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Odessa, 1918 and the Gaza Strip, 2008-2009

My maternal grandmother, Pearl Weiner, used to tell me stories about her adolescence in Odessa, where, in 1918, she lived through the Ukrainian Revolution. In one year, Odessa was overrun with a succession of occupying armies and gangs, whom she invariably described as “the Bolsheviks, the Denekinovitches [followers of Anton Denekin, a White Russian General] the Petliuravitches [followers of Simon Petliura, the Ukrainian nationalist folk hero],the “morphines” [her wonderfully evocative word for drug addicts] and various criminal gangs whose names I have forgotten. When I would ask her about the differences between the groups, she would say, angrily, “They were all robbers!” and refused to differentiate between them as a matter of principle.

She worked in a pharmacy at the time, at the age of 18. Pharmacies were considered off-limits even by the most brutal soldiers. But she recounted all kinds of harrowing stories about the behavior of men wearing different uniforms. If I recall correctly, she said the worst behavior was exhibited by the Ukrainians, whom she blamed for “pogroms.”

Decades later, I found myself in the Ukrainian Museum in Chicago. There, I saw a portrait of Simon Petliura. The caption next to the painting was something like “Our Liberator.” An elderly woman sat at a reception desk nearby. My grandmother’s tormentor was her people’s hero. I didn’t talk to that woman, but soon afterwards, read a little Ukrainian history, and learned that while Petliura and his people were often blamed for anti-Semitic attacks, there was little evidence that he was responsible for them. I also read that while there were horrible pogroms in the Ukraine for decades, there were none in Odessa, in 1918.

Had they met, my grandmother and the woman in the museum probably would have been quite nice to each other. But if the conversation had turned to Petliura, there would have been no way to bridge that chasm. They both believed what they chose to believe, based on the information available to them and the circumstances of their lives.

I can hear my grandmother’s voice while reading the completely different, utterly irreconcilable narratives of the Gaza conflict that are bouncing around the Web. Ezra Klein had a nice post early in the conflict that mentioned only the most obvious distinctions between the narratives.

This is nothing new, this rendering of the same events in the Middle East by people who appear to be denizens of completely different universes. But I cannot remember a time when efforts to try to see any validity in each side’s points of view, or to show a small amount of empathy for the side that is deemed to be the aggressor, have been attacked with such venom.

At times like this, the anger on both sides of the divide is understandable. Innocent people are being torn to shreds by Israeli bombs and mortar shells in Gaza, and those who believe there is no possible justification for it cannot be expected to be anything other than furious. I know I am. I think Israel’s behavior has been appalling and nothing I have heard is going to make me change my mind.

But I also think Hamas’ behavior has been appalling. And I am feeling very lonely, because other critics of Israel’s assault either won’t admit that or–worse–don’t believe it. If you believe, like much of the blogosphere, that people in southern Israel are not seriously threatened, and the proof you cite is the “kill ratio” (i.e., hundreds of Palestinian civilian casualties, less than a dozen Israeli civilians killed) , then you and I are even farther apart than my grandmother and that Ukrainian woman. From where I sit, the trauma of those rockets in southern Israel has been real, and unbearable, and Israel had to do something about it. Moreover, the threat of long-range missiles from the Gaza Strip landing in Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities is also real. I am not trying to rationalize or justify Israel’s disproportionate response. But too many people COMPLETELY deny the significance of the trauma in Sderot and the threat to Tel Aviv, and have decided that Hamas is some kind of noble resistance movement that was simply trying to stop Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. We don’t have much to say to each other. Our information, and our circumstances, are too different.

What I remember, and believe, is that the rocket fire began right after the Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005, when Hamas took over property abandoned by Israel and began firing away in what at first appeared to be a kind of macabre celebration. The rockets continued for years. According to Philip Weiss, in a lecture given this past February, Rashid Khalidi, (a harsh critic of Israel) blamed both sides for the Hamas-Israel conflict. He called the rocket attacks “immoral, illegal and politically stupid.” If you can find a way to justify those attacks, or Hamas-directed suicide bombings that have killed Israeli women and children in buses and supermarkets, or the Hamas purge of Fatah activists from Gaza, then the chasm between us cannot be bridged.

I can hear my grandmother calling out “They were all robbers!” She passionately and angrily blamed all sides for the traumatic events she witnessed. I used to think her remarks were amusing and I would tell funny stories about the memories she shared. Now, I understand how wise she was.

30 thoughts on “Odessa, 1918 and the Gaza Strip, 2008-2009

  1. Thank you for this post. What a phenomenal allegory. I get so sick of people who want to find a villain and a hero. We all learned as kids that it takes two to fight, but people forget that as adults. The fact of the matter is that both Gaza and Israel are stuck in a terrible situation that was created generations ago (or hundreds of years ago, depending on who you ask). It sucks for both of them.

  2. Mr. Fleshler,

    I cannot tell you how important this post was to me! Thank you! Like you, I have been feeling like I have been stuck in a different universe than most people on the Web. In my universe, nothing is black or white but suddenly I am surrounded by people who are oblivious to other people’s points of view. I am so glad you and I live in the same universe. By the way, to the “The Hegemonist”: that is one great name, dude!

  3. What Israel is doing clearly won’t work, as Hamas isn’t going to go anywhere, and ultimately it will declare victory no matter how many lives are lost, and we’ll be back to square one.

    I presume that our friend MM will castigate you for this last one, as will Phil Weiss and many others on the left. And you’re getting castigated by the mainstream Jewish community for your earlier posts attacking the Israeli assaults, right? I think that, adding it up, those reactions mean you are probably correct.

  4. For the past several days I was addicted to arguing about the Israel-Gaza war on Reddit.com, before I finally broke free and stopped.

    Perhaps the strangest, to me, response was the person who said that 11 Israeli civilian deaths from rocket fire was bad but not as bad as what Israel is doing.

    Unfortunately, you can see a similar assertion on the Magnes Zionist blog this week: “Lobbing rockets at civilians, even if the probability of their doing much damage is low, is a war crime and should be condemned. Not as much, of course, as…”

    I responded on Reddit that Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens, and that includes the next eleven Israelis who might otherwise die due to rocket fire, and the next eleven after that.

    If one can show that the current Israeli policy is a mistake and will not reduce Israeli rocket deaths then fine. But merely to dismiss the concern about rocket deaths as less significant than concern about Gazans is not responsive to our concerns.

    It may be that Hamas rocket fire INCREASES the number of Palestinian deaths by leading to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. In that case those who are concerned about Palestinian casualties should be EVEN MORE opposed to Hamas’s rocket fire, instead of belittling its significance.

  5. Jonathan, another thing that is maddening about the double standard you describe is that if you express concerns about Israeli lives you are accused of being “tribalist” and “exclusionary” and “racist,” but those who diminish those concerns and focus only on Gazans are somehow supposed to be imbued with “universalist” values and are therefore not exclusionary.

  6. Hillel said in Avot: “If I am not for myself then who will be for me? But if I am only for myself then what am I? And if not now, when?”

    It’s up to us. We can do both big and little things. Some of the jackasses on Reddit were talking about boycotting Israeli products, and the Nation magazine published an article calling for anti-Israeli boycotts.

    So I went down to the kosher food section of my local Giant supermarket in Virginia and bought a bunch of imported Israeli foods. I will keep buying and eating them for at least as long as the jackasses at the Nation and online are calling for anti-Israel boycotts.

    Be sure to use your frequent purchaser card when buying the Israeli products. That way the supermarket can know that the purchasers of the Israeli kosher foods buy a lot of other stuff as well.

  7. I’ll go with the magnes Zionist every time. There’s simply no symmetry in this conflict and any attempt to get sympathy for israel by pointing out that hamas is not behaving as a stellar universal citizen will backfire. It’s the result of logic not any nefarious anti-semitic tendency – contrary to the charming hasbara coming out of israel, and their aipac friends.

    One simply can’t compare crude rockets without targeting capability (meaning that they fall where they fall) to barrages of missiles, 2000 ton bombs, phosphorous shells and denial of medical help to 100’s of thousands. Sorry but this analogy and an attempt at some tit-for-tat comparison is nonsense. here is my take:

    1. What hamas is doing is more akin to a prison riot or an internment camp uprising than to real terror. one cannot dissociate anything hamas does from the fact that gaza has been under punishing blockade MEANT to deprive the gazans from life, liberty and comfort, while also negating the results of a legitimate democratic election. If the camp commanders – duly elected by a plurality – lob some rockets, well, that’s understandable. what would you do in their place/ talk to israel/ they tried – and then some, but israel boycotts them for reasons we all know.

    2. We can’t overlook the fact that ashdod and ashkelon are built on the ruins of villages from which the refugees in gaza came in the first place. Villages from which they were FORECEFULLY “invited” to leave.

    3. israel’s goal – as it stated often is to lock up Gaza hermetically and let Egypt deal with it. Bingo – problem of refugees solved. The reality is GAZAN ARE Israeli citizens and should be treated exactly as the jews treat each other. Why not? just because they were kicked out 60 years ago does not mean they stopped being citizens. I’d say that to me ALL Gazans are jews – of the more muslim variety perhaps. And their numbers should count in the total count of greater israel’s population. I’m sure many gazans would be quite willing to convert officially in return for freedom. Why hasn’t anyone suggested that? besides, just what is it that makes israelis Jews? their say so, or their behaviour?

    4. Finally, I think any gazan would trade in a heartbeat suffering a little trauma from rockets that may or may not cause damage, with being starved to death and/or murdered outright.

    There is NO symmetry and that’s what makes for asymmetric sympathy around the world.

  8. There is good reason for sympathy with Gazan Palestinians.

    There is no good reason, by any rationalizing, for the judgements of Hamas.

    You demean Hamas by describing it as merely a prison riot. Hamas is a lot further along as an institution than just that gang-raging. It has a basis of discipline and social service. Those among Hamas whose root is social service are angry at Israeli policies, but CHOOSE more rational approaches to them.

    Their efforts are hindered by the boycott, but it must be obvious to those that led the social service efforts of Hamas that rely on materiel and services from outside Palestine, that civil relations (from Hamas’ end/behavior) is a necessity for trustable trade.

    Noone will do business with Gaza, if they can’t get paid, whether that is Israeli businesses, Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, even militant.

    EVERY community requires relationships with other communities to meet their needs. That Hamas undertook what is widely described as suicidal (including in left and Arab circles), and worse. As representative proto-state for Gazans, they betrayed their commitment to their peoples’ welfare, by irrationally embracing an escalation when they were DEPENDANT on a permanent setting of truce to meet their community needs.

    Justified or not, emotionally satisfying or not, Israel as criminal or not, they pursued the wrong options.

    With Hamas willing to shell civilians and willing to encourage terror on Jewish (not Israeli) institutions globally, EVERY decision by everyone that is in a relationship with them is of a “rock and hard place”.

  9. Dan, I am absolutely with you on the Ukraine. It’s part of an important axis of the Nazis going back to WWI. And it is the place were the Protocols were created over a series of different versions as the study of Cesare De Michelis shows. As there is are connections between the “white émigrés” and the Nazis who seem to be the main source of the Jew=Bolshevik equation the Nazis picked up and which is disgusting me in web arguments. Concerning America they seem to be feeding Ford’s antisemitism too.

    That said, I think that the Israeli’s are acting really stupid. And you leave out the larger scenario the US-Israel interaction that created this mess. Admittedly I am irritated by media over here, who in their balancing carefully pick out single families fleeing from place to place with their 15+ children missing another 15+. Is that the average size of a family and what is cause and result here? I think that Israel now really did what it keeps blaming the Arabs for: Something really stupid.

  10. “””There’s simply no symmetry in this conflict”””

    Show me a war where there is symmetry, whatever that is. One side wins, one side loses.

    Haaretz correspondent Ari Shavit today wrote one of the most compelling justifications for Israel’s actions which I have seen. Bear in mind that Haaretz is often held up as the gold standard of a publication which is willing to criticize Israeli policies:

    “””The war on Hamas is a war for the sovereignty of Israel. It was launched due to repeated rocket attacks from Gaza following Israel’s disengagement from the coastal strip.

    No country in the world would put up with a situation in which its sovereignty is being undermined and its citizens are being threatened. Given its small geographical territory and many enemies, Israel can not put up with this situation.

    Therefore, it is up to every decent person who wants Israel to strive for peace and end its occupation and return to its original borders to support its fight for sovereignty.”””


  11. Dana,

    Of course there is a terrible assymetery of suffering, just as there is an assymetry of power. As a result, there should not be a symmetry of sympathy based on how you are framing the issues. But the fact that you even put it in those crude terms indicates that, for all your apparent knowledge of the conflict (or all the time you’ve apparently devoted to studying it) you didn’t have the faintest idea of what I was talking about.

  12. Dana asks,

    “What would you do” if I were Hamas. That’s personalzing it too much, as I have a completely different belief system, but they have many options other than rockets, which would both break the blockade and bring Israel to the negotiating table.

    They could recognize prior agreements signed by the democratically elected Palestinian government. But they won’t.

    They could recognize Israel’s right to exist.

    They could stop the rockets, and all of this would be over in about five minutes

  13. At this point it won’t be over in five minutes.

    A day into the escalation, they could have stopped the rockets and it would have been over.

    Israel would have gotten the message that Hamas wanted a revision to the cease-fire in practise (communicated by shelling into the desert, not towns, and conveyed to Egypt that that was what it was doing).

    Israel would have grumbled, but would have been forced to identify specific conditions, and then keep them when Hamas kept them (if they did).

    It didn’t happen like that. The hotheads prevailed, first unilaterally ignoring their elders (shelling Israel as renegade), and then quickly supported by the organization.

    The street decided, NOT good judgement.

  14. Dan,

    For the powerless all those with power who contribute to a bad situation are guilty and stupid, but not equally so. In 1975 the term Stockhold Syndrome was born after hostages in a bank robbery gone bad in Stockholm were seen to sympathize with their captors. When the captors are of the same nationality and religion as the hostages and the outside attackers (or rescuers) are of a different nationality and religion that has been demonized then the Stockholm Syndrome will operate much more quickly. If your grandmother had been a Ukranian peasant or there had been a Jewish army operating, her attitude may have been different.

    The IDF should have stopped its bombing after about two or three days and then waited to see if the rocket fire didn’t stop after a few days. The IDF unfortunately is hostage to the pronouncements of civilian politicians who make unrealizeable promises. If the IDF had ended its bombing early there would have been calls for revenge from Gaza, but many fewer than there have been since then. I have the feeling that the IDF quickly exhausted its list of targets for which they had good intelligence and then downgraded the intelligence requirements for attacks in order to suppress the rocket fire.

  15. “””The IDF should have stopped its bombing after about two or three days and then waited to see if the rocket fire didn’t stop after a few days.”””

    And why might the rocketing of Israel have stopped? What is the likelihood that it would stopped?

    Perhaps the war would simply have been extended for an additional few days.

  16. Hamas has found itself in a position that it was never in in its twenty years of existence: having the majority of power. From what I can tell, Hamas does have clout to organise the other factions to withhold fire but it also cannot do so at every instance, similar to IDF stories that they have a “few bad apples”. The distinction between the two being that the IDF has a central command and is one body while Hamas has a military wing which wants to impose its rule on the Gaza Strip. And it’s stricken by the same divisions as any other party, as well as other parties attempting to sway it to their side of the fight ie Islamic Jihad for a full-out assault on Israel. The results of a Hamas administration for two years has yielded little: Dan stated there was plenty of rocket fire, which led to the same fate for Gazans. Then there was a lull which incidently led to the same fate for Gazans. Either way, it seems that they are going backwards here.

    Now I do not see at any time people resorting to “justify” Hamas rocket attacks (or I just may not read what the rest is reading). More or less explaining the grievances which would lead them to do so. But none of that should absolve them from anything in this fight.

    What I have connected with is this was rather inevitable when such an operation was planned since Hamas swept to power and the blueprints for the escalation tinkered through when the ceasefire was being negotiated. Seems to me that there are too many convenient dates that Ehud Barak has had on his mind here; hence it was premeditated and no matter how many rockets were going to be fired, Israel was going to provoke. Hamas took the bait. And now the carnage.

    Personally, and this is only a very oblique conclusion of Hamas as only they and they alone can convey what the fuck they really want from all of this; I believe that Hamas is willing to withstand all of this and try to survive like Hezbollah and have more bragging rights on their hands. Cynically and as masochistic as it sounds, Hamas knows that many, many lives were going to be extinguished and were willing to go through those lengths (and try to take as many Israelis as possible) to win PR points, test themselves militarily and show Israel that it can bear the brunt of their powerful army.

  17. Dan Flesher, thanks for the reply. However, I must note that while I do understand your analogy, and even see where the gaza=Warsaw ghetto analogy has weaknesses, the truth remains that symmetry DOES count, even in war. I’ll go further and maintain that sometimes – perhaps especially in a ‘war” situation – things like symmetry and proportionality is all that separate a combatant from outright barbarism.

    In the case of hamas, i’ll say this much – them lobbing rockets was perhaps not smart, on one level. But given israel’s determination to deny any kind of livable option to the gazans (especially them), given that israel did everything possible to undermine hamas’ hard fought and fairly won electoral victory, lobbing a few rockets is THE ONLY THING Gazans could do to remind israel they are still alive and their lives, if not welfare must be taken into account.

    There was that article by Bolton which let the chicken out of the bag (well, not a surprise for many, surely) – the idea israel had all along was to force the gaza problem upon the Egyptians – define it away, so to speak (out of sight, out of mind). if one starts looking at it through this lens, rather than some illusory attribution of a true desire for peace to the majority of israelis (when in truth, only a minority cares all that much about some abstract notion of ‘peace, especially one that may need to be earned through compromise) then hamas’ actions do make sense.

    They are the weaker party by a long shot in this conflict, ruling over a hermetically sealed internment camp, one that was subjected to slow strangulation and deliberate starvation policy, no less. And weak parties have only two choices:

    1. make it difficult for israel to ignore gaza’s existence and palestinian aspirations. Which they knew will invite retaliation.
    2. Stop all hostile action and agree to whatever israel wants, meaning unconditional surrender.

    Clearly, they chose Option #1, but that’s probably because they did not want to end up like the native Indians did in the Americas. Why would you blame them for that? I ask again – what other choice did gaza have?

    As for the suffering of israel – well, they could have negotiated with hamas in good faith. The cease fire held in fact rather well, until israel chose to break it to provoke hamas. That’s what could have done for the people of ashdod (assuming the absence of national psychosis)

    OK, many have written about this and I need not repeat.

    What I can say is that to those who occasionally go to israel – and especially if they happen to understand hebrew – there’s a major shock awaiting just hearing the way ordinary, everyday israelis talk amongst themselves. The “good arab is a dead arab” thing is the least of it, shall we say. I’ll admit that I just returned from there (but before gaza massacre was unleashed). Knowing what to expect did not unfortunately diminish the horror of it all in any way, unfortunately.

    Just one more word on symmetry: I believe that the tragedy that’s playing out for us all is, in fact, symmetric though not synchronous. The Palestinian tragedy is happening now. But in causing it, Israel is sowing the seeds for its own future tragedy. What has the middle east ever been if not a repetitive tragic loop? maybe there’s a lesson in this?

    Sorry for the long missive. I’ll reform (or so attempt).

  18. Jonathan marc:

    You ask:
    Show me a war where there is symmetry, whatever that is. One side wins, one side loses.

    Actually, many wars are symmetric enough – meaning the combatants are matched in circumstances and firepower and what not. Most wars fought between states were in fact pretty symmetric in this regard. The rest are details (about strategy, errors, hubris and what not). For example, the war between germany and the allies was, in fact, quite symmetric in terms of relative ability to fight, which is why it lasted so long. In some ways that was a war of attrition – like the 30 years war.

    OTOH, wars between a state and a guerilla movement – whether indiginous or external – are asymmetric. One side (the state has all the advanced weapons and the PR machine to press its case). The other has usually just a will and an ability to persevere and to sacrifice. That’s why weaker sides resort to things like suicide bombs – that’s been always true. The stronger side of course can resort to stronger and stronger measures, until in some cases (as the conquistadors did in latin America, for example and the Turks did to the Armenians, to mention a couple of cases) they resort to outright extermination.

    Now, I take it that israel is not ready to commit the later (for logistic reasons, if nothing else. Not that many donb’t wish to do just so, BTW). But – like all powers it can escalate the punitive measures a- inflicting them increasingly on the civilian population – mas they are doing now – and quite deliberately so, BTW. Many would call that state-sanctioned terror. because the idea is to terrorize the resistance into submission. The uS did that to Iraqis, causing close to 1 M dead, 4 m refugees and smashed up infrastructure. that’s what made ‘victory” possible – there were simply so much fewer iraqis left to fight (the rest is pathetic PR, really).

    And here’s where your haaretz article is quite wrong. The analogy the hasbara people draw such as ‘what would you do if canad/mexico, argentina blew rockets your way breaks down because the countries mentioned are always sovereign states, so there’s the symmetry factor again. It’s a false analogy to attempt to draw aline between symmetric and asymmetric conflicts and then say QED.

    To quote:
    ” Given its small geographical territory and many enemies, Israel can not put up with this situation.’

    I say, sure it doesn’t have to put up with rockets, so why did it refuse to negotiate with the party lobbing them, which was quite willing and able to do so? the ceasefire did work as all sides admit (until israel broke it, which you forgot to add?).

    “Therefore, it is up to every decent person who wants Israel to strive for peace and end its occupation and return to its original borders to support its fight for sovereignty.””

    What if I paraphrased?

    “It’s up to every decent person who wants hamas to strive for peace and to end the occupation through negotiations, to support its fight for legitimacy and sovereignty of the palestinian people”

    How’s that for symmetry?

  19. Dana,
    Make a plausible suggestion as to how to deal with Hamas, that employs the same level of skepticism as to their actions as you apply to Israel’s.

    I see a great deal of reasonableness in Israel’s position, and a considerable neglect of long-term (mostly unilateral) opportunities in relation to the PA in particular.

    In Hamas, I applaud their social service commitment and their self-restraint during the period of the cease-fire.

    But, when they returned to shelling civilians as their mode of dissent, and later asserted that “any action taken against any Jewish institution in the world will be regarded as acceptable by us”, they stepped way over the line from resistance to murderers.

    They didn’t recant it, as horrible as it was in its first utterance.

    It was NOT the prejudice of an angry Israeli, but an official position by an “elected” organization (that has since imprisoned and/or murdered members of the opposing party, all without due process of law).

    I get that you can understand Hamas’ frustrations, but don’t get that you can reasonably call their approach humane, progressive, liberatory, good.

  20. Dana, this will be my last comment as I need to earn a living and perhaps eventually do another post.

    The idea that Israel was the first to “violate” the ceasefire in the sense of attacking in November is true, but –based on what I’ve read, which might be IDF disinformation, of course– they did it to stop rockets from being delivered through tunnels in southern Gaza, which (I think) ALSO violated the terms of ceasefire). That never gets mentioned by those who blame Israel for everything and anything.

    You are neglecting the dangerous buildup of weapons and the potential to attack Tel Aviv. This is not a classic “resistance movement” that must rely on guerilla warfare against a powerful adversary to achieve its aims. They are not–or were not– just a beleagured, desparate band of warriors “lobbing shells” because there is nothing else they can do, which is how you are depicting them. This is a group that, right now, does pose a threat to millions of Israelis. So while of course there is an assymetry of power, it is not as large as you are depicting it.

    Finally, you are neglecting another important aspect of their behavior –to win respect and political support among Palestinians and to win the internal struggle for power Everyone talks about how Barak and Livne launched this horrible war in part because it would help them politically: no one talks about how Hamas has been lobbing shells (since BEFORE the Israeli boycott, when Fatah was in nominal control of Gaza, keep in mind) in part because it would help them politically.

  21. Dan, while you will probably not reply, maybe someone else will. You say
    “they did it to stop rockets from being delivered through tunnels in southern Gaza”.
    This is the first time I hear this explanation! In fact, the only explanation delivered by Israel so fas was about stopping an imminent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Where is this new explanation coming from?
    As to the “kidnapping” explanation, I had a small discussion about it on another blog and the conclusion so far is that even this story is not too convincing, at least with the evidence (in fact, lack whereof) presented by Israel. If Dan indeed has a source claiming that the tunnel destroyed on Nov 4 was for delivering rockets, then the whole story becomes even less convincing (i.e, Israel again changes its story) and look more and more like a deliberate provocation.
    Nobody has to like Hamas or ignore their threat, but I’d rather have order in my house first.

  22. We could go on all day with this Jonathan.

    June 25 2008

    “At least two rockets were fired into the Israeli border town of Sderot, injuring two people.

    The Egyptian-brokered truce, which took effect last Thursday, calls on Hamas to prevent cross-border fire from the Gaza Strip, which it seized by force a year ago. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a “first response” to Israel’s killing overnight of a local commander of the militant group and another Palestinian, who was affiliated with Hamas, in the West Bank city of Nablus.

    The truce deal, under which Israel agreed to halt its operations in the Gaza Strip and to ease its economic blockade of the impoverished enclave, does not apply to the West Bank.”


    It’s rather pathetic to keep fetching for more violations of the ceasefire. Both broke it and both obliged by it also since after the “testing of the waters” of the first two weeks, the calm did ensue which one could say that that’s when the ceasefire really took effect, when both sides knew the provoking was not going to go anywhere.

  23. Actually, one cannot go on all day with it.

    Eventually you will arrive at the first violation of the June 19, 2008 truce. That violation will have been carried out by Islamic Jihad, not by Hamas or by Israel.

    The first violation consisted of Islamic Jihad firing rockets at Israeli towns, as your article and mine both demonstrate.

  24. Chaim Arlosoroff aka Theodore Herzl aka Debka aka Jonathan Mark, ish hasbarah khaviv sheli. Israel was the first to break the ceasefire, as numerous sources indicated at the time, firing at Palestinian farmers and fishemen (see this, for example). These were not “gross” violations, could be attributed to lack of discipline – as well those by the Palestinians in the first days of the ceasefire, and both sides at the time acted swiftly to prevent similar occurrences.

  25. My name is Leon Pinsker, the author of the pamphlet “Auto-Emancipation.”

    “Opened fire towards” may or may not count, if the bullet didn’t land in Gaza, was not at ground level and didn’t hurt anyone. The Oslo accords give Israel control over Gaza’s airspace.

    The first certain violations of the ceasefire in the list which you provided were as follows:

    “””June 23

    – Palestinians fired a mortar shell into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli army. No one hurt.

    – Israeli troops near the border north-west of Beit Lahiya opened fire at a group of people collecting wood, seriously wounding a 70-year-old man, according to U.N. sources.”””

    So who first violated the ceasefire would depend on which happened first, the mortar shell that Palestinians fired into Israel on June 23 or the Israeli shooting of people collecting wood.

  26. Peter,
    Its clear that Hamas uniquely escalated and confirmed their rejection of renewal of the cease-fire very shortly after it formally ended.

    Israel did NOT respond militarily for a week, instead issuing warnings that if civilians were targeted that that would result in a military response.

    Hamas apparently WANTED Israel to respond militarily.

    You gotta look at them to be certain that you are advocating for a party that you can actually defend.

    PR and some military pressure has to remain on Hamas.

  27. I read your website every week, its great and got lots of information to take in and lots of interesting articles.

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