4 Most Common Myths About Israel and Gaza -- Debunked
As Israel continues to pound the Gaza Strip, and factions within the beleaguered territory retaliate as best they can, there are many myths and stereotypes dominating mainstream media coverage, and many conversations.
Here are a few of the most common misunderstandings:
Myth: Hamas started the round of fighting that led to Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defense.”
Fact: This myth represents a common error in mainstream – and even much progressive – media coverage. The “truth” all depends on when you start the timeline. What is clear is that while both Israel and resistance groups in Gaza bear responsibility for keeping the warfare going, Israel is more often the precipitator.
In an analysis that has received very little attention by Western audiences, Nancy Kanwisher (the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) asks, “As Israel and Palestine suffer a hideous new spasm of terror, misery and mayhem, it is important to ask how this situation came about…How did the (last) ceasefire unravel?”
President Barak Obama and the mainstream media in the United States and Israel place the blame squarely on Hamas. It is true that a barrage of Palestinian rockets have been fired into Israel, and that ending this rocket fire is the stated goal of the current Israeli invasion of Gaza. However, this simplistic summary leaves out crucial facts. Consider this chain of events, which followed a “lull” of sorts over the previous couple of weeks: (The details of what took place during these days vary somewhat from one media outlet to another. However, the broad strokes are the same.)
· Nov. 4: Israel killed a mentally ill Palestinian walking near the Israeli-imposed “no-go zone” inside the Gaza Strip -- an event that triggered a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel, which did not cause any deaths or injuries.
· Nov. 8: Four Israeli military tanks and a bulldozer entered Gaza, fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy who had been playing soccer by his family’s house.
· Nov. 10: In retaliation, two rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, and an anti-tank missile injured four soldiers, when it hit an Israeli army jeep that had crossed over into the territory. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported the killing of five more Palestinians, four of whom were civilians – including two soccer players age 16 and 17 and two young men (18 and 19) who ran to the scene. Forty-nine others were wounded, including 10 children.
· Nov. 11: Amid talks of a truce, six more Palestinians (all but one were civilians) were wounded and another was killed by both air strikes and troops on the ground.
· Nov. 12: With Israeli air strikes continuing, two rockets from Gaza hit Israel.
· Nov. 13: After two mid-afternoon air strikes, news services announced a truce had been agreed-upon.
· Nov. 14: Israel ignored the nascent truce and assassinated Hamas military chief Ahmad al-Jabari. (It is questionable whether Israeli officials ever really wanted a truce. As Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies wrote in The Nation: “Earlier this year, on the third anniversary of the Gaza assault of 2008/9, Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Army Radio that Israel will need to attack Gaza again soon, to restore what he called its power of ‘deterrence.’ He said the assault must be ‘swift and painful,’ concluding, ‘we will act when the conditions are right.’ Perhaps this was his chosen moment.”)
A fact not known by most Americans, who see Jabari as merely a leader of “terrorists,” is that Israeli activist Gershon Baskin confirmed that Jabari was engaged in peace settlement negotiations with Israel. In fact, he was due to send Hamas’ version of a draft agreement to Baskin on the Wednesday evening before he was killed. It’s worth asking: Did Israel intend to torpedo those efforts?