What If Israel Was the Victim?

What if the roles of Israel, Gaza, and members of the international community in the ongoing conflict were reversed? How would Americans and their government respond?

Gaza’s offensive against Israel continued today, sharply escalating with a ground incursion that cut off the southern part of Israel from the north.

The Israeli death toll climbed past 400, at least 60 of whom were civilians, according to UN estimates. 4 Palestinian civilians have been killed as a result of Jewish settlers firing rockets into Gaza in response to the military operation led by Hamas.

Cloud bursts with flaming smoke trails were seen over Israeli cities as Hamas employed white phosphorus munitions. The use of such munitions as weapons targeting soldiers or civilians is prohibited by international law, but Hamas says it is only using the munitions legally to provide a smokescreen for its ground offensive.

There have been reports of Israelis with chemical burns from the phosphorus rounds entering hospitals, but the reports could not independently confirmed since Hamas has refused to allow any foreign journalists to enter Israel.

The United States led an effort at the United Nations to issue a resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities, but the effort was blocked by Russia. The Russian ambassador to the UN said, “We don’t want a one-sided cease-fire that would see Gaza end its operations only to allow Israel to continue firing rockets into Gaza. We are seeking a sustainable cease-fire.”

Russia has repeatedly reiterated its demand for Israel to recognize Gaza’s right to exist and renounce violence. Russia’s foreign minister said earlier this week, “Israel is responsible for ending the cease-fire. Gaza has the right to self-defense. No nation would sit by and just watch as rockets exploded in their towns, hitting homes and schools, without a response. No country would tolerate that.”

Israel’s rocket attacks against Gaza sharply escalated after Gaza’s offensive began 9 days ago. Prior to that, no Palestinians had been killed since the cease-fire began last year on June 19. Israel’s Labor Party led by Ehud Barak agreed to the truce in exchange for an easing of the siege of Israel by Gaza.

Barak is also the head of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), which Hamas lists as a terrorist organization.

During the first week of the cease-fire, Hamas soldiers fired upon Israeli farmers near the border in at least seven separate incidents. An 82-year old Jewish man was wounded in one of the incidents. The IDF claimed that this was a violation of the cease-fire, but Hamas responded by announcing a “special security zone” along the border in Israel and warned that it would fire upon any Jews that entered the zone.

At the same time, Hamas also stepped up its operations against the IDF in the Negev region, stating that the cease-fire only applied to northern Israel. Two Jewish militants were killed in one targeted assassination.

Tzipi Livni’s Kadima group responded by firing rockets into Gaza City. The Labor party urged Kadima to observe the cease-fire so that the siege of Israel would be lifted. Hamas warned Barak that his party would be held responsible for any rockets fired from Israel into Gaza by other groups and closed border crossings once again after a brief respite in which it allowed several trucks to cross into Israel delivering humanitarian supplies.

The IDF claimed that Gaza’s firing at Jewish civilians and closing of the borders was a violation of the cease-fire, but held to the truce until after November 4, when Hamas launched an airstrike into Israel, killing 4 militants and injuring several others. Hamas said the Jewish militants were digging a tunnel under the border in order to cross into Gaza to kidnap a Hamas soldier. Hamas released satellite images with arrows pointing to what a spokesman said was the location of the tunnel. Hamas also blamed Barak’s IDF for violating the cease-fire by launching rockets in response to its airstrike.

Human rights organizations have criticized Hamas for its policy of blockading Israel, which they say had brought the Jewish people to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. The present military offensive has worsened the situation for Israelis, many of whom have no electricity. Many bakeries in Israel have run out of bread and cannot make more. Israel’s overflowing hospitals are running out of fuel to run generators, and the blockade has prevented them from receiving medical supplies which would assist in helping those injured in the present conflict.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh yesterday rejected the charges, saying “There is no humanitarian crisis in Israel. The humanitarian situation in Israel is exactly as it should be.”

Haniyeh also dismissed charges that Hamas forces were targeting civilians in its operations. “Hamas does everything to prevent the loss of life of civilians,” he said. “Israelis were even warned to leave areas where the terrorists are hiding. We are only targeting militants. It is Israel that is using human shields in violation of international law. It is Israel which is responsible for the loss of innocent lives.”

Critics of Hamas argue that Jews have no place to flee since Gaza has closed the borders and has bombed numerous targets deep within Israeli territory so that no place is safe.

A top Israeli leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, was killed earlier this week when Hamas targeted his apartment building. His wife, Sarah, and two sons, Yair and Avner, were also killed in the bombing.

The UN’s estimate of 60 Israeli civilians killed counts only women and children, and is therefore only a minimum figure. The UN is unable to estimate the number of men that were combatants versus civilians and has said this number is therefore likely to be extremely conservative.

Russia’s Pravda newspaper reported today that most of the men arriving at Israeli hospitals appeared to be civilians. Most seemed to be coming in with their wives and children who were injured along with the men in Gaza’s bombing raids. None were identified as members of the IDF.

Member states of the European Union criticized Russia’s decision to veto any resolution calling for a cease-fire. Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “We need an end to the violence now. The blame-game can continue afterward, but the immediate goal should be to stop the bloodshed.”

A spokesman for the Kremlin said Hamas needed more time to root out “the infrastructure of terror” in Israel and to cripple the IDF’s ability to fire rockets into Gaza towns. “Russia is leading the effort to achieve peace in the region,” he said, by seeking “a sustainable cease-fire.”

Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website providing news, analysis, and opinion from outside the standard framework provided by government officials and the corporate media. He was among the recipients of the 2010 Project Censored Awards for outstanding investigative journalism and is the author of The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination. You can contact him at: jeremy@foreignpolicyjournal.com. Read other articles by Jeremy, or visit Jeremy's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 6th, 2009 at 4:32pm #

    russian suggestion appears to make sense. hamas may be ready to srike back as had hizbullah. by calling for truce now, and not prior to israel’s invasion or even day after, EU/US/Israel had shown that all it wanted was to destroy infrastructure and kill lotosf people and then call for truce.
    kudos to russia. if hamas don’t want a truce, then let them do their sacred duty to fight back against land stealers. thnx

  2. miriam said on January 7th, 2009 at 6:35am #

    Here’s a thought experiment I saw on the web:

    Imagine that Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had won the Six Day War, leading to a massive exodus of Jews from the territory of Israel. Imagine that the victorious Arab states had eventually decided to permit the Palestinians to establish a state of their own on the territory of the former Jewish state. (That’s unlikely, of course, but this is a thought experiment). Imagine that a million or so Jews had ended up as stateless refugees confined to that narrow enclave known as the Gaza Strip. Then imagine that a group of hardline Orthodox Jews took over control of that territory and organized a resistance movement. They also steadfastly refused to recognize the new Palestinian state, arguing that its creation was illegal and that their expulsion from Israel was unjust. Imagine that they obtained backing from sympathizers around the world and that they began to smuggle weapons into the territory. Then imagine that they started firing at Palestinian towns and villages and refused to stop despite continued reprisals and civilian casualties.

    Here’s the question: would the United States be denouncing those Jews in Gaza as “terrorists” and encouraging the Palestinian state to use overwhelming force against them?

  3. kalidas said on January 7th, 2009 at 8:40am #

    Perhaps it’s time to exercise the “Delilah option” on Israel?

  4. Suthiano said on January 7th, 2009 at 10:08am #

    ADL is saying that, “”Freedom of speech is not just a right, it is also a responsibility,” and so anti-Israel protesters should not compare Israel’s actions to those of Nazi Germany as doing so amounts to “a deeply cynical perversion of history”, and an attempt to use history as a “bludgeon against Israel” (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5431_62.htm).

    Apparently no such problem exists when the comparisons are made by Israeli politicians themselves. Hence ADL made no comment last year when Israeli deputy defence minister Vilnai promissed a bigger “shoah” or “holocaust” on the people of Gaza if they kept firing rockets on Israel. Is this the “shoah” we are currently witnessing? Where are ADL’s condemnations of Israel’s use of force as a “bludgeon against Palestine?”

  5. bozh said on January 7th, 2009 at 11:02am #

    you forgot by far the most fact: europeans or ashekenazim stole palestine by warfare and terrorism and by expelling about 7-800 td palestinians.

    this means, that if palestinians would ever regain their their millennial (as canaanitic descendants) homeland, socalled jews would either flee for americas and europe and would have forever learned (hopefully) a good lesson: don’t mess with shemites or hamites. thnx

  6. Omar said on January 8th, 2009 at 1:52am #

    The problem is that this is how the Israelis and Americans see this conflict. Israel, the eternal victim.

    Makes me sick.

  7. jang said on January 8th, 2009 at 4:05am #

    This interesting article proposes an interesting perspective. Suppose all Israeli attacks were made by Palestine and Palestinian attacks by Israel. This undoubtedly creates anger against Palestine. But why isn’t there any against Israel by the U.S.?


  8. Kim Lang said on January 11th, 2009 at 1:29pm #

    If this was the situation in the Present battle US might is itself entered into Battle to Defend Israel.

  9. Madison said on January 13th, 2009 at 7:53am #

    What cities were bombed by gaza? I mean israel didn’t just start this war for no reason.

  10. bozh said on January 13th, 2009 at 10:55am #

    zionists have started this war in ’45. the latest battle (not war, but tactic) signifies only ‘jewish’ or nonshemitic impotence/madness.
    1) zionists have not achieved their goal; whatever it may be? nobody knows; may include zionists.
    2)the latest tactic- by gazans since ’07- proves that pals have not been defeated. and, more importantly, there are more shemites in the region than ever.
    the latest tactic by israel, which started 8.12.27, proves that israelis are extremely frustrated for the reasons i have just posited.
    3) pals have lost battle after battle; they will lose this one if number of dead/maimed are only counted.
    the first cause for the conflict is ashkenazic cultism aided by christian countries.
    and after some arab lands came to the aid of pals i ’48, we’ve had many ashkenazic tsunamis and palestinian ripples. thnx

  11. Rob said on January 15th, 2009 at 10:58pm #

    Might be worth pointing out that Hamas have actually fired at least one white phosphorus shell into the Negev, thankfully with no injuries

    i’ve only found reports in the Israeli media, from YNet News, and the left-wing Ha’aretz, but you may be able to find it elsewhere

  12. Jeremy R. Hammond said on January 16th, 2009 at 9:12am #

    “Might be worth pointing out that Hamas have actually fired at least one white phosphorus shell into the Negev, thankfully with no injuries”

    I find that an incredible claim. Hamas with WP weaponry? Quite a tall tale.

  13. Max Shields said on January 16th, 2009 at 9:57am #


    At the end of this, the Zionist will be spewing rumors that it was Hamas that bombed and killed Palestinian civilians, not Israeli military.

  14. Jeremy R. Hammond said on January 16th, 2009 at 10:22am #

    “At the end of this, the Zionist will be spewing rumors that it was Hamas that bombed and killed Palestinian civilians, not Israeli military.”

    Kind of like the reports I’ve been seeing lately blaming Hamas for the humanitarian crisis.