International and Arab News
The Gaza War and Questions of Victory and Defeat!
The Gaza War and Questions of Victory and Defeat!
It seems a difficult time to write about the Gaza war, as the wounds have yet to heal, and spirited slogans celebrating what they consider a divine victory are brimming with accusations of treachery directed against whoever expresses a different opinion. However, several days into the cease-fire and with the cries of victory having receded relatively- perhaps out of embarrassment over the scale of the destruction and losses incurred by the Palestinians and the decisive role played by Arab and international forces to bring the war to an end- refraining from speaking the truth and explaining what happened become akin to betraying reason and peddling, whether with good or bad intentions, to the lies being propagated.
Without a doubt, given the significance of the Palestinian people’s steadfastness in the face of a relentless machine of death and destruction, and in the face of the scene of the Israeli chauvinism and rage wreaking havoc with their high-tech arsenal, it is difficult to call what happened in Gaza a defeat. However, it is difficult for one’s mind to see it as a victory. Claims to victory are senseless unless it is reduced to an overwhelming desire among the oppressed for revenge, harming the enemy, and inflicting some material damages and human losses on Israel by launching thousands of missiles. Adopting any other definition, one would be deceiving oneself, seeing the results imposed on the ground and considering them a victory.
It is true that Israel did not achieve its objective of destroying all the Palestinians’ rockets. But we should admit that it achieved enough to render the villages surrounding Gaza safer today than they had been before, after the cease-fire imposed an end to rockets being launched from Gaza and Israel killed some Hamas and Islamic Jihad cadres and leaders and destroyed the infrastructure crucial to their reproduction of their power, not to mention the crimes it perpetrated, killing and injuring Palestinian civilians and intentionally destroying the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure.
Does this result not implicitly grant Tel Aviv international cover to retaliate with the utmost viciousness in the event that Hamas or Islamic Jihad endeavored to launch rockets again? Would the Palestinians, in the event that rockets are fired again, garner the international and Arab sympathy- fueled by their peaceful popular resistance in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood- they see today? Or would they slip into the position of the condemned aggressor, whereby their lives become fair game, especially given the obvious link between Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s actions and Iran’s project to expand its regional influence?
Sparking wars with Israel and claiming victory are not new to the indoctrinated; indeed, they take pride in this and exploit it to cover up their impotence and evade accountability for their failures. More importantly, they use it to strengthen the foundations of their power and impose their authority... Did Hezbollah not exploit the repercussions of the war that it had considered a “divine victory” in 2006 to justify its invasion of Beirut on May 7, 2008 and consolidate its control over Lebanon, as a society and state?
Before that, did that victory not grant Hezbollah’s Syrian ally a chance to catch its breath after having had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon. Afterward, did the Gaza war of 2008 and 2009 have any consequences other than entrenching Palestinian division, allowing Hamas to violently impose its tyrannical authority over Gaza, and most significantly, solidify Iran and Syria’s influence in the Arab Levant?
Worst of all is when those claiming “divine victory” brag about and overblow the damage incurred by the enemy, like boasting about 12 Israelis who died and the tens who were injured during the Gaza war while thousands of casualties were incurred on the Palestinian side. This rhetoric leaves us standing before a paradoxical feeling of simultaneous regret and shame at a faction that does not value the lives of its children, dragging them into bloody conflicts to brag about the harm and pain it inflicts on another faction that does value the lives of its citizens! The irony is that while the page of our martyrs has been turned and put in the drawer, the Prime Minister in Tel Aviv is vowing to fortify the siege further and impede reconstruction if the fate of a few Israeli soldiers who disappeared successively in the Gaza Strip is not revealed!
For how long will we keep going around this cycle? How long will we remain in this cycle brimming with victims and pain, with lives at the mercy of leaders who have mastered nothing but espousing a discourse of violence and human sacrifice at the altar of ideological and political aims? Have those who hail the “divine victory” asked themselves what Hamas has brought to the table, the gains its four “victories” against Israel yielded besides solidifying its power and privileges as more humanitarian, political, and economic harm were incurred by the Palestinians? Has it helped the quest for liberation? And has it forced Israel to make any concessions or change any of its policies, or has it perpetuated Palestinian division and undermined their political clout, with the latest evidence of being the chants directed against the Palestinian Authority that immediately followed the announcement of the cease-fire, as the siege on and arrest of the Authority’s supports in Gaza exacerbate? Moreover, when will we stop boasting of “our victories” and continue to use human and material losses in order to garner sympathy and support, as shown by the various circles in the United States and Israeli that have begun to call for the recognition of Palestinians’ rights and for establishing ordinary relations with them?
If the positive aspect of the Gaza war is its affirmation that military methods cannot achieve a decisive outcome and that it reinvigorated the Palestinian cause and pushed the political solution to global centers of concern, amid increased calls for the two-state solution and generous promises of reconstruction, this grants the Palestinian leadership a precious opportunity to develop their people’s shared national spirit and open the door to cooperation and solidarity as a way to come out with the best possible outcome.
Will the Palestinians make use of this opportunity to attain the rights they are entitled to and build their state, or will they remain hostage to their unfortunate division and regional meddling in light of the weakness of the PA and civil society organizations? Even worse, the majority of their factions have grown accustomed to using force to settle their disputes; an approach tied to a sense of despair and frustration that facilitates the spread of hatred and backstabbing.
If the lessons learned from the bitter experiences of the Palestinians are the most compelling arguments for avoiding a repetition of our mistakes, then one must recognize that there are prominent factions that still cling on to a regressive ideological mentality and perpetuate the same old propaganda... factions that want to press the trigger whenever possible to send our people in Gaza to a gruesome war… Factions that are not interested in thinking about neither practicality nor the bitterness of consequence, nor the old Palestinian woman who was collecting some of her possessions from her demolished house, and who, when asked for her thoughts on the victory that had been achieved, replied: “Another victory, and I have nothing left.”