The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged gaza
Sara Roy on Gaza

In the LRB:

Need is everywhere. But what is new is the sense of desperation, which can be felt in the boundaries people are now willing to cross, boundaries that were once inviolate. One day a well-appointed woman, her face fully covered by a niqab, arrived at the hotel where I was staying to beg. When asked politely to leave by the hotel staff, she aggressively refused and insisted on staying, obliging the hotel staff to escort her off the property with force. She wasn’t asking to beg but demanding to. I had never seen this before in Gaza. Another day a teenage boy came to our table quietly pleading for money for his family. By the time I got out my wallet, the staff had approached and gently ushered him out. He didn’t resist. He was educated and well-dressed and I kept thinking he should have been at home studying for an exam or out with his friends by the sea. Instead he was asked to leave the hotel and never return.

Perhaps the most alarming indicator of people’s desperation is the growth of prostitution – this in a traditional and conservative society. Although prostitution has always been present to a small degree in Gaza, it was always considered immoral and shameful, bringing serious social consequences for the woman and her family. As family resources disappear, this appears to be changing. A well-known and highly respected professional told me that women, many of them well-dressed, have come to his office soliciting him and ‘not for a lot of money’. (He also told me that because of the rise of prostitution, it has become harder for girls to get married – ‘no one knows who is pure.’ Families plead with him to provide a ‘safe and decent space’ for their daughters by employing them in his office.) Another friend told me that he had seen a young woman in a restaurant trying to solicit a man while her parents were sitting at a nearby table. When I asked him how he explained such incomprehensible behaviour he said: ‘People living in a normal environment behave in normal ways; people living in an abnormal environment do not.’

And this is something that is backed, made possible, even celebrated by not only Israel, but also every member of the Middle East Quartet and their Arab allies in the Gulf and elsewhere. What it reminds one of are the sanctions the UN Security Council imposed on Iraq in the 1990s, paving the way for the destruction of society and abberations we see today.

Hamas, the Islamic State, and the Gaza–Sinai Crucible

Interesting summary, by Benedetta Berti and Zack Gold, of the quandary Hamas finds itself in with regards to the Islamic State's supporters in Gaza and Sinai:

In sum, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip is actively involved in keeping the broader Salafi-jihadi camp from stirring up internal trouble or goading Israeli action against the strip, which includes preventing strong ties between Gaza- and Sinai-based jihadis. Likewise, to end its isolation, Hamas’s political leaders also hope to reverse a deterioration of relations with Egypt, even though the group’s military leaders are deepening their relations with some figures within the very same Salafi-jihadi camp that is fighting Egypt—and which Hamas is fighting in Gaza. This is because the ongoing economic restrictions and aggressive campaign against the tunnel economy have given Hamas’s military wing a powerful incentive to deal with any group—jihadi, criminal, or both—that could provide the weapons and financial resources it needs. In this sense, the Hamas–IS relationship is primarily driven by economic transactions. Such ties, however, also result in ad hoc cooperation, and according to Egyptian and Israeli intelligence sources, the Qassam Brigades are selling or providing weapons and offering training to IS-linked fighters with the goal of clearing its “lifeline” passage. 

So much of the mess in Sinai (and of course Gaza) is due to this disastrous blockade.

AsidesThe Editorshamas, IS, sinai, gaza
Israel/Palestine: Equality or ethnic cleansing

The following piece is by Omar Robert Hamilton, a film-maker and a founder of the Palestine Festival of Literature. A version of it was also published on the Egyptian news site Mada Masr. 

August 4th 2014

What has become clear during the latest assault on Gaza is that cycles of violence are perpetuated and reinforced by cycles of rhetoric. The Israeli PR machine works by constantly shifting the parameters of the discourse. Arguments are made and forgotten. Inquiries are held and dismissed. First principles are ignored and histories are erased by carefully trained spokespeople who excel in double-speak and a logic of empathetic violence audience-tested for optimum American palatability. Their mantra: it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.

The facts are all there to make, together, a damning case against Israel. The statistics, the photographs, the captured anguish do not lie - and yet it is the spin that gathers quickly around them that dominates the agenda. Since the beginning of this assault, the raison d’etre of the Israeli campaign has changed three times - each time centering around a buzz word that is repeated until there is no room for any other concept. The words have been: “kidnapped” (June 12th to July 2nd), “rockets” (July 7th onwards) and now “tunnels” (July 17th onwards), a word and concept which only seriously entered the discourse alongside the announcement of the ground invasion. The following day the death toll spiked, with 60 people killed in 24 hours, and a fourth buzz term entered the discourse: “human shield.” Now that the tunnels are all allegedly destroyed, if another word is needed it will be “disarm.”

KIDNAPPED: the Israeli government has now admitted that Hamas did not kidnap the three boys. They even knew they were dead after only a few hours but trumpeted the manhunt to enrage the public and instigate the pre-prepared operation “Brother’s Keeper” to dismantle Hamas in the West Bank. Why? Because eight days earlier, after eight years of schism, a unity government between rival groups Hamas and Fatah had been signed.

ROCKETS: Israel boasts of its Iron Dome defence system, claiming it is a prime specimen of Israeli engineering that keeps its civilians safe. Yet Israelis also claim they live in a state of terror because rockets "rain down" on them. This contradiction cuts to the heart of the constructed national psyche of Israelis as a fearsome warrior people who live in constant terror. Ben Ehrenreich describes the rockets as “more like the ones you might have learned to build in high school shop class than any sort of 21st-century artillery: thick metal pipes with fins welded on, an engine at the base, a few pounds of explosive at the head, the latter usually insufficient for much by way of destruction. What little damage they do is caused mainly by the momentum of their impact.”  To date, two Israelis and one Thai civilian have been killed by these rockets, giving them a kill rate of 0.1%. The Palestinian death toll has, today, passed one thousand eight hundred.

HUMAN SHIELDS: From the hardest hawks to the softest of Israeli doves, the same justification is being proffered for the massive numbers of Palestinian fatalities: Hamas uses human shields. Even Amos Oz, the great conscience of liberal Zionists, could only muster this simplistic scenario

Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusual way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

If this is the thinking of a great intellectual heavyweight of the Israeli left, then a truly toxic atmosphere has been successfully engendered, one in which regular soldiers need not think twice before pulling the trigger. The fact is that the UN’s Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead found Israel had killed civilians "while they were trying to leave their homes to walk to a safer place, waving white flags" and documented multiple instances of Israeli soldiers using Palestinians as human shields. But the Goldstone Report, so thoroughly damning in its findings of multiple and wide-ranging war crimes, has been all but forgotten. 

TUNNELS: The BBC, ever mindful of the approved Israeli lexicon, refers to a series of "attack tunnels." So who are these tunnels attacking? They are, we are told, designed to penetrate Israel and kidnap Israelis. In 2006 Gilad Shalit, a soldier, was captured and held as a prisoner of war. He was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners - many of whom were rounded up again during Operation “Brother’s Keeper”. No civilian has ever been abducted through the tunnels. Clearly, their primary purpose is an economic one, born of the crippling, medieval siege that Israel maintains against Gaza. Along the Egyptian border it is not Hamas that builds the tunnels; They merely tax the goods being moved through by the entrepreneurs that dig and own them. Israel talks of a “terrorist organization [that] deliberately embeds its terrorist infrastructure inside civilians neighborhoods” when actually a system of loosely regulated capitalism is what governs the tunnel industry. If you own a house near the border you are very likely to get into the tunneling business because there’s nothing else you can do. Furthermore, if Israel’s operation is about destroying these tunnels, why has it cost 1,800 lives? There were thought to be over 1,000 tunnels between Egypt and Gaza which the Egyptian regime - not widely known for its ability to carry out security operations without slaughtering its citizens - destroyed with no loss of life.

The answer, of course, is that the operation is not about the tunnels, and never has been. Just as it was not about the kidnapped boys who were already dead or the rockets that don’t explode.

This war is about political capital and the bloodletting needed to appease a society that is entirely militarized: Netanyahu's approval ratings stand at 82%. This war is about fracturing the tentative Palestinian unity government: the much-hated security coordination between the PA and Israel hit an all time high in June (though Abbas’ language shifted dramatically in a speech on July 23rd, and the PA’s position may yet shift away from total complicity). This war is about the arms trade: the share price in Israeli weapons companies who can boast their equipment is live tested is up and the drone market is the key sector to corner for the future. This war is about reminding Gaza, Palestine, the whole world that there’s only way forward: to shut the fuck up and die.

None of this new. The aims of this war are no different than the aims of Cast Lead (2008 / 2009) or Pillar of Smoke (2012). After Israeli public opinion was satiated sixteen months ago a ceasefire was agreed upon, which Israel proceeded to violate 191 times, killing 18 people. The Palestinians violated it 75 times, killing none. Then Israel launched this war. To date 1800 Palestinians have been killed, around 20% of whom are thought to have been fighters. Sixty-four Israelis have been killed; 95% of them were soldiers. Israel has killed over 1,500 civilians, including 378 children. Hamas has killed 3 civilians. Who is it that is indiscriminately terrorising a civilian population for a political goal? 

Of course, a central tenet of Israeli spin is to always refer to “Hamas” and not  to “Palestinians” (Americans are sympathetic to Palestinians, but not to Hamas), to hit the word “terrorist” as often as possible and to stress that Hamas is “committed to the destruction of Israel.” It is never mentioned that in their 2006 election manifesto, Hamas dropped their call for the destruction of Israel and simply reaffirmed their right to armed resistance. Hamas is a political player that, like all others, is primarily interested in the acquisition of power and influence - they are very far removed from the theocratic death cult that Israel strains to see in its dark mirror. In 2006, as Hamas was engaging in the democratic process, it announced it would stop using suicide bombers. There has not been a bomb since. Israel claimed that the (still-incomplete) Wall was to thank. Again and again, Hamas have tried to play by the rules of the game as they are set by Israel, America and the International Community. Democracy is embraced and brings with it a siege. Israel's existence is recognized but this goes unmentioned. Military resistance is halted and the siege deepens. Truces are agreed to and Israel violates them. The noose around Gaza has been tightened for seven years, as tunnels are destroyed, fishing limits are reduced and buffer zones are extended - but there remains only one villain. Only one party is ever held accountable for its actions, only one people collectively pay the price. Hamas and its affiliates fire rockets not primarily to kill civilians but because nothing else brings them attention and a seat at the negotiating table, because the status quo is burying them alive.

But it’s not just Hamas vs Israel that counts anymore. Armies of online voices have lined up behind the two sides and a global PR battle is being waged.

There have been 14,000,000 tweets about Gaza in the last thirty days. The volume and pitch of outrage is palpable. There have been 6,500,000 uses of the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack compared to just 73,000 for #StandWithIsrael. Twitter, unlike mainstream media, is self-correcting and though there is some misinformation on there, its peer-reviewing structure filters falsities quickly. Photos now appear embedded into timelines and on instagram accounts are impossible to ignore and are causing a serious and genuine disruption to the register of the online world. There is a secondary trauma rippling through the cyberpsyche. For those who want to see the world, and not simply exist in their own echo chamber, it now spreads out before them online, rendering editorial choices made by major media outlets increasingly irrelevant in their lazy complicity.

At the other end of the battle are the much hyped Israeli Hasbara War Rooms. Young, educated volunteers doing their bit for their army and their country online. But now that Israel is focussing on rockets, tunnels and human shields their output has been little more than a toxic trickle of hate speech, incitement to violence, rallying the troops and shallow victimhood that, combined, is deeply confused as to whether it should be denying what is happening or justifying it. Sentences like “Hamas deprived Palestinian civilians of vital humanitarian aid” accept implicitly that there is a humanitarian catastrophe happening. Hamas, they write, is “cynically sacrificing the residents of Gaza it uses as human shields. It must be stopped”. Who, exactly, is it sacrificing these civilians to? And how will it be stopped? By killing more of them?

Meanwhile what is noteworthy is the growing discord between what Western reporters are saying on the ground and how the news is then packaged. Anne Barnard (NYT), Ayman Mohyeldin (NBC) and Ben Wedeman (CNN) are three notable reporters for major American outlets who are risking their lives to tell truths that are then edited, headlined and captioned by editors who lack either the intelligence or the courage to use language accurately. Obfuscatory headline highlights have included “Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, and the centre of Mideast Strife” (NYTimes) and “100 People Killed Today in Israel, Hamas Fighting” (CNN). The difference in content and timbre between the tweets from the ground and the final packaged product could not be clearer. Other outlets have taken important steps forward, and the work of Sharif Abdel Kouddous (The Nation & Foreign Policy), Sherine Tadros (Sky News), Jonathan Miller & Jon Snow (Channel 4) and Peter Beaumont (the Guardian) has been exemplary and treated with due respect by editors for the massive risks it has entailed.

There has been an unprecedented level of public celebrity support for Palestine. While famous people’s opinions are of no more value than anyone else's, they have to make an economic calculation that most don’t: Is my moral conviction of equal or greater value than the potential backlash and loss of cultural capital and earnings? While Rihanna clearly miscalculated, others have stuck with their position and names such as Mark Ruffalo, John Cusack, Selena Gomez and Bryan Adams can be added to the growing list of public entertainers with a conscience. 

There has also been an upswing in global protest - well over a million people took to the streets over the weekend of July 26th and thousands of events have taken place across the world over the past month. Around the world, the views of the people are increasingly discordant with those of their governments. Except in South America which, once again, is leading the charge: two countries have severed ties with Israel, one has limited them and two more have recalled their ambassadors. Europe, meanwhile, scrambles to save the two state solution - with all the major economic powers now advising their citizens that investments in settlement enterprises may have unpredictable legal and economic consequences for them in the future.

Finally, and crucially, there is the mobilization of a new generation of Palestinians. The third generation of the 1948 diaspora are graduating now from universities around the world and have the economic stability to engage with the question of Palestine as an intellectual, political, generational challenge. The older, whiter, leftist groups that have been organising "pro-Palestinian" demonstrations and talking points for years are being replaced by young, intelligent diaspora kids who are taking the reins and shifting tactics away from picketing and towards boycotting, working to connect the Palestinian struggle with other ethnic and economic parallels and injustices while commanding the cultural tropes of their second homes. The same generation is rising in parallel inside Israel / 1948 Palestine and holds 1948 at the centre of their culture and their consciousness: an unprecedented march of 10,000 people to Lubya - an ethnically cleansed village - marked 2014’s Nakba Day. And while protesting alone is not enough to change anything, it is a useful barometer for general political appetite and engagement. The evidence of this appetite was further reinforced last week when a march to the Qalandia Checkpoint - which closes off Jerusalem to Palestinians in the West Bank - saw the biggest turnout in ten years. It was prematurely labelled the Last Intifada on Twitter.

For any intifada to be the Last Intifada it will have to have significant momentum inside the 1948 territories. For an idea to bring about sweeping change it has to be undeniable in its simplicity, irresistible in its plainspoken and self-evident truth. For the Palestinians who survived the Nakba, for their grandchildren living inside what is now Israel, that idea can simply be "equal rights". That idea travels across borders, walls, classrooms, prisons, refugee camps, airports and oceans. For the 1948 Palestinians it means equal education, services, legal protections, housing rights. For Palestinians in Jerusalem it means freedom to build, freedom to marry, freedom to choose where to live. For the Palestinians living in the West Bank it means no Wall, no biometric ID cards, freedom of movement, freedom to farm and travel. For Palestinians in Gaza it means no siege, freedom to fish, freedom to leave and return, freedom to trade, freedom to work, freedom to breathe. For Palestinians in the diaspora it means freedom to return home. Decades of Israeli policies of segregation have deeply fragmented Palestinians, with each geographic group facing its own particular challenges and persecutions. But the demand simply for equal rights rises above local concerns and creates a unifying idea. Questions regarding borders, negotiated settlements, land swaps, dialogue and security are all distractions intended to divert attention away from the central truth that the contradiction at the heart of Zionism can never be resolved - there can be no state that is Jewish and democratic when 20% of your citizens and a full 50% of those living under your control are not Jewish. There can be only equality or ethnic cleansing.

The war around us

Here's the trailer for The war around us, on our friends Ayman Mohieldin and Sherine Tadros' coverage of the 2009 Gaza war. They went on to do great things covering the 2011 uprising in Egypt, also for al-Jazeera English, which they have both since left.

Egypt and the Gaza tunnels

Jared Malsin, reporting for Mada Masr: 

“On the Palestinian side, they’re just watching the destruction on the Egyptian side,” says Mohammed Omer, a Palestinian journalist, describing the scene in Palestinian Rafah. “There is quite tight control. The Egyptian military are controlling across the borderline, which means they [the smugglers] cannot really operate, even if they can operate freely from the Gaza side,” he says.

On the Palestinian side, they’re just watching the destruction on the Egyptian side By all accounts, the Egyptian military’s current operation has paralyzed the vast majority of the tunnel system. Of an estimated 300 tunnels operating before June 2013, approximately 10 were operating on September 21, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs. The quantity of goods moving through the tunnels is 15 percent of what it was in June.

AsidesThe Editorsgaza, tunnels, sinai, egypt
Of Gaza and KFC

I was struck last week how much play the KFC-delivery-to-Gaza story was getting — every paper seemed to be lazily copying the Xinhua original. Paul Mutter expands below on the problems around that coverage. 

What started out as a blurb on the Xinhua news site this week on the smuggling of KFC for US$30 an order into Gaza via Egypt - a tunnel trek that can take between 3 and 7 hours - has gone viral, prompting several other outlets to send correspondents into Gaza to report on the Al Yamama delivery company’s entrepreneurial niche. The tunnels have been used to deliver everything from rockets and rebar to TVs and fiancées - up to 30% of all the strip’s imports come through them, says Reuters - so fast food is not a stretch, even at the prices quoted.

Unfortunately, most social media responses to it have focused on the novelty at the expense of the context, even though the two fullest accounts I have read, from the NYTand Christian Science Monitor, do address the environment of the Israeli blockade and the tunnel economy that the Egyptians have been cracking down on so hard these days to try and interdict Sinai arms smuggling.

The “Live from Gaza” blog, in fact, offered this criticism of the piece: “it’s good material to exploit to diminish the idea that Palestinians in Gaza [a]r[e] suffering from siege.” So far, I have not seen that angle argued in any news outlets, but reports on malls and swimming pools in Gaza has been cited before to demonstrate that Gaza is thriving despite the blockade. The Israeli government officially puts that line forward, in fact. Fares Akram, who wrote the original Xinhua report and the longer NYT version, has explained his rationale for approaching the story: it takes in the “Israeli siege” as well as the role of the smuggler, while noting the “difficulties p[eo]pl[e] face in Gaza with a metaphor familiar to the [W]est; KFC.”

The Christian Science Monitor’s Ahmed Aldabba also provides this context: “[t]hose who order are well-to-do people and don’t care much about the price of the food compared to the original price at the restaurant.” It’s a purchase for the well-traveled, too, since it’s desired by jet setters who had it in the US - not unlike how Americans will come home and spend US$40 on a plate of sashimi after a business trip to Japan. 

Considering it used to be US$200 an order, it’s not surprising that sales have gone up as the blockade has been toned down somewhat since 2010. But obviously, KFC isn’t breaking into the lower-income bracket yet: around 80% of the population in Gaza is classified as refugees, and the poverty line is at least 38%, so it is worth remembering that the US$30 a bucket prices - which are already higher than they are in Egypt - represent a fair bit of change even for those who can afford it. The reporting makes clear that this fried food fad is the provence of entrepreneurs who want “in,” and the middle class who want to have something to dine on besides the usual fare.

So you wonder, then, why is it that people would pay so much for it. Or, for that matter, why the entrepreneur who wants to open a KFC in Gaza is worried, among other things, that he will not be able to import fryers or schedule visitors from the corporate office.

According to the Canadian International Development Agency, 50% of the strip’s population is considered “food insecure.” While that number may be lower now, especially with the easing of bans on food imports, but it is still significant that food insecurity exists - just because people are not starving to death in the streets does not mean poor nutrition is less of a problem; developmental deficiencies, chronic illness and stunting are all consequences of food insecurity. Moreover, one of Ariel Sharon’s top aides reportedly said that the 2006–2010 ban on importing certain foodstuffs was meant to put the Palestinians on a “diet” by setting a “calorie limit.” Starvation was not the goal; “economic warfare” was. “Such an artless admission of the use of food as means to control a population is rare,” dryly noted a report prepared for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

At least, one hopes that this context is remembered, as it is getting dropped out of all the summaries accounts other sites have posted in order to generate hits on the reporting. Like any place in the world, Gaza has wealthy residents and a middle class with disposable income. But don’t judge a country’s standard of living by these appearances. The food does not arrive via Seamless:


[h/t Yousef Munayyer]

Gaza blockade eased - not lifted

Israel eases Gaza blockade following truce deal | Egypt Independent

This is good news to be sure, but an interesting detail: construction material and other critical types of goods for Gaza's reconstruction must still go through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, and not Egypt:

Israel is easing its blockade of Gaza to allow construction materials and other goods into the enclave under the terms of a truce deal mediated by Egypt.

The decision allows private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups under the terms of Israel's blockade, AFP reported.

The truce between Israel and Gaza's leaders Hamas ended more than a week of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket fire last month.

This is the first time Israel has allowed such goods into Gaza since 2007, said Palestinian customs official Raed Fattouh.

Starting on Sunday up to 20 trucks carrying gravel will be allowed into the strip daily Sunday through Thursday via the Karem Abu Salem border crossing in southeast Gaza, Fattouh said. Karam Abu Salem is the only commercial crossing open to the transport of goods and fuel and is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

In other words, these Egypt-brokered talks are still steering away from lifting the blockade as Palestinians have called for along with Egypt-based activists. Whether this amounts to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's recognition of the complexity of the border issue (including the fear that if the Rafah crossing is fully opened to commercial traffic Israel will simply dump the Gaza problem onto Egypt) or that General Intelligence, which is running the talks, has a veto power on this issue over the Morsi administration is not clear. 

Hamas normalized, Israel marginalized

Adam Shatz · Why Israel Didn’t Win · LRB 24 November 2012

I have the same read — as distasteful as it is to call winners and losers, Hamas (not Gazans) came out a winner in this war, Israel a loser:

Israeli leaders lamented for years that theirs was the only democracy in the region. What this season of revolts has revealed is that Israel had a very deep investment in Arab authoritarianism. The unravelling of the old Arab order, when Israel could count on the quiet complicity of Arab big men who satisfied their subjects with flamboyant denunciations of Israeli misdeeds but did little to block them, has been painful for Israel, leaving it feeling lonelier than ever. It is this acute sense of vulnerability, even more than Netanyahu’s desire to bolster his martial credentials before the January elections, that led Israel into war.

Hamas, meanwhile, has been buoyed by the same regional shifts, particularly the triumph of Islamist movements in Tunisia and Egypt: Hamas, not Israel, has been ‘normalised’ by the Arab uprisings.

. . .

The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behind Jabotinsky’s ‘iron wall’, deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won’t shield it from the future.

Worth adding that in my opinion Morsi came  a short-term winner and Egypt a probable long-term loser.

When Will the Economic Blockade of Gaza End?

↪ When Will the Economic Blockade of Gaza End? - Robert Wright - The Atlantic

President Obama and Bibi Netanyahu are on the same page when it comes to the justification for Israel's bombardment of Gaza. Netanyahu : "No country in the world would agree to a situation in which its population lives under a constant missile threat." Obama: "There's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders."

It's true that if, say, Canada were lobbing missiles into the US, the US wouldn't tolerate it. But here's another thing the US wouldn't tolerate: If Canada imposed a crippling economic blockade, denying America the import of essential goods and hugely restricting American exports. That would be taken as an act of war, and America would if necessary respond with force--by, perhaps, lobbing missiles into Canada.

Gazan Youth Manifesto for Change

Via Mondoweiss, where you can read the full thing — Update: this is from January 2011, but it certainly feels relevant to the moment and their Facebook page is very much alive. 

GAZAN YOUTH’S MANIFESTO FOR CHANGE

Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

What Hamas wants (mostly from Egypt?)

Gaza Clash Escalates With Deadliest Israeli Strike - NYTimes.com

David Kirkpatrick reports:

Reda Fahmy, a member of Egypt’s upper house of Parliament and of the nation’s dominant Islamist party, who is following the talks, said Hamas’s position was just as unequivocal. “Hamas has one clear and specific demand: for the siege to be completely lifted from Gaza,” he said. “It’s not reasonable that every now and then Israel decides to level Gaza to the ground, and then we decide to sit down and talk about it after it is done. On the Israeli part, they want to stop the missiles from one side. How is that?”

He added: “If they stop the aircraft from shooting, Hamas will then stop its missiles. But violence couldn’t be stopped from one side.”

Hamas’s aggressive stance in the cease-fire talks is the first test of the group’s belief that the Arab Spring and the rise in Islamist influence around the region have strengthened its political hand, both against Israel and against Hamas’s Palestinian rivals, who now control the West Bank with Western backing.

It also puts intense new pressure on President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was known for his fiery speeches defending Hamas and denouncing Israel. Mr. Morsi must now balance the conflicting demands of an Egyptian public that is deeply sympathetic to Hamas and the Palestinian cause against Western pleadings to help broker a peace and Egypt’s need for regional stability to help revive its moribund economy.

Indeed, the Egyptian-led cease-fire talks illustrate the diverging paths of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the original Egyptian Islamist group. Hamas has evolved into a more militant insurgency and is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, while the Brotherhood has effectively become Egypt’s ruling party. Mr. Fahmy said in an interview in March that the Brotherhood’s new responsibilities required a step back from its ideological cousins in Hamas, and even a new push to persuade the group to compromise.

Lifting the blockade would be unlikely to happen on the Israeli side, so it's essentially about the Egyptian side. Morsi did not want to be tackling this so early, and any solution will be quite complicated. He has not lifted the blockade thus far, although he could have, and that's because the Egyptian security establishment is nervous about being made responsible for Gaza — and the idea that the Israelis will just dump it on Egypt's lap and make Cairo responsible for it. Can't blame them on that.

Also see this.

Ehud Barak thinks the real war is against Egypt

↪ Operation Pillar of Defense is Ehud Barak's test

Interesting interpretation by Aluf Benn in Haaretz:

Barak believes in the "leverage and pressure" method - first employed by Israel during Operation Accountability, in Lebanon in the summer of 1993. In this method, which Barak likes to demonstrate through the use of hand gestures and timetables, the goal of the warfare is to obtain a reasonable cease-fire arrangement between Israel and its adversary, whether Hezbollah or Hamas. The tactic is to apply pressure on the enemy's "state patron." Israeli firepower, or the threat of such, demonstrated through a wide call-up of reserve troops, is intended to signal to the patron state that its proteges are at risk of receiving a massive blow and it must intervene to calm the situation.

Egypt is the state patron of Hamas in the current round, and Israel's actions are aimed at prodding the new rulers in Cairo to stop the fighting and to act as guarantor of a future cease-fire. That is the role played by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah's sponsors, in the rounds of fighting in Lebanon. "It is obvious that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood regime provides a tailwind for Hamas in Gaza," together with economic aid from Qatar, Barak said last Sunday during a lecture. He also warned that Israel would not quail at any military measure in order to restore calm and security to Israelis living near the Gaza border.

U.S. fears Israel-Hamas conflict escalates to ground invasion

U.S. fears Israel-Hamas conflict escalates to ground invasion 

From CNN :

The major concern of the United States in the current Israeli-Hamas conflict is a potential Israeli ground incursion into Gaza, U.S. officials said Friday.

That would be a disastrous escalation that could trigger a larger conflict, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

"Escalation is what we are concerned about. We don't want it to escalate to the point where Israel feels it has to take additional action, specifically ground force action," the official said.

Perhaps US leadership should stop talking like Israel has carte blanche then.