of 
relentless Israeli bombing has left 18 people 
dead and dozens wounded. Israeli propaganda 
insists that the attacks are about preventing 
“terrorism” and stopping “rockets.”

But in fact, Israel provoked this violence and 
according to some Israeli commentators its goals 
are to escalate pressure for war with Iran and to 
drag Hamas away from diplomacy and back into violence.

Sunday’s victims of the Israeli bombing included 
Useila, 12, of Jabalya refugee camp, whose seven 
year-old cousin was injured, and Adel al-Issi, 
52, a farmer near Gaza City. Others suffered 
horrifying injuries, 
recounted by doctors at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.

On Monday, 
5 people were reported killed, and dozens more 
injured, bringing the reported total of dead to 23.

Israel launches attack on Friday

The Israeli assault began on Friday, when Israeli 
forces carried out the extrajudicial executions 
of Zuhair Al-Qaisi and Mahmoud Al-Hannani of the 
Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), whom Israel 
alleged were “masterminds” of an attack near 
Eilat last year. Except, as 
Blumenthal demonstrated, this is untrue, as even 
Israel previously acknowledged.

This weekend’s attacks have followed a typical 
pattern. Israel launches a lethal attack knowing 
full well that Palestinian resistance factions 
will respond. It then uses the response­dozens of 
rockets falling on Israel rarely causing injuries 
or damage­as the very pretext for continued 
bombing. Israel also claims to have shot down 
several dozen incoming missiles using its 
US-subsidized “Iron Dome” anti-missile system.

On Twitter, the Israeli military spokesperson 
even praised Israel for its “restraint” as if 
Israel hadn’t started the violence itself on a completely false pretext.

Recall that after the Eilat attack last August, 
Israel launched a ferocious assault on Gaza, also 
on false pretexts, 
14 people including a 2-year old child, a 13-year-old boy and a doctor.

Extrajudicial murder

Beyond the propaganda, informed Israeli 
commentators, even those supporting the action, 
acknowledge that Israel chose to initiate the current escalation of violence:

In the Jerusalem Post, 
<http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=261274>Yaakov Katz wrote:

When the IDF decided on Friday afternoon to 
assassinate the leader of the Popular Resistance 
Committees in the Gaza Strip, it knew what it was getting itself into.

Assessments ahead of the decision to bomb the car 
carrying Zuhair Qaisi predicted that around 100 
rockets could be fired into Israel during each 
day of the round of violence expected to erupt. 
This was a price the government felt it was capable of paying.

In other words, Israel was prepared to carry out 
an extrajudicial execution, a war crime, knowing 
that there would be retaliation. Israel’s routine 
policy of 
Palestinians in occupied territories without 
charge or trial, based on flimsy allegations made 
by the killers themselves, is a major violation 
of international humanitarian law and makes a 
mockery of Israel’s claim to be a “democracy” by any possible measure.

Even in China, Iran, and the United States, all 
prolific users of the death penalty where no 
doubt many innocent people have been put to 
death, authorities at least go through the 
formality of a trial. Not so in Israel, where in 
the past decade hundreds of Palestinians have 
been sentenced to death in secret and then 
executed in their beds, on the street, while 
riding in cars, or even when confined to 
wheelchairs, along with hundreds of bystanders.

Of course now, 
Obama administration has openly adopted 
Israeli-style extrajudicial execution even of its 
own citizens­just another example of the “shared 
values” US and Israeli leaders are always eager to proclaim.

Israeli commentators cut through the official propaganda

Gideon Levy undercut the official propaganda, 
that extrajudicial executions­“targeted 
killings”­are ever justified, let alone in this instance:

Who started it? The IDF and the Shin Bet security 
service did. The impression is that they carry 
out the targeted killings whenever they can, and not whenever it is necessary.

When are they necessary? Do you remember the 
debate on targeted killings sometime in the 
distant past? Then, it seemed the targets had to 
be “ticking time bombs” en route to carry out 
their attacks. In any event, such a vague 
standard no longer applies. In 2006, in his last 
court ruling handed down before his retirement, 
then Supreme Court President Aharon Barak barred 
such killings when they were meant to be “a deterrent or punishment.”

The latest target killed was Zuhair al-Qaissi, 
the secretary general of the Popular Resistance 
Committees in Gaza. IDF sources said he was 
responsible for the terrorist attack on the 
Egyptian border last August - which would make 
his killing an act of “deterrence or punishment.” 
But to be on the safe side, it was also noted 
that he had “led and directed plans to carry out 
a terror attack within Israel, which was in its final stages of preparation.”

This convoluted announcement by the IDF spokesman 
was enough to get the Israeli public to accept 
this latest regular dose of targeted killing with 
automatic understanding and sympathy. And who 
knows what the late al-Qaissi had planned? Only 
the Shin Bet does, so we accept his death 
sentence without unnecessary questions.

Zvi Bar’el cast further doubt on the Israeli 
claim that the executed PRC men posed a threat 
that would justify the Israeli attack:

It is hard to understand what basis there is for 
the assertion that Israel is not striving to 
escalate the situation. One could assume that an 
armed response by the Popular Resistance 
Committees or Islamic Jihad to Israel’s targeted 
assassination was taken into account. But did 
anyone weigh the possibility that the violent 
reaction could lead to a greater number of 
Israeli casualties than any terrorist attack that 
Zuhair al-Qaisi, the secretary-general of the 
Popular Resistance Committees, could have carried out?

“Mowing the lawn”

Perhaps the most chilling explanation of why 
Israel was bombing Gaza came, again, from 
Katz in 
<http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=261274>The Jerusalem Post:

the IDF is using this as an opportunity to do 
some “maintenance work” in Gaza and to mow the 
lawn, so to speak, with regard to terrorism, with 
the main goal of boosting its deterrence and 
postponing the next round of violence for as long as possible.

So 12 year-old Ayoub Useila is not even an 
animal. He’s just part of a “lawn” of faceless 
nameless Palestinians, to be bombed into 
submission as routinely as an Israeli settler on 
stolen West Bank land maintains his suburban-style yard and swimming pool.

Hamas “completely uninvolved”

Katz continues:

This is essentially the situation in the Gaza 
Strip since Operation Cast Lead ended in January 2009.

Every few months, something happens, setting off 
a round of violence that usually lasts a few days 
until it suddenly ends just like it began. Once 
it is an antitank missile attack against an 
Israeli school bus and the next time a targeted killing of a top terrorist.

Either way, the scenario is pretty much played 
out the same way. The main difference today is 
that Hamas is completely uninvolved in the sense 
that its operatives are not firing rockets into 
Israel. On the other hand, Israel does believe 
that Hamas could be doing more to stop the fire into Israel.

Katz himself had already acknowledged that Israel 
set off the round of violence by its 
assassination of the PRC activists but then he 
goes on to admit that Hamas isn’t even involved. 
Hamas, the usual bogeyman and justification for 
Israel’s aggression on Gaza “is completely 
uninvolved in the sense that its operatives are 
not firing rockets into Israel.” That’s quite an admission.

Indeed it 
been reported that leaders of Hamas and Islamic 
Jihad are completely uninterested in escalating 
violence with Israel and are committed to a 
“ceasefire.” That would be consistent with their 
long-term policies which are to retaliate against 
Israeli aggression but not to seek out confrontation.

“The escalation in Gaza is good for Israel”

So given all this, why has Israel decided to kill 
people in Gaza for no discernible reason? 
According to 
it has everything to do with Israel’s effort to 
build support for an attack on Iran:

Advocates of a strike on Iran couldn’t have hoped 
for a more convincing performance than the 
current exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza. 
“A million Israelis under fire” is only a taste 
of what is expected when Iran’s nuclear project 
is completed. When that happens, seven million 
Israelis will be under the threat of fire and nuclear fallout.

This is what happens when “only” the Islamic 
Jihad fires Grad rockets, when Hamas stays out of 
the fight, and when the “miraculous system” that 
prevents missiles from falling on kindergartens 
still works. Under the threat of a nuclear Iran, 
miracles won’t help, and people in Tel Aviv will 
also be forced to hide in bomb shelters or escape to Eilat.

Here’s the proof: There is no alternative to 
striking Iran and there is no better time than 
the present, when the weather permits and world 
diplomacy is preoccupied with Syria. For 
Israelis, there is no better proof that no harm 
will come to them as a result of an attack on 
Iran than the performance of the Iron Dome 
anti-rocket system, which has demonstrated a 95% 
rate of effectiveness. The escalation in Gaza is 
good for Israel – that is, for that part of Israel that wants to strike Iran.

It is hard to understand what basis there is for 
the assertion that Israel is not striving to 
escalate the situation. One could assume that an 
armed response by the Popular Resistance 
Committees or Islamic Jihad to Israel’s targeted 
assassination was taken into account. But did 
anyone weigh the possibility that the violent 
reaction could lead to a greater number of 
Israeli casualties than any terrorist attack that 
Zuhair al-Qaisi, the secretary-general of the 
Popular Resistance Committees, could have carried out?

Bar’el sees at least one other compelling reason 
why Israel chose violence once again: the 
‘threat’ from Hamas’ ever more determined turn to 
reliance on diplomacy over armed struggle­which 
Bar’el attributes in part to Hamas’ need to maintain good relations with Egypt:

This dependence on Egypt has managed in the past 
to produce extended ceasefires which have proven 
themselves in recent months, especially after the 
signing of the reconciliation agreement with 
Fatah, which produced Khaled Meshal’s 
declarations that Hamas would restrict itself to 
nonviolent forms of struggle against Israel.

However, it seems that the change in Hamas not 
only hasn’t convinced Israel, but even stands in 
the way of its “no partner” policy and could 
sabotage its efforts to head off the creation of 
a Palestinian unity government, which would lead 
to renewed efforts at the UN to secure an independent Palestinian state.

Thus, Hamas must be dragged toward military 
activity against Israel, and nothing is easier, 
at least in Israel’s estimation, than to launch a 
“unilateral” attack against a wanted non-Hamas 
man, to wait for the response to come, and hope that Hamas joins in.

So far, it hasn’t happened. Hamas still prefers 
the diplomatic channel and has carried on 
intensive diplomatic contacts over the past two 
days with Egypt’s Supreme Military Council. 
Israel apparently needs to wait for another opportunity.

What that “opportunity” will be no one yet knows, 
but what is sure is that innocent people will pay with their lives.

Facts behind Israel’s rocket propaganda

Whenever you hear Israel’s tired hasbara refrain 
about rockets, rockets, rockets, remember to ask 
the question Yousef Munayyer recently asked: 
don’t Israel’s spokespeople ever tell us how many 
rockets, missiles and bullets Israel has fired on Gaza?

Of course the answer is because it is by orders 
of magnitude greater in both number and explosive 
power than anything Palestinian armed groups have 
or ever could muster against Israel. There are some data, however.

In one 18-month period between September 2005 and 
May 2007 in which Palestinian armed groups fired 
2,700 rockets toward Israel killing four people, 
Israel fired 14,617 heavy artillery shells into 
Gaza killing 59 people, including at least 17 
children and 12 women. Hundreds more were injured and extensive damage caused.

This data comes from a 2007 Human Rights Watch 
reported titled 
Fire, which states in addition that:

A subsequent artillery attack on November 8 
[2006] killed or mortally wounded 23 and injured 
at least 40 Palestinians, all civilians.

The report adds:

Human Rights Watch has been unable to find any 
report or claim that those killed or injured by 
artillery fire included persons believed to be 
combatants, and the IDF has not responded to a 
Human Rights Watch request about whether any 
Palestinians killed or injured by artillery fire 
into the Gaza Strip were combatants or believed 
to be combatants. Israeli artillery strikes in 
2006 also left many unexploded shells strewn on 
the ground that constitute a continuing hazard to lives and livelihoods.

That report dates from 2007, but in the years 
before and since, thousands more Palestinian 
civilians were killed and injured in Israeli 
attacks, by what must be tens of thousands of 
Israeli munitions. This included the 2008-2009 
assault called 
Cast Lead” and Israeli fire has been an almost 
daily occurrence since its end 
many innocent lives.

And Operation Cast Lead itself was launched on 
the false pretext­echoed ad nauseam by media­that 
Palestinians were firing unprovoked barrages of 
rockets into Israel leaving it no choice to 
attack in “self-defense.” 
too was a lie as Israel’s own official figures showed at the time.

notes, citing UN statistics:

In 2011, the projectiles fired by the Israeli 
military into Gaza have been responsible for the 
death of 108 Palestinians, of which 15 where 
women or children and the injury of 468 
Palestinians of which 143 where women or 
children. The methods by which these causalities 
were inflicted by Israeli projectiles breaks down 
as follows: 57% or 310, were caused by Israeli 
Aircraft Missile fire, 28% or 150 were from 
Israeli live ammunition, 11% or 59 were from 
Israeli tank shells while another 3% or 18 were from Israeli mortar fire.

That is why Israeli official propaganda has to be so distorted and selective.

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