TEHRAN - Israel has failed to “achieve any of its objectives” from its brutal military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, but “Palestinians have a long way to go before the inevitable victory will manifest,” an international lawyer and political commentator says.
Barry Grossman, who is based in Indonesia on the island of Bali, made the remarks on Wednesday during an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview.
Tehran Times: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says Palestinians are the victorious side of the Israeli war on Gaza. Please give us your comments over this statement.
Barry Grossman: What is happening in Gaza is not a war but rather a massacre. War is an armed conflict between to militaries. Hamas cannot be described as the military apparatus of a sovereign state since Israel and the international community have until now ensured that no Palestine has achieved sovereign status and that the Palestinian Authority remains accountable to the occupation forces. Rather, Hamas and several other organizations which comprise the armed resistance are best seen as militia movements. Still it is correct to say that Palestine has overwhelmingly triumphed in the related propaganda war and captured the hearts and minds of people around the world who now sympathise with their plight. As Ismail Haniyeh says, Palestine has also emerged the victor from this unrestrained military assault in that the occupation forces have not achieved any of the objectives they set for this operation, though their victory has come at a very high human and material cost.
Not only has Israel failed to break up the unity government which was formed under Fatah’s leadership, but they failed to have any significant impact on the capacity of the resistance to continue with its armed defense of Palestine. Moreover, the military wing of Hamas has emerged with far more influence over the Palestinian Authority than it had before Israel’s brutal attack and Hamas itself has won qualified support from millions of people around the world including apex political insiders like Zbigniew Brzezinski. What Israel fails to understand is that in any war, the only battle which matters is the one that wins the war. In the case of Palestine, that is a battle which the occupiers can never win because it requires much more than material superiority. Winning depends on righteousness and that is something which they neither possess nor can buy. Obviously the occupiers failed miserably and are entirely deluded about the resolve of Palestinians.
Apparently many in Israel also agree that Hamas has emerged victorious. Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said a few days ago that “despite Tel Aviv’s massive military operations in Gaza, the regime has not achieved any of its objectives and failed to prevent the Palestinians missile attacks into the depth of the occupied territories.” Mr. Netanyahu also sacked his Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon during the operation for saying that Hamas had “humiliated Israel” and was once again setting conditions for Israel’s policies. That sounds pretty much like a Palestinian victory, or at the very least, a clear loss by Israel.
TT: Why is Israel targeting innocent Palestinian children? What are Israel’s motives behind this brutal strategy?
BG: Netanyahu initially claimed that his aim was to locate the three missing Israeli teenagers who, though he knew then to be dead, he alleged without evidence had been abducted by Hamas. Despite his public claims, the Israeli assault on Palestinians in the West Bank and his initial attacks on Gaza were intended to generate the inevitable Hamas response so that it could be used as propaganda to justify the full invasion. The aim of the invasion itself was to destroy Hamas but not by targeting Hamas. Rather the aim was to destroy its grass roots support by inflicting such a heavy price on Gaza civilians that they would turn against the armed resistance. As a result, first Hamas rockets and then Hamas tunnels became the excuse by Israel for unleashing its blistering attack on Gaza civilians and essential infrastructure. But the fact is that even Israeli insiders have said the offensive had nothing to do with such things. After all, the relevant statistics tell us the same number of individuals die in U.S. roller coaster accidents each year as the total number of Israelis killed by “peacetime” Hamas rocket AND mortar fire from Gaza since the beginning of time. That number is approximately four or five; a number which no matter how one characterizes the legality of Hamas’s symbolic rocket fire at Israel, can hardly be said to constitute a crime against humanity.
The facts are that the entire history of Palestinian rocket and mortar fire at Israel, had resulted in a grand total of 40 (forty) fatalities as of July 2014. Twenty three of those fatalities occurred during major Israeli offensives against Gaza. Thirteen of the total fatalities were occupation soldiers and 27 were civilians, including two civilians killed at a military post. Only 22 of these 40 fatalities were from rocket fire, with the remaining 18 being caused by mortar fire. This total of 40 fatalities from all rocket & mortar fire since the beginning of time was caused by a total of 29 strikes comprising 18 rocket strikes and 11 mortar strike. Israeli statistics released in 2007, suggest that Hamas was directly involved in roughly 22% of these attacks, which implies that since the beginning of time, all Hamas “peace time” rocket and mortar fire has resulted in a grand total of 4 or 5 Israeli fatalities, 1 or 2 of which we can presume were occupation combatants. Fourteen (35%) of the total fatalities have occurred since Israel launched its “Pillar of Cloud” offensive on Gaza in 2012 during which Israel killed 273 Palestinians (including at least 113 civilians).
As for Israel’s agenda in this latest offensive, it was most clearly stated by the deputy speaker of the Knesset when Moshe Feiglin said on August 1 that Israel’s current military assault on Gaza must be to “exterminate” all resistance and all supporters of the resistance. He called for specific tactics which include putting all Gaza Palestinians into concentration camps in the Sinai and he insists that after Gaza has been fully destroyed, Palestinians must be compelled to emigrate from these concentration camps, while those who insist on remaining must be forced to carry identity cards reminiscent of the yellow Star of David and tattoos which were inflicted on European Jews by the Nazis.
In his own words, he called on Mr. Netanyahu to “designate certain open areas on the Sinai border, adjacent to the sea, in which the civilian population will be concentrated in tents until relevant emigration destinations are determined,” adding that “[t]he supply of electricity and water to the formerly populated areas will be disconnected” after which “[t]he formerly populated areas will be shelled with maximum fire power. The entire civilian and military infrastructure of Hamas, its means of communication and of logistics, will be destroyed entirely, down to their foundations.”
TT: Can Israeli leaders be in the dock one day for the crimes against the humanity? And please explain what Palestinians should do to put Israelis in the dock.
BG: The most appropriate international response would be for the UN to establish an ad hoc war crimes tribunal to adjudicate all allegations related to Palestine and Israel as was done with Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The problem, of course, is that the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council means that this will never happen without a revolutionary change in U.S. foreign policy. With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) not being a practical alternative, we are left with the International Criminal Court (ICC). There certainly are growing demands that Israel and various individuals from Israel face prosecution at the ICC. But unlike the ICJ, there are technical issues to overcome about whether the court has jurisdiction over Israel and the occupied territories regarding these matters. There are also concerns that despite Hamas and other militias comprising the armed resistance not being the official military of a sovereign Palestine state, any proceedings against Israel could be turned around into a prosecution of Palestine and used to compromise the process of achieving full statehood.
Indeed, many people speculate that a case in the ICC could end up being focused entirely on ridiculous allegations against Hamas. While I fully support moves to drag Israel before the ICC, my preference is to go after easier target like the deputy speaker of the Knesset, Moshe Feiglin, and MK Ayelet Shaked who have been publicly inciting Israelis and the occupation forces to commit crimes against humanity. In my view, a case against them would be very strong, at least in the court of public opinion if not in the heavily politicized forum of the ICC. That would soften international resistance to going after Israel itself and criminals like Netanyahu. Unfortunately “international law” and institutions like the ICC and UN which administer it, are inherently political. Still, the time has come to proceed with such a prosecution, if only to expose just how politically corrupt and partisan these international institutions are.
That said, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday that his government intends to apply for membership at the International Criminal Court this year, hoping to hold Israel responsible for war crimes law in Israeli-occupied territories. “Israel has left us with no other option,” Riad Malki told reporters after meeting with court officials in The Hague. However, in an unforeseen twist, the question of whether Israel can be considered subject to the ICC’s jurisdiction which had troubled everyone before was bizarrely upside down by an ICC statement claiming that it currently doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories!
TT: Some people say current Israeli politicians, particularly Binyamin Netanyahu, are Israel’s worst enemies. Not only their policies are fast isolating Israel, but even Israel’s former allies have started to distance themselves from the Tel Aviv regime.
BG: Indeed, in the long run Netanyahu and the “likudniks” around the world are Israel’s own worst enemy. Their bloody handiwork, while inflicting an enormous toll on Palestinians, has exactly the opposite effect of what they aim to achieve. It only solidifies the resolve of Palestinians and their commitment to armed resistance while garnering sympathy for Palestine from people around the world. Ironically, we can be sure that if Israel was governed by the moderates, the cause of Palestine would be far more difficult to advance and the process of assimilating pliant Palestinians into a Jewish state while exiling those who embrace the resistance would be far more advanced. The world’s hypocrisy is highlighted by this reality. Western dominated public opinion is offended by the brutality inflicted on Palestinians but is largely unwilling to consider the entire historical context and deliver a genuine solution to Palestinians which gives any significant recognition to the their unfulfilled rights. Instead, they imagine that Israel should simply be nicer to the Palestinians among them! The noble cause of Palestine has a long way to go before the inevitable victory will manifest.