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Is the Gaza Catastrophe Really About Natural Resources?

Israel’s official war aim is difficult to take seriously.

Israel claims it is fighting in Gaza to stop Hamas rocket-fire against Israel, the continuation of which constituted a flagrant breach of the six-months ceasefire. Hence, the objective of the military operation is limited by the aim of putting an end to the rocket-fire. In fact, the current outbreak of violence cannot be understood without analyzing the asymmetries in military violence between the two parties; the dynamic structure of the conflict in the context of the character of the Israeli occupation; the central role of recent discoveries of substantial natural gas reserves in Gaza; and joint Anglo-American and Israeli attempts to monopolize the lucrative (and strategic) energy resources through a political process tied to a corrupt Palestinian Authority run by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party.

Hamas’ unprecedented victory in democratic elections in 2006 fundamentally threatened these plans. Operation Cast Lead, the concurrent Israeli military venture, was operationalized as a war plan in early 2008, and already finalized in detail as far back as 2001 by Israeli military intelligence. Its execution in late December 2008 into January 2009 is designed to head-off not only domestic Israeli elections, but more significantly, the outcome of further incoming Palestinian democratic elections likely to consolidate Hamas’ power, to permanently shift the balance of geopolitical and economic power in its favor. The long-term goal is the "cantonization" of the Occupied Territories making way for increased Israeli encroachment, and ultimately the escalation of Palestinian emigration. 

Disproportionate Violence -- 700: 4 

Who bears primary responsible for the violence? You decide.

Nearly 700 Palestinians are dead, and 3,000 Palestinians injured. At least 13,000 civilians -- half of them children -- have been forced to flee their homes, now turned to rubble. ( Save the Children Alliance, 02.01.09) Israeli human rights groups, like B’Tselem (The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) based in Jerusalem, confirm that the Israeli military is committing war crimes by intentionally targeting the civilian population in Gaza.  

As I write, here comes news of example: "Israeli shelling kills dozens at UN school  in Gaza" reports the London Guardian. More than 40 Palestinians were killed "after missiles exploded outside a UN school" in Jabaliya refugee camp by two Israeli tank shells, "where hundreds of people were sheltering from the continuing Israeli offensive." Several dozen civilians were wounded. The school was clearly marked according to officials. And elsewhere, "at least 12 members of an extended family, including seven young children, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City." Hours earlier, "three young men -- all cousins -- died when the Israelis bombed another UN school, the Asma primary school in Gaza City," where about 400 Palestinians had sought shelter "after fleeing their homes in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza." 

As foreign journalists remain banned from entry into Gaza for for no plausible reason, Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem are reporting extensively on the deliberate mass destruction of civilian life and infrastructure by Israeli forces. B’Tselem points out that Israeli officials have described how the entirety of Palestinian society can be considered as providing a support network to Hamas, and is therefore a legitimate target.  But worse, the stories that B’Tselem brings to light, ignored by mainstream media pundits, are deeply horrifying. Here are some examples:  

On 1 Jan. 2009, the Israeli army killed four women and eleven children in the Jabalya refugee camp. B’Tselem comments: "Such extensive loss of civilian life constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law and cannot be justified on military grounds." (B’Tselem, 4.01.09) The Israeli human rights group documents dozens of eye-witness testimonies confirming. On 4 th January, "soldiers opened fire from a tank toward a passenger taxi outside Gaza City. The four children in the taxi witnessed their mother and another woman killed." On 27 th December, two Palestinian toddlers "aged three and six, stepped out of their home to feed chickens in the yard. Before they reached the coop, the house was hit by the bombing of a nearby building." The three year old was killed

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