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Friday, January 02, 2009 

The status quo ante returns.

When did we hear this before?

The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, called for a "durable and sustainable" ceasefire - one which should "not allow a re-establishment of the status quo ante, where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza".

"We cannot return to the status quo ante," Ms Rice told a press conference. Lebanon had to have "one authority and one gun".

For those that have been suffering from an outbreak of deja vu before Rice's comments, it just further establishes that this is little more than a rerun of the 2006 summer Lebanon-Hizbullah-Israel war. The difference is that this time round Israel has even less justification for its actions in Gaza: then Hizbullah had attacked a IDF patrol and kidnapped and killed soldiers, and even if the subsequent action across Lebanon by the IDF was similarly indefensible, Israel had the right to try and get its soldiers back. This time round the justification is the "incessant" rocket fire - but this was at similar levels to what it had been since the 6-month long ceasefire had broken down, if not lower. The real reason appears to be not Hamas provocation but electoral politics from a party that fears it is about to be turned out of office, combined with the IDF itself trying to shake-off the humiliation it suffered in 2006 by re-establishing the fear that other armies and militant groups had of it since the 1967 and 1973 wars.

Rice's remarks show that the despite the Quartet's call for a ceasefire, the US is adopting the exact same position as it had in 2006 - giving Israel room to do whatever the hell it likes until they decide that the calls for a return to some sort of "peace" become too much to resist. In actuality, Rice's statement in effect gives Israel carte blanche to continue its siege of Gaza indefinitely, as Hamas and the other militant groups in the Strip will always have the materials to make their crude home-made rockets, even if they run out of the Grads they have recently obtained. The only solution to the rocket fire is a peaceful one, as all sides realise however much rhetoric they deliver, yet as Ehud Barak said earlier in the week, there is a time for peace and there is a time for fighting, and at the moment Israel seems determined to not stop its attacks until a distinct part of the Strip has been reduced to rubble.

It's difficult to know if what has become known as the "Dahiya doctrine" is in operation yet in Gaza, although as the bombing continues and the supposed "Hamas" targets dwindle it must be getting close to it. Named after the Dahiya district of Beirut which was Hizbullah's erstwhile base in Lebanon, it was ostensibly completely decimated by Israeli airstrikes during the 2006 war. In interviews last year, the IDF's Northern Command Chief Gadi
Eisenkot referred to Dahiya, with his remarks built upon by the columnist Yaron London:

In the next clash with Hizbullah we won’t bother to hunt for tens of thousands of rocket launchers and we won’t spill our soldiers’ blood in attempts to overtake fortified Hizbullah positions. Rather, we shall destroy Lebanon and won’t be deterred by the protests of the “world.”

We shall pulverize the 160 Shiite villages that have turned into Shiite army bases, and we shall not show mercy when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by Hizbullah. This strategy is not a threat uttered by an impassioned officer, but rather, an approved plan.

This goes beyond "disproportion". This is an out and out call for crimes against humanity, of the sort which ought to see those who authorised them brought up at the Hague. As the rockets will undoubtedly continue to be fired, as long as Israel continues a siege which the UN is now describing as a "critical emergency", the full implementation of such a policy surely approaches. Can we depend on our government, let alone any US government, under either Bush or Obama to stand up to such an onslaught, should Israel decide the time has come? Again, we have to ask, who exactly are the terrorists here?

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I've read all your posts on the Gaza situation, as well as many othe rposts on the Gaza situation and they all seem to try and make it good guy versus bad guy, rather than two really fucking shitty guys having a fight with lots of civilians caught in the middle.

Just a thought.

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