Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mouin Rabbani  in the LRB.  He doesn't include a link to the quoted passage, but I've repeated it enough. I added it here.

Israel Mows the Lawn
In 2004, a year before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Dov Weissglass, éminence grise to Ariel Sharon, explained the initiative’s purpose to an interviewer from Haaretz:
The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process … And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with … a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress … The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.
In 2006 Weissglass was just as frank about Israel’s policy towards Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants: ‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.’ He was not speaking metaphorically: it later emerged that the Israeli defence ministry had conducted detailed research on how to translate his vision into reality, and arrived at a figure of 2279 calories per person per day – some 8 per cent less than a previous calculation because the research team had originally neglected to account for ‘culture and experience’ in determining nutritional ‘red lines’.

...The screws were turned tighter during the 2000-5 uprising, and in 2007 the Gaza Strip was effectively sealed shut. All exports were banned, and just 131 truckloads of foodstuffs and other essential products were permitted entry per day. Israel also strictly controlled which products could and could not be imported. Prohibited items have included A4 paper, chocolate, coriander, crayons, jam, pasta, shampoo, shoes and wheelchairs.

In 2010, commenting on this premeditated and systematic degradation of the humanity of an entire population, David Cameron characterised the Gaza Strip as a ‘prison camp’ and – for once – did not neuter this assessment by subordinating his criticism to proclamations about the jailers’ right of self-defence against their inmates.

Israel’s agenda has been different. Had it been determined to end Hamas rule it could easily have done so, particularly while Hamas was still consolidating its control over Gaza in 2007, and without necessarily reversing the 2005 disengagement. Instead, it saw the schism between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority as an opportunity to further its policies of separation and fragmentation, and to deflect growing international pressure for an end to an occupation that has lasted nearly half a century. Its massive assaults on the Gaza Strip in 2008-9 (Operation Cast Lead) and 2012 (Operation Pillar of Defence), as well as countless individual attacks between and since, were in this context exercises in what the Israeli military called ‘mowing the lawn’: weakening Hamas and enhancing Israel’s powers of deterrence. As the 2009 Goldstone Report and other investigations have demonstrated, often in excruciating detail, the grass consists overwhelmingly of non-combatant Palestinian civilians, indiscriminately targeted by Israel’s precision weaponry.

Israel’s current assault on the Gaza Strip, which began on 6 July with ground forces moving in some ten days later, is intended to serve the same agenda. The conditions for it were set in late April. ...
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