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What did Israel gain by its Gaza war?

Nov. 25, 2012 12:16 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 25, 2012 12:22 P.M.)
By: Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad
On Nov. 14, the Israeli government, led by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his minister of defense Ehud Barak, declared the beginning of its "Pillar of Cloud" operation in Gaza.

At the time, several goals were declared; bringing back Israel’s deterrence power, destroying the Palestinian movements' fighting capabilities in Gaza and assuring security in southern Israeli cities for a long time.

Reaching a ceasefire after eight days of continuous airstrikes on Gaza and the launching of hundreds of rockets into Israel was not easy.

The US had to be involved, Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi made a lot of effort, the Qataris were also involved, as well as Turkey and many other actors who all joined in Cairo to try to stop the war.

At the last moments before reaching the ceasefire, the Israeli leadership was completely lost. Finishing the airstrikes against the so-called "bank of targets," resulting in killing dozens of Palestinian children and women, put the Israeli leadership in a new reality that they had denied before.

Even though Gaza was shaking continuously for eight days, until the last moments before the ceasefire came into play, the Palestinian movements continued to strike targets within Israel.

The human losses on the Israeli side were nothing when compared to the number of the Palestinians that lost their lives in Gaza. But the Israeli street was surprised after Prime Minister Netanyahu declared the end of the operation, named "Pillar of Defense" in English.

Israeli public opinion was convinced that Gaza could be erased from the earth, as one Israeli leader has wished, and that the security of the Israeli people can be established by achieving deterrence power, both in Gaza and the region.

Netanyahu convinced Israel that the conflict with the Palestinians can be carried out without reaching an agreement with the millions of Palestinians which are still under occupation.

The shock came at the moment when the Israeli people understood that the force of its army did not succeed in erasing the threat by simply attacking Gaza and maintaining its soldiers to protect the illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Israelis thought that Netanyahu would be clever enough to prevent the Palestinian leadership from going to the UN to ask for a recognition of a Palestinian state and everyone gambled on the Palestinian division which is now being bridged by the Israeli attack on Gaza.

This is not Netanyahu’s first failure; we must only remember that he ordered the Mossad spy agency to assassinate Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal in Jordan and almost lost the peace agreement with the Hashemite kingdom.

Operation "Pillar of Defense", which I prefer to call "Pillar of Offense" resulted in several failures for the Israeli leadership.

This is not the first time that Gaza is destroyed and this is not the first time Palestinians are called to rebuild their cities, whether in Gaza or in the West Bank before.

Actually the operation pushed Palestinians to reject surrender, strengthened calls for Palestinian unity, and enabled the West Bank to prove it is impossible to isolate Gaza.

Did Israel learn anything? Defense minister Ehud Barak is still talking about the destruction of government buildings and killing of military chiefs in Gaza, making an equivalence between Gaza and a state like Israel, rather than a territory under its occupation.

The Israeli goals for this operation were not accomplished at all, except that Israeli leaders succeeded in perpetuating an industry of fear so they will get reelected.

After this operation, Israelis must stop ignoring that Palestinians are under occupation and have to deal with Israeli policies of apartheid and racism every day.

Only after raising awareness amongst Israelis and convincing them that ending occupation can bring real security, would it be possible to assure a better future.

As for the international community, it is the time to understand that fighting the Palestinians' demand for freedom and end to the occupation is worse than any other oppression in history.

Palestinians today are more united and more determined to move forward while demanding their rights.

It would be a serious double standard for any country that believes in democratic norms, human rights or justice to refuse the Palestinian demand for statehood, and an end to occupation and apartheid.

Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad is Founder of the Middle East Post and MEL (Middle East Future Leadership Network) and lives in East Jerusalem.

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