From the “Corriere della Sera”, Friday 9th January 2009
There are at least two ways to judge a war and weigh the opponents’ responsibilities. The first way is to rebuild the facts that come before the beginning of the hostilities. Who shot first? Who was the most provocative? No doubt the answer is: Hamas. The Islamic organization that rules the Gaza strip denounced the truce and kept on shooting its missiles over some Israeli cities near the borderline. They knew those shootings would provoke an Israeli reaction but they did not renounce their offensive actions. They wanted a war and they got it.
The second way is to look at a wider period of history and take into account different factors. Israel took possession of some Arab territories in 1967 so controlling a population that today numbers about three million and 300 thousand inhabitants. They have not been absorbed by their society, because they would unendurably dilute its nature as a Jewish State. They have not been granted a real autonomy because Jewish citizens were allowed to settle in the occupied territories and to expand their communities over the local population lands: a phenomenon that caused, apart from several expropriations, the setting up of controls, roadblocks, fast-racks for the occupying citizens. They withdrew 8 thousand colonies from the Gaza strip, but did not admit Hamas’ victory at the election of January 2006. They besieged the Strip for eighteen months before hostilities started. And eventually with the civilians they behaved like a typical colonial power. It impressed but not surprised me, reading the article of the Israeli writer and journalist Yossi Klein Halevi (Corriere, 6th January) who was in the army in the Gaza Strip, during the first Intifada and writes: «Our contingent non only arrested those suspected of terrorism, but also pulled the people away from their beds, in the middle of the night, to force them to paint the anti-Israel strips and also combed innocent people, after a throwing of grenades, only “to make them feel our presence”». And it is impossible to forget the destruction of the guerrillas’ families houses and the 11 thousand Palestinian convicts in the Israeli prisons; war prisoners, but treated as terrorists and irregular fighters.
Israel’s fault? No. Al Fatah for first, Hamas and Islamic Jihad then, have killed Israeli civilians, committed terrorist attacks in the cities, deliberately provoked Israel reactions, kept on with a mechanism that allowed their most radical groups to take control of the movement. But in these situations there is a political law it is impossible to escape. Most responsibilities, in the final analysis, are always the occupying power’s. If 41 years of occupation are not enough to solve the problem, consequences fall on its own shoulders, inevitably.
There is also a second law that indirectly answers the question of Gold. Those who make a war cannot simply plan military operations. They have to have an after war project. If the objective is to defeat Hamas, who will rule the Strip of Gaza at the end of the conflict? Who should they make peace with, if not with those they have fought against?
This article is available in Italian too