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Test killing

March 18th, 2012

Khaled Amayreh

Israel's unprovoked attack on Gaza had several aims.

The latest round of Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, which started on 9 April and lasted for five days, began with the assassination of Sheikh Zuheir El-Qaisi, chief of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC).

El-Qaisi was riding a civilian car with a bodyguard when an Israeli apache helicopter gunship hit the vehicle with a hellfire missile, incinerating it and instantly killing them both. The assassination brought to an abrupt end the uneasy truce that had lasted several weeks. Hamas, the largest military force in Gaza, had successfully convinced other resistance groups, including the PRC and Islamic Jihad, to observe the tacit ceasefire reached in coordination with Egypt.

Israel subsequently concocted a statement claiming that the PRC Chief was "involved in the final stages of planning a major resistance attack on Israel's border with Egypt", which even the Israeli media did not take seriously. The Palestinians viewed the murder of El-Qaisi and his aide, recently released in the Shalit prisoner swap, as deliberate provocation. The reassertion of Israeli deterrence vis-Ã-vis the Palestinian resistance also achieved several of Tel Aviv's political, operational and tactical goals, including testing the Iron Dome anti-missile missile system which the Israeli army has recently deployed outside the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli political and military establishment would like to bully the Palestinians into accepting a situation in which resistance activists, and even innocent civilians, are murdered and maimed on an almost daily basis without provoking the slightest reaction.

Israel knows its humiliating diktat is unacceptable to any Palestinian faction and is aware it is next to impossible for Hamas to overrule other factions, such as the Islamic Jihad, and observe a truce of this kind. All of which gives Israel another excuse to murder and maim still more Palestinians while arguing its civilian population is being targeted by Palestinian rockets.

Israel's censure of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday for not condemning the "barrage of projectiles" from the Gaza Strip is but one aspect of Tel Aviv's hypocrisy.

"There is something wrong with this equation," said Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor. "The Security Council has uttered zero words of condemnation of these attacks."

What Prosor avoided was the inconvenient fact that Israel started the latest conflagration by assassinating a Palestinian military commander, forcing the Palestinian resistance to resort to its only deterrent and fire notoriously inaccurate and practically innocuous home-made projectiles in the face of Israel's American-made and supplied state-of-the-art technology -- apache helicopters, deadly predator drones, and F-16 fighter jets.

Desperate to create a semblance of deterrence vis-Ã-vis a far more powerful enemy the Palestinian resistance factions fired 250 projectiles into Israel. According to Israeli sources, one fifth of the primitive missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The remaining projectiles fell in Israeli settlements and towns without causing serious injury or damage.

Twenty-six Palestinians, including school children, farmers and other civilians, were killed in the Israeli attacks. Scores of others were injured, some seriously, and many homes and civilian buildings were destroyed.

Palestinian spokesmen readily acknowledge that the "resistance missiles" are no match for Israel's arsenal of weapons. However, they insist that the missiles disturb necro-phobic Israelis and cast fear in their hearts.

"We know that our missiles are no match for the F-16 war planes and the Abram tanks but we have succeeded in creating a semblance of deterrence. In Islam, we are commanded to do what we can, and we hope that in the future we will be better-equipped to repulse and defeat the Zionist aggressors," says PRC spokesman Abu Mujahed.

The Israeli media and commentators seem to have satiated their thirst for blood for now, and Tel Aviv has announced that the assassinations are suspended for the time being. Israel seems to be counting on more gruesome atrocities in neighbouring Syria, where the death toll exceeds 100 persons a day, deflecting international criticism of its actions, but few will be surprised if the killing spree resumes.

The Israeli government may also have planned the whole attack, beginning with its assassination of El-Qaisi, to test the Egyptian reaction to a medium-scope aggression on Gaza. Egypt strongly condemned the Israeli aggression and the Egyptian parliament urged the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from Cairo.

Egypt also played a key role in reaching a new ceasefire, though this has not prevented Palestinian leaders from criticising the low-key reactions of the Egyptian government, especially in light of the number of Palestinian victims.

Last week Israeli Cabinet Minister Moshe Yaalon claimed Israel had succeeded in neutralising the new Egypt. He gave no details, but observers assumed he was alluding to Tel Aviv's success in enlisting the Obama administration and US Congress to help pressure Egypt not to rock the boat. (see p.9)

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By Khaled Amayreh from occupied Jerusalem, Source: Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2012/1089/fr2.htm

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