November 28, 2012

Harry on Harry's Place

Harry's Place is down at the moment.  It could be one of those DDOS thingies or it could just be a technical glitch, I'm not sure.  Just before they were zapped they came up with a post that would have many decent folk reaching for the DDOS file but since I don't approve of that kind of thing - as a rule - I'm linking to the cache of a post where they claim that the killing of the eleven month old baby of a BBC cameraman was more likely by Hamas than by Israel.  The post is titled Who Killed Jihad Masharawi’s Son, Omar? and draws heavily on a highly speculative piece on the tastefully named Elder of Ziyon blog - but don't use antisemitic tropes anybody.

Here are two responses that I thought ought to be preserved after the HP sell by date:

  25 November 2012, 7:57 pm
I wonder if you’d write a cheap little essay, full of rampant speculation, if your son had just been blown to bits.
Nah. I doubt it.
  26 November 2012, 2:35 am
[I am trying to post anonymously here because I don't have any email addresses which do not contain my full name (because I have no reason to need them), but I do not wish to encourage those who view cyberstalking of someone with a potentially opposing view as reasonable behaviour.]
I stumbled across this website because of the comments made by the bbc correspondent about bloggers challenging his account of the ‘likely’ cause of the childs death. I was curious to find out if there were conflicting accounts elsewhere.
Having read what was here – I wished (if you don’t mind too much) too make a comment or two before I gradually retreat. I am not here because I have any particular axe to grind with anybody- and I am making no presumption about this site or those who comment here regularly. (Particularly as I haven’t seen enough to do so).
On the BBC account -
[I have worked in the defence industry and munitions in particular for a long time so I have some familiarity with at least part of the multitude of such objects (or varying reliability of performance) we have devised as a species which could cause such an event.]
If you really think that a BBC radio 4 ‘from our own correspondent’ programme journalist would invent a dead baby belonging to a colleague you are living on another planet and unable to be reached with merely human technology such as the internet. (The diversity and quality of this programme is remarkable- check it out!).
Whilst there are many possibilities as to how an apartment could be penetrated by an object and then burn ferociously in a warzone- the fact that it was not flattened is irrelevant as to determining whether this was an IDF strike. Missiles come in all sizes and purposes- as do other types of munitions. The IDF has more experience than most of having to carry out targeted strikes in urban areas where it may wish to have a smaller guided payload weapons to limit collateral damage- such as the those carried on a drone. Likewise a shell -(which does not contain high explosive such as a smoke round) could arrive unguided to the wrong location, penetrate a weak structure then burn with considerable ferocity without being described as an actual incendiary device. (I haven’t seen comment on the use of actual incendiary weapons this time however during cast lead WP shells were used to achieve a similar affect on the UN warehouse in Gaza at least- hence it featuring heavily in their report on that conflict.)
On the recent situation in Gaza -
Is it callously irresponsible that Hamas operates rockets or missiles sites close to civilians thereby attracting israeli fire onto those civilians? – certainly.
However – the gaza strip is a very small area under very close surveillance. Hamas intends to make its weapons – and (at least some of) its fighters difficult to track and spot in peacetime and in war- and wishes to enable such operations to be carried out quickly and with as little opportunity to prevent or observe them being carried out. As a result it is inevitable that this will mean that the weapons move closer to the urban areas where suspicious activity would be harder to detect.
Furthermore Hamas’s command and control probably becomes very rudimentary very quickly in wartime and is intended not to be reliant on any technology which can be jammed, overheard, de-crypted or fail due to long term power blackouts. This may end up degrading to the level of neighbourhood runners.
The effectiveness of the israeli blockade on even simple materials such as concrete and metal would make preparation of the sort of sophistocated tunnel complexes used by hezbollah to hide and move weapons and fighters in south lebanon impossible. (and given the level of surveillance probably impossible to conceal – and therefore pointless unless incredibly strongly constructed….as the israeli firepower is vast and gaza relatively tiny in area).
The more rural areas are presumed by both sides to be a completely free fire zone. With so little cover which will not be levelled if deemed to be even slightly relevant by the IDF – the desire to remain in the fight makes it again inevitable that Hamas will move into the built up area for pragmatic reasons again. (There is very little point in calling this cowardice. Hamas regards itself as the ’state’ in gaza and as such has a responsibility to preserve its ability to function as a military force in the event that a ground invasion occurs- where it would be far more likely to be able to exact casualties on the IDF.)
Incidently such a blockade also makes the construction of shelters for the civilian populace a complete pipe dream.
Whether you despise Hamas’s ideology or not – they are the de-facto government of gaza and have been democratically elected in the past.
It is utterly illogical to pretend this is not a war between states (in hte eyes of the combatants at least) whether the military imbalance makes the nature of the conflict into a bizarre alternate model. ie where being completely slaughtered (along with those you are supposed to have protected) becomes a ‘victory’ simply through your organisation continuing to exist in any form.
Also given the ongoing economic crisis in gaza during the blockade there are unfortunately hundreds of priorities which could come before shelters.
On the conflict in general-
I have lived long enough to have seen israel spurn enormous quantities of admiration, respect and goodwill across the world. I grew up in a world amazed by the bravery and the skill of the IDF.
This change in attitude is not due to infantile siding with the underdog. It is not due to anyone forgetting the lesson of the holocaust. It is down to talking about peace whilst continuously building settlements outwith the 67 borders. It is also about exacting collective punishment on the palestinian population as a group for their refusal to meekly accept a ridiculously miserable life in a few fragments of the country which their predecessors lived in. (Sometimes within sight of their former homes and land within the renamed towns and cities of Israel. Their cultural memory of the country which existed in those places prior to Israel is just as inconvenient as they are.)
Those who are friends of israel should understand that whilst the continuation of low level conflict alongside settlement building in the West Bank may appear a successful model to the israeli state (as the facts on the ground -within their area of control- continue to move in their favour), this is merely making it impossible for them to have any eventual overture for peace be remotely credible.
If the Palestinian people chose extremists like Hamas -that reflects on the duplicitous way that moderate leaders have been co-opted and then made ridiculous by israeli violations of previous agreements.
If zionism places the rights of jews above non jews, and this is inherent in the nature of the legal framework of the current israeli state then what palestinian leader could agree a one or two state solution which guarantees all or part of the palestinian people being left as second class citizens in perpituity?
In the name of security laws discriminating citizens by race and religion which are incompatible with the view israel holds of its own place as an honourary ‘western’ democracy are in effect.
The changes demanded to make the israeli state not a ‘zionist’ state (and meet the criteria of co-existence with Hamas and other in a two or one state settlement) are merely a recalibration back to the basic level of equal rights that are a pre-requisite for the democratic state israel proclaims itself to be.
Any such nonsense of the palestinian’s being in the grip of a death cult and seeking leadership who will lead them through fire until israel in any form is wiped off the map is nothing but drivel.
Israel now posseses the power to make peace on incredibly favourable terms.
Surely this must be better than perpetual war?
Otherwise what is the endpoint-
War in the west until the last gazan has been driven to the slums of cairo – and hamas are still raiding and rocketing from the sinai whilst becoming egypt’s hezbollah?
Or squeezing the life out of the west bank until jordan (already majority palestinian demographically) is racked by civil war due to a further influx of palestinians and ceases being neutral to become a hostile palestinian majority governed neighbour?
Surely there must be a better future than a victory (at best) requiring longer and bigger fences and israeli’s still unable to travel in the entire middle east – and at worst further sporadic bouts of conflicts with a choice of hostile neighbours.
The unconditional financial assistance from the USA underpins the israel economy, its military prowess, its research and development – releases Israel’s own tax revenue from other purposes to fund settlement (including duplicating infrastructure and the security walls).
It also affords the sponsoring of new immigrants with little or no connections to Israel who are willing to serve as settler militia to protect their new and better life. This sort of shameless policy of expansion by any means via hired economic migrants makes a fool of any palestinian politician who even suggests Israel is still interested in peace.
If the continuation of such generous assistance by the US was made conditional on a genuine pursuit of peace – this conflict could end very quickly.
As the deal which could be made now is far in advance of that which previous generations of israeli’s could ever have dreamed of- it is not unreasonable for a friend of israel to intervene in such a way.
Especially in return for its unceasing genorosity and the considerable difficulty caused to a hundred other foreign policy concerns ham-strung as the price of unequivocal support of Israel.
The flipside to this is this eventually a politician in america may effectively galvanise the american taxpayer to the inconsistency of massive aid to Israel versus the industrial regeneration, public services, improved military equipment, infrastructure which they are being told is unaffordable.
The worst thing anyone supportive of israel could do is work on the assumption that a lasting and workable peace is irrelevant as the american financial aid will be affordable in perpetuity- thereby leaving the risk to israeli security that such support may be withdrawn without suitable adjustment at a time not of israel’s choosing.
Anyhoo…that’s my tuppence worth.
Best wishes for the future.
No name bloke.
Well done those blokes and many thanks to the comrade who wades through all the repugnant dross at HP so you and I don't have to.

UPDATE 26/3/2013:
Apparently the speculation on Harry's Place that a bomb which killed a Palestinian baby may have come from Hamas turned out to be correct.  The UN is now saying the child was probably killed by a Hamas device. Of course that wasn't the only point of the comment from "mynameisnotimportant".

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