It seems that Israel, by increasingly threatening to launch a massive military strike against the Palestinians is trying to cover up for the ongoing attacks against the Palestinian people, Authority, opposition, civilians, children, houses and trees. It is easy to see that with the increase in the tone and frequency of the talk about this possible strike, Israel is raising the actual level of daily attacks against Palestinians.
Assassinations, which once targeted individual Palestinians are now aimed at groups- each of the last two assassinations killed three Palestinians and wounded others. There is also an increase in the operations of Israeli undercover units, which have been responsible for the systematic killing of Palestinians. In addition, over the past few weeks and months, there has been a rise in house demolitions and the uprooting and/or burning of trees.
According to published statistics from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Israel has killed 535 Palestinians in the last 10 months. Of those, 134 were 17 years old and under. Add to this, 14,405 Palestinians injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers, most of whom are young civilians.
While Israel continues threatening towards a massive attack, and while much of the world has expressed admiration for the Israeli self-restraint policy, Israel has demolished, according to statistics provided by LAW, 249 houses since September 2000 and uprooted or burned a total of 12,370 trees.
It seems that this brutal Israeli policy of “self-restraint” has three major objectives. The first is that Israel is softening the negative impact of its continuous attacks against Palestinians on the international community and consequently minimizing the negative reaction to them as a result of not conducting this “massive” strike. Hence, the attention towards avoiding a major strike is covering up for the daily strikes.
The second objective would be a gradual move from a low-intensity conflict to major attacks and operations since avoiding an abrupt and dramatic change and rather moving towards it gradually would also reduce any potential objections to it.
Finally, it seems everyone is growing accustomed to the current level of killings and other brutal Israeli policies to the point that it has become the norm and which will “hopefully” not be changed by dramatic developments.
Parallel to these objectives, Israel has also been blackmailing the Palestinian Authority and extracting concessions from it through the Authority’s attempts to try and avoid the “strike.” In this regard, Israel managed to escape from its obligations to the Mitchell report by enforcing the Tenet points on the Palestinian side, which was only possible in the course of these attempts to tactically avoid a major aggression.
The gravest danger from this Israeli approach is its negative effect on Palestinian national unity, whereby the Authority’s attempts to show flexibility in order to avoid the strike is not at all in harmony with the voice of the Intifada, which is trying to challenge Israel by linking the continuity of the Intifada to the continuity of the Israeli occupation.
Mr. Ghassan Khatib is the publisher of the Palestine Report.