By Robin Davis
20 February, 2009
Here we go again. Israel claims its blockade of Gaza is necessary to stop arms smuggling. They use the same justification for bombing the tunnels into Egypt. Their pretext for the latest bombardment and invasion was to stop rocket and mortar attacks by the Palestinian resistance.
The western media and governments, including our own here in Australia, parrot this theme. To question it is to invite being branded anti-Semitic or a "terrorist sympathiser". And where do these smuggled weapons come from? Iran and Syria, of course. What else would you expect from "rogue states" cast firmly now as the villains after years of vilification.
Iran is the biggest villain due to its alleged program to develop nuclear weapons. That Iran has evil intentions is almost a given. This due to the relentless campaign driven by Israel and the US and parroted endlessly by politicians, pundits and mainstream media. Overlooked neatly is the awkward fact that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country to possess nuclear weapons and the US the only country to ever use them. The insane irony and brazen hypocrisy leaves one breathless. So does the contempt for common sense in the Israeli version of events in Gaza.
It was only natural, we are told, to assume that shadowy figures in residential windows were "terrorists". After all, everyone knows that these monsters think nothing of using their own people as human shields. As Israel's president, Shimon Peres, growled to George Negus on Dateline (Feb 8, 2009), as if only an idiot would think otherwise: "... they don't value human life!"
Save for some fawning to the "man of peace", Negus put some very hard questions but not this one: If there were so many "terrorists" firing from so many thousands of buildings so carefully "targeted", where are the results of their handiwork: the dead Israeli soldiers? Surely the "militants" would have killed more than a few before they and their "shields" were obliterated.
No. The only handiwork we see is that of the of the Israeli "defense" forces: more than a thousand massacred men, women and children, thousands more maimed and tens of thousands homeless. This "collateral damage", we are told, is the fault of Hamas; or even more disgracefully - the Palestinians have "brought it upon themselves" by foolishly electing Hamas. The carnage is regrettable but unavoidable in order to root out the "militants" and destroy their "infrastructure" and weapons caches.
But from beneath the pulverised "terrorist infrastructure" of hospitals, mosques, police stations, UN aid warehouses, schools, shops, offices, orchards, farms and homes, we have yet to see evidence of anything but a modestly armed militia and the mangled corpses of ordinary human beings with nowhere to run. The so-called "war" showed that Hamas and the other Palestinian fighters are all but defenseless.
Where are the weapons?
Primitive, Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel, mortars, too, and the resistance fighters have small arms and explosives. But is that the best Iran and Syria can provide? Is that the best the Palestinians can smuggle though their tunnels?
These are not makeshift "rat holes" but a network of 1000 or more well-constructed tunnels through which the Palestinians "illegally" bypass the blockade to import everything from medical supplies and food to building materials, farm machinery and even livestock! Why bother if, as the Israelis claim, the essentials of life pass freely through the legal border crossings?
And, of course, they also smuggle weapons. Why wouldn't they? The Israelis demand relentlessly their right to "self defense". Don't the Palestinians also have a right to try to defend themselves? Doesn't their duly elected government, Hamas, have an obligation to try to defend its citizens? When the Israelis attack a "suspected militant hold-out", such as a school or apartment building, they know very well that most of the dead and wounded will be civilians. When they attack the tunnels, they also know that most of the dead and wounded will be civilians because most tunnels are operated as commercial enterprises. The "militants" killed in the tunnels are more likely construction workers and traders.
That is not the picture the Israeli government and our mainstream media paint. In their scenario the tunnels' main purpose is to keep the "the radical Islamists" armed to the teeth. If that were true, they surely would be. At the very least, they would have smuggled through a few of the small ground to air missiles that one soldier can carry and launch and that can bring down a jet fighter or helicopter.
Syria and Iran are not backward in weaponry. If they were arming Hamas, wouldn't we see evidence of their very best anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, their state of the art missiles? Where are the downed Apaches and F16s, the burnt out tanks, the dead and maimed Israeli pilots and soldiers?
Where are the weapons?
Robin Davis lives in Victoria, Australia. He is a freelance writer and graphic designer.