Reader Diana MacPherson sent a link to an Economist article with this note:
I subscribe to The Economist so I can read these articles which are often behind a paywall, which is a shame because I find The Economist to be one of the last true bastions of balanced journalism. Their Israel and Hamas coverage I find quite good. Here is their take on the ceasefire which I have put in a mediocre PDF since it’s behind a paywall. Note that they don’t pander to Hamas and talk about them as the ones who have ruined peace in the past.
Fortunately, the entire article is online; you can read it by clicking on the screenshot below. And Diana’s right in saying they don’t pander to Hamas and do indict them for ruining the peace. Still, I want to make a few tangential comments.
Excerpts from the article are indented. As you can see from the sub-headline and from the article’s last paragraph (below), they are not optimistic about the prospects for peace, nor am I. I predict six months as a maximum for the ceasefire.
Yet there were new elements to this round of violence. A wave of clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel itself unnerved Mr Netanyahu. There are new types of pressure from abroad, too. Whereas President Joe Biden emphasised “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself”, some fellow Democrats called for putting conditions on American aid to Israel.
But for now, none of that is likely to stop the cycle of violence. Israel and Hamas will come out of this battle much as they went in. Nothing has been gained; nothing has been resolved. And yet they are likely to do it again.
(Try this link if the screenshot below doesn’t work.)
Now my comments. First, on the casualty data:
THE FIGHTING lasted less than two weeks, but there was no shortage of explosions. By the end Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, had fired some 4,000 rockets at Israel. Most were intercepted by Israel’s missile defences. Israel responded with hundreds of air strikes on Gaza, a cramped enclave ruled by Hamas, which had no shield. More than 200 people were killed, all but 12 of them Palestinian.
This is pretty accurate: Hamas fired 4,360 rockets at Israel. Of these, 680 fell into Gaza, killing an unknown number of Palestinians who are surely included in the casualty totals. The Palestinian Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, announced that a total of 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children (people under 18) and 39 women. The Health Ministry implies that the dead are all civilians, but that is dubious given the imbalance of sexes. Of the 177 adults killed, 138 were men (78%) and 39 (22%) were women. If these are truly civilian deaths, then there must be a severe sex-ratio imbalance in the Gaza population! More likely is that the male toll includes Hamas fighters. A separate fighting group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) did announce that 19 of its fighters were killed by Israelis.
Thirteen Israelis were killed by Hamas, none of them members of the IDF (Israel does separate out military deaths from civilian deaths). While this disproportionality is used as a reason to indict Israel, that is somewhat misguided given the way “disproportionality is used in wartime, but I’ve discussed this before and won’t get into it here. I’ll only add what I said before: Palestine, like Israel, does have an Iron Dome to protect its civilians: the dome is the mantra “Don’t fire rockets at Israel.”
Since the Islamist group [Hamas] grabbed control of Gaza in 2007, the two sides have fought four wars and several smaller battles, costing thousands of lives (again, mostly Palestinian).
This refers not to a battle with Israel, but to the Fatah-Hamas battle for Gaza. Remember that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 as a voluntary good-will gesture in connection with the Oslo Accords. PM Sharon also evicted 7,000 Jews from Gaza at that time, leaving it “Judenrein” (“Jew free”). The Jews didn’t want to leave, and many had to be physically carried out of their homes by Israeli soldiers, homes that were destroyed by the soldiers as well. However, the agricultural and industrial infrastructure of Gaza, previously owned by Jews, was donated by Israel to Gaza and the Palestinians, who promptly destroyed this infrastructure simply because it was Jewish. Have people forgotten this?
As I said, the article doesn’t gloss over the actions of Hamas, including storing weapons at schools and hospitals and their use of human shields. I have just one more comment on one of its statements:
Both sides are content to leave Gaza a festering pit of misery that periodically erupts. Hamas’s control in some ways suits Mr Netanyahu, inasmuch as it weakens the Palestinian leadership and dims the prospect of a Palestinian state. Israel will still try to keep the group down, though. It and Egypt have kept Gaza under blockade since 2007, making it harder for Hamas to arm itself—and making life grim for ordinary Gazans. Restrictions on travel mean they cannot leave. The isolated, impoverished territory draws comparisons to an open-air prison.
Let’s be clear here: Israel is not depriving Gaza of food, medicine, or other amenities and necessities of life. The blockade, which is enforced by Israel and Egypt (Egypt is stricter!) is meant only to prohibit the importation into Gaza of weapons or of material that can be made into weapons. The EU, the UN, and many GMOs pour millions and millions of dollars into Gaza (more is coming soon), and if there is a reason for a grim life for ordinary Gazans, let us rememeber that much of that is due not to the blockade of weapons, but to the appropriation of donated money to build rockets, tunnels, and to line the pockets of corrupt Hamas officials. Those who continually indict Israel for turning Gaza into an “open-air prison” often seem to forget that this is largely due to the leadership of Gaza by Hamas.
Finally, my friend Malgorzata had a comment on the first sentence above: “Both sides are content to leave Gaza a festering pit of misery that periodically erupts.” Here’s what she wrote me:
This is simply stupid. Israel doesn’t want these eruptions. Israel would be happy if Gaza was a prosperous place with contented, productive people. That was the idea in 2005: a dream that Gaza would develop into “Singapore of the Middle East”. Israel still is helping Gazans not only with medical treatment of Gazans who need more specialized help, but also by training its doctors, and farmers, thinking up new crops they could export, and so on. It’s Hamas and PIJ, and Iran in the first place, who are happy with the misery in Gaza.