15 March, 2009

Cast Lead Fail

You will recall that the Israeli state's recent campaign against Gaza was dubbed Operation Cast Lead, a name picked to denote how uncompromisingly brutal it would be for the Palestinians. Two months after the campaign ended, some people in Israel have started wondering whether Cast Lead achieved anything for them. Although death and destruction was meted out to the people of Gaza, it has not succeeded in its stated aim of halting the firing of rockets from Gaza into adjacent Israeli territory. The level of rocket fire now is down on what it was in late December; I suspect it is roughly comparable to what it would have been before the Israeli state repudiated the truce it had with Hamas by assassinating three of that party's activists back in November. It seems also that members of the Israeli public have started to register how badly the Gaza war has affected their country's image – it never really looks that good when your army tells people to shelter in a school and then fires tank shells at them.

What is both interesting and disturbing about all this is that anyone with half a brain could have predicted this outcome from the Gaza campaign – that Israel would fail to halt the rockets and would further erode its international standing. Whatever you think about the morality of their actions, there seems to be a lack of basic rationality on the part of many Israeli decision-makers. The Gaza campaign did not even succeed as a cynical attempt by the then government to buy popularity with the Israeli public. The decision to launch the Gaza campaign was taken by a government led by the Labour and Kadima parties, both of whom have been consigned to the opposition benches by the recent elections.

Israel's new ultra-right coalition has reputedly decided that for now the rockets from Gaza can be lived with. Minds are apparently being focussed on how the economic crisis is hitting Israel, making a repeat of Operation Cast Lead now rather unlikely. The new government of Binyamin Netanyahu, however, has not decided on a new pacific course of interaction with the country's neighbours. Instead, his leadership is reported to be planning a strike of some sort against Iran.

No comments: