Haartez, Israel’s leading center-left mass circulation newspaper and its oldest daily, has published an editorial today calling for an immediate end to Israel’s military operation in Gaza.
The editorial, entitled “Stop the Operation,” argues that Israel has now achieved whatever security goals it is possible to attain through military means, and that the suffering the operation is causing to the people of Gaza is unconscionable.
“This is the time to put the operation aside. It has crushed the military organization of Hamas, killed senior figures of the group, but also killed hundreds of civilians and injured thousands. The basic infrastructure in the Gaza Strip has also suffered a fatal blow. The UNRWA hospital and food storage facilities that were hit yesterday now join a list of population centers and power plant, which have already been struck in the operation.”
“The military force that Israel has applied in the past three weeks does not permit it to ignore the terrible suffering experienced by the residents of Gaza. The ‘humanitarian corridors’ are insufficient. The three or four ‘mercy hours’ leave little chance of delivering convoys of supplies or distributing needed items to the population that is now under direct Israeli occupation.”
The editorial also calls for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its imposition of economic sanctions:
“There will be no harm to the war effort or to Israel’s security if it opens the border crossings for the continuous flow of supplies and medicines. In any case, the policy of economic sanctions Israel imposed contributed to nothing and did not avoid the need to go to war. Even the concern that the opening of the crossings to the transfer of goods would strengthen Hamas’ ability to hold out in the war is not valid. Hamas is not fighting Israel for bread, and in any case the collapse of Hamas is no longer a declared aim of the war.”
Haartez argues that Israel cannot justify its military operation from either a moral or a pragmatic perspective.
From a moral perspective, Haaretz contends, so long as there is no sovereign Palestinian state, Israel is responsible for the 1.5 million people of Gaza.
From a pragmatic perspective, Haaretz points out, first, that the Gaza operation will generate even greater Palestinian hatred and resistance toward Israel (“[D]isease, poverty and unemployment are the fertilizer in the greenhouse that grows the desperation and the radicalism that brought Hamas to power. Israel is the one that will reap the hatred and fear that Operation Cast Lead will sow in the hearts of the children of Gaza. These are the neighbors with whom Israel will have to reach a peace agreement and live next to for generations to come.”). Second, Haaretz observes that “a better diplomatic formula than those proposed by Cairo and Washington will not be offered to Israel.”
Haaretz is not alone within the Israeli mainstream in calling for an end to Israel’s Gaza campaign. The Israeli General Staff and the leaders of its security forces have told Israel’s politicians that “Israel achieved several days ago all that it possibly could in Gaza.” There are also reports that “The very success of the campaign has led to a growing rift in Israel’s leadership. Defense Minister Barak, the commander of the IDF General Gabi Ashkenazi, Military Intelligence, and others associated with the defense establishment believe that Israel should try to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas, rather than expand its offensive against it in Gaza.”
In the face of the continued tacit acceptance, if not outright support, of Israel’s Gaza campaign from the world’s governments, including those of the Arab states, it is likely (and ironic) that the most effective pressure on Israel to end its devastation of Gaza is now coming from Israel itself.