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Tuesday, December 30, 2008 

Not concealing their enjoyment.

One thing I've noticed over the last couple of days is that despite the predictable calls for revenge from ordinary Gazans, none have been openly celebratory about the prospect, or felt that such actions would be completely praiseworthy, let alone worth cheering. If anyone has, drop them in the comments.

How different this seems to be to quite a few Israelis quoted, not to mention some newspaper editorials. We've had the woman from Sderot who said what was happening in Gaza was "fantastic", the civil defence official that said he would "play music and celebrate what is happening" and Yoei Marcus in Haaretz who writes

I will not conceal my enjoyment of the flames and smoke rising from Gaza that have poured from our television screens. The time has finally come for their bellies to quiver and for them to understand that there is a price for their bloody provocations against Israel.

This is without mentioning comment from Yediot Aharonot which was ecstatic about how the element of surprise meant that the number of people killed was increased, and Ma'ariv, which borrowed from the US lexicon and said, to paraphrase slightly, that "we shocked and awed them". Not the most neutral source, but Angry Arab has also posted saying that Al Arabiya played footage of Israelis "dancing and cheering" the attacks. It's reminiscent of the children who wrote messages onto the shells that were to be used in Lebanon in 2006.

One can only speculate as to the differences in response. From a psychological point of view, you might put it down to the Palestinians of Gaza being in shock at the suddenness and vehemence of the Israeli attacks, especially if the rumours circulating that there was in fact an informal 48-hour truce in effect between Hamas and Israel are substantiated, which Israel breached with over 100 tons of explosives. Their anger and need for vengeance might come later; at the moment their first instinct might well be to survive. Why though are some of the Israelis so ecstatic at the violence being meted out? It's not as if Israel has been under siege from suicide bombers now from a number of years, and the rockets, feeble as they are, only affect a tiny proportion of the country. We often hear about how the Palestinians are taught hatred for Israel from an early age, and how such violence against the Jews is normalised, yet strangely they don't seem to be baying for blood in the same way as the Israelis are. It would be very easy to put it down to the bullied becoming the bully, or how Israeli blood is deemed to be worth far more than Palestinian blood, yet what other explanations are there? Can it all be frustration at the impasse between Hamas and Israel, and the failure by Kadima to stop the rocket fire from Gaza, even while blockading and trying to starve the territory into submission?

It's perhaps instructive that it's taken four days for the "Quartet" to call for an "immediate ceasefire". Instructive in that it probably means that Israel has already run out of things to bomb, or at least things that can however vaguely be linked to Hamas, as the US was until today completely supportive of Israel blowing the living fuck out of anything while placing all the blame on Hamas, much like it took the best part of two weeks for them to do anything in Lebanon, while they waited to see if the IDF could strike a knockout blow against Hizbullah. Further evidence was the apparently positive response by Israel to a French call for at least a temporary ceasefire, although it could well be waiting to see whether Hamas has many of the apparently advanced Grad rockets it's obtained, which have hit the farthest into Israel those fired from Gaza have ever reached. Again, it shows that Hamas, however many people want to paint them as lunatics dedicated to the destruction of Israel, does show restraint: it's only used the more advanced weaponry that has come into its possession when such destruction has been unleashed against both them and Gaza. One suspects however that the current conflagration has further yet to run, and that more Palestinians will be killed before Kadima decides that its electoral prospects have been improved.

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