Friday, July 21, 2006

'Moderates' into 'militants'

June 28, 2006

 ISRAEL, a country which rates itself among the top 10 military powers in the world, is reacting in an unprecedented manner to the crisis sparked by Sunday's Palestinian attack on a border post and abduction of an Israeli army soldier.
The massive military blockade of the Gaza Strip and destruction of infrastructure in the coastal territory coupled with threats that no one is immune to Israeli action — a minister has said even Palestinian ministers could be taken hostage — underlines an apparent determination to use the opportunity to deal a severe blow to Palestinian armed resistance.
More infrastructure would be destroyed as a message to everyone in Gaza that backing armed groups means severe hardships in daily life. There would be summary arrests of "suspects" who would be hauled off to Israeli prisons. Homes would be demolished and enough damage would be inflicted that Israel would want to use as a warning to the people against supporting armed resistance. Simply put, the message is: Ordinary people would suffer if they support groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions which are waging armed resistance.
Such an approach could be expected in view of Israel's record of using collective punishment against the Palestinians under occupation.
Yet another reason for the high intensity of the Israeli action is the way Sunday's Palestinian attack was staged. The Israeli military's "pride" that it is as good as invincible was deeply hurt by revelations that the Palestinian assailants had dug a tunnel and used it successfully to carry out the attack. It meant serious breaches of Israel's security arrangements and this is something that the Jewish state's military psyche could not absorb. The Israeli military wants to hit back with utmost intensity and put up a massive show of power with a vengeance.
Indeed, Israel is pulling all the plugs. It has also threatened to kill Hamas leaders living in exile in Arab countries such as Syria.
Palestinians have responded to the Israeli moves with defiance, with many of them vowing to fight the Israeli army.
The overall mood among the Palestinians is that the situation could not get any worse and hence their resolve to confront the Israelis head on.
Whatever the outcome of the crisis, it marks a turning point for both sides. Israel would use the opportunity to inflict as much damage as possible to Palestinian resistance and Palestinians would respond with whatever they could. However, that is not the end of the story. Israel's incursion into Gaza would turn many "moderate" Palestinians into "militants," and this translates into that many more ready to sacrifice whatever they could to serve the cause of freedom and independence.