An Unnecessary War

As the Israeli-occupied US congress endorses, yet again, the Jewish State’s genocidal war on Gaza, Jimmy Carter — the man Robert Fisk calls the ‘first American president approaching sainthood’ — offers a useful corrective to the image of the conflict distorted by the thoroughly zionized US media.

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

Knowing that we would soon be seeing Hamas leaders from Gaza and also in Damascus, we promised to assess prospects for a cease-fire. From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

We knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved, as the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the same scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel’s unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

On another visit to Syria in mid-December, I made an effort for the impending six-month deadline to be extended. It was clear that the preeminent issue was opening the crossings into Gaza. Representatives from the Carter Center visited Jerusalem, met with Israeli officials and asked if this was possible in exchange for a cessation of rocket fire. The Israeli government informally proposed that 15 percent of normal supplies might be possible if Hamas first stopped all rocket fire for 48 hours. This was unacceptable to Hamas, and hostilities erupted.

After 12 days of “combat,” the Israeli Defense Forces reported that more than 1,000 targets were shelled or bombed. During that time, Israel rejected international efforts to obtain a cease-fire, with full support from Washington. Seventeen mosques, the American International School, many private homes and much of the basic infrastructure of the small but heavily populated area have been destroyed. This includes the systems that provide water, electricity and sanitation. Heavy civilian casualties are being reported by courageous medical volunteers from many nations, as the fortunate ones operate on the wounded by light from diesel-powered generators.

The hope is that when further hostilities are no longer productive, Israel, Hamas and the United States will accept another cease-fire, at which time the rockets will again stop and an adequate level of humanitarian supplies will be permitted to the surviving Palestinians, with the publicized agreement monitored by the international community. The next possible step: a permanent and comprehensive peace.


Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

5 thoughts on “An Unnecessary War”

  1. I like his style.

    Now to business: Not only does he show a complete lack of history, but he seeks to blame Israel for Hamas’ breech of their OWN cease-fire!

    In short, when your having some 800 rockets fired into America, you would expect us to protect and prevent another attack. This is what Israel has done.
    And, if anyone pays attention to history, you will find that Israel won’t try to keep the Gaza strip, perhaps give it all up, as soon as Hamas is gone.

    Remember, as Mosab Hassan Yousef said himself, ‘can fire coexist with water?’

  2. What version of history is that?

    The question you might wanna ask yourself is that if the US were occupying a neighboring country, denying it food, fuel and medicine, controlling its airspace, and killing its people at random, would they at some point start shooting rockets to express their outrage?

    Israel has as much right to ‘defend’ itself against an occupied people as a rapist against his victim. As Jerome Slater put it: ‘An oppressor is not engaged in “self defense” when it uses force in order to annihilate resistance to its repression, and that holds true even if the form of resistance–attacks intended to kill civilians–is itself morally wrong.’

  3. cliftonofhesperia

    don’t quote isreali newspapers and america’s israeli occupied media to support your argument. just give simple answers to simple readers like me that
    how many isrealis hamas has killed by breaking the truce in past few weeks?? and how many palestinians have been butchered by the innocent victim israel in past few days?? the numbers will speak the truth.

  4. Forgive me but I am sick of people, especially mainstream media, trying to legitimize any criticism of Israel by proclaiming: “but Hamas started this war by breaking the truce and firing rockets into Israel”.

    The parallels with the falsehood and propaganda seen in the 2006 are striking. In fact Israel broke the truce ( Note the date, hmm, wonder why the engaged in an attack on that day? Oh yeh, polling day in the US. Nobody is going to care on that day.

    Also I believe it was Haaretz who revealed that the Israeli attacks, like in 2006, had been planned for months.

    Yet another parallel from 2006 which we all know will reoccur, is that the highlighting of these breaches from human rights groups, journalists and academics which yet again fall on deaf ears.

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