Israel’s failure to divide, disarm or defeat the heroic resistance in Gaza is seen by all currents of the Palestinian liberation movement as their historic political victory. This is the overwhelming Palestinian sentiment.
Israel caused massive destruction in Gaza and killed, according to a United Nations report, 2,104 people, including 1,462 civilians of whom 495 were children. The attacks destroyed essential infrastructure, water, electricity, schools, medical centers and almost one-third of the housing. This devastation has created international outrage. Many in Israel view the war as a devastating political setback.
The seven-week military onslaught utterly failed in its objectives of defeating the elected Hamas government and dividing the new Palestinian unity government of Hamas and Fatah. All Palestinian political forces took part in the resistance, coordinating their defensive actions.
The Palestinians’ greatest accomplishment was to prevent the high-tech, heavily armed Israeli Defense Force from accomplishing its goal of disarming a determined Palestinian resistance, which used hundreds of tunnels, simple rockets and smuggled, hand-held weapons.
Rallies in Gaza, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and by thousands of Palestinians living within Israel’s 1967 boundaries make it clear that the Palestinians believe they won.
Thousands of Palestinians celebrated in streets of Gaza City on Aug. 27. Deputy head of the Hamas Politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, and other resistance leaders joined the public celebration. Haniyeh explained that the resistance had been preparing for the battle for years: “The victory is beyond the limits of time and place. This battle is a war that lacks a precedent in the history of conflict with the enemy.”
Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida told a large crowd gathered in Gaza City’s eastern Shujaiyya neighborhood — devastated during Israel’s ground assault: “Resistance unified the people, and that is our big achievement. We will not return to divisions or disputes.” (almanar.com.lb, Aug. 27)
A ceasefire — no agreement
There is still no signed agreement. Israel’s primary demand — the disarmament of Gaza’s resistance organizations — is not open for discussion.
The terms under discussion include opening all crossings to Gaza, allowing reconstruction and entry of materials needed, and permitting fishing to a distance of six miles. The reopening of the airport and seaport in Gaza is postponed to a new round of talks next month.
In the past, Israel always violated both signed ceasefire agreements and agreements to open the border. Israel has violated all other agreements made with the Palestinians, including the 1993 Oslo Accords.
A Gaza victory rally of more than 2,000 people was held on Aug. 28 in the village of Kabbul in Galilea, within Israel’s 1948 borders. They waved Palestinian flags and held pictures of slain children in Gaza.
A Palestinian elected to the Israeli Knesset (parliament), Hanin Zoabi of the Balad Party, who is under constant threat by Zionist forces seeking to bar her from the Knesset, was the main speaker. She declared: “The Palestinian resistance and the people as a whole in Gaza defeated all the military and political objectives that Israel set for itself. Our people’s struggle thwarted all of Israel’s objectives.” (Times of Israel, Aug. 29)
In the Israeli occupied West Bank, Israel arrested 12 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in an effort to stop a PFLP rally. This happened one day before the 13th anniversary of Israel’s Aug. 27, 2001, assassination of the PFLP general secretary, Abu Ali Mustafa.
Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, set up tent in Ramallah outside the Palestinian Legislative Council as part of her refusal to accept an Israeli deportation order. Palestinian political activist Nassar Ibrahim told a PFLP rally in Ramallah, “This attack on a prominent Palestinian political leader [Jarrar] comes now in response to the PFLP’s active role in Gaza resistance” and it is part of targeting of Palestinian resistance in general.” (Alternative Information Center, Aug. 28)
Zionists’ great fear: Israel has lost
Israeli Prime Minister and war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu hollowly proclaimed victory. He declared that Israel had secured both a great military achievement and a political achievement in an Aug. 28 statement But the Zionist establishment now fears that the war was a howling blunder.
Amir Oren of Haaretz, a major Israeli publication, in a stunning admission of how much Israel has been set back, wrote on Aug. 27: “What Netanyahu and his colleagues have brought down on Israel, in a conflict between the region’s strongest army and an organization numbering 10,000, is not just a defeat. It’s a downfall.”
On July 23, Israeli polls claimed 82 percent of Israelis approved of Netanyahu’s leadership. On Aug. 28 the Jerusalem Post says his support is down to to 38 percent and falling further.
The Israeli military suffered its highest casualty rate since it attempted to invade Lebanon in 2006. This time, the Palestinian resistance was able to carry out cross-border raids and target military sites in addition to firing small rockets into Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. This has given new confidence to the desperate Gaza population, which has lived decades under a brutal occupation.
Netanyahu mistakenly counted for victory on Israel’s vastly superior, U.S. supplied military machine, plus a propaganda barrage charging Hamas with the death of three young Israeli men. He also counted on the anti-Hamas government of Egyptian coup president Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi handling the ceasefire negotiations.
Here’s the evaluation of Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada: “Israel lost! If ‘victory’ is measured in the number of civilians an army kills and injures, or the number of homes, hospitals, mosques or schools it destroys, Israel is the clear champion once again.
“By that standard, the United States spectacularly ‘won’ its wars in Vietnam and Iraq. …
“At a basic level, Israel has made concessions to Palestinians that it was not even willing to discuss before its escalation and bombardment.”
Refaat Alareer, a Gaza writer and educator whose brother was killed in the Israeli attack, agreed:
“It is a victory because Gaza did not kneel, because Gaza proved Israel can be deterred and isolated, because Gaza exposed the hideous face of apartheid Israel and that of the U.S. that never stopped sending weapons to Israel, and because more and more people are now uniting all over the world and are more determined to end this injustice by all effective means.” (intifada-palestine.com, Aug. 27)