BOOK REVIEW: ‘Gaza’ by Norman G Finklestein By Frank Lee

31 March 2019 — Off Guardian

Prof. Norman Finkelstein being interviewd on Democracy Now (left), Gaza book cover (right)

So, the ultimate question is, do Palestinians have the right to symbolically resist slow death punctuated by periodic massacres, or is it incumbent on them to lie down and die?[1]

Part 1 Background

Post WW1 the Sykes-Picot Anglo-French agreement carved out spheres of influence from what remained of the Turkish Ottoman empire. To the victors went the spoils: Lebanon and Syria to France and Jordan and Palestine to Britain. British interests, particularly those in Palestine were, given the close proximity of the Suez Canal, strategic rather than economic. These interests coincided with those of the Zionists in this area.

Moreover, if the British were to become sponsors of Zionist settlement, this would block any French claims to this pivotal region. As in Ireland, a catholic country which underwent Scottish protestant settlement, these settlers became loyal to the British crown, a situation which in Ulster endures to the present day. And no doubt the British hoped that similar Zionist settlement in an Arab Muslim country would engender a comparable loyalty to British suzerainty, thus creating a sort of loyalist Jewish Ulster in Palestine. Such was the British plan; the Zionist leadership had a different and longer-term agenda of their own, however.

The international Zionist movement under the political leadership of David Ben Gurion, and the ideological tutelage of Theodore Herzl were at the time looking for sponsors for their long-term goals. This not only involved the development of relationships with rival European imperialist states, but also, and perhaps astonishingly, with openly anti-Semitic governments and politicians. Herzl in fact regarded the anti-Semites as his most dependable friends and allies. Rather than attack and denounce anti-Semitism, Herzl declared that “the anti-Semites will be our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”[2]

The Zionists argued, in parallel fashion with the anti-Semites, that there was no place for Jews in the established nations of Europe and North America. At the time there was a suggestion mooted by the British that the East African colony of Uganda might provide a Jewish homeland, but this came to nothing.

But It was Arthur Balfour’s (1848-1930) letter to Lord Rothschild in 1917 which was to become known as the ‘Balfour Declaration’ which settled the matter of Jewish settlement in Palestine. The letter was handed to Rothschild to be passed on to the Zionist Federation. The key passage ran as follows.

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use all their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this objective, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and/or political status enjoyed by Jews in any other any other country.[3]

The indigenous inhabitants of Palestine comprising of Arabs, Christians, and Muslims being the vast majority of the inhabitants – 90% plus – were now relegated to the status of being other ‘non-Jewish existing communities’ as their country was given away over their heads by external actors – namely the British imperialists and the Zionist Federation.

Britain was to be awarded control over Palestine by the League of Nations in 1922 with the original stipulations contained in the Balfour declaration being incorporated into the text. During this period the British authorities were openly supportive of the Zionist settlement project. The definition of state power lies in its monopoly of the means of violence. But from outset the Zionists were allowed to establish their own militia, the Haganah, with the British authorities also deferring to the Jewish Agency as if it were the sole quasi-state organization in waiting and altogether outside of the British purview. As for the indigenous population, well they didn’t count in terms of decision making and political participation. This was bound to lead to trouble, and it did.

All the elements for an Arab backlash were in place. And so, it came to pass at the beginning of 1921, communal conflict, violence and deaths became an almost daily occurrence. In time this was to escalate into an open war between the Arabs and the British authorities – 1936-39. For their part the Zionists leadership was only too keen to lend a hand – the British ranks were augmented by thousands of Jewish volunteers enlisting in the police force through the Haganah.[4]

As part of this counter-insurgency campaign the British authorities organized Special Night Squads under the authority of Orde Wingate – who later served in Burma against the Japanese during WW2 as an early version of Special Ops – “The Special Night Squads were Jewish volunteers under British Officers which today would be called ‘death squads’ torturing and summarily executing Palestinians thought to be involved in the ongoing conflict.”[5]

It was also around this time that the Irgun Zvei Leumi led by Menachem Begin, came into existence as an underground militia targeting Palestinian targets throughout the country in Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa. (see below).

The insurrection was effectively crushed by 1939/40. Now the British found themselves at war with Nazi Germany and the old Palestinian Regiment was upgraded to a regular military formation and integrated into the British Army – the Jewish Brigade, as it was called, served with some distinction in Italy. It was also here that many of the Zionist political leadership got their military training.

A new phase in the Zionist struggle began in 1946 with the bombing by the Irgun of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem where British Intelligence had the use of one floor. All told some 90 people were killed including 17 Jewish employees and guests. This was followed by the infamous Deir Yassin Massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 terrorists from the Zionist paramilitary groups, Irgun and Lehi (Lohamei Herut Israel – also known as the Stern Gang under the name of their late leader Abraham Stern) attacked the Palestinian village of roughly 600 people near Jerusalem. Of course, the Zionists and their media arm has done everything to deny that such and occurrence ever took place; it is the same tactic which is used today, and doubtless any mention of this barbarism will be categorized as ‘hate crime’. Unfortunately for the Zionists history doesn’t lie.

“In the ensuing confusion and anger over the killings in Deir Yassin, both sides released an inflated Palestinian death toll for very different reasons: the Palestinians wanted to bolster resistance and attract the attention of the Arab nations they hoped would help them; the Jews wanted to scare the Palestinians into flight.

After the dust had settled, Mr Zidain and the other survivors counted the missing among them, and concluded that 105 Palestinians had died in Deir Yassin, not the 250 often reported. Four Jews were killed. But the damage was already done. The reports from Deir Yassin led to a total collapse of morale, and many historians regard the incident as the single biggest catalyst for the Palestinians’ flight. By UN estimates, 750,000 Palestinians had fled their homes by the end of the 1948 War of Independence, roughly 60 per cent of Palestine’s pre-war Arab population.

Mention Deir Yassin these days to most young Israelis and it will fail to register. Not far from the Kfar Shaul hospital, two teenage boys shake their heads at a question on Deir Yassin. Never heard of it, they say. “Most Israelis treat the subject with total silence,” says Professor McGowan. “They no longer deny it, they just don’t talk about it.”[6]

All of which reminds me of the old Czech joke which was doing the rounds during the Soviet occupation.

Question: ‘What is an historian?’

Answer: ‘Someone who predicts history.’

It could be argued that Zionist denial is akin to Holocaust denial since both are fatuous and totally unbelievable.

Part 2 The Present

So much for history and the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973. These wars were conflicts between rival armies in which Israel had prevailed. However future engagements involving the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) were directed almost exclusively against Palestinian civilians and small underground opposition groups such as Hamas which had only minimal military capability and crude improvised weapons – weapons such as home-made rockets which were little more than enhanced fireworks. It is worth mentioning in this connexion that the IDF which carried out such attack had learned the counter-insurgency lessons very well from their British mentors during the Palestinian uprising 1936-1939.

It is also to be noted that like all wars conducted by the imperial powers against occupied powers were inherently racist. A derogatory language was used to dehumanise any brown-skinned people – in this instance the Palestinians – who were attempting to assert their rights of sovereignty and nationhood. Other such third world Untermensch were generally referred to by charming little epithets such as ‘Niggers’ ‘Wogs’ ‘Coons’ and ‘Gooks’. Such is the language of empire.

Norman Finklestein’s magnum opus begins with ‘Operation Cast Lead’ which lasted from 27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009. Israel had been illegally occupying Gaza since the 1967 war and there had already been a number of incursions and conflicts. These were accompanied by the usual spectacle of UN Resolutions, media reports what various politicians and statesmen said and didn’t say, human rights organizations and the UN, all which had minimal or no effect on Israeli policy.

And this policy has been perfectly consistent since the end of the British Mandate, if not before. Namely, the construction of a greater Israel which would be an apartheid Jewish state with Jewish citizens, perhaps with some Palestinian menials and minions without any rights, to clean the houses and toilets of their masters. The rest is PR bunk. First off, the mass of the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank must be cleared out, by fair means or foul, in order to provide lebensraum for the invading Jewish settler force.

The IDF operation was carried out in a coastal sliver of land 5 miles wide and 25 miles long, whose population numbered some 1.8 million Palestinians. These people had sought safety in Gaza when they were expelled (‘transferred’ being the preferred Zionist term) in the 1948 war from their original lands and squeezed into Gaza. At the present time more than 70% of Gaza’s inhabitants consist of refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants, and more than half of Gaza’s population are under the age of 18. Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world.

During the course of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank but later pulled out. This did not stop a non-stop series of raids and provocations between Israel and the Palestinians. There was one particular Israeli cross-border attack … which was intended to provoke retaliation from Hamas and thus provide the pretext for a massive Israeli assault.

Operation Cast Lead launched on 27 December 2008 began with an aerial blitz followed by an aerial and ground assault. Piloting the most advanced combat aircraft in the world the Israeli Air Force flew nearly 300 sorties over Gaza and dropped one thousand tons of explosives, whilst the Israeli army deployed sophisticated intelligence gathering systems such as robotic and TV-aided remote-controlled guns. Of course, the US Congress lent Israel full support and blamed Hamas for all the carnage and destruction. A resolution passed by the Senate to this effect was endorsed by a majority of 390 to 5 in the House of Representatives.

Israel’s claims – claims of restraint and legality – were to become increasingly bizarre and unbelievable – and were beginning to be doubted by more objective observers. The facts were as follows.

“Between 1 January and 26 December 2008, Israeli forces killed 455 Palestinians, of whom were 175 were civilians, whilst the Palestinians killed 31 Israelis of whom 17 were civilians a ratio of 15-1. The world was of course shocked, but then par for the course nothing significant happened. Even this was prior to the Cast Lead operation which lasted from 27 December 2008 until 18 January 2009 (see below).

Then out of the woodwork came the usual apologists for mass murder such as Thomas Freidman of the New York Times.

The rationale for Cast Lead offered by Thomas Freidman in the pages of the NYT amounted to an apologia for state terrorism. Indeed, Israel’s evolving modus operandi for restoring its deterrence capacity described a curve steadily regressing into barbarism. Israel won its victory in 1967 primarily on the battlefield – albeit in a ‘turkey shoot’ – while in subsequent armed hostilities it endeavoured both to achieve battlefield victories and to bombard the civilian population into abjection. But Israel targeted Gaza to restore its deterrence capacity because it eschewed any of the risks of a conventional war. It targeted Gaza because it was largely defenceless.

Its resort to unalloyed terror in turn revealed the IDF’s decline as a fighting force, whilst the celebration of Israel’s military prowess during and after Cast Lead by the likes of Benny Morris registered the growing detachment of Israeli intellectuals and a good share of the public as well from reality. A supplementary benefit of the High-Tec, cost-free deterrence strategy targeting civilians was that it restored Israel’s domestic morale. A 2009 internal UN document found that ‘’One significant achievement’’ of Cast Lead was that it dispelled doubts among Israelis about “the ability of the IDF to issue a blow to its enemies … The use of excessive force … proves that Israel is the landlord … The pictures of destruction were intended more for Israeli eyes than those of Israel’s enemies, eyes starved of revenge and national pride.[7]

What Menachem Begin and his Zionist confreres once said, pretty well sums up the Zionist view of their Palestinian neighbours: Writing in The Israel Lobby – John J Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt noted such views among Israelis were made quite openly, e.g.: ‘Palestinians are beasts walking on two legs’, Menachem Begin, while former IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan referred to them as ‘drugged roaches in a bottle’ and also that ‘a good Arab is a dead Arab’ And another former Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, referred to the Palestinian ‘’threat’’ as like a cancer on which he was performing chemotherapy.’[8]

Sifting through the hasbara and counter-claims the figures pretty much tell the whole story: Some 1400 Palestinians almost entirely civilian died in Operation Cast Lead, including 350 children. On the other side, total Israeli casualties amounted to 10 combatants (four killed by friendly fire) and three civilians. The total ratio of Palestinians killed to Israelis was 100-1, and of Palestinians to Israeli civilians killed as high as 400-1. This was an attack by an army equipped with the latest modern weaponry waged by an air-force, heavy artillery, tanks heavily armed infantry against a defenceless civilian population. It could be argued that this was not war, it was murder.

Post-invasion testimonies by IDF soldiers corroborated the wanton killing of Palestinian civilians:

You see people more or less running their life routine, taking a walk, stuff like that. Definitely not terrorists. I heard from other crews that they fired at people there. Tried to kill them; “People didn’t seem to be too upset about taking human lives;” “Everyone there is considered a terrorist”. “We were allowed to do anything we wanted. Who’s to tell us not to?”; I understood that combat had been somewhat savage. “If you see it shoot”; You are allowed to do anything you want … for no other reason that its cool, even firing white Phosphorous “because its fun. Cool.“

Firing white phosphorous, because it’s fun. Cool? Yes, of course, cool. I expect it was all like a video game or a Rambo film.
Finklestein goes on:

No doubt some, IDF soldiers exploited the occasion of the unfolding massacre to sate their sadistic impulses while others were brutalized by the mayhem unleashed. Further IDF testimonies recalled the ‘hatred and the joy’ and ‘fun’ and ‘delight’ of killing Gazans, the wreaking of destruction ‘for kicks’ and, ‘to make oneself happy’. Other testimonies captured degenerate soldier banter, solider banter such as ‘I killed a terrorist, whoa … We blew his head off.’ ‘Fortunately, the hospitals are full to capacity already so people (i.e., Palestinians Civilians) are dying more quickly.’ ‘He just couldn’t finish this operation without killing someone.’ Still it was the barbaric essence of Cast Lead that enabled these excesses.”[9]

All of which caused an outcry among the civilized world. This was given voice by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In April 2009 the President of the Human Rights Council appointed a ‘Fact Finding Mission’ to ’Investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law’ during Open Cast Lead. Richard Goldstone, ex-judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa and ex-prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda was named head of the Mission.

In short: “The Report found that much of the devastation that Israel inflicted during Cast Lead was premeditated. It also found that the operation was anchored in a military doctrine that ‘views disproportionate destruction and creating maximum destruction in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve military and political goals, and that it was designed to have inevitably dire consequences for the non-combatants. The disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians’ spring from a ‘deliberate policy’ as did the ‘humiliation and dehumanisation’ of the Palestine population”[10]

Moreover: although Israel justified the attack on the grounds of self-defence against Hamas rocket attacks, the Report pointed to a different motive. The ‘primary purpose’ of the blockade was to “bring about a situation in which the Palestinian people would find life so intolerable that they would leave (if that were possible) or turn Hamas out of office , as well as to collectively punish the civilian population, whilst Cast Lead itself was aimed at punishing Gaza’s population for its resilience and for its apparent support for Hamas, and possibly forcing a change in such support.”

Finklestein further notes that, The Report concluded that the Israeli assault constituted “a deliberately disproportionate designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” Tribute was also paid to “the resilience and dignity of the Palestinian people,” in the face of their dire circumstances.’[11]

All of which seemed like a damming and definitive case against Israel. But no. Goldstone had sinned against the holy grail. The Zionist propaganda machine – the hasbara – went into overdrive with the Anglo-Zionist media berserkers targeting Goldstone for ideological, personal and career demolition. He will be (and was) made to atone and prostrate himself before his accusers. And so, it turned out. Goldstone, in football parlance, ‘bottled it’.[12]

Thus “On 1 April (all fools day) 2011 in the op-ed page of the Washington Post (where else) Goldstone effectively disowned the devastating UN Report of Israeli crimes carrying his name … ‘Everything that we said proved to be true’ gloated Netanyahu … We always said that the IDF is a moral army that acted according to international law’ Defence Minister Ehud Barak declared.”[13]

Of course, it came as no surprise that the US also threw its weight behind Goldstone’s sell out. The United States administration made hay of the occasion asserting that Israel had not ‘engaged in any war crimes’ during operation Cast Lead. Not to be left out of the party the Senate unanimously called on the UN to ‘rescind’ the Goldstone Report.

In Finklestein’s words “Goldstone’s recantation was a black day for human rights and a red-letter day for their transgressors … In one fell swoop Goldstone inflicted irreparable damage on the course of justice and the rule of law … He poisoned Jewish-Palestinian relations, undermined the courageous work of Israeli dissenters, and – most unforgivably – increased the risk of another merciless IDF assault.” (a conjecture which came to pass with Operation Protective Edge – see below)

Additionally, what made this disgusting mea culpa even worse was the fact that even as Goldstone and the liberal Anglo-Zionist media were eerily silent on the outrages committed in Operation Cast Lead, Senior Israeli officials, informed analysts, and IDF combatants did not shy away from actually acknowledging and “more often than not they actually bragged” that the IDF unleashed ‘insane’ amounts of fire power went ‘wild’ demonstrated real ‘hooliganism’, carried on like a ‘mad dog’, acted ‘lunatic’, and ‘crazy’, and ‘destroyed everything in its way’ during Cast Lead.

In summation Operation Cast Lead resulted in:

“…damaged or destroyed ‘everything in its way’ including 58,000 homes, 1500 factories and workshops, 280 schools and kindergartens, electrical water and sewage installations” (never rebuilt) “190 Greenhouse complexes, 80% of agricultural crops, and nearly one-fifth of cultivated land. Whole neighbourhoods were laid waste. 29 ambulances, 15 hospitals, and 45 mosques were destroyed. By the time they withdrew the IDF had left behind fully 600,000 tons of rubble and 1400 corpses including 350 children … But the only penalty Israel imposed for unlawful during Cast Lead was a disciplinary measure punishing one IDF soldier.”[14]

During the whole episode the grotesque asymmetry extant between the military capability of Hamas and the IDF is captured in the report which cites that only a single Israeli home was partially damaged by one of Hamas’s enhanced fireworks. It is really hard to imagine how this ‘immense barrage of Hamas rockets’ could only manage to damage one Israeli home. This narrative is a construction of the Israeli media and was apparent in the more recent events in 2018. Massacres are reported as ‘clashes’ with unarmed civilians and para-medics being mown down by IDF snipers, in Israeli terms ‘mowing the grass’.

Hmmm, “mowing the grass” seems to be a favourite sport of the Zionist state. The claim of Israeli self-defence is utterly spurious since it was the IDF which was invading the Palestinian homeland of Gaza and the Palestinians had every right to fight the Israeli occupation/invasion.

Part 3 The Interlude 2009-2014

Operation Cast Lead (OCL) ended in January 2009. This was a period of short respite (by middle eastern standards at least) from the earlier carnage. This is not to say that no further smaller incidents occurred. These incidents were generally arbitrary, and illegal being against international law. One such was the Mavi Marmara episode.

The devastation inflicted on Gaza during OCL was intended to intensify and complement the policy of blockade being imposed upon the people of Gaza. Since access to Gaza by land was difficult perhaps a sea route might be required to run the blockade imposed by the IDF. Of course, such a policy was a flagrant violation of International Law, but the Zionist state backed by its American patron had little regard for such legal niceties.

This being the case that on 11 May 2010 a humanitarian flotilla consisting of 6 vessels including the lead vessel – the Mavi Marmara – was organized to carry food and medicines to the besieged population of Gaza. The flotilla had a complement of 700 passengers (aid workers) and crew and were to deliver 10,000 tons of badly needed supplies to Gaza. The Israeli authorities declared that the flotilla was carrying arms and terrorists to fight the IDF. It would have been easy to check this out by the Israeli Coast Guard when the flotilla entered Israeli waters. But no. Israel sent its heavily armed navy marines to intercept the ships in international waters, in the middle of the night with heavily armed men sliding down on ropes from helicopters.

This unsurprisingly led to pandemonium on the decks and for good measure the Israeli marines shot and killed 9 members of the crew and/or passengers on the lead ship. By any legal criterion this was of course international piracy, a murderous act committed on the high seas. No arms were of course found, but what was found which kitchen knives, which strangely enough were found in the ships’ galleys. As ever the hasbara machine managed to spin the commandos as the victims of the attack. For the Israeli liberal press publication, Haaretz, this was just one atrocity too far.

If OCL was a turning point in the attitude of the world toward us, this operation is the second horror film of the apparently ongoing series.”[15]

In this toxic political and ideological environment both the Israeli authorities and Israeli general public began to enter a mode of utter and surreal denial, not too far removed from clinical schizophrenia:

Some 90% of Israeli Jews supported the decision to stop the flotilla and believed that Israel used the right amount of or NOT ENOUGH force, whilst only 16% supported lifting the siege of Gaza. One of the commandos responsible for killing multiple passengers was reportedly in line for a medal of valour, whilst Deputy Prime Minister, Eli Yishai exhorted Defence Minister, Ehud Barak to award medals to all the commandos stating: ‘The warriors’ courage is exemplary, and they deserve a citation.’[16]

Yep, it takes real guts to shoot someone with an assault rifle when the assailant is coming at you with a kitchen fork.

Of course, the assorted marionettes in the US Congress with puppet-masters Soros and Adelson doubtless pulling the strings lent blind support to Israel throughout this latest diplomatic brouhaha. Typical of this latest outrage, Chuck Schumer, member of the Democratic Party and has also been the Senate Minority Leader since 2017, addressed a meeting of Orthodox Jews after the attack arguing that ‘since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas it made sense to strangle them economically until the see that’s not the way to go.’[17]

As a passing remark it is difficult to be sure of who is whose client state in the present special – very special – relationship between the United States and Israel. As famous and well-respected middle-east journalist, Robert Fisk, wrote today (27/03/19):

By recognising Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, Trump merely recognised that Israel has annexed America.”[18]

You see, those wilful and misguided Palestinians don’t seem to understand that they should vote the way that we instruct them to. After all they have a choice: vote for our candidate or get bombed.

There then of course followed the usual whitewashing exercises carried out in Israel by an ‘independent public commission’ to investigate the ‘maritime incident of 31 May 2010.’ This was to take place under the auspices of Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel. Since the outcome had already been decided it seems pointless in limited space to give it any coverage. We’ll just call it “Whitewash 1”. A second Report carried out by a Panel of Enquiry (UN Panel) = “Whitewash 2”. No point going into details since again the outcome was always predetermined.

At this point the general orientation of the UN and NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) began to shift its previous position in support of Palestinian rights and become more sympathetic to the Israelis. (see below).


In terms of realpolitik it was generally understood that the Zionist grand strategy involved both the capture and settlement of Palestinian lands and property on an ongoing and expansionist basis. The Zionist long-term objective of a Greater Israel has never been a secret. According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” According to Rabbi Fischmann, “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon”. The means by this objective was to be achieved was by a) military conquest, and b) colonialist settlement. This project was fully backed by the US from the outset, with diplomatic, military, and financial support. Such was the goal.

The realization of this goal was predicated on a set of policies (see above) already tried and tested. Since the memories of Cast Lead had begun to fade, IDF trigger fingers began to get itchy: it would be a favourable time for another massacre (or two).

On 14 November 2012 Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence, which by IDF standards was a pretty low-key affair. However, this was followed by Operation Protective Edge (PE) (08.July.2014)

“It marked the longest and most destructive of Israel’s attacks on Gaza; indeed, it was the ‘most devastating round of hostilities in Gaza since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967.’ OCL (2008-09) lasted 22 days whereas PE lasted fully 51 days. The 350 Palestinian children killed by the IDF in OCL was surpassed by PE who killed 550 children and destroyed 18000 homes … OCL left behind 600,000 tons of rubble whereas PE left behind 2.5 million tons. A feeble and adventurist defence was offered by Hamas who were of course totally outgunned and outnumbered with generally substandard and ineffective weapons. PE was not planned but brought about by the abduction of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

(That seemed hardly surprising albeit was a war crime. It tends to be the norm in colonial wars of this sort that the colonised will tend to fight back – possibly cack-handed and inappropriately – and this was certainly the case during the British mandate where Irgun and Lehi terrorists were hanged by the British authorities. The Irgun took its revenge by kidnapping to British Army NCOs who were hanged in an olive grove, this in addition to having their bodies booby-trapped, a typical Irgun touch that. This in fact occasioned anti-Semitic riots in the British cities of Manchester and Liverpool.)

As the IDF crossed into the strip as an invading force it was difficult to make out who were defending themselves against whom. Gaza was already occupied; it was the Palestinian home who in UN law had every right to defend themselves and their homes, but somehow the IDF became the victims – merely, defending themselves and Israel – thus it was invading Zionist armies who were somehow the victims when in fact they were the aggressors. So, if a thief broke into my house and killed me, he was just ‘defending himself’.

As usual once inside Gaza the IDF let loose with abandon. Gaza’s civilian population and infrastructure – homes, businesses, schools, mosques, hospitals and ambulances, power stations and sewage plants, civilian shelters and civilians in panic flight, came under relentless, indiscriminate, disproportionate and deliberate attack. Israel reportedly fired 20,000 high explosive artillery shells, 14500 tank shells 6,000 missiles and 3500 naval shells into this ghetto. More than 1500 Gazans were killed during the siege to six Israel civilians.

And the west? Those noble states and institutions whose, values, are reputedly elevated and unimpeachable, together with the now chastened NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) who effectively effect changed sides, were infiltrated or both – simply looked the other way.

“The destruction of the sewage works in Gaza was not repaired by the occupation forces,” and “innocent human beings most of them young are slowing being poisoned by the water they drink. They were not only consigned but literally consigned to a slow death. When a place becomes unliveable people move … This is the case of droughts natural disaster or military conflicts as in Syria.”[19]

Yet this last resort is denied to the people of Gaza. They cannot move beyond their 365 square kilometres territory. They cannot escape, neither the devastating poverty nor the fear of another conflict.[20]

Read and weep!


  • [1]Norman Finklestein Gaza p.237
  • [2]Non-Jewish Zionism: Its Roots in Western History – R.Sharif. (quoted in The Blood Never Dried – John Newsinger – p.131)
  • [3]Newsinger Ibid. p.133
  • [4]Newsinger Ibid. p.147
  • [5]The Independent newspaper 10 May 2010
  • [6] International Crisis Group – Gaza’s Unfinished Business p.19
  • [7] Amos Hare ‘Shooting and Crying.’’ Haaretz. Testimonies of IDF misconduct in Gaza Keep Rolling In. Haaretz 22/03/2009. Breaking the Silence – Soldiers Testimonies pp.21/23 (Testimony 8), 75 (Testimony 32) 88 (Testimony 39) 89, (Testimony 40).
  • [8] The Israel Lobby – p.89. John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt. These statements were not isolated examples. In early 2004 for example Deputy Defence Minister suggested that Palestinian terrorism is due to a ‘genetic blemish’. His views were supported by another member of the Knesset who said that terrorism ‘was in their blood’ and ‘an Arab ‘will stab you in the back’ if you ‘turn your back’ on him. Even the more liberal historian Benny Morris joined in the name calling Palestinians ‘barbarians’ who should be treated like ‘serial killers. These views were pretty mainstream throughout Israel society.
  • [9] Breaking the Silence, Soldiers Testimonies. Ibid
  • [10] Goldstone Report paragraphs 1215, 1892
  • [11] Ibid, para 1898
  • [12] Finklestein, ibid p.117-18, Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone Renews Israel’s Licence to Kill – 2011 p.8
  • [13] Finklestein op.cit p.119
  • [14] Finklestein Ibid p.127
  • [15] Gideon Levy – ‘Operation Mini Cast Lead’ – Haaretz – 01 June 2010
  • [16] Finklestein, ibid, p.141
  • [17] Schumer, Huffington Post 10 June 2010
  • [18] Robert Fisk – The Independent – 27 March 2019
  • [19] Sara M. Roy is an American political economist and scholar p.236
  • [20] B’Tselem (Israel Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) – 11 October 2016

Frank Lee
Frank Lee left school at age 15 without any qualifications, but gained degrees from both New College Oxford and the London School of Economics (it’s a long story). He spent many years as a lecturer in politics and economics, and in the Civil Service, before retirement. He lives in Sutton with his wife and little dog.

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