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Israel's Dangerous Gambit
[Opinion] The stakes are higher than we can imagine
Nicolas van der Leek (Nick)     Print Article 
Published 2009-01-07 13:43 (KST)   
On the face of this, Israel's foray in Gaza may seem like another vigorous and bloody tussle in the dust in a long history of conflict. But there are deeper and darker reasons behind not only Israel's eager assault into Gaza, but also the timing of the Hamas attack.

As it happens, the West's appetite for war must be at an all-time low one reason being the financial crisis crippling resources on home soil. So Hamas must have known a military adventure - which is little more than lobbing a few home-made bombs over a wall and holding thumbs -- during the festive season would pay off.

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Doing so during the festive season was also likely to catch the West napping. Incidentally the same period when Saddam Hussein was executed - when no one was watching) could pay off.

The strategy from Hamas is simple. They want a response from Israel, they want civilian casualties both to rally support from Arab moderates in the region and to turn world sentiment against Israel. The recent shelling of a school (where more than 30 civilians were killed) fits Hamas' plans perfectly.

War has deteriorated in our present circumstances to a blur of terrorism and criminality - particularly when the foe faces a more powerful counterpart who is better equipped and more sophisticated. Not so long ago adversaries held some respect for each other, even for guerrilla forces. But terrorism essentially is an asymmetrical conflict. It's an invisible war where civilians could be soldiers and vice versa.

Some presumably Jewish people have commented that Israel has been provoked for a long time, and they have every right to respond after the recent 'final straw'. The casualties though are already disproportionate. At the time of writing more than 635 Palestinians have died, most of them civilians, and more than 130 of these children -- while seven Israeli soldiers have lost their lives.

Each day the ground offensive continues, the stakes go up a great deal. Why? Because Iran's Hezbollah are itching to demonstrate their own power. And the Israeli army are in a sense vulnerable - deployed all over Gaza City.

Iran is a poorer country than it was a few months ago. And with the Iraq war on the back burner, there may be thoughts of entrenching power in the region by all the players.

The US has stated that it wants to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capability and Israel has said the same. This foray could escalate into a theatre which finally addresses this issue.

It may be that the US and Israel have been complicit in enthusiastically deploying into Gaza.

Whether or not this is true, if Iran steps in the Middle East tinderbox could ignite, drawing in many other players, including Pakistan, China and possibly Russia on the one hand, and a weak western force.

Whatever happens, there can be no doubt that given the strain - financial and otherwise - that the world finds itself in at present, each day this conflict continues invites an escalation which could become unprecedented.


Should Israel implement a cease-fire in Gaza?  (2009-01-02 ~ 2009-01-26)
Yes
No
I don't know
For more on the writer visit www.nickvanderleek.com

©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nicolas van der Leek

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