Israel's obvious attempts to provoke Hamas will fail

Israel's obvious attempts to provoke Hamas will fail
Comment: When faced with peaceful Palestinian demonstrations, the Israeli military seeks to intentionally provoke a violent Palestinian response, writes CJ Werleman.
5 min read
04 Jul, 2018
Israel has referred to killing Palestinian demonstrators as 'mowing the grass' [AFP]
For the past two months, Israeli snipers have shot and killed more than 145 Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Most of them were unarmed, and all were killed inside what operates as a perimeter fence around what is effectively the world's largest open air prison camp.

Not long after these unarmed Palestinian protesters were killed with bullet rounds to the head and torso, the Israeli military began bombing what it claims to be Hamas "terror tunnels" and positions inside the besieged Palestinian enclave.

There, more than one million children are being slowly poisoned to death by contaminated water, adding to the daily misery faced by those barely existing inside the world's most unlivable urban space.

Palestinians in Gaza are protesting against Israel's illegal and medieval blockade, which is now in its 12th year, making it the longest, and one of the cruelest in modern history.

The two million inhabitants of Gaza want only what every human wants: freedom of movement, freedom from want and fear, and even more importantly freedom to own their future. This is what Palestinians have been protesting since the Great Return March began on 30 October, 2018.

Significantly, not a single Israeli has been killed since these protests began, but 145 Palestinian men, women and children now lie dead, alongside thousands of seriously injured, including hundreds who have lost limbs from Israeli military fired rounds.

Despite all this, however, senior members of Israel's government are warning of another "war" on Gaza, with Israel's justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, accusing Hamas of inflaming the situation by flying "incendiary kites," while the country's minister for public security, Gilad Erdan, said Israel might be "forced" into launching a "large scale military operation" in the Gaza strip to combat "terrorism".

A large-scale military operation in Gaza is exactly what Israel has been craving

"I do not want to launch an operation, but there is a good chance that we will have no other option but to go in so that we can create durable deterrence," Erdan told Israeli Army Radio.

A large-scale military operation in Gaza is exactly what Israel has been craving since the "grass" - a metaphorical term used by Israel to refer to the Palestinian resistance - began to grow, following Israel's siege of Gaza in 2014. That siege killed 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 500 children and demolished 18,000 homes.

Read more: Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians in Gaza, including 13-year-old boy

"Mowing the lawn" is a code term the Israeli military uses to describe its policy towards Gaza. 

In 2012, as Israel prepared to carry out Operation Pillar of Defense, an operation to assassinate senior Hamas leaders and destroy Hamas installations, a military correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz, wrote, "The IDF is using this as an opportunity to do some 'maintenance work' in Gaza and to mow the lawn, so to speak."

Efrain Inbar, an Israeli political scientist and director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, summarised Israel's "mow the grass" strategy as such, writing, "Israel simply needs to 'mow the grass' once in a while to degrade the enemy's capabilities. A war of attrition against Hamas is probably Israel's fate for the long term."

From a political standpoint, and more importantly the standpoint of global public opinion, this strategy is relatively easy for Israel to carry out, on one condition: that Hamas and/or Palestinian resistance groups are carrying out acts of violent protest.

The "mow the grass" strategy falls down, however, when the international community sees only peaceful and non-violent Palestinian protests; images the world has seen for the past two months.

Faced with this, Israel intentionally uses methods to provoke a violent Palestinian response, particularly from Hamas, so that it can justify its next assault on Gaza. 
Leaked Israeli military cables provide the evidence. 

"We don't go Gandhi very well," the Director of Policy and Political Military Affairs at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Major General Amos Gilad said to US government officials in a leaked 2011 cable.

Essentially, what Gilad told his American counterparts is Israel struggles to suppress Palestinian resistance that is non-violent in nature, and thus admitting that when faced with non-violent Palestinian demonstrations, the Israeli military seeks to intentionally provoke a violent Palestinian response in order to "justify" its lethal use of force.

This is exactly the strategy Israel is pursuing today in Gaza. It follows the familiar pattern that saw Israel lay siege to the enclave in 2014, when it used the kidnapping and murder of
three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank as propaganda to bait the Israeli public for war, but also to provoke a violent response from Hamas.

Today, Israel finds itself dealing with more than two million Palestinian inhabitants of the "world's largest concentration camp".

Israel knows a caged and condemned people will always try to rattle or escape the cage, it has not forgotten the brave but ultimately doomed fighters of the Jewish resistance within the Nazi controlled Warsaw Ghetto.

Israel struggles to suppress Palestinian resistance that is non-violent in nature

For the past two months, however, the world has seen countless videos of Israeli snipers shooting and killing non-violent Palestinian protesters. It has seen Israel kill 145 Palestinian Gandhis.

More so than ever before, Israel desperately needs Hamas to do something stupid in retaliation to Israeli violence.

CJ Werleman is the author of 'Crucifying America', 'God Hates You, Hate Him Back' and 'Koran Curious', and is the host of Foreign Object.

Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.