UPDATED on August 8, 2014
by James M. Wall
During their temporary cease fire, Israel and Hamas are negotiating in Cairo, Egypt, for an agreement to end Israel’s third military assault since 2007, on Gaza.
Thursday night, Ha’aretz reported that the talks were “stalled”.
Friday morning, when the 72 hour agreement ended, the New York Times reported both sides resumed cross-border firing.
These shots could be “warning shots” to signal a resumption of the conflict, or they may be part of the negotiations strategy on both sides.
The conflict is asymmetrical, suggesting that more exchanges of fire would be especially harmful to the Palestinians in Gaza.
The one-sided nature of the now 30-day conflict, is seen in the human toll of Israel’s third “mowing the grass” project in Gaza. Thus far, Israel has killed 1900 Palestinians, the great majority of whom were civilians, including 400 children.
To agree to an extended cease fire with no more firing from either side, Hamas, the ruling government of Gaza, has laid out its simple requests. There is nothing radical nor threatening about them.
Israeli analyst Gershon Baskin says of the Hamas demands for an extended cease fire, “When Palestinians look at the Hamas demands, they say, ‘this is what we want, what all Palestinians want.’” (When firing resumed Friday, Baskin was interviewed by CNN.)
Ben Piven describes the Hamas proposal for a more permanent cease fire in America Al Jazeera:
“Hamas has focused its cease-fire terms on breaking the economic stranglehold imposed on Gaza by Israel with the help of Egypt, calling for an opening of border crossings and the expansion of areas where Palestinians may fish and where farmers may till their lands.”
On its side of the negotiations table, Hamas has asked for a return to the “normalcy” of 2007, opening the borders and allowing Palestinians to fish further out into the sea, and tilling their farm lands.
The Times of Israel is live blogging developments, as seen from Israel’s perspective.
If an extended cease fire agreement is reached, and Israel agrees to Hamas’ simple requests, the firing from both sides would end, at least for a time. Is there any hope that Israel will agree to the Hamas requests?
Based on Israel’s past record of negotiations, the possibility that Israel would relinquish its tight control over Gaza is slim, at best.
If Israel does reject Hamas’ simple request for normalcy, a request that would involve the removal of Hamas’ tunnels and rocket firing equipment, that rejection would testify to the world that Israel has no desire for the Palestinians of Gaza to ever again return to what was the normalcy of 2007.
But as America Al Jazeera’s Ben Piven notes:
Even if the siege is eased or lifted — and there’s no sign yet that the troubled search for a truce would produce such an outcome — rebuilding Gaza’s economy will remain a formidable challenge”.
Normalcy would still be a long way off, thanks to the ferocity of Israel’s invasion.
“You cannot say there is an economy right now,” Omar Shaban, director of the PalThink Institute for Strategic Studies, [told America Al Jazeera] last week.
“There was ongoing shelling 24 hours a day, and I hadn’t been out of my home for the past 24 days. This applies to everybody. Farmers can’t go out, and factories are not working.”
There is also formidable opposition to any proposals from Hamas among Israel’s American loyalists who share Israel’s lack of interest in granting normalcy to a Gaza under Hamas leadership.
Former AIPAC staffer MJ Rosenberg, now a harsh critic of Israel, points to one of those formidable opponents: The blind obedience the U.S. Congress displays whenever it is told to jump through an AIPAC hoop.
Rosenberg reports that because AIPAC wanted the Congress to endorse Israel’s attack on Gaza, a vote was taken to send additional funds to strengthen Israel’s Iron Dome defense.
Late last Friday night, the House of Representatives considered the Senate bill that allocated the additional $225 million to Israel. The bill passed the House 395-8. There was no debate.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, but the vote was irrelevant, because the funds were already approved and were being sent to Israel. All but 8 members went home where they would be able to campaign with the boast, “I voted for Israel in its time of need.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, crown prince of the media’s liberal Zionist kingdom, took to his pulpit with a sermon that “explained the Israeli invasion”.
His August 4 column, Dear Guests, Revelations in the Gaza War, was one of his sermons from Father Tom, neatly encompassed in a traditional three points homiletical rendition, to wit,
“Since the early 2000s, Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and, until recently, Hamas, have pursued a three-pillar strategy toward Israel.”
Friedman has completely absorbed the Israeli version of reality. His sermon drips with the jargon of Benjamin Netanyahu.
He opens his sermon with a cute Friedman introduction, displaying no awareness to the fact that nearby in Gaza, 1.8 million Palestinians were being battered and brutalized from what became a 29-day assault:
KIBBUTZ EIN HASHLOSHA, Israel — At 6:02 a.m. on Saturday, the air raid siren sounded over Tel Aviv. I was rousted by the hotel staff from my room and ushered into the windowless service elevator area with two French families, everyone in their pajamas.
After 10 minutes, when the Hamas missile threat had passed, we were allowed to go back to our rooms. As I slipped back into bed, the hotel loudspeaker bellowed, “Dear guests, you may return to your routine.”
On the same Saturday morning Thomas Friedman slipped beneath his blanket in the hotel room he occupied near the Gaza border, an Israeli bomb destroyed the home of a large Gaza family.
Amira Hass, columnist for Ha’aretz, returned to Gaza during the temporary cease fire and wrote this report of that destruction:
Despite the cease-fire, A.(name redacted) remained in her home yesterday and did not travel with her husband to the Shabura refugee camp in Rafah. She couldn’t bear the thought of the emptiness she would find there instead of the three families of relatives who had lived there in their simple asbestos dwellings until a single bomb fell on them Saturday morning.
“Did you know that Fathi’s [Abu Ita] three children who were killed were geniuses? Like their father, like their uncle Yakoub, the mathematician,” she said yesterday, as she delivered a lengthy report about her relatives who were killed, her work colleague who was killed, those who were wounded, those whose houses were destroyed this time, those whose houses were destroyed for the second time, those who were buried with their bodies whole, and the children killed whose body parts had to be collected.
The contrast between Friedman and Hass demonstrates why liberal Zionism has lost all credibility. Friedman is oblivious to the suffering near by, while Hass reports the evidence of what she sees and hears in a devastated Gaza.
In contrast to Friedman, BBC television host Jon Snow was in Gaza during the height of the Israeli invasion.
He was horrified by what he saw. Before his heartfelt report, delivered to his viewers from London, Jon Snow interviewed Israeli Prime Minister spokesman Mark Regev after the killing of four Palestinian boys playing soccer on a Gaza beach.
It is broadcast journalism at its best.
The two short videos are below, first, Snow’s testimony to the devastation of Israel’s invasion Gaza, followed by his interview of the Prime Minister’s spokesman:
Will Hamas get its desire to return normalcy to the Palestinians of Gaza? Will the cease fire be extended?
Only Israel, and its Washington allies, know the answer to those questions, because Israel is the military power dictating the future.
The picture above of a Palestinian woman sitting in front of what was once her home in Beit Hanoun, appears in Ha’aretz. It is a Reuters picture.