Dr Mustafa Fetouri
Life is returning to normal in besieged Gaza, but “normal” there is actually abnormal. Israel accepted the ceasefire after killing some 33 people, including children, injuring over 90 civilians and making nearly 2,000 housing units uninhabitable.
Israel might have succeeded in killing top Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters but it clearly failed to break the Palestinians’ will to fight for their freedom, independence and end of occupation. It is true that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but it is still besieging the densely populated strip of land in a different kind of occupation. Nothing can go in or out of the dilapidated area without its approval. The Israeli departure did not mark the end of occupation but, instead, turned the entire Gaza Strip into a larger prison for over two million Palestinians.
The latest fighting reveals new Palestinian spirit of resistance, exposing the Israeli absurdity of total security for its people at the expense of the Palestinians. This is notable in the wording of the truce document which says both sides will “abide by the ceasefire” that includes “an end to targeting civilians, house demolition and end to targeting individuals.” While house demolition is a daily Israeli practice, targeting of individuals Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and abroad has been decades-long standard occupation policy. Having the truce document worded in such way shows that Israel cannot carry on like this, as both policies have failed, so far, to force the Palestinians to give up – an Israeli long-term goal. It also demonstrates the fact that the occupation state is clearly worried about the effects the rockets fired from Gaza Strip have on its wider security policy and population, particularly around Gaza.
According to Israeli data some 1,234 projectiles (both rockets and mortar rounds) were fired from Gaza towards Israel, including the Gaza Strip’s immediate surroundings. The same data revealed that, of these rockets, some 976 reached Israel while the rest, Israel claimed, fell within the parameters of Gaza Strip itself.
Assuming that such figures are accurate, and remembering they are Israeli figures, this means the success rate of the rockets stand at nearly 80 per cent, regardless of the harm they caused. This is very significant when it comes to how far the Palestinian Resistance has come in developing its own security deterrent. Remembering that the entire Gaza Strip has been under strict Israeli siege for 16 years, this is astonishing development that worries Israeli policy makers too much.
Some rockets travelled an average of 40 kilometres, with others reaching some 80 km is a technical development considered a serious threat by the Israeli military.
Palestinian Resistance groups in Gaza do not have effective means to protect the population against Israeli military might but they have proved that they can also deny Israel security at any time they want. It is no exaggeration to call this situation the “balance of horror”, because indeed it is.
The wider and long-term military effect of this development is one thing: possessing the best war machine does not provide you security on your own terms. What does is an end of occupation.
There could be moments when your high-tech army is rendered useless when it comes to providing security. Furthermore, the wider areas reached by Palestinian rockets make the Israeli military planners think twice before launching future attacks on Gaza.
However, an important revelation that came out of the latest fighting in Gaza is the number of rockets PIJ appears to have in its arsenal. A simple calculation would reveal that, on average, 246 rockets were fired each day during the five day fight; again, this is based on Israeli information which does not always have to be trusted.
The simple question would be what will happen if all Resistance groups unite their efforts against Israel next time, which is a question of when, not if another fight will erupt – as long as Gaza is besieged and the occupation still a daily fact of Palestinian life, fighting will not stop.
But the most striking outcome of the latest fighting is the fact that all rockets PIJ fired were home-made. If we remember that the entire Gaza Strip has been under siege for nearly two decades, this is a huge weapons development leap.
The more underlying nightmare for Israel is the accumulated know-how the Palestinians have gained. Arms development is a difficult, time consuming, innovative and incremental process. It becomes even more difficult and time intensive when you are under a strict siege, denying you the simplest daily life items. You have to become, somehow, self-sufficient in developing your own tools without waiting for others to help you – this is what has been happening in Gaza for years now.
For the Palestinians, the obvious gain here is that their military decisions are becoming increasingly independent from any third party. They have achieved much of this despite Israel’s depleting occupation and siege, in the case of Gaza.
When the first known home-made Palestinian rocket, Al-Qassam 1, was launched for the first time in 2001, it had a range of less than 5 km. In 22 years, in an extremely difficult environment, today the average range is ten times more. It has been a painful, long and tedious process for the Palestinians to reach this far, but they had no other choice. Resisting occupation in all its forms is their right under all laws and norms particularly when their enemy, Israel, is heavily bankrolled by the United States.
The political lesson for Israel is the more extreme its occupation becomes and apartheid-like treatment of Palestinians anywhere, the more stiff resistance it faces. This means the idea of an iron fist and ever expanding occupation adopted by the current fascist Israeli government is a complete failure.
I can see the moment coming when Palestinian innovation will produce armed drones, which will completely change the military balance. No peace for Israel, unless the Palestinians enjoy their freedom first.
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