[email protected]

November 15, 2012, Thursday

Israel’s right to self-defense!

The world was once again left with the usual double-dealing attitude in the wake of the attack Israel launched into Gaza, indiscriminate of women or children. Like any nationalist politician who needs more support, the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government opts for addressing the chauvinist sentiments of the Israeli public in order to boost its popular backing in the country, and by doing so, it is playing with fire. Israel attacked the 1.7 million Gazan Palestinians who are already living under an Israeli occupation and blockade. The code name given to the attack was inspired by the following verse in the Torah, "By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night." Despite the fact that the Netanyahu administration is so reckless as to give a religious identity to its recent brutal attack against Gazans by naming it "Pillar of Cloud," it still maintains the unconditional support it receives from the Western countries, to our dismay.

Israel and Western powers entertain a suspicious attitude toward Hamas. As you'll remember, when Hamas entered the democratically held elections in 2006, neither the US nor any other Western powers raised any objection. However, when it won the elections, Hamas became the target of pressure and attacks. Having assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas' armed wing, on Wednesday, Israel expanded the scope of its attacks, attacking Gaza from land, air and sea and killing everyone indiscriminately. As of yesterday morning, the number of casualties has risen to 11. And there were about 120 people wounded in the attacks. The dead include innocent infants, whose bodies were pierced with Israeli shells, including the 11-month-old Ahmad Mashrawi, who is son of BBC's Gaza reporter. Still, the statements by certain countries, including the US and Canada, in support of the Israeli attacks refer to right of self-defense of Israel, a country which has been officially implementing state-sponsored terrorism for more than 60 years in the region.

Turning a blind eye to Israeli's fanaticism in choosing a name for its massacre from its religious texts, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said that he lent support to Israel's efforts to resist those who threaten the peace and security of the region. "We support Israel's right to defend itself," said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Moreover, ignoring the fact that most of the people who died in the Israeli attacks were innocent Gazans who have the same right to self-defense as Israelis, Susan Rice, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), who is expected to succeed Hillary Clinton as the US Secretary of State, announced the US's support for Israel's response to Hamas' attacks.

Speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on the phone, US President Barack Obama, unfortunately, did nothing better, and parroted opinions similar to those of Toner and Rice. Obama and Rice's call on Israel to exert their best efforts to avoid civilian casualties may be meaningful, but they are unfortunately aware that this attitude refusing to acknowledge Palestinians' most basic right to life will be of no use in establishing peace in the region.

Here, I must note, every attack launched by anyone or for any purpose against civilians, either in Israel or in Palestine, is illegitimate and can be defined as terrorism. Just as it is impossible to defend the missiles Hamas militants send to Israeli-dominated territories without discriminating between civilian and military targets, it is equally inconceivable not to define the massacres Israel undertakes without discriminating between civilians and militants in Gaza -- a region which has already been turned into an outdoor prison by the Israeli death machine through years of blockade -- as state-sponsored terrorism. Both acts can hardly be defended by any sane person. Thus, both 11 Palestinians killed in the Israeli bombardment and three Israeli civilians who died in the house hit by a Hamas missile are victims of equally cruel attacks. Just as we are right to condemn the attacks Israel launches against Gaza with its F-16 warplanes, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters and assault boats, we find it equally unacceptable for Hamas to send dozens of missiles to civilian-inhabited regions in Israel, even if it is done out of the despair of being pushed into a corner.

Israeli military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich's disclosure that the "Pillar of Cloud" attack is just the beginning of a more comprehensive operation, as well as Palestinian resistance groups who immediately gathered together to declared their determination for revenge, indicate that we are on the brink of a new crisis. In other words, we may start to nurture big worries about the inception of a new bloody process with an uncertain future in Palestine, similar to the one in Syria. This process, unfavorable to all parties, is undoubtedly of close concern to regional countries like Turkey and Egypt.

In particular, Egypt, which, like Turkey, tries to save Hamas from Iran's pro-violence influence, sees the most recent attacks as targeting itself as much as they target Palestinians. In this context, Morsi's political adviser Mohammed Saif Al-Dawla's statement that "Israel assassinated Ahmad Jabari physically and Morsi spiritually" is considerably meaningful. Egypt's tendency to perceive the Israeli attack as a move designed to undermine the Egyptian revolution and Morsi's popularity unfortunately implies that the hellfire sparked by Israel has the potential to grow.

In such a setting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's trip to Egypt on Saturday, scheduled months ago and viewed as having great importance, has acquired additional significance. Erdoğan will fly to Cairo, accompanied by several ministers of his Cabinet, where he will take part in a high-level joint cabinet meeting with Egyptian officials, and his statements there about Israel's inhuman attacks as well as the dosage of his criticisms may trigger new dynamics in the Middle East.

The Israeli attacks relate to the Syrian crisis as well. At a time when the Syrian opposition, having acquired a more representative structure, is demanding more support and attention from the world, Netanyahu attacked Gaza to draw the world's attention from the massacres in Syria to Palestine, thus doing a great favor to the bloodthirsty Assad regime. This can be described as one murderer's coming to the rescue of another. In any case, we can safely assert that with Israel's attack on Gaza on the evening of Nov. 14, the Middle East's already complicated and uncertain status has become more complicated and more uncertain. With every innocent person killed in Israeli attacks, the hopes for a peaceful and stable Middle East become dimmer.

Previous articles of the columnist