Palestinian Authority President Abbas’ response to Israel’s retaliation in Gaza is WRONG

Yesterday Al Jazeera news channel broadcasted a response by the Palestinian Authority’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, regarding the escalation between Israel and Hamas (or more generally, between Israel and the Gaza Strip). In a casual hallway response, Abbas made a connection between the protests in Israel and the escalation and claimed, while completely ignoring to mention rockets fired into Israel (Eighty-Four in just two days) and the initial terror attack against Israel (or at the very least giving them some weight in the decision making process in Israel). That connection is fundamentally wrong!

If you don’t know what the protest in Israelis than I shall make a quick overview – on Thursday, July the 14th, 2011, Tel-Aviv (Israel’s largest city)’s Rothschild Boulevard has began to be flooded with tents. In a protest, started by a Facebook post, middle-class citizens have set up tents and supposedly moved there with their children, protesting against the cost of living in Israel. Though it holds a strong economy, despite the global recession that was (and the one feared to come), prices in Israel have been skyrocketing, mainly prices for apartments and homes. Every Saturday since huge demonstration displays took place. On Saturday, 9th of August, there were (estimated at) 300,000 people on the streets. But while many governments and regimes around Israel send out tanks and bullets to quiet down the protestors, by any means necessary, Israel’s protest which only seems to grow (even with the escalation) has never had one bullet fired at it.

This of course can be a bit hard for Abbas, the leader of the more moderate and democratic dictatorship of the Palestinians, to comprehend. But the facts (something Abbas never seemed intrested in) show the complete opposite. Just as it does not shoot and kill its’ people just for having their own opinion and daring to challenge its’ elected government, Israel is most certainly not making a cynical use of its’ people horrifying deaths and harvesting political fortune of it. It most certainly did not retaliate a gruesome terror attack and the constant attack on its’ civilians to quiet down a protest!

Here are the facts:

Israel‘s retaliation was surprisingly restraint

Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza have been surprisingly low. Low in relation to its’ reaction to terror attacks and firing of rockets (especially when it results with injuries and casualties) and surprisingly because of A – again, in relation to its’ past pattern of retaliation and B – because the current government in Israelis a right-wind government who supports strong and harsh retaliation against terrorists. When presented with a full scale choice of targets, designed to hit militants and their factories, headquarters and more (especially those belonging to Hamas, in an effort to send a message that they, as those who seized complete control by violence over the strip, are responsible for the actions of extremists and terrorists inside the Strip), Israel cabinet decided Saturday night to no retaliate harshly and to keep the airstrikes to minimum, especially compared to what it could have done. In full disclosure, I’ll admit that it was due to Egyptian pressure who, on the one hand, wanted to remain in close ties with Israel, but on the other feared the violent protest on its’ soil and the hatred displayed on the streets towards Israel.

Nevertheless, Israel did not retaliate with full force. Moreover, once it’s first airstrike assassinated six high-ranked leaders in the Popular Resistance Committee, its’ airstrikes were much more limited and directed mostly at other infrastructures of the terrorist militias.

Last Saturday night, at the end of a horrible weekend on Israel’s south with dozens upon dozens of rockets hitting Israel’s cities (causing injuries on Friday morning and Saturday morning to over 10 people), the heaviest, most deadliest barrage came in years. It resulted in two direct hits, 4 seriously wounded and one dead. That came at around 08:00 P.M. (GMT +03:00), when the last airstrike was only at 03:30 P.M. Hours of no airstrikes were accompanied by hours of endless rockets. And yet, despite the deadly attack, Israel still did not retaliate overnight. In fact, it wasn’t until past 11:00 A.M. the next morning, after more rockets and more direct hits (including a school gymnasium), that Israel finally made an airstrike.

If Israel was only interested in diverting the public’s attention, the results of Saturday’s night (which the twisted extremists in Gaza took pride in), would have been the perfect opportunity to escalate and earn public support. But that’s not what Israel did. It did not seek to continue putting its’ civilians under fire (meaning, dozens of rockets each day – even with no escalation the south is still bombarded), it did not cause a significantly larger loss of the militants and their infrastructure – it did none of that. In comparison to its’ previous retaliation, in this government of any of the previous, this has been a surprisingly restraint reaction.

The opposition in Israel attacked the government for the restraint

Absurdly as it may seem, Israel’s biggest opposition party has criticized the government for its’ restraint. In a special session of the defense community, headed by the vice to the opposition’s head, Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz, demanded a stronger retaliation and talked about the need to take down Hamas. Opposition leader, Knesset Member Tzipi Livni, who was the Foreign Minister of Israel during its’ large-scale operation in Gaza in early 2009, bitterly criticized the government and blamed it for putting more of Israel’s citizens in danger. She was highly criticized by both the left and the right for advocating escalation herself.

If the government in Israel was only seeking to divert its’ public attention away from the protest by bombarding Gaza and opening a military operation, how come that the opposition blames it for not being “touch enough”? How come the opposition, who fully supports the protest (and one could argue even sees it as an opportunity to overthrow the current government), demands a harsher retaliation? It is because Israel did not act or performed airstrikes in Gaza in order to take the protest off the agenda, it did that because it acted in self-defense and because it was attacked and needed to retaliate. It did know expand its retaliation, or opened it in the first place, because of extraneous reasons.

The protest lives on

During Saturday’s barrage on the south, 10,000 people walked the streets of Tel-Aviv in yet another demonstration. It was a quiet protest, to both demonstrate and show solidarity with Israel’s bombarded south and victims of the terror attack. 10,000 demonstrators. And yet, fully knowing that the demonstration was to take place that night, Israel still held its’ fire since 03:30 P.M. If it wanted to thwart the protest, why would it just sit quietly by, rationally contemplating its’ next move? How would that stop the demonstrators?

The ironic things is – Had Israel’s south not been so fiercely shot at, and had there not been so many rockets and such devastating results to their direct hits, the media’s live coverage would have paid much more attention (if any) to the protest and demonstration still taking place in Tel-Aviv at the same time. It was the rockets and their impacts that took the protest off the agenda, not Israel’s retaliation (or lack there of).

In Conclusion…

As I have said before, I shall repeat now and in the future – Israel does not seek violence. It is not interested in bloodshed, it does not take joy in the death of its’ enemies population, nor does it make a fortune out of the death of its’ own (I wish the same could be said for the Palestinians’ leadership, but unfortunately that is not the case). I responds when being attacked, when its’ neighbors incite and promote war and choose bloodshed of its’ people over their welfare and wellbeing. The ludicrous attempt to say that Israel had committed airstrikes in Gaza and caused casualties on the other side because of some inner politic issue (which definitely came be said about Hamas, as evidenced by their constant breach of cease-fire and firing rockets at Israel during their war in Gaza against Fatah in 2006 and 2007), is yet another distortion in a long line of distortions and lies meant to incite against Israel and perpetuate the hate towards it.

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