Gaza’s Palestinian tragedy
The truce in the Gaza Strip represents a facade showing the rival parties’ keenness to control the clash and rein in the firepower determined by their major agendas. The recent confrontation seemed bloodier than its predecessors and went beyond targeting military objectives to deliberately reach civilian targets.
A few Israelis were killed in the clashes and more than 150 people were either killed or wounded on the Palestinian side. The equation is so perversely lopsided that the Palestinian side considers this imbalance as a given because of the overwhelming military superiority of Israel. It is worthwhile bringing up the question about the efficacy of provoking this monster then denouncing its hideous crimes.
But, then, how to deal with an occupier?
That question has been raised since 1948 and more intensely since the occupation that ensued from the 1967 war. Influenced by the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s view that “what was taken by force can only be recovered by force,” the Arab political establishment adopted the famous three Nos at the 1967 Khartoum Summit: “No peace, no recognition and no negotiation” with Israel.
Since the creation of the Fatah movement in 1965, various Palestinian factions have adopted armed resistance as the main strategy for the liberation for Palestine. The Hamas movement in Gaza belatedly joined this strategy in 1987.
The Arabs lost their wars and the Palestinian factions lost their battles with the Israelis because of one simple fact that seemed obvious for decades: Israel enjoys an obvious military superiority that the West, led by the United States, has always sought to support and strengthen.
Israel enjoys international political, intellectual and strategic cover provided by the major world powers, including Russia and China. While the world capitals may at times express tactical divergence with Israeli policies, this divergence has never tilted the balance in favour of the Palestinians and the Arabs.
The Palestinians have a noble cause that no free soul can deny. Israel has the logic of firepower and its associated privileges on its side and that impose their own reality.
The matter is no longer a naive classic argument between right and wrong or between justice and injustice. It is a conflict about the reality of a fait accompli, a conflict that lays bare a utopian discourse on one side and a clear map of
forces and interests that lay the rules of this world on the other side.
Hamas came to the same conclusion that others had reached. Just like the other factions, the movement is no longer talking about liberating the Palestinian territories from the sea to the river but is talking about the 1967 borders.
The game it is playing with other factions in launching missile attacks on Israel is a dubious one that may please enthusiasts but with no real consequences for the strategic balance of power.
If the Arab armies during previous times and the Hezbollah rockets now and Iran’s ballistic missiles have never shaken this great imbalance, why should we expect differently from the rockets of Gaza and their limited capabilities, no matter how surprising they are?
Israel bears full responsibility for the bloodshed in Gaza, regardless of the useless controversy about who is the aggressor and who is the victim. The result is the same: great losses, despite stubbornness and defiance.
The Egyptian mediation and pushing the Gaza Strip towards a truce are just a new sign that the event, despite its dramatic developments, remains a detail within major regional and international agendas, which cannot afford to pay attention to one small part of what is left of Palestine.
In the game’s scorecard, Gaza is losing. It is being cornered, isolated from the other Palestinian side in the West Bank and from an Arab context that is no longer willing to sponsor its battles.
It is no longer wise for Hamas to fight the battle of Palestine alone. If it persists in doing so, that would be a mixture of a naive practice by innocent revolutionaries and the sly execution by corrupt politicians of premeditated foreign agendas. Between this aspect and that aspect, failure keeps piling up such that it would be in the interest of Hamas to end the division in the Palestinian camp more than it is a matter of a Palestinian national interest in general.
The tragedy of Gaza seems to be one insignificant detail in what is being cooked up for the Palestinian territories and the region. Gaza does not appear in the details of the so-called “Deal of the Century” that White House adviser Jared Kushner developed. There is no Gaza, no West Bank and no Palestinian state. What unites Hamas and Kushner is their eagerness to kill the Oslo Accords.
Kushner’s project does not recognise the implications of the remainder of the agreement that had established the Palestinian Authority, does not abide by any treaties, charters or resolutions and does not recognise an Arab peace initiative.
Under the leadership of US President Donald Trump, Washington is preparing to overturn and erode the usual references and fold away the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and bring it in line with Israel’s interests in general and those of Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right wing in particular.
Egypt’s mediation is limited to reaching a truce and perhaps later to further understandings. Cairo’s initiative is motivated by Egypt’s security interests and concerns inside a geographic zone on the Egyptian border, no more. Palestinian unity is no longer an Arab concern or even Egyptian concern.
More dangerous is the fact that the Palestinian Authority has adopted that fatality, considered the division in the Palestinian camp as final and is working towards separating the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and establishing two independent Palestinian entities going towards two different destinies.
Ramallah condemned the bombing of Gaza as if it were a foreign party. The Palestinian Authority has formed a new government with no representatives from Hamas. The statements made here and there calling for unity between the two wings do not matter.
Gaza’s misery and pain remain Gazan after all and strategically do not go beyond the borders of the Strip, if not beyond the walls of the homes destroyed in the recent round of violence.
Gaza and Hamas have only one address and it is in the West Bank. All Palestinians have only one choice and that is unity based on diversity and differences instead of division.
Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish cried out in one of his poems “we’re alone” and it was the most painful cry imagined by the man. How many voices are saying these days that we are no longer one to be alone?