This is one of a series of posts on the recent violence in Gaza, and more widely on the Israel-Palestine conflict and on religious and nationalist extremism in general.
Why is the Israeli attack on Gaza happening now? Lee Sze Yong of opswarfare suggests:
The fact that the Israeli elections are approaching is very likely the reason for the Israeli offensive
The other factor is Obama. The Israelis want to pacify the situation (and hopefully be in a better bargaining position) before President Obama “forces” both sides to sit down and talk
Since we’re in the run-up to an election in Israel (due on 10 February 2009), electoral considerations cannot be far from the minds of the Israeli government. They evidently think that killing lots of palestinians will be a vote winner. They are probably right; if they didn’t have a reasonably good idea of what public opinion wants, they wouldn’t be the government.
As it happens it appears many Israelis welcome the slaughter, for example:
Yoel Marcus, writing in Haaretz, says: “I will not conceal my enjoyment of the flames and smoke rising from Gaza that have poured from our television screens.”
Israel’s biggest selling paper, Yediot Aharonot, gleefully announced that: “the element of surprise increased the number of people who were killed”
Mechi Fendel, who lives in Sderot, says: “Finally, a month and a half before the elections, Israel takes some action. I definitely see this as linked, but it’s OK, better late than never. What’s been happening in Gaza is fantastic.”
And Ofer Schmerling’s response is: “I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing.”
It’s interesting to contrast this with how the British public would respond if british military action killed hundreds of civilians. It certainly wouldn’t be a vote winner. But then again, the British are mostly decent civilised people not bloodythirsty religious fanatics. Nor can one say that the difference is because terrorism is unknown to Britain — the 2005 London bombings killed more people (56) than Israelis that died from terrorism in that year, and in subsequent years fewer Israelis have died from the Israel-Palestine conflict (and many of them were military personal on duty oppressing the palestinians) than died in 2005.
In fact it’s just as well for Israel that the British are so soft on terrorism, because if we took the same approach as Israel does, then Israel would never have been born.