Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Israel Wanted a Humanitarian Crisis - Ben White

The Guardian, January 20, 2009 - ....I would like to suggest three alternative purposes for Israel's Operation Cast Lead that go beyond the usual perspectives, and presuming with Yale professor David Bromwich that "if Israel in 2009 reduces to rubble a large portion of the Gaza Strip and leaves tens of thousands homeless, there is a strong chance that this was what it intended to do"....

Yet, there is more going on here. Israel seeks to turn the Gaza Strip into a depoliticised humanitarian crisis, always on the brink of catastrophe, always dependent; its population reduced to ration-receiving clients of international aid. Yitzhak Rabin famously wished that Gaza "would just sink into the sea", but perhaps the best Israel can do is to share the problem with the international community, possibly to the extent of troops on the ground.

Increasingly focusing on Egyptian responsibility is also part of this, whether in terms of arms smuggling, aid supplies, or for some, direct rule.

In all of this, the Gaza Strip has become a laboratory for future possible scenarios in the West Bank (where a process of "development-isation" and NGO-funded occupation is well established). All three of these Israeli aims – to delegitimise and sideline Hamas, to persuade Palestinians to give up their resistance and to shirk responsibility for a shattered Gaza Strip – require the deliberate commission of war crimes and gross human rights abuses. As time will tell, they are also doomed to fail.

Ben White is a writer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has spent several summers in Palestine/Israel based in the West Bank and written extensively on the Middle East.

No comments: