Gaza 2009: Hit by an Iron Wall

The Iron Wall in Theory

The conceptual origins of the 2009 Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, so appropriately designated Operation Cast Lead, as well as its numerous predecessors,1  can be traced back to November 4, 1923.   On that date Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the founding father of right wing Zionist thinking, published an article in Russian (subsequently translated into English in 1937) entitled “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs).”2  In this piece Jabotinsky lays out what he felt to be a “realist” position.  He readily admitted that there are “two nations” in Palestine–the Jews and the Arab Palestinians.  In this he was far more factual than, say, Golda Meir who, on June 15, 1969, rather stupidly told the Sunday Times that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”   Jabotinsky’s recognition of the existence of the Palestinian branch of the Arab nation was just the beginning.  He went on to “swear, for us and our descendants, that we will never…attempt to expel or oppress the Arabs.” Alas, for both the Israeli Right and Left, this pledge has obviously gone extinct. Nonetheless, if he had stopped there he may well have been a posthumous candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.  But, as it turned out, there was a very big catch.  In order to qualify for Jobatinsky’s “completely peaceful” offer the Palestinians had to allow the Zionists to achieve their aims of majority status in the “Land of Israel” without putting up any resistance.

Jabotinsky did not believe this was possible.  And, not because the Palestinians are barbarians, cockroaches, terrorists or any of the other epithets cast upon them by subsequent, far cruder,  Israeli leaders. Indeed, he asserts that the Palestinian Arabs are “not a rabble but a nation.” Rather, it was because “every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement.”  Jabotinsky posits this as a sort of law of human nature.  He tells us it is “in the nature of things.”  And, to change that nature is impossible.  Therefore, Palestinian resistance is inevitable and natural as long as there is “a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of ‘Palestine’ into ‘the Land of Israel.’”

The strategy of conquest Jabotinsky goes on to propose flows logically from this alleged aspect of human nature.  Colonization, he insists, must be pursued in a manner that results in an “iron wall which the native population cannot break through.  This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs.”  What does Jabotinsky mean by an “iron wall?”  For him it is not just a defensive concept.  It is primarily an offensive one.  For Jabotinsky, the Zionist policy should be one that forces the Palestinians to concede that there is no hope for them to be able to displace the Zionists and establish their own country.  Only at that point is agreement between Zionists and Palestinian Arabs possible–wholly on Zionist terms.  “Only when not a single breach is visible in the iron wall, only when the extreme groups lose their sway, and influence transfers to moderate groups,” only then will the Palestinians accept their fate.   Israeli governments, admittedly under an ever adaptive  propaganda cover,  have been following the Iron Wall policy for the last 61 years.

The Iron Wall in Practice

 If you want the history of the application of the Iron Wall strategy I refer you to the literally hundreds of reports of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, various UN Rapporteurs, Israel’s B’tselem, Physician’s for Human Rights, and even the US State Department’s country reports for Israel and the Occupied Territories.  What you will find is that  there has never been an independent human rights organization that has investigated the Israeli conduct towards the Palestinians that has not pointed to Israel’s consistent violations of human rights.  Making life dangerous and miserable for the Palestinians is the strategy of the Iron Wall.

Remember, the Israeli leaders who adhere to the Iron Wall strategy expect the Palestinians to resist.  Indeed, at least in the short run,  they want the Palestinians to resist because the more they resist the quicker they can shut down every “breach visible in the iron wall” and force the Palestinians to simply give up.   Sometimes this sentiment is publically expressed by Israeli spokesmen, though usually with a propaganda twist that ironically makes it appear that the Israelis are the victims of Palestinian violence.  For instance in 2002 Moshe Yaalon, who was then the Israeli military Chief of Staff , said that there needs to be “a very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us.”2  As we will see,  by 2002 there can be little doubt that increasing numbers of  Palestinians were having it “burned into their consciousness” (another Yaalon  phrase that now has great popularity in Israel)  that diplomacy and negotiation would not force the Israelis to accept any sort of reasonable compromise.  Thus, if diplomacy and negotiation would not work and violent resistance would not work, what would? The Israeli answer is that nothing would work to get the Palestinians what they want.  This was Yaalon’s rather piecemeal way of expounding the Iron Wall approach.

The confrontation between Zionists and Palestinians has been going on ever since the British took hold of Palestine during World War I and began to facilitate European Jewish immigration into that land.  Soon after the establishment of the State of Israel , the Palestinian fedayeen (all of whom were displaced refugees–victims of the Nakba) began making largely ineffectual raids into Israel.  Israel’s response to these were out of all proportion to the damage done by the Fedayeen and aimed largely at the Jordanian, Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese governments which allowed the Palestinian refugee fighters to cross their borders.  Soon the leaders of these countries, understanding that they were no match for the Israeli war machine (allied as it was first to France and then the United States), called a halt to most fedayeen activity.  A breach in the Iron Wall was thus closed.  Under these conditions Yasir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) eventually gave up the armed struggle (this happened in 1988) and shifted the fight to the diplomatic front.  However, the Zionists were certainly not going to diplomatically concede to the Palestinians a national status they could not achieve militarily.  For them Palestinian diplomacy was just another attempt to break through the Iron Wall.  So they stalled, rejected (as with the two state solution offered by Arafat at Camp David II), and in the end simply broke whatever agreements they did make with the PLO (as in the case of the Oslo Accords).   The Palestinians were soon as frustrated on the diplomatic front as on the military one.  I am not sure if the Palestinians understood what was happening here.  That it was all the strategy of the Iron Wall for the Israeli leadership.  That from the Zionist perspective their could be no compromises with the Palestinians–at least not until they surrendered.

Frustration did not mean that all Palestinians abandoned armed resistance.  Indeed, by the end of the 1980s conditions were ripe for popular uprisings known as Intifadas.    These would soon break out and  proceed along an ascending curb of violence.  With the first Intifada, which broke out in 1987,  the PLO leadership under Arafat  (then in exile in Tunis) began to lose control of the Palestinian people who took to the streets in a spontaneous act of revolt against Israel.  It is in the ensuing chaos that groups like Hamas stepped into a military resistance leadership role. The first Intifada was mostly stone throwing and the occasional Molotov cocktail.  Although the Israelis responded with their standard tactic of disproportionate force, the revolt lasted six years.   It was brought to an end only by the Oslo Accords (September 1993) which brought Arafat back from exile and presented the Palestinians with the illusion of a process leading to a state of their own.  However, what the Israelis wanted from Arafat and the PLO was that they should act as surrogate police and control the Palestinians for the occupiers.  Co-opting the PLO leadership would be a big step in solidifying the Iron Wall.  But as long as he was alive Arafat would not play the expected role.  For their part, the Israelis broke the Oslo Accords almost as soon as they signed them and the colonization process went on apace.  Arafat ended up besieged by the Israelis in his half destroyed headquarters in Ramallah.  He died in November 2004,  perhaps poisoned by an Israeli operative.

It is probably the case that the Jewish population of Israel is no more aware of the Iron Wall strategy of their leaders than are the Palestinian people. And this is necessarily so.  For it turns out that to put the Iron Wall strategy into practice takes a high degree of brutality.  After all,  the offensive aspect of the strategy requires Israel to beat on the Palestinians repeatedly in order to make them give up all hope in their own liberation.  If they fail to do so you have to beat on them some more, and then more and more and more…… Jabotinsky handled this ethical dilemma by simply declaring Zionist ends inherently moral and then asserted that since the end is moral so is the means.  He put it this way,  “we hold that Zionism is moral and just.  And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether…Achmet agree[s] with it or not.”  But this is just words.  Normal human beings are not going to engage in 61 years of battering their neighbors unless they are led to believe that their enemy is barbaric and there is no other way to fight him.  So the average Israeli has been brought up in a war oriented  culture that teaches him or her that Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular are just incurable anti-Semites, indeed just latter day Nazis,  who want to “kick the Israelis into the sea.”  Therefore Israel’s actions against the Palestinians are always defensive.  Here is how the Israeli journalist Amira Hass (who is aware of Israel’s strategy and able to properly contextualize it) puts it, “…the Israeli public relations machinery has exaggerated the danger of the military threat that the Palestinians pose to us.  When they moved from stones to rifles and from Molotov cocktails to suicide bombings, from roadside bombs to Qassams and from Qassams to Grads, and from PLO to Hamas, we said with a whoop of victory, “We told you. They’re anti-Semites.”  And therefore, we have the right to go on a rampage.”3

“Rampage” is just another word for the Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall strategy.

The Problem of Gaza

With the death of Arafat in 2004,  Israel’s Iron Wall closed a very big breach. Arafat was the heart and soul of Palestinian secular resistance and when he left the scene there was no comparable leader to take his place.  This led to a rapid deterioration within the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Arafat had set up.  Indeed, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, the PA started to resemble the collaborationist Palestinian government the Zionists had been looking for since the Oslo debacle.

At first it seemed that Arafat’s death and his replacement with Abbas might have put the Israelis into a more compromising frame of mind.  After all, in September 2005 they unilaterally pulled their 8,000 colonists out of Gaza.  It was true that the Gaza settlements were in an exposed position, sitting in the midst of one and a half million Palestinians many of whom were loyal to the militant Islamic resistance organization Hamas.  Hamas is a religiously motivated group best known in the West for launching suicide bomb attacks against Israel.  Though they had suspended such attacks several years ago, they still represented the most dedicated source of resistance Israel has to face.  But Israel had defended the Gaza settlers for 38 years so why pull them out now?  As it turned out it was not due to any retreat from the strategy of the Iron Wall.  On the contrary, it was a tactical maneuver to achieve a free hand against Hamas in Gaza.4

Thus, Hamas’s militancy contrasted sharply with Fatah following Arafat’s demise.  All the more so after it defeated Fatah in internationally supervised democratic elections held in January 2006.  Fatah lost the elections  not only because Abbas and his compatriots had got nowhere in negotiations with Israel (why should Israel give anything substantial to a group that was approaching proxy status?) but also because Fatah’s bureaucracy had become corrupt.   For the Palestinians Fatah was bankrupt.   Hamas might be an Islamic movement, but its leaders are honest and had always seen to the needs of ordinary, now mostly impoverished,  Palestinians and still actively resisted the Israeli occupation.  Hamas had now became the democratically elected government of Palestine.  For the Israelis this made Hamas the biggest, and perhaps the last, breach in the Iron Wall. For the Fatah leadership also it made Hamas, and not the Israeli occupiers, their number one enemy.

A sure sign of this mutual perception of Hamas  came in September 2008.  In that month a meeting took place outside of Ramallah between the West Bank militia leaders of Fatah and Israeli military commanders. According to reports in the Israeli paper Ydiot Ahronot the meeting was to arrange Israeli acceptance for the deployment of more Fatah policemen in the city of Jenin. But it went further and included reaching a common agreement on the destruction of Hamas prior to the end of Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential term of office on January 9th. The Fatah militia leaders described Hamas as a common enemy of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The two would now work together to destroy this enemy.5  Israel would destroy Hamas in Gaza and Fattah would assist in its destruction on the West Bank.

Rampage 2009

Even before the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon  ( the man who oversaw the Sabra and Chatila massacres) pulled its settlers from Gaza in 2005 it was clear that the impediments to normal life for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank would be getting worse and not better.  This is attested to by James Wolfensohn, a Orthodox Jew who, up until he resigned in April 2006, was the Quartet representative for the Middle East.  He, along with then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, had worked out an agreement in the Summer of 2005 between Israel and the Abbas run  Palestinian Authority to clear away much of the impediments to economic revival for the Palestinians. Supposedly, this was to be Israel’s reward for Mahmoud Abbas’s cooperative demeanor.  The number of roadblocks (then numbering about 500) that restricted Palestinian movement were to be reduced and a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which the Israelis had originally agreed to as part of the Oslo Accords, was to be finally allowed.  According to Wolfensohn, “in the months that followed, every aspect of the agreement was abrogated” by Israel with no apparent objection from the United States.6   When the Israelis withdrew from Gaza a few months later, a slow strangulation of the Gaza through a gradual tightening up of the borders began.   One favorite Israeli trick at this point was the instituting of long delays for the export of Palestinian produce.  Palestinian farm products were allowed to rot at the border crossings.7

Israel’s actions were the diplomatic equivalent of spitting in the face of Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah and the PA and contributed to their resounding lost to Hamas in the national elections in January 2006.  After Hamas won the election they offered Israel a ten year truce which was rejected out of hand.  Instead the victory was seized upon by both Israel and the Bush administration to further strangle Gaza and its one and a half million residents.  Draconian sanctions were applied, unemployment shot up, vital medicines became harder to import, periodically the Israelis would cut off the water supply and stop fuel shipments to the power plants. The utter maliciousness of it all was best symbolized by the tactic of Israeli jets breaking the sound barrier over Gaza City at all hours of the day and night. Of course, all these actions were claimed to be taken in response to Hamas violence.  However Hamas violence could be uniformly traced to Israeli provocations.  What the Israelis, and their accomplice in the White House, were about was the purposeful collapse of the Gaza economy.   Dove Weisglass, a high ranking adviser to Sharon as well as his successor Ehud Olmert,  made Israeli aims quite clear in July 2006.  The Palestinians were being put on a diet, he said, “the will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.”8  Weisglass was wrong as far as death was concerned.  A growing number of Gazan children were already malnourished.  A further “diet” was bound to kill some of them.  The purposeful starvation of a civilian population is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, but Weisglass paid no notice to international law.  The Israeli and American actions, carried out with the cooperation of the European Union,  was clearly an act of collective punishment of the Palestinians for having the audacity of electing Hamas.  It was also the institution of a siege, and a siege is an act of war.

The rocket attacks that came out of Gaza were a response to Israel’s long standing war posture,  to say nothing of Israel’s routine violent provocations.9 They were also a response to the Israel’s out of hand  rejection of Hamas’s signals that it was willing to accept a two state solution to the conflict (signals never reported in the US media). The subsequent assertion from Israel that they have a right to defend their citizens is simple hypocrisy in the absence of the same right given to the Palestinians.  The hypocrisy was indulged in not only by Israelis, but also United States political leaders and journalists.  The former asked the American people what they would do if rockets were fired from such places as Tijuana or Saskatoon?   Alas,  these politicians did not give the American people any context for understanding their question.  In fact the proper question to be asked is what would the American people do if, as Professor Howard Schweber put it, “a foreign power…had cut off all access to your country and was slowly starving your population in order to compel you to get rid of your elected government?”10  The latter, the journalists, were best represented by the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who insisted that Israel was  faced with  nonstate “Arab foes” who are “implacably hostile” and “nested among civilians.”  Thus its “logical” and self-defense oriented “counterstrategy” had to include “inflict[ing] substantial property damage and collateral casualties” on the enemy.  This is what Israel had done in Lebanon in 2006 and what they did in Gaza in 2009.  In this way Friedman tells us, Israel is perhaps “trying to ‘educate’ Hamas.”  This sounds very much like the Iron Wall strategy, Thomas Friedman style.11

Confined to a ghetto and abandoned by most of the world, the democratically elected government headed by Hamas eventually negotiated a renewable six month  hudna or truce with Israel through the good offices of the Egyptian government.  It came into effect on June 19, 2008 and was due for renewal in mid December. Under the conditions of the truce Israel was to lift its blockade of Gaza and Hamas was to stop its missile attacks.  While the truce brought a fragile quiet to Gaza (Israeli troops only killed 14 Gaza Palestinians in this period) and southern Israel for six months, the Israelis typically reneged on their part of the bargain. They kept up the siege pressure on Gaza’s borders.  It took 450 truck loads of supplies per day just to maintain the Gazans at a subsistence level.  During the truce Israel allowed in no more than 80 per day on  average.  During this period at least 260 Gazans died because the Israelis refused them access to medical care in Israel.  Thus, the only thing the Gazans got out of the truce was a delay in Israel’s eventual invasion. It is also during this period that the fateful meeting mentioned above–the one between Fatah and Israeli military commanders–occurred outside of Ramallah.

It would appear that on the Israeli side the cease fire was another political ploy.  The government wanted to relieve some of the pressure on its southern cities–the ones within rocket range of Gaza, as well as put itself in a posture, in the eyes of the international community, of allegedly doing what it could for the cause of peace.  Simultaneously, The Israeli army was training for the invasion of the Gaza Strip.  Indeed, according to the IDF spokesman Brigadier General Avi Benayahou the Israelis had built an mock up of parts of Gaza City at the Tsehilim army base in the Negev desert and began, 18 months earlier (that means sometime around mid 2007) training for the invasion.12  As a consequence “our soldiers know all the back streets were their targets are” he told Israeli public television.”13  Parallel to this training the Israeli government created a new information directorate to put together a propaganda campaign for the up coming invasion.  Again, the pre-planning was readily admitted by Israeli spokesmen–this time ex Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman–who in a matter of fact manner told reporters that “this was something that was planned long ahead.”  The core messages for the campaign were “Israel has no choice but to attack in response to the barrage of Hamas rockets;”  that the coming attack would be on “‘the infrastructure of terror”and that “civilians would die only because Hamas hides its fighters and weapons factories among ordinary people.”14   Overall, the idea here was to convince the Western populations that such an invasion was not connected to on-going Israeli occupation but rather was part of the West’s war on terror.

Of course, with the June 2008 cease fire there were no Hamas rockets flying except early on in the truce when Israel launched major attacks on the West Bank. Otherwise,  Hamas was scrupulous, even in the face of Israel’s bad faith, about maintaining the truce.  In an unguarded moment Israel’s official government spokesmen Mark Ragev admitted as much.15   The Israelis did not seem to be too worried about this, they had great confidence that, when the time was right, they could provoke Hamas into firing their rockets.  Their spin doctors would provide cover for the provocation and the invasion could go ahead.

And so it was.  On November 6, 2008 Israel purposely broke the truce by crossing the Gaza border on the pretext of destroying a tunnel which they said was to be used to kidnap Israeli soldiers. In the action they killed 6 Palestinians. The application of common sense demonstrates that their cover story was not a believable tale. The tunnel certainly existed, but it did not cross the border into Israel. The Israelis, obviously knowing about the tunnel, could have simply waited to see if the tunnel came into Israeli territory and then destroy it. If this happened they would have a strong case for their actions and the truce would most likely have survived. But there was no proof that Hamas was intent on using the tunnel to attack Israeli troops as long as there was a truce.  Israel knew that Hamas would retaliate for its attack on the tunnel within Gaza territory. And the chances of the truce crumbling in the face of Israeli aggression on top of a tightening of the borders that had by that time produced widespread misery was predictably high. This scenario was produced by Israel so as to give them an excuse to invade.

The rest, as they say, is history:  Palestinian deaths due to the subsequent invasion stood, as of January 20, 2009, at 1,086 and the number of wounded at about 4900.  Some of these were victims of weapons banned under international law such as “white phosphorus” bombs and shells.  The death toll was bound to rise as the Palestinians started to clear the rubble from destroyed schools, mosques, office buildings and apartment blocks. A striking number of the Palestinian dead were women and children.   As Juan Cole notes,  among the dead were 280 Palestinian children and minors, as well as 111 women.  However, according to the Palestine Center for Human Rights, only  223 confirmed Palestinian fighters.  Therefore, if these numbers are accurate,  “the Israelis managed to kill more children than real militants.”16   Israel admitted to a dozen dead soldiers of its own but this was almost certainly an artificially low figure.  The physical destruction on the Palestinian side was wide spread with large parts of Gaza City destroyed.  According to Richard Falk, the UN Rapporteur for human rights in the Israeli Occupied Territories, Israel’s actions in Gaza “evokes the worst kind of international memories of the Warsaw Ghetto.”17

The Israelis finally proclaimed a unilateral cease fire on January 17 after beating on the Palestinians of Gaza for 22 days.  They had publically stated two main aims for their invasion.  One was to destroy Hamas’s ability to launch rockets into Israel.  Within hours of the Israeli cease fire Hamas and other resistance groups fired 17 rockets into Israel and then declared their own cease fire.  Obviously objective number one had failed.  The second objective was to assure that Hamas could not rearm across the Gaza and Egypt frontier. Yet Hamas spokesman were not too put off by this goal.  Questioned about international monitors, they responded that they would not have them on the Palestinian side of the border, but the Egyptians could do as they pleased on their side.  Thus objective number two is in doubt.  In any case Hamas says their can be no long term truce unless the siege is lifted on Gaza and the borders are opened

In the end the invasion of Gaza with all its death and destruction was not about missiles fired into Israel.  These could have been easily avoided by negotiating with Hamas for a long term truce and dealing humanely with the needs of the Palestinian people for mobility and economic progress.  In addition,  Israel’s pre-planning suggests that the invasion was not primarily about that country’s February 2009 elections.18  No, the Israelis created the conditions for the invasion over an 18 month period in a conscious, pre-meditated way.  Having sealed the breach in the Iron Wall on the West Bank with the co-option of Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah militia commanders, the only breach left appeared to be Hamas.  And, faithful to the teaching of Vladmir Jabotinsky, they knew what had to be done.  The Gazans had to be brought to the same state of mind as Abbas and his cohort. The Israeli journalist and historian Tom Segev, who knows all about the Iron Wall,  put it this way in Haaretz on December 29, 2008, “Israel is striking at the Palestinians to ‘teach them a lesson.’  That is a basic assumption that has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its inception.”  The lesson would allegedly “liquidate the Hamas regime,” or as Jabotinsky had said, “cause the extreme groups to lose their sway” and “transfer influence to the moderates.”  In this way, Segev tells us, the Israeli government believed that the Palestinians could be brought to “rebel against their national leaders…and…abandon their national aspirations.”


Israel’s victims are not the only ones who might draw lessons from this latest effort to enforce the Iron Wall.  The rest of the world can learn something too. And that is that Israel’s leaders have no intention of making peace with their unfortunate neighbors except on their own terms. The Palestinians have two choices:  go on resisting or give up.  The only wild card in this deck is the international community.  How much of Israel’s barbarity are the other countries of the world willing to witness without raising a finger?  It used to be that governments and their peoples were largely pro-Israel.  That is rapidly changing.  Today, more and more ordinary citizens are turning away from Israel in disgust.  However, their governments,  particularly in the West, still seem to be stuck in a bloody rut–mesmerized by the Zionist lobbies.  However, that creates an anomaly within democratic political structures that is unlikely to go on forever.

As put forth by Jabotinsky, the Iron wall was a bilateral concept.  It referred only to the Zionists on one side and the Palestinian Arabs on the other.  But other Zionists, such as Theodor Herzl, always knew that their movement needs a patron.  That turns out to be an unexpected weak point in the Iron Wall.   The neoconservative age is in eclipse and this writer is willing to chance a prediction.  Israel simply cannot go on like it has without almost guaranteeing its own eventual isolation.  The ghost of apartheid South Africa dogs its steps more closely than anyone in Jerusalem imagines. Against this backdrop. Israel’s invasion of Gaza was ultimately a failure.  It failed to close the  Hamas breach in the Iron Wall.  And, perhaps more importantly, it opened up new breachs.  It raised up a host of new enemies among the world’s peoples.  And, in the West at least, where they go their governments will one day have to well follow.


3.  Amira Hass, “History did not begin with the Qassams” in Haaretz, January 14, 2009.


4. It is not only hindsight that allows us to come to this conclusion.  On July 15, 2005 Uri Davis, Ilan Pappe and Tamar Yaron published a piece in Counterpunch that warned, “We believe that one primary, unstated motive for the determination of the government of the State of Israel to get Jewish setters…out of Gaza may be to keep them out of harm’s way when the Israeli government and military possibly trigger an intensified mass attack on the…Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.”


7. The Israelis also fired about 16,000 artillery rounds into Gaza in the two year period following their withdrawal.  One of the consequences of the 2008-2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza and the war crimes that followed was that Jordan and many Scandanavian countries cancelled orders for Israeli fruits, which ended up rotting in Israeli wharehouses.

9. In truth these attacks had always been largely ineffectual – 13 Israelis had been killed by Qassam rockets between October 2001 and November 2008 while in the same period some 5000 Palestinians had been killed by Israel.

11.  Thomas L. Friedman “Israel’s Goals in Gaza?”  NYT, January 14, 2009.

12. This prolonged preparation time calls into question the popular assumption that the Olmert government initiated the invasion to better position the Kadima party for Israel’s February 2009 elections.  No doubt the timing was convenient for Labour and Kadima, but the elections were not the real reason for the invasion of Gaza.

17. Quoted in Haaretz, “UN human rights official: Gaza evokes memories of Warsaw Ghetto,” January 23, 2009

18. See endnote 12 above.


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