Israel's motives in Gaza

PHOTO: Destruction from Israeli air strikes in Gaza

As Israel pulls out of Gaza and the final shots in this battle between Israel and the Palestinians are being fired, many questions remained unanswered.

How many are dead in Gaza? How many of those dead are innocent civilians? Will Israel lift the blockade of Gaza? Will the rocket attacks stop for the foreseeable future?

But the biggest question facing Israel is what did they hope to accomplish by massacring the trapped Gazans? If Israeli President Shimon Peres is to be believed, the aim of Israel’s assault was to demoralize the Palestinian people so that they’d stop the rocket attacks.

Unfortunately for Israel’s leaders (and ultimately more unfortunate for the Palestinians) that goal meets the strict definition of terrorism and collective punishment which is defined as a war crime.

More unfortunate still is that Israel seems to have failed spectacularly. They did not destroy Hamas and in fact seems to have strengthened their hold over the hearts and minds of the Palestinians.

This outcome was more or less predictable. Israel, thankfully, was never going to employ the kind of sustained force necessary to actually destroy Hamas. That would have likely taken months of occupation and mountains of dead.

If Hamas wasn’t destroyed, would the Palestinians at least blame Hamas for their shattered lives and dead brothers and sisters? If we turn to history, that answer was clearly going to be no. One great example should hit close to home. Did we blame Bush for 9/11 or rally to him in the wake of those terrible attacks? I honestly can’t think of a counter-example from Iraq, to Vietnam and to the Soviet Union. Terror sows the seeds of unity and nationalism in those terrorized. 

That’s why this latest battle in a long war seems so very pointless. Many lay dead, and peace seems further away than ever, but nothing appears to have been accomplished.

Flickr photo by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi


  1. Ian

    Its similar to the war in Iraq. We say we went for one reason, but that reason is clearly false. So the question becomes: What was the real reason we went? Either Israel was kidding themselves about being able to stop Hamas like this, or they have some other motive.

  2. Chris

    There is also the theory that the incumbent party wanted to bolster their chances for electoral success in the upcoming elections. But that doesn’t appear to be working either.