Remember back in 2005 when Ariel Sharon decided to make a "historical sacrifice" by withdrawing some 9,000 illegal Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip? Remember the drama whipped up by the world's media and the tears on the faces of those who were leaving behind their ill begotten houses and farms? Remember the debates about civil and human rights - the rights of the settlers, that is because as we all know, the Palestinians have no rights. Remember as well how Sharon - the same man who years before was responsible for the massacre of the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in southern Lebanon - was applauded for his restraint and sensibility.

Well, all of that was nothing but the theatrics that came with a calculated step in a long-term war strategy and which is now reaching a climax with the siege of Gaza.

Even back in July 2005, it was not hard to see that Sharon was not interested in peace or justice. He gave with one hand and took with the other by creating new illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank even as the settlers in Gaza were being removed.

In an AFP article at the time, Sharon was quoted as follows:
Sharon has argued that his pullout plan will enable Israel to keep hold of its large West Bank settlements, by easing international pressure for a more comprehensive pullout.

In his press conference, he made clear that the settlement programme would continue unabated, despite Israel's endorsement of the international roadmap peace plan which stipulates a complete freeze on settlement activity.

"Settlement is a serious programme that will continue and develop," he said.
In an article published in July 2005, distinguished Israeli academics Uri Davis, Ilan Pappe and Tamar Yaron saw clearly the real reason behind the removal of Gaza settlements:
We believe that one primary, unstated motive for the determination of the government of the State of Israel to get the Jewish settlers of the Qatif (Katif) settlement block out of the Gaza Strip may be to keep them out of harm's way when the Israeli government and military possibly trigger an intensified mass attack on the approximately one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, of whom about half are 1948 Palestine refugees.

The scenario could be similar to what has already happened in the past - a tactic that Ariel Sharon has used many times in his military career - i.e., utilizing provocation in order to launch massive attacks.

Following this pattern, we believe that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz are considering to utilize provocation for vicious attacks in the near future on the approximately one and a half million Palestinian inhabitants of the Gaza Strip: a possible combination of intensified state terror and mass killing.
And if the world needed further confirmation of what was really coming for the people of Palestine, on the 9th of June 2006, an Israeli naval boat off the coast of Beit Lahya fired seven artillery shells at civilians on the beach in the Waha area. Seven civilians from the same family (father, mother and five children) were killed.

A girl loses her family

On the 28th of that month the Israeli Air Force attacked the only electrical power plant operating in the Gaza Strip, following the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. How the destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure would help the fate of Shalit was not explained. In fact, it couldn't be reasonably explained; the only way to understand these repeated acts of collective punishment is in the context of a cold and inhumane long term military plan. The excuse is only good to provide a narrative.

The Plot of Treason

The 5th of November of this year was an important day, but not for the supposed 'hope' that the result of the US elections brought to many, but because it marked the beginning of the next phase in Israel's plan to rid Palestine of its Palestinian population.

It is no coincidence that while the eyes of the world were fixed on the US elections, the Israeli army broke a 5 month-long ceasefire with Hamas by killing six "suspected militants".

Qassam rockets
© UnknownHardly a threat, but good as an excuse

Some media reports claim to give a 'balanced view' - which is quite different from an objective view - by placing equal blame on both parties; while highlights the actual truth of the matter - that the qassam rockets (fireworks would be a more accurate description), allegedly fired by Hamas are mostly harmless and highly ineffective. Indeed, there is serious doubt as to who is really firing these rockets at very opportune moments for Israel. Hamas has already stated that "Israeli collaborators" are the rocket men. The process goes like this:

- Certain Israeli politicians feel the urge to to push forward their plan to wage total war against the defenceless Palestinian people, but they need an excuse.

- They invade Gaza and murder several Palestinians, who Israel says are "militants" using the tired old claim that these men were digging tunnels into Israel with the plan to launch "suicide attacks"

- Rudimentary rockets are then fired from the Gaza strip into Israel (often at the town of Sderot which lies just north of Gaza) by 'someone'.

- The rocket fire is then used as a further excuse for more Israeli murder of Palestinians.

It is now over a week since this recurring Israeli ruse was employed and Gaza is already under a blockade. The Israeli government decided to block the delivery of United Nations food aid intended for 750,000 Palestinian refugees; it banned the entry of the EU-financed fuel supplies to Gaza's main electricity plant, forcing it to stop operating; it denied entry to twenty European consuls who had planned to visit the Strip; turned away aid workers at the border; prevented medical patients from leaving for treatment; refused access to all journalists; and dozens of academics and doctors due to attend a conference to assess the damage done to the residents' mental health were also turned back. Furthermore, Israel's Bank Hapoalim announced it would refuse all transactions with Gaza by the end of the month, effectively imposing a financial blockade which other banks are expected to implement as well. There will be no money, nor anything to buy anyway: today, Gaza ran out of wheat. And all of this while the IOF continues its military raids.

How Israel's blockade is killing one Gaza boy

Can you even imagine living under such conditions? Quite correctly, the operations manager of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has described the situation as "catastrophic" and a "humanitarian disaster".

As in Rape

Back in 2005 Israel Shamir commented on the withdrawal of settlers:
The pull-out is just part of the game; it is always followed by a push-in, as in rape. Gaza will remain a jail, without even an air or sea link to freedom. But it is a mistake to concentrate on access only: for ordinary Gazans air link will not feed their families. Gaza can't stand on its own feet - no city, neither Tel Aviv nor London can. Gazans will have but a little chance to make living by working the fields that belonged to their families, for Israeli farmers prefer cheaper and undemanding Thais. Gaza will become the preferred place of exile of Palestinian activists from the West Bank and Jerusalem, a big jail, nay, a place of entombment.
In order to understand the logic behind the 'push and pull' cycle of Israel's policies towards Gaza and the West Bank, we need to imagine how a psychopath with a goal would read history and politics. Since its creation, the government of the state of Israel has been dominated by Zionist supremacist and racist thought, and thus their leaders have never had any regard for the well being of the original inhabitants of Palestine, nor any desire to incorporate them into their society as equal citizens or as respectable neighbors. The only solution in the Zionist mindset is to gradually take over the land and expel or destroy its people. When the Zionists think of the map of Israel they undoubtedly feel some embarrassment at the fact that there are still small areas that do not belong to them.

So if their objective is to grab as much land as possible, how would they go about doing it? They can't simply engage in a full open invasion for several reasons:

They would meet the disapproval of the rest of the world; and if the pressure is strong enough, they would risk losing material aid and support from the United States (generally to the tune of $3 billion per year).

They would have to deal with the disapproval of their own people if they do not manage to sell the story that it is a defensive and just war. And they could run the risk of seeing the Arab world unite in a military coalition against Israel.

The alternative then, is to have a long term plan:

- Maintain the discourse of democracy and peace to gain the respect of the world and to keep your own people asleep.

- Justify any military incursions with the threat of terrorism.

- Create "facts on the ground" with settlements in Palestinian territory. After a few years, who could argue that the land is not Jewish, if Jewish people have grown, worked and married on it? Some years later, the economic divide between the privileged settlers and their Palestinian neighbors would force the latter to fight or flee. If they fight, retaliation could always be justified as a defense of Israeli civilians.

The latter is the logic of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Far from providing a living option for Israelis, they are a weapon. And as a weapon they quite literally function: some of the most radical and violent Zionists are to be found among Jewish settlers.

This strategy of military raids and settlements continued for decades only to be briefly interrupted once in a while by 'ceasefires', 'pull outs' and 'peace processes'. Eventually the process of stealing Palestine one piece at a time resumed with the appropriate excuse. The cycle continued until the events of September 11, 2001 offered new and more violent opportunities. As you probably know by now, the evidence strongly suggests that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by Israeli intelligence with the knowledge and complicity of elements of the US government. And we now begin to see why.

9/11 traumatized the population of the world, but mostly that of the US into believing that Muslims and Arabs were evil and crazy. In our psychological need for safety, it also made us docile and less resistant to the implementation of authoritarian policies. But most importantly for Israel, it provided the right political climate to accelerate the process of the takeover of Palestine. Things became even easier four years ago when the charismatic and last true Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died, allegedly due to complications from a blood disorder. The truth about Arafat's death however is at once more sinister and mundane - he was poisoned by agents of the state of Israel. Without a strong figure to unite and speak up for Palestine, and with a world hypnotized into fear of Arabs, the Israeli government decided to prepare to speed up the process of procuring Israeli 'lebensraum' in Palestine, starting with Gaza.

That explains the withdrawal of settlers in 2005, less than a year after Arafat's death. If Gaza was to be starved and/or invaded, they couldn't do it with the settlers in the way. And they could score one for the 'democratic' image of Israel by declaring that it was a 'sacrifice' done in good will, for the sake of peace.

A Matter of Time

According to Jonathan Cook, with the settlers out of Gaza and Hamas in power,
Israel had the excuse it needed to begin severing its responsibility for the civilian population. It recast its relationship with Gaza from one of occupation to one of hostile parties at war. A policy of collective punishment that was considered transparently illegal in late 2005 has today become Israel's standard operating procedure.

Increasingly strident talk from officials, culminating in February in the deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai's infamous remark about creating a "shoah", or Holocaust, in Gaza, has been matched by Israeli measures. The military bombed Gaza's electricity plant in June 2006, and has been incrementally cutting fuel supplies ever since. In January, Mr Vilnai argued that Israel should cut off "all responsibility" for Gaza and two months later Israel signed a deal with Egypt for it to build a power station for Gaza in Sinai.

All of these moves are designed with the same purpose in mind: persuading the world that Israel's occupation of Gaza is over and that Israel can therefore ignore the laws of occupation and use unremitting force against Gaza.
What we are witnessing today are the initial stages of a military campaign. In the sieges of medieval or ancient times, a city was surrounded, blocked and cut from any access to resources in order to weaken it and to starve its population before attempting a frontal attack. According to logic, and if history has taught us anything, what follows is either an invasion or a forced exodus. We do not know when, nor do we know if this is only a rehearsal or the 'real thing', but we have been reading the signs and paying attention to the words of the Zionist pathocracy. Judge for yourself:
Ehud Olmert, for example, has declared that Gazans should not be allowed to "live normal lives"; Avi Dichter believes punishment should be inflicted "irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians"; Meir Sheetrit has urged that Israel should "decide on a neighbourhood in Gaza and level it" - the policy discussed by ministers last week.
Likewise, the Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, has openly stated that a large-scale invasion of Gaza is only a matter of time. Furthermore, Israeli Army Radio reported that in a cabinet meeting Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Vice Premier Haim Ramon proposed that "the IDF will evacuate villages that have become launching pads for Hamas and other terror groups and will then raze the villages with artillery". That is, to provide an unverifiable excuse in order to destroy any village of their choice.

It is already a human tragedy, and it can only get worse. It was reported yesterday that Israeli tanks and bulldozers have invaded the southern end of Gaza and are razing agricultural lands.

The utter contempt for other human beings and the power lust of the pathocrats will be paid for with the suffering of the innocent population of Gaza. But if they have miscalculated what they can get away with, the state of Israel may have a price to pay too. Will they be able to manage and contain a war on their own doorstep? Will the world - already resentful at Israel's cruel and abusive policies - stand on the sidelines and do nothing?

What about us? It is easy to feel impotent when faced with the relentless brutality meted out to the Palestinian people. But for those strong enough to be burned by reality and keep on keeping on, there is something we can do: Raise our voices and spread the truth. The crimes against humanity that the Israeli government and military are committing against the Palestinian people are crimes against the humanity in all of us. If we allow such crimes to go unchallenged, if we buy into the lies that they attempt to feed us, then we run the risk of losing our own humanity and, far from being innocent observers, we become active participants in the crime itself. So while our chances of stopping the Israeli juggernaut from rolling over the Palestinian people are small, we can at least stand side by side, if only in our hearts and minds, with the millions of beleaguered, starved, maimed and murdered people of Palestine and refuse to allow the reality of their plight and innocence to be extinguished. Do it for the Palestinian people, do it for yourself.