konfliktit, lähi-itä

Operaatio Protective Edgen erityispiirteitä

Operaatio Protective Edge käynnistyi Hamasin alettua ampumaan rakettejaan kesäkuussa Israelin siviiliväestöä kohtaan niin että pelkästään 7 heinäkuuta 2014 70 rakettia ammuttiin Gazasta kohden Israelia päättäen “meet quiet with quiet” politiikan Gazan alueen ja Israelin kesken.

Tämänhetkinen sota noudatti samaa käytäntöä, noidankehää, dynamiikkaa kuin aiemmatkin Gazan konfliktit 2008-2009 ja 2012 eli Hamas haluaa profiloitua vahvana palestiinalaisten edustajana ja ampuu rakettejaan Israeliin, Israel vastaa ilmaiskuin ja tarvittaessa maaoperaatioin, kansainvälinen yhteisö lähettelee pahaksuvia lausuntojaan. Kun Hamas voi esittää kannattajilleen jonkin symbolisen voiton ja Israel uskoo tuhonneensa parin vuoden rauhallisemman ajan takaavan määrän Hamasin hyökkäyskalustoa ja -rakenteita on aika kypsä Egyptin/Turkin/Qatarin välityksellä solmitavalle tulitauolle jonka jälkeen ryhdytään USAn johdolla valmistelemaan jälleen uutta neuvottelukierrosta vanhoin ideoin.

Käynnissä olevassa sodassa on nyt ilmennyt muutamia erityispiirteitä poikkeuksena aiempaan kaavaan jotka myös arvioni mukaan pidentävät konfliktin kestoa pari-kolme viikkoa. Näistä erityispiirteistä korostaisin kolmea tekijää: Hamasin lisääntynyt hyökkäyskapasiteetti, ironisesti sen pienempi sotilaallinen ja poliittinen vaikuttavuus ja gazalaisten siviilien ja taistelijoiden kuolinsuhde.

Kapasitteettilisä 1: Uusi raketteja

Tämän uusimman konfliktin aikana Hamasilla on ensi kertaa käytössään pidemmän kantaman raketteja – Khaibar-1 aka M-302 – joiden takia liki koko Israelin väestö on tulietäisyydellä.

Myös Hamasin aiempia järjestelmiä on kehitetty laadultaan ja määrältään. Israelin tiedustelu on arvioinut Hamasin ja Palestiinan Islamilaisen Jihadin rakettiarsenaalin seuraavaksi:

Lyhyt kantama (15-20 km)

  • Yli 2000 yksikköä itse tuotettu raketteja (15 km)
  • Yli 3500 yksikköä salakuljetettujen rakettien (15 km)
  • Noin. 500 yksikköä itse tuotettu Grad raketteja (20 km)
  • Noin. 300 yksikköä salakuljetettuja Grad raketteja (20 km)

Keskipitkä kantama (jopa 45 km)

  • Noin. 400 yksikköä itse tuotettu parannettu Grad raketteja (45 km)
  • Noin. 1600 yksikköä salakuljetettujen parantunut Grad raketteja (45 km)

Keskipitkän kantama (jopa 80 km)

  • Yli 500 yksikköä itse tuotettu keskipitkän kantaman raketteja Fajr-5/M-75
  • Useita kymmeniä raketteja Fajr-5/M-75(80 km)

Pitkä kantama (100-200 km)

  • Kymmeniä pitkän kantaman raketteja mm M-302 (100-200 km)

Yhteensä: Noin 9,0 00 – 11,000 rakettia

Hamasin ohella myös Fatahin ryhmät ( Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades ja Abdul Qader Husseini Battalions) ovat osallistuneet Grad-rakettien ampumiseen; samoin ilmeisesti palestiinalaisryhmä (eikä Hizbollah) laukaisi muutaman raketin Libanonista. Lisäksi se on nyt havaittu, että mitä IDF ampui alas 14. heinäkuuta miehittämättömän lennokin Patriot ohjuksella. Jota järjestelmää käytettiin nyt ensi kertaa Israelissa 20 vuoteen.

Hamasin toive Tel Avivin pommittamisesta ja merkittävästä israelilaisten siviiliuhrien määrästä kariutui kuitenkin “Rautakupoliin” ja muihin Israelin kehittyneisiin ohjuspuolustusjärjestelmiin (näistä lisää mm artikkelissani Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror? )

Kapasiteettilisä 2: Hyökkäystunnelit

Rakettikapasiteettia merkittävämpi Hamsin uusi strateginen ase on ns. Hyökkäystunnelit Gazasata rajan ali Israeliin. Hyökkääjät rajan ali yllättivät muutaman kerran israelilaiset ja loivat pelon maasodan tulosta Israelin puolelle. Israelin tiedustelun huomaamatta Hamas on mitä ilmeisimmin sijoittanut humanitaarisia avustusrahoja ja rakennustarpeita hyökkäystunneleiden rakentamiseen Gazasta Israelin puolelle. Yksi inventoiduista tunneleista on n 2.5 km pitkä, siihen käytettiin 800 tonnia betonia, sen rakentamiseen arvioidaan tarvitun 100 työntekijää yli kahden vuoden ajan kustannuksien ollessa noin 10 miljoonaa dollaria. Näitä tunneleita on toistaiseksi saatu Israelin hallintaan 13 ja kaikkiaan niitä arvioidaan olevan jopa yli 30.

Israelin osalta hyökkäystunnelit pidentävät operaatio Protective Edge‘a viikkokausia jotta kaikki tunnelit löydetään ja tuhotaan jolloin näiden uhka voidaan poistaa seuraavaksi kahdeksi kolmeksi vuodeksi. Hamasille tunneleiden sotilaallinen vaikutus jäi vaatimattomaksi poliittisen vaikutuksen ollessa liki negatiivinen. On ilmeistä että Hamas on investoinut merkittävästi rakennusmateriaalia, työvoimaa ja rahaa tunneleiden rakentamiseen ja nämäkin resurssit olisi voitu käyttää siviiliväestön olojen kohentamiseen.

Siviiliuhrit

Siviilien rooli tässäkin sodassa on perinteinen: Hamas ja muut palestiinalaiset terroristijärjestöt kohdistavat tarkoituksellisesti tointansa israelilaisia siviilejä vastaan ja käyttää omaa väestöään ihmiskilpinä suojelemaan johtajiaan rakettien laukaisupaikkoja sekä kansainvälisessä mediasodassa propakandavälineenä. Tämän hetken konfliktissa tämä siviilien käyttö on saanut yhä brutaalimpia muotoja. Israelin pyrkiessä usein keinoin välttämään siviiliuhreja Gazassa on Hamas todistettavasti useaan otteeseen vedonnut väestöön ihmiskilpien muodostamiseksi johtajiensa ja laukaisufasiliteettiensa suojaamiseksi. Ihmiskilpien ohella Hamas on pyrkinyt kätkeytymään moskeijoiden, sairaaloiden ym siviilirakennusten suojiin sijoittamalla rakettejaan jopa kahteen YK järjestön kouluun.

Aiempaan tapaan Israel on pyrkinyt välttämään gazalaisia siviiliuhreja kehottamalla näitä siirtymään turvallisille, alueille ennen ilmaiskuja, varoittamalla iskuista etukäteen puhelimitse, lentolehtisin tai äänipommein. Näitä toimia Hamas on nyt aktiivisesti pyrkinyt vastustamaan houkuttelemalla ja painostamalla siviileitään ihmiskilviksi. (Lisää Israelin toimista Gazan siviiliuhrien välttämiseksi ks esim kirjoitukseni Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict ) Sodasta huolimatta Israel on pitänyt auki Gazaan johtavia ylityspaikkoja josta humanitaarinen apu on virrannut alueelle keskeytyksettä samoin gazalaissiviilit ovat päivittäin päässeet Israeliin erikoissairaanhoitoon kuten aiemminkin. Israel on jo useaan otteeseen hyväksynyt mm Egyptin välittämät esitykset ns humanitaarisiksi tulitauoiksi, Hamas puolestaan ei ja hyväksymiäänikin on rikkonut ainakin pari kertaa.

Aiemmissa Gazan operaatioissa siviiliuhrien suhde kokonaisuhrimäärään on pieni (noin yksi yhteen) verrattuna muihin konflikteihin kuten vaikkapa Balkanilla, Tsetseniassa, Afganistanissa ja Irakissa (jopa neljä yhteen). Kun vaikkapa Kosovossa Naton ilmahyökkäyksissä kuoli yksi siviili kahta hyökkäystä kohden oli luku tämän operaation alkuvaiheessa yksi siviiliuhri 14-15 hyökkäystä kohden. Hamasin valitseman ihmiskilpitaktiikan takia arvioisin siviiliuhrien määrän meneillään olevassa operaatiossa olevan merkittävästi aiempaa suurempi suhteessa kohteena oleviin taistelijoihin.

Kaikki gazalaiset siviiliuhrit eivät lisäksi ole Israelin aiheuttamia. Yli 100 Gazasta ammuttua rakettia on epätarkkuuksien takia pudonnut Gazaan oman väestön niskaan ja on esim vahvoja epäilyjä siitä että yhden YK:n koulun lapsiuhreineen tuhosi yksi tällainen oma raketti. Lisäksi Hamas on myös tämänkin operaation aikana jo teloittanut useita yhteistoiminnasta israelilaisten kanssa syytettyjä gazalaisia.

Hamas menettämässä poliittisen tuen

Hamasin motiivina rakettihyökkäysten lisäämiseen lienee halu korottaa järjestön heikentynyttä profiilia. Varsinkin Egyptin nykyhallinnon toimet ovat poliittisen tuen ohella leikanneet merkittävästi Hamasin johdon taloutta erityisesti salakuljetustunnelien sulkemisen myötä. Tulonmenetykset ovat johtaneet palkkaviipeisiin hallinnon työntekijöille ja sitä myöten kasvavaan tyytymättömyyteen. Profiilinnosto on tärkeää myös suhteessa Fatahiin järjestöjen yhtenäisyyspyrkimysten mahdollisesti johtaessa parlamentti- ja presidentinvaaleihin palestiinalaisalueilla.

Hamasin tultua valtaan Gazassa se esittäytyi tuoreena vaihtoehtona läpikorruptoituneelle Fatahille. Nyt kuitenkin ihmiset Gazassa ovat nähneet ettei eroja juurikaan ole. Hamasin poliittisen toimiston johtaja Khaled Mash’al viettää luksuselämää Qatarissa kaukana tavallisten gazalaisten kärsimyksistä Qatarin ja Egyptin pankkeihin tekemiensä 2.6 miljardin dollarin talletusten turvin. Pääministeri Haniyeh osti 2010 neljällä miljoonalla dollarille tontin ja sen jälkeen kiinteistöjä 13 lapselleen. Lähi-idän Media Research Instituten (MEMRI) raportin mukaan Gazassa ei ole puutetta miljoonan dollarin huviloista eikä niiden ostajista. Tri Ahmed Karima, Kairon al-Azharin yliopistosta toteaakin Hamasin muuttuneen vastarintaliikkeestä poliittiseksi puolueeksi edustaen yli 1,200 miljonääriä.

Uusin
Pew kysely osoittaa, että vain 35% palestiinalaisista suhtautuu myönteisesti Hamasiin – 63% Gazassa ja 47% Länsirannalla on kielteinen suhtautuminen. Myös muslimimaailman reaktio operaatio Israelin operaatioon on ollut vaatimaton ja aiempaa verraten Euroopassakaan ei ole kovin laajoja massaprotesteja syntynyt. Medianäkyvyyskin on ollut pienempää Ukrainan ja Irakin viedessä huomiota toisaalle.

Päätelmäni

Ensimmäinen askel operaatio Protecti Edgen päättymiseen lienee palata marraskuun 2012 tulitaukosopimukseen. Tämän jälkeen mahdollinen skenaario voisi olla Fatahin ja Hamaksen yhteishallintasopimuksen täytäntöönpano ja uudet vaalit palestiinalaisalueilla. Mielestäni yhteishallitus ainakin mudollisesti voisi halutessaan ryhtyä jälleen rauhanneuvotteluihin Israelin kanssa vaikkapa kahden valtion mallin pohjalta. Jos kitkerä kompromissi ei tälläkään kertaa palestiinalaishallinnolle kelpaa ovat uhkana molemminpuoliset yksipuoliset toimenpiteet. Israelin keskusta-vasemmistossa ja keskusta-oikeistossa on kannatusta saamassa yksipuoliset alueliitokset länsirannalta Israeliin, on esitetty jopa koko alue C:n liittämistä. Länsirannan alueille A ja B sekä Gazaan palestiinalaiset voivat halutessaan perustaa valtionsa ja aloittaa suhteiden normalisoinnin ja alueellisen yhteistyön tältä pohjalta uudelleen.

Käynnissä oleva sota Gazassa on toistaiseksi päivittänyt toisaalta Hamasin sotilaallisen iskukyvyn kapasiteetin kasvun sekä toisaalta Israelin parantuneen kyvyn vastata tähän haasteeseen. Jos sota päättyy aiempaan tapaan tulitaukoon ja yli 20 vuotta vanhoihin ideoihin pohjaaviin neuvotteluihin alkanee uusi Gazan operaatio kolmen vuoden kuluessa Hamasin hankkiessa uutta iskukalustoa nyt menetettävän tilalle. Jos rohkeutta riittää kompromissin nielemiseen tulitaon ja mahdollisten yksipuolisten toimien jälkeen voisi nähdäkseni pidemmällekin rauhalliselle jaksolle olla mahdollisuuksia.

Aihepiiristä laajemmin pääblogini kirjoituksessa

Peculiarities of Operation Protective Edge .

Joitakin perusteita edellä esitetyille näkemyksilleni on mainitun kirjoitukseni liitteen Materials regarding IDF’s efforts to avoid harming civilians  videoissa ja artikkeleissa.


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lähi-itä, MENA, Siviilikiisinhallinta

Gazan operaatio ja siviiliuhrit

Siviilien osa meneillään olevassa Gazan konfliktissa on perinteinen: Hamas tarkoituksella kohdistaa iskunsa israelilaisiin siviileihin käyttäen puolestaan omia siviileitään ihmiskilpinä ja propakandatarkoituksiin. Israel puolestaan pyrkii suojelemaan omia siviiliväestöään moderneilla ohjustorjuntajärjestelmillä ja nyt myös ilmaiskuilla Hamasin sotilaskohteisiin. Hamasin omaksuman taktiikan takia siviiliuhreilta Gazassakaan ei voida välttyä.

Siviiliuhrien propagandistinen merkitys on suuri, ne voivat kääntää muun maailman asennetta puoleen tai toiseen. Israel ei nauti suurta suosiota läntisten valtakeskusten ulkopuolella ja jo siksikin siviiliuhrien määrän minimoimiseen on israelin taholta kiinnitetty erityistä huomiota.

Nykyisen ”Puolustuspilari” operaation yhteydessä Israelin puolustusvoimat (IDF) pyrkii tähän mm seuraavien toimenpiteiden kautta:

  1. Varoitussoitot Gazan asukkaille tulevista ilmaiskuista,

  2. Lentolehtiset joissa Gazan asukkaita kehoitetaan pitämään etäisyyttä Hamasin militantteihin

  3. Iskujen viimehetken (jopa kun ohjukset on jo laukaistu) peruutukset kun kohdealueelle on ilmaantunut siviilejä

  4. Katonkoputus” äänipanoksella ilmoittamaan asukkaille heidän olevan ammusvaraston tai vastaavan läheisyydessä, jotta asukkaat voisivat poistua ennen varsinaista iskua

  5. Tarkat iskut silloin kun siviilejä on mahdollisimman vähän kohteen läheisyydessä. Ohessa pari esimerkkiä näistä: IDF video iskusta Hamas johtaja Ahmed Jabaria vastaan ja toinen IDF video iskusta maanalaiseen ohjusten laukaisupaikkaan vahingoittamatta vieressä olevaa moskeijaa

  6. Aiemmassa Cast Lead operaatiossa siviileille annettii neljä tuntia aikaa poistua hyökkäysalueelta ja samaa käytäntöä pyrittänee noudattamaan myös nyt mikäli maahyökkäys alkaa.

Yksi Gazan asukkaiden ongelma on puute lääkkeistä ja hoitovälineistä johtuen mm Hamasin terveysviranomaisten ja länsirannan palestiinalaishallinnon toimimattomasta suhteesta. Tilanteen helpottamiseksi Israel on esimerkiksi kuluvana vuonna myöntänyt gazan asukkaille 14.500 lupaa hoidon saamiseen Israelissa ja tätä koskevista lupahakemuksista on hyväksytty 99,3 %. Sitten kuluvan vuoden syyskuun kansainväliset organisaatiot ovat toimittaneet Israelin kautta 32 lääkeaine- ja tarvikerekkaa Gazaan. Meneillään olevan ”Puolustuspilari” operaationkin aikana tämä toiminta on jatkunut: esimerkiksi 18 marraskuuta 10 Punaisen ristin rekkaa ja yksi UNRWAn rekka saapuivat Israelin kautta Gazaan.

Hamasille siviileillä on tärkeä propagandistinen arvo tykinruokana palvelemisen lisäksi. Kansainväliseen yhteisöön pyritään aiempaan tapaan vaikuttamaan mm järkyttävillä kuvilla siviiliuhreista ja jopa arvostetutkin mediatalot, kute BBC, ovat jo tulleet vedätetyksi nykyisen operaation aikana. Toki siviiliuhreja on tullut mutta ei ilmeisesti tarpeeksi koska Hamas joutuu kierrättämään myös nykytilaan liittymätöntä materiaalia. Ohessa kaksi esimerkkiä:

Alkuperäinen perheen joukkomurha Syyriassa 19.10.2012

Gazassa uusiokäytetty Israelin aggressio 18.11.2012

Ja tässä toinen yritys jonka alkuperä sekin oli Syyriassa:

Mitä tahansa keinoja Israel käyttääkin operaationsa aikana ei siviiliuhreilta voida Hamisin taktiikastakaan johtuen välttyä. Niitä on kuitenkin minimoitavissa ja aiemmissa operaatioissa Israel onkin tässä suhteessa saanut myönteisiä tuloksia. Aiempi brittijoukkojen komentaja Afganistanissa, eversti Richard Kemp, todisti seuraavaa YK:n komitealle:

The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

Tätä aihepiiriä käsittelen laajemmin pääblogini kirjoituksessa Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict ja itse ”Pilaripuolustus” -operaatiota olen puolestaan tarkastellut kirjoituksessani Hamas Miscalculated: Israel Started Operation Pillar of Defense

Ja lopuksi vielä tasapainottamisen vuoksi Palestiinalaispuolen näkemystä tavoitteistaan:

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BalkanBlog, crisis management, Middle-East

Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict

During its operation in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”(Richard Kemp in the UN Human Rights Council hearing after Operation Cast Lead)

 

The role of civilians during ongoing operation Pillar of Defence is traditional one: Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations intentionally target Israeli civilians and use the population of Gaza as human shields, storing and firing rockets from within populated areas. In stark contrast, Israel does not intentionally target Palestinian civilians; in opposite the Israel Defence Force (IDF) takes extraordinary measures to avoid Palestinian civilian deaths. Israel uses early warnings and sophisticated missile defence system to protect its own population while the role of civilian population in Gaza seems again to be that of cannon fodder and their value only propagandist.

Hamas has systematically fired rockets over 12,000 at the Israeli Home Front for the past 12 years. Since November 14, over 350 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel, many of them directed at densely populated areas. Over the past months Hamas has armed itself with the Fajr-5 missile, an advanced weapon with a range of over 75 kilometers, which places 3.5 million civilians at risk. Out of 824 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over the past few days, 270 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and 100 have landed in Gaza itself, IDF statistics show on18th Nov. So one part of civilian deaths in Gaza might have come from their own rockets.

Strategy of Hamas is fatal for population

The Operations of Hamas are targetted to kill Israeli civilians. Thanks to sophisticated early warning system and Israeli missile defense the casualties of Israeli civilians are small. The oposite is true with civilian population in Gaza due the fatal tactics of Hamas. Hamas (like Hezbollah in Lebanon, like the Taliban in Afghanistan and like al-Qaida and the Shi’a militias in Iraq), use their own people as both tactical and strategic weapons of war.

Hamas has intentionally used the civilian areas of Gaza as staging grounds for their attacks on Israel. Knowing that the IDF wishes to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas places its own civilians in the line of fire in order to hide and protect its own operations. Women and children, victims of the Hamas human shield tactics, usually ignore warning signals to evacuate buildings prior to an IDF strike. The victims remain in the house with Hamas members, knowing ahead of time that the IDF will not target civilians. Many innocent bystanders are killed as a result of Hamas’ abuse of its own civilians. Instead of keeping its citizens out of harm’s way, Hamas encourages and even forces its population to join the violent resistance against Israel, sometimes forcing women and children to remain in the positions that they would use to launch attacks from. Hamas used their people too on the strategic level, luring IDF troops to attack and kill them. People whose deaths would be callously exploited in the media as a means of discrediting the IDF.

There are several reasons for this: Hamas, of course, operates from within a civilian population and conceals its arsenals in built-up areas. The same is true of missile launchers, rockets and more. In addition, most Hamas militants make sure not to remain above ground most of the day. They stay in the network of tunnels built by Hamas beneath the Gaza Strip in recent years and, in effect, are at very low risk compared to the vast majority of the Gaza population. And the process of launching the rockets is extremely quick and is sometimes done by remote control, so that the ability to strike at those militants is very limited.

Israel’s strategy is to limit civilian casualties in Gaza

The following are some ways the IDF uses in order to avoid civilian casualties. While these warnings ruin the element of surprise and can help the enemy escape, the IDF believes that it must take these steps whenever possible in order to avoid harming innocent bystanders.

  1. Phone calls: During the last 24 hours of the operation, thousands of Israeli phone calls were made to residents of the Gaza Strip, warning them of IDF strikes in the area.
  2. Leaflets: The Israel Air Force has dropped leaflets over Gaza that warn civilians to “avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives.”
  3. Diverting missiles in mid-flight: During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, the IDF aborted many missions seconds before they were to be carried out, due to civilians being present at the site of the target.
  4. Roof Knocking: “Roof knocking” is when the IAF targets a building with a loud but non-lethal bomb that warns civilians that they are in the vicinity of a weapons cache or other target. This method is used to allow all residents to leave the area before the IDF targets the site with live ammunition.
  5. Pinpoint Targeting: The IDF, whenever possible, singles out terrorists and targets them in a way that will endanger few or no bystanders. This can often be hard to do, since terrorists prefer to hide in crowded areas. As example IDF video about the pinpoint strike on Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari and an other one (On Nov. 18, 2012, when the Israel Air Force targeted an underground rocket launching site near a mosque in Gaza. The strike was precise, and the mosque was unharmed.)
  6. In previous Cast Lead operation IDF left at least four hours’ notice to civilians to leave areas designated for attack

Israel helps patients in Gaza

One problem which civilians in Gaza have is the long standing shortage of medicines and medical supplies. The main reason is a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah. The conflicts between the two offices have resulted not only in a shortage of medicines and supplies, but also in restricted access to medical treatments for patients outside of Gaza. To help situation an Israeli State agency The Coordination and Liaison Administration to Gaza (CLA)works to ensure that patients from Gaza have the access they need to get medical treatments e.g. Following way:

  1. Of the thousands of patients that requested permits to enter Israel for medical treatments, 99.3% were approved. Patients were only denied permits when it was determined that they could receive necessary treatment inside Gaza (Sept 2012). This year (2012)more than 14,500 permits were issued by the Gaza CLA for patients and their chaperones to leave Gaza through the Erez Crossing.
  2. All the requests for medical supplies (equipment and medicine) submitted by the international community to the Gaza CLA have been approved for entry into Gaza.
  3. Since September 2012, international organizations, in coordination with the Gaza CLA, have impoted 32 trucks of drugs and medical supplies through Kerem Shalom Crossing. This has included spare parts for dialysis machines, helium for MRI machines, and three fully equipped ambulances. An additional five loads of medicine were imported into Gaza through the Erez Crossing through special coordination.

According to the World Health Organization, the process of referrals for patients from Gaza to receive treatment in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan was suspended for nearly 10 days due to disagreements between the Ramallah and Gaza Health Ministries. As a result, a 38% reduction in monthly referrals left several hundred patients without necessary treatment. The WHO reports that due to the failure of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to pay its accruing debts to Jordan, Jordanian hospitals refused to accept government referrals of patients from Gaza. Medical suppliers are often reluctant to sell supplies to Gaza since there are issues with non-payment.

Despite the problematic security situation due ongoing operation Pillar of Defence and the ongoing rocket fire, the help from Israel to Gaza continues. On 18 November 2012, 10 Red Cross trucks with medical supplies and one UNRWA truck entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Two trucks have been designated as being of particular importance as they are carrying much needed anesthetics and bandages.

Media War with Pictures

They [Hamas] are putting these rockets in schools, in mosques, near hospitals, even in homes. We have pictures of rockets in homes because they not only have a military strategy. They have a media strategy. They want pictures of civilian casualties to make the front page of newspapers around the world,” (Michael Oren, Israel Ambassador to the United States)

The grand tradition of Pallywood has succeed again also with some respected medias, such as BBC, in which Palestinians on stretchers suddenly come back to life. It was usual also during earlier conflicts to bring the dead out from the hospitals in front of the cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”. Anybody who had died or who had been murdered for reasons of crime during these wars were brought to the CNN cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”

Yet another fake “Gaza” photo has used against Israel during the Pillar of Defense operation. An Arab news site called Alarab Net released the photo, which shows a family who was allegedly ‘massacred’ in Gaza on its Facebook page on Sunday, November 18. The caption in Arabic roughly translates into English as “martyred massacred family in Gaza shortly before…”

Thanks to Tazpit News Agency’s investigative work, it was found that the photo had been originally published on a news site based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates called Moheet one month earlier on October 19. On the Moheet website, the photo was titled “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.”

The original massacre, in Syria.

The “recycled” massacre, transplanted to Gaza.

And here another example where the Alqassam Brigades published an image which was taken in during the Syrian civil war weeks ago and attempted to pass it off as a picture taken in Gaza during current conflict.

Bottom line

Whatever the measures the residents of the Gaza Strip will continue to be the ones to pay the price and if ground operation starts, this price will be much higher than so far. As a result of Hamas’ strategy of using civilian areas for military purposes, it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Nonetheless, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage.

As a result of Hamas’ strategy of using civilian areas for military purposes, it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Nonetheless, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage. IDF however notes that despite all precautions, IDF forces may have mistakenly targeted sites and hurt Palestinian civilians. According IDF it is fully committed to ensuring that every allegation of wrongdoing be fully and fairly investigated, though this will happen after the conclusion of the operation.

The former Commander of the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, gives an insider view to civilian casualties in conflicts:

The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

As example Col.Kemp probably has earlier Gaza operation Cast Lead (2008-2009). I think that Hamas has learned some lessons from this and now, if Israel goes to ground maneuvers, the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths will be considerable higher. This makes the threshold to start next phase much higher than before.
More about IDF activities to avoid civilian damages in Gaza e.g. In this IDF video and to balance my story a bit here also a view (video) from Hamas side: 

 

More about Operation Pillar of Defence in my previous article:

Hamas Miscalculated: Israel Started Operation Pillar of Defens

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lähi-itä

Gazan saarto – totta vai tarua?

Gazan saattueen jälkimainingeissa keskeiseksi kysymykseksi julkisuudessa on noussut Gazan saarto. Valtavirtamedian uutisia seuraamalla välittyy kuva humanitaarisesta kriisistä ja Israelista sen yksinomaisena toteuttajana. Hieman erilaisen näkemyksen antaa Israelin ulkoministeriön julkaisemat tilastot kuin myös Israelin puolustusministeriön tilastot Gazan saarrosta ja sen “pitävyydestä”. Lähteitä voi luonnollisesti pitää puolueellisena, mutta faktat mielestäni kuitenkin auttavat hahmottamaan kokonaiskuvaa tilanteesta. Seuraavassa muutamia poimintoja:

  • Yli miljoona tonnia humanitaarista apua saapui Isrealista Gazaan viimeisen 18 kk:n aikana vastaten liki tonnin jokaista Gazan asukasta kohden.
  • Ensimmäisellä vuosineljänneksellä 2010 3,676 rekkaa vei Gazaan Israelista mm 48,000 tn ruokatarvikkeita, 40,000 tn viljaa, 2,760 tn riisiä, 1,987 tn vaatteita, 553 tn maitojauhetta jne. Lisäksi muslimien pyhäpäivien kunniaksi Israel toimitti 11,000 kpl karjaa Gazaan.
  • Huolimatta siitä, että Hamas käyttää sementtiä rautaa rakettiensa raaka-aineina näitä tarvikkeita silti kulkee Gazaan kansainvälisten partnereiden tarkastamina. Kuluvan vuoden ensineljänneksellä 23 tn rautaa ja 25 tn sementtiä virtasi alueelle. Edelleen viime toukokuussa Israel salli viedä 39 tn rakennusmateriaalia vahingoittuneen sairaalan korjaamiseksi.

  • YK:n raporttien mukaan 10% Gazan sähköstä tulee Egyptistä, 18% on kotitekoista ja 72% toimitetaan Israelista.
  • Vuonna 2009 1,1 mrd shekeliä (liki 300 miljoonaa US dollaria) siirrettiin Gazaan kansainvälisten organisaatioiden käyttöön ja palestiinalaishallinnon palkkojen maksuun.
  • Israel on kuljettanut jatkuvasti UNRWAn kustantamia koulutarvikkeita Gazaan koordinoiden parhaillaan mm 200,000 kannettavan tietokoneen siirtoa Gazan lapsille. Vuoden 2010 ensi neljänneksellä 250 rekkaa vei alueelle leluja, soittimia, liikuntavälineitä, jäätelökoneita jne Gazan lasten kesäleirien käyttöön.
  • Tyypillisen viikon aikana Israelista kulkee Gazaan noin 15,000 tn ruokaa, esimerkiksi toukokuun puolivälissä meni 100 rekkalastia eläinruokaa, 65 rekallista hedelmiä ja vihanneksia, 22 rekallista sokeria, 27 rekallista liha- ja kalatuotteita ja 40 rekallista maitotarvikkeita.
  • Palestiinalaisviranomaisten tilastojen mukaan viimeisten kolmen kuukauden aikana noin 3,000 arabia lähti Gazasta saamaan lääketieteellistä hoitoa. Vuoden 2009 aikana 10,544 potilasta seuralaisineen Gazasta sai lääketieteellistä hoitoa Israelissa kun taas vain 214 matkusti hoitoa saamaan Jordaniaan ja 563 Egyptiin. Sen sijaan Hamas yritti estää 87 potilaan lähdön Gazasta Israeliin hoitoa saamaan.

Humanitaarinen kriisi?

Elinolot Gazan kaistaleella varmasti ovat kaukana hyvistä mutta pahempiakin katastrofeja maailmasta varmaan löytyy. Tässä muutama tilastopoiminta:

  • Gazan asukkaiden elinikäarvio (2010) on 73,86 vuotta, mikä on korkeampi kuin esimerkiksi Virossa, Malesiassa, Jamaikalla ja Bulgariassa.
  • Imeväisikäisten kuolleisuus on 17,71 per 1000, joka on matalampi kuin esimerkiksi Kiinassa, Jordaniassa ja Thaimaassa.
  • Noin 20 % Gazan asukkaista omistaa henkilökohtaisen tietokoneen, joka luku on suurempi kuin esimerkiksi Portugalissa, Brasiliassa, Saudi Arabiassa ja Venäjällä, myös laajakaistayhteys on saatavilla.
  • Puhelinverkkoyhteydet ovat kehittyneet ja 81% Gazan talouksista omaa myös kannettavan puhelinyhteyden.
  • Noin 70% Gazalaisista omistaa TV:n ja radion voiden seurata Palestiinalaishallinnon tai Israelin lähetyksiä tai sateliittikanavia.


Saarto lievenee

Flotillan jälkeen saarron tilannetta on ryhdytty pohtimaan uudelleen. Toisaalta kansainvälinen yhteisö laajalti vaatii saarron purkua ja toisaalta Isrealissakin saarron vaikuttavuus on asetettu kyseenlaiseksi nykymuodossaan. Keskeisiä tekijöitä saaron jatkopohdinnoissa nähdäkseni ovat seuraavat:

  1. Mitkä tarvikkeet/palvelut sisällytetään saarron piiriin ja mitkä ei
  2. Kenellä on valvontavastuu siitä, että kuljetukset Gazaan ovat ilmoitusten mukaisia
  3. Mitä kautta eri kuljetuksia hoidetaan.

Yleisperiaate lienee että rajoitukset tulevat koskemaan sotilaallisia tarvikkeita humanitaarisen avun kulkiessa Gazaan esteettä; ongelmaksi muodostunee kaksikäyttöisten materiaalien määrittely. Toisaalta esimerkiksi muutoin rajoitettuja rakennustarvikkeita ovat kansainväliset avustusorganisaatioit saaneet helpotetusti viedä omiin rakennuskohteisiinsa.

Mm EU on valmis ottamaan vastuun Gazaan menevien tavaroitten tarkastamisesta, samoin on harkittu esimerkiksi avustuslaivojen tarkistusta YK:n toimesta jo lähtösatamissa. Israel harkitsee näkeekö se tällaiset tarkastukset luotettaviksi.


Reittien osalta vähemmälle huomiolle on jäänyt Egyptin rooli saarrossa. Egypti avasi Rafahin terminaalin Gazaan Mavi Marmaran välikohtauksen vuoksi, mutta rajoittaa henkilöliikennettä eikä salli tavarakuljetuksia. Kyse on mitä suurimmassa määrin poliittinen, sillä sekä Egypti että PA vastustavat saarron helpottamista – vaikka eivät uskaltaisi sitä julkisesti tunnustaakaan – pelätessään sen antavan Hamasille lisäpuhtia valtansa säilyttämiseksi. Myös kuuluisat tunnelit sijaitsevat Egyptin vastaisella rajalla. Niiden laajuutta kuvaa se, että merkittävä osa Gazassa tapahtuvasta autokaupasta tapahtuu tunneleiden kautta salakuljetettujen autojen varassa. Salakuljettajat olivat jo valittaneet liiketoimiensa kärsivän Rafahin terminaalin avaamisen vuoksi.

Gazan dumppaus Egyptille?

Israelista on esitetty ajatus jättää Gazan koko huolto Egyptin vastuulle ja Israelin irrottautuminen koko alueesta. Egypti ei ole lämmennyt ajatukselle ja katsoo Israelin dumppaavan koko ongelman Egyptin niskoille.

Tämä ajatus on lähellä jo viime Gazan sodan aikoihinkin esitettyä kolmen valtion mallia, jossa Gaza palautetaan Egyptin kontrolliin ja pääosat länsirantaa palautetaan Jordanian alaisuuteen, hieman laajentuneen Israelin ollessa se kolmas valtio. Nähdäkseni tällainen ratkaisu toisi mukanaan kestävää kehitystä poliittisesti ja ehkä Egyptikin voisi kiinnostua asiasta mikäli kansainvälisen yhteisön jo nyisinkin massiivinen apu suunnattaisiin tämän järjestelyn toteuttamiseen. (Aiheesta enemmän “The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict”)

Aiheeseen liittyviä kirjoituksiani:

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BalkanBlog, crisis management, Middle-East

Gaza Flotilla – a successful manoeuvre with win-win changes

“If ships reach Gaza – victory, if terrorized by Zionists – victory.(PM Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas)

The Gaza Flotilla is a model example of successful PR action to gain political aims. Israel sent commandos on an “aid” flotilla trying to pierce the blockade that both Israel and Egypt have imposed on Gaza, a territory controlled by the Islamist Hamas. Six vessels carrying nearly 700 activists after mission organizers ignored the Israeli government’s weeks-long call to bring the cargo to an Israeli port, where it would be inspected and transferred to Gaza.

When the Israeli soldiers then took over six ships five of these agreed to follow the orders of soldiers from Israel Defence Force (IDF) to redirect their route to the port of Ashdod instead Gaza strip. However one ship, the Mavi Marmara, was different than the other five ships of the flotilla. The Mavi Marmara was sponsored by a Turkish humanitarian relief fund -IHH – and there the Israelis meet a resistance that clearly – and fatally – caught them by surprise.

The death toll some 9-16 as well dozens of wounded ones from both sides spread into head lines in world media. Already now it is possible to size up the Islamist manoeuvre as tactical success. The question from the very beginning was not the humanitarian aid, if it were then the sponsors of the flotilla would have worked with Israel and Egypt to bring in the aid by land after a requested inspection of the goods. And they would not have declared victory in advance, regardless of whether any suffering was alleviated, as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh did earlier claiming that it did not matter if the aid reached Gaza or if it was intercepted. The humanitarian supplies brought on board were just a ploy to hide their avowed political objective.


Unnecessary provocation

If taken the flotilla case away from its political context or from real objectives of the flotilla organizers the whole event was possible to avoid. Israel did all it could to stop it. Appeals to Turkey went unheeded and that country let the flotilla sail and gave its assistance. Israel offered to have all humanitarian supplies brought to the Ashdod port where they could then be sent to Gaza through our crossings. Israel also asked the “peace militants” to transmit a letter to captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been in Hamas custody for almost four years.

The militants were not interested in any humanitarian operation. They wanted to carry out their joint Arab-European propaganda offensive against Israel in order to delegitimize the Jewish state, deepen its isolation and provoke an international outcry.

Israel lost the information war

The operation of Israeli Commandos took place 4.30 am. At 09.00 am the Israeli government was still silent about events. First official statements from Israel came at 3.45 pm – that is nearly 12 hours too late. It is clear that when other side had possibility to tell their side of story so this first impression also spread globally as given fact. Besides the drama about aggressive attack against poor civilians and massacre is always easy to sell due choking headlines. First strike in media was a success and has already got its political impact.

IHH – militants instead of peace activists

The Foundation for Human Rights, Liberties and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) played a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation. Besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements. IHH has strong sympathy among Turkey’s ruling party, but is banned in Israel, which accuses it of links to Hamas and al-Qaeda. IHH’s orientation is radical-Islamic and anti-American, and it is close to the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas’ parent movement). IHH is a member of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of more than 50 Islamic funds and foundations around the globe, which channels money into Hamas institutions in the Palestinian Authority-administered territories.

The CIA as long ago as 1996 noted it was linked to “Iran operatives” and gave “support for extremist/terrorist activity”, including in Bosnia. In 2001, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the prominent French counter-terrorism magistrate, said at the trial of the “millennium bomber” that IHH had played “an important role” in the plot to blow up Los Angeles airport. He said the charity was “a type of cover-up” to infiltrate mujahideen into combat, get forged documents and smuggle weapons. In 2006 Turkish security forces raided the IHH’s Istanbul bureau and found firearms, explosives and bomb-making instructions, as well as records of calls to an al-Qaida guest house in Milan. The Turkish investigators concluded this “charity” was sending jihadists to Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

More about IHH and similar Islamic organisations in “The role of Islamic Charities in international terrorist recruitment and financing” by Evan F. Kohlmann – a publication of Danish Institute for International Studies

Peace activists?

On board the Mavi Marmara ship that arrived as part of the flotilla towards Gaza was a group of approximately 40 people with no identification papers, who are supposed to be mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization. This group wore bullet-proof vests, and carried with them night-vision goggles, weapons, and large sums of cash. Gaza flotilla participants chanted Islamic battle cry invoking killing of Jews. The name Khaibar mentioned in battle cry was the last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad’s army in 628. Video “Kill the Jews” about Gaza flotilla can be found here (Palestinian media watch/Al-Jazeera, 29.5.2010)

Reasonable doubt

In my opinion the embargo is an acceptable measure taken between entities that are in a state of armed conflict, as are Israel and Hamas-run Gaza. On 4 Nov 2009 Israel caught approximately 200 tons of weapons, rockets, and missiles were found on the ship – Francop – disguised as civilian cargo flying an Antiguan flag, which was intercepted and brought to the Ashdod port. This cargo were smuggled by Iran to Hezbollah. (Slide show about case here)


Humanitarian Aid”

The cargo was taken off the boats at the Ashdod port and checked there, in accordance with the Israeli embargo on Gaza. Much of the equipment and supplies aboard the “humanitarian” ships for Gaza has been checked and found to be worthless. Many of the medicines are expired and/or came in an assorted, not easily organized manner. In addition, much of the equipment is in poor condition. Despite this, it is being taken to the Kerem Shalom crossing, and will be distributed in Gaza by human rights organizations.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza however is alarming. Israel allows about 15000 tonnes of humanitarian aid like food and medicines into Gaza every week, but not enough e.g. construction materials. Besides emergency relief the international community gives also huge donations for capacity building activities. One problem however is that The impact of the international assistance is poor if not even non-existent in relation to sustainable development. As The Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) concluded “it has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground” . More about MAS analysis in “Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks” .

Conclusions

“Bit by bit Israel is turning into more of a burden than asset for the US,” (Mossad chief Meir Dagan)

The Gaza Flotilla was successful political manoeuvre planed by Hamas and their supporters. Success was guaranteed by win-win position of operation. Either the Flotilla goes through blockade or Israel uses force to stop it – with both cases Hamas could take a tactical win. The later option realized even better than dreamed: There were casualties, there were Western politicians, aid workers from Israel’s former ally Turkey, there were other useful public figures brought along for camouflage to guarantee media coverage. Same time IDF acted according insufficient information without sufficient force and was late in its media response giving the theatre on hands of Hamas. The early conclusions that Israel aggressively attacked Turkish aid vessel carrying desired humanitarian relief to Gaza will have its effect to political climate long time.

What EU can do? First EU could consider is the two-state solution an option any more, is it worth still waste time with this dead road map. Then EU among others and especially with local stakeholders could facilitate developing some new alternatives such as three-state option or similar. What EU should not do is to continue its hypocrisy based on manipulated media by political PR campaigns such as Gaza flotilla.

The most severe impact in short term is that Israel’s relations with Turkey could be unfixable. The US will have more and more difficulties in UNSC defend Israeli’s viewpoint and US lead proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians could be stopped. UN, EU etc also will put pressure for Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza. Israeli’s position that the successful arrival of the flotilla in Gaza would have created “a corridor of arms smuggling” is not gaining wide understanding now and the new flotillas are already on the way.

My related articles:

The Three-State Option could solve Gaza conflict”

Gaza War: Could Balkan history show way out?”

Will (East) Jerusalem be the End of Two-State Illusion?

Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks”


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BalkanBlog, crisis management, Middle-East

Will (East) Jerusalem be the End of Two-State Illusion?

If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence.
If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.

(In an email from the Baltimore Zionist Division)

Diplomacy is the art of conducting international relations with tact and skill in an effort to form alliances and agreements, whereas hypocrisy is the practice of professing false virtues. (Ophir Falk)

Since last Gaza War on December 2008 the peace process of Israeli-Palestine conflict is going backwards again. Hamas is firing its qassams to Israel and Israel Defence Force responds; Palestine authority is still missing, Israel government has more hardliners than before and International community is making their hypocritical useless statements without any new initiative or an outline for the future; even U.S.-Israeli relations have declined due Israeli building projects in East Jerusalem.

It should be remembered that in 1918, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France were handed more than 5,000,000 square miles to divvy up and 99% was given to the Arabs to create countries that did not exist previously. Less than 1% was given as a Mandate for the re-establishment of a state for the Jews on both banks of the Jordan River. In 1921, to appease the Arabs once again, another three quarters of that less than 1% was given to a fictitious state called Trans-Jordan. (Jack Berger, May 31, 2004.)

Settlements as dividing factor

A few years ago the people of Israel voted for a government that dismantled 10,000 Jewish homes in the hope for peace. The dismantlement led to disaster and instead of peace – Israeli civilians were targeted by Palestinian missiles. Last year the people of Israel voted for a government that wants to build homes rather than destroy them.


The halt to settlement construction is a key demand by the Quartet of Mideast negotiators who are trying to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has agreed to curb settlement construction in the West Bank, but not in east Jerusalem, claiming the entire city as Israel’s eternal capital.

Before discussing the settlements, Jerusalem and other final-status issues Palestinian Authority PA) should recognize Israel’s basic right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. After that the PA could come to an agreement with Israel, and finally set the border lines. Once the borders are set, then Israel will not support building of settlements in the PA area.

Settlements Established and Evacuated 1967-2008 -map (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

Jerusalem

The announcement of a routine planning approval for 1,600 dwellings in the East Jerusalem settlement neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo precipitated a crisis in U.S. – Israel relations, especially when information of project came during U.S. VP Bidens visit in Israel. U.S. as well later EU condemned this latest dwelling project and for Palestine Authority settlements are regular excuse to skip negotiations.

In a defiant speech last week to the leading pro-Israel lobby in the United States, Israel PM Netanyahu said Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem are “an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem … The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied … The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital”.

East Jerusalem’ is not only the Old City. The eastern section of Jerusalem is larger than the western section (77 square kilometers vs. 45 square kilometers); it contains more than half the city`s residents, Jews and Arabs. In 1967, after occupying the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, the government of Israel annexed East Jerusalem and an additional tract of Palestinian land; Israel applied Israeli law to the eastern parts of the city, and granted residency rights to 66,000 Palestinians registered by census as its inhabitants. This status is different from citizenship: it does not enable its holders to participate in national elections and can be revoked at the discretion of the Ministry of Interior. Two legal systems apply to East Jerusalem residents: IHL (the laws of occupation), and Israeli law. (My source and more from JNews )

Jerusalem expansion plans -map (Foundation for Middle East Peace)

There was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem since 1860. Jews lived all over Jerusalem, and fought courageously in the War of Independence in 1948 to maintain their hold on it but in the end lost many lives and the east part of the city. That is when it was divided for the first time.

Israelis divide the Palestinians to five communities, as a means of control. There are the Israeli Palestinians, who are full Israeli citizens, enjoy the right to vote and have delegates in the Knesset. There are the East Jerusalemites who are not citizens, but have only resident permits and who are separated from the West Bank by the wall. There are the West Bank Palestinians who live in the five percent of the West Bank on the west side of the wall that Israel has, de facto, annexed to Israel, but who are also cut off from Jerusalem and forbidden to visit Israel. There are the West Bank Palestinians to the east of the wall. And there are the Palestinians in Gaza.


One vs. Two States

So far resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has had two options on the top of agenda. The first is aim of two states for two peoples and the second is a bi-national Palestinian-Israeli state in which Palestinians and Israelis would have equal rights or a Palestinian-Israeli confederation, in which two states share joint political institutions – a one-sate option.

The two-state solution is becoming more and more impossible by the day as Israel continues to build more and more settlements on Palestinian lands. There is hardly enough land to form a viable Palestinian state at this time as it is. But judging by the actions of the settlement movement and its supporters, the one-state solution seems to be the preferred solution. However the Israeli and Palestinian definitions of a two state solution are very different. Palestinian idea of a two-state solution may be supported but only if the border is the 1967 border and refugees are given the right of return, an Israeli viewpoint can be different with these two aspects.

In Israel there is a group that believes that a bi-national state is inevitable because with Jewish and Palestinian communities so entangled in the West Bank, it will be almost impossible to divide them. However same time there is some base to claim that there is too much animosity and dehumanization among the Palestinian population that would make a peaceful co-existence between them and Israelis virtually impossible.

If one would like to take a cynical point of view so a de facto one state is the current reality on the ground. Israel rules all mandatory Palestine from Jordan to the Mediterranean. There is one regime based on ethnicity and security and Israeli control. Progress towards two-state solution seems unlikely.

Projection of Israel’s West Bank Partition plan 2008 -map (Foundation for Middle East Peace)


Population transfers as pragmatic solution

If some ethnic groups hate each other and when both can base their views and claims to selected parts of hundreds or thousands of years so basically there only two peaceful solutions: to train tolerance for generations developing same time living conditions or separate the groups by ethnic lines.

After WWII Germans moved e.g. from Poland inside new borders. Finland settled some 10 % of its population from territories occupied by the Soviet Union, which from its side transferred new population to new regions. Israel itself is mainly settled by immigrants and e.g. in last twenty years over half a million people with some Jewish origin has come from ex-Soviet Union. In smaller scale more or less forced population transfers have been emptying Jewish colonies in Gaza. To be successful these kind of population transfers must be supported by effective re-settlement programmes.

More or less forced population transfers

(Data mostly taken from Ben-Dror Yemini, MidEast Truth Forum, January 15, 2009)

Within less than a century, between 7 million and 10 million Balkan refugees have been uprooted from their homes. After WW2, between 12-16 million Germans were forced out of Sudentenland (Czechoslovakia), Romania, Hungary and Poland into Germany; many of them had not supported the Nazis during the war. 14 million people were exchanged between Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan.

In 1994, 540,000 Moslems fled Christian Armenia for Azerbaijan and 360,000 Armenian Christians fled Azerbaijan for Armenia. As Israel did with the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Armenia absorbed the Christian refugees, while — just like the Arab refugees from Israel — the Moslem refugees languish in Azerbaijani refugee camps.

From the late ’80s on, 75,000 non-Moslem blacks from Mauritania were exiled to Senegal and Mali, while 75,000 Arabs fled to Mauritania. Ethnic conflicts in the Sudan continue — between Muslim Arabs and black animists in the South; and between Muslim Arabs and black Muslims in Darfur. 3 t0 4 million black farmers of Darfur have fled Arab-dominated Khartoum, where some 200,000 to 400,000 black Muslims have already been killed.

Cyprus has been split between Christian Greeks and Moslem Turks; this included a population exchange, where 200,000 Greeks and 50,000 Turks were shifted.

Even before Israel became a state and increasingly after that, more than 800,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab countries, where many of them had lived way before the Arabs Conquest; most of them came to Israel.

When it became a state in 1948, Arabs left to avoid the coming war, fled in fear incited by their own press or were forced by their leaders to leave Israel. The Arabs claim 650,000-750,000 up to a million refugees, while the UN Acting Mediator in October, 1948 set it at 472,000, of which 360,000 required aid (UNRWA is now supporting 4.5 million of their “descendants”.) Of all the refugees, only these Arabs have demanded the right of return.

More about issues e.g. in my article “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show way out?


Three-State Option?

I wonder why there is not more discussion about a “three-state” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution could also be more economically sustainable than other options. It could be a bit further developed by making a buffer zone between Israel and hard-liners in Gaza. From my point of view the best way to do this is to relocate population from Gaza some 50-100 km SW to Sinai. There is possible to build new infrastructure instead again repairing existing one. With good planning and implementing economic-social programmes backed with sufficient international Aid money it is possible also to create more sustainable economy than today’s Gaza. More in “The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict”.


My Conclusions

If the EU would stop propping up Hamas and the PA with money and verbal support, there might actually be a chance of peace. Why should the Palestinians want to settle with Israel when they can line their pockets, buy the latest weaponry, and maintain their “clients” by holding out and continuing to receive support from the EU?” (Talkback Ynet)

The failure of U.S. in promoting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians may be related to fact that again the plans are made on Washington’s drawing board without understanding regional circumstances and mentality in the Middle East; the growing gap between reality and idealistic day-to-day politics is now demonstrated not only as strain in the U.S. Israel relationship but also as declining U.S. credibility among Palestinians.

The same – as U.S. foreign policy – can be said about EU’s foreign policy (if one can found that some where). EU does not seems to have any vision nor strategy and initiatives for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Modest attempts to use carrots (squandering aid to capacity building in West bank and Gaza) and no use of sticks (e.g. embargo) reduce EU’s foreign policy activities to empty statements (“The European Union has condemned all the settlement activities”).

From my viewpoint the basic truth of the matter still stands: Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that holds free elections, enables freedom of speech and cherishes similar values to those of average European and American people. This said I must add that there is not only a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but a battle between those who believe in a mixed, tolerant and non-racial society, and the forces of ultra-nationalism in both Israel and Palestine.


The bottom line: Quality Peace

I would like to conclude that instead of rigid high-flown statements and dead road maps international community should facilitate the Middle East peace process through following three principles


  • Negotiations will be restored without prior conditions.
  • The talks should be implemented by local stakeholders, not under supervision of outside powers
  • The international community – outside powers – should support any common agreed outcome of talks e.g. with financial aid programs

This approach means that an outcome – which I describe with term quality peace – is not possible to achieve imposed from top to field e.g forced by international community or other outsiders; with that kind of approach one can only freeze the conflict not solve it. The only way for quality peace is through motivation or at least commitment of individual, clan, community, ethnic groups, wider society or state to resolve conflicts through dialogue by acceptance and at least tolerance of differences. (More in my article “Quality Peace”)


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BalkanBlog, Middle-East

The Three-State Option could solve Gaza conflict

War in the Gaza Strip has continued now over week, diplomats and demonstrations are demanding  ceasefire immediately – war news and high-flown statements are following each other like they have done last decades.   In this never ending story it was very refreshing to read an article of John R. Bolton published in Washington post 5th Jan. 2009. This former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations 2005-2006  has quite unusual idea to solve the Gaza conflict. Instead of empty statements and dead road maps he is proposing “The Three-State Option”.  Again his thoughts are not pleasant or polite to highly idealistic diplomatic elite but maybe therefore his idea could work on the ground.

The original article can be found from here but I quote some highlights:

We should ask why we still advocate the “two-state solution,” with Israel and “Palestine” living side by side in peace, as the mantra goes. We are obviously not progressing, and are probably going backward. We continue poring over the Middle East “road map” because that is all we have, faute de mieux, as they say in Foggy Bottom. The logic to this position is long past its expiration date. Unfortunately, it is hard to imagine a new approach that the key players would receive enthusiastically. If the way out were obvious, after all, it would already have been suggested.

Mr Bolton asks us to consider the following, unpopular and difficult to implement though it may be:

  • we should look to a “three-state” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty.
  • Having the two Arab states re-extend their prior political authority is an authentic way to extend the zone of peace and, more important, build on governments that are providing peace and stability in their own countries. “International observers” or the like cannot come close to what is necessary; we need real states with real security forces.
  • Without a larger Egyptian role, Gaza will not, and perhaps cannot, achieve the minimal stability necessary for economic development. Moreover, connecting Gaza to a real economy, rather than a fictional “Palestinian economy,” is the quickest concrete way to improve the lives of Gaza’s ordinary citizens.
  • For Palestinians, admitting the obvious failure of the PA (Palestinian Authority), and the consequences of their selection of Hamas, means accepting reality, however unpleasant. But it is precisely Palestinians who would most benefit from stability. The PA — weakened, corrupt and discredited — is not a state by any realistic assessment, nor will it become one accepted by Israel as long as Hamas or terrorism generally remains a major political force among Palestinians.
  • Objections to this idea will be manifold, and implementation difficult. One place to avoid problems is dispensing with intricate discussions over the exact legal status of Gaza and the West Bank. These territories contain more legal theories than land.

I agree with Mr. Bolton about three-state solution. However it could be a bit further developed by making a buffer zone between Israel and hardliners in Gaza. From my point of view the best way to do this is to relocate population from Gaza some 50-100 km SW to Sinai. There is possible to build new infrastructure instead again repairing existing one. With good planning and implementing econo-social programmes backed with sufficient international Aid money  it is possible also to create more sustainable economy than today’s Gaza.


Few days ago I wrote an articleGaza War – Could Balkan history show way out? which highlights population movements as pragmatic solution in cases when ethnic tensions are too deep to cure without generations long “brainwashing”.  Combined to Mr. Bolton’s proposal I think that a sustainable solution could be found.

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