x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

As Israel feels vulnerable, deterrence applies both ways

Hamas' weaponry makes Israel's "Iron Dome" look like a perforated umbrella, writes a Lebanese columnist. Also in the Digest, the baffling choice of names for Israel's aggressive campaigns

Between "Operation Cast Lead" in 2008 and the new operation, "Pillar of Cloud", that the Israeli government put into motion last week, a lot has happened in the besieged Gaza Strip, wrote the columnist Rajeh Al Khouri in the Lebanese daily newspaper Annahar.

Much has also happened recently in the Arab region, where people are just breaking away from the totalitarian regimes that brought them nothing but a series of defeats and widespread frustration and corruption.

"Israel had long been accustomed to relaying its conditions for halting its assault on Gaza to the Egyptian mediator," the writer said. "This time around, it was the Israeli delegate who returned from Cairo with Hamas's conditions for agreeing to a truce."

Tel Aviv wagered on its ability to impose a long-term truce using its deterrence power.

Israeli commanders believed that they could bend the arm of Hamas and stop the launching of rockets towards Israel. This was the stated aim of the three-week Cast Lead aggression in 2008.

"However, it has been revealed that the rockets that defied the siege and reached Tel Aviv were able to rise to the level of the so-called pillar of smoke

"This suggests a change in rules, where deterrence will no longer be the privilege of the Israeli enemies only, now that the military command and half of the Israelis in Tel Aviv have had to hide in shelters over the past few days," he added.

Certainly Israel can destory Gaza over the heads of its inhabitants once again, but not even that would conceal the series of implicit defeats that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had to deal with.

If the ongoing offensive proved anything, it's that the urban destruction inflicted throughout Gaza can only be matched by the mounting psychological devastation among Israelis as they realise that the fantasy of absolute power is fading.

Palestinian rockets have reached several targets in the heart of Israel, thus shaking the Israeli people's sense of absolute security.

Mr Netanyahu's reliance on his country's so-called Iron Dome missile defence system has proven to be misplaced, as it has only deterred 30 per cent of Palestinian rockets, the writer said.

Israel finds itself surrounded by a rocket belt that makes the infamous dome look like a perforated umbrella.

Despite their initial support for the operation, Israel's western allies have warned it against the repercussions of a ground invasion that would lead to strategic changes in the region, especially at this phase of transformation across the Arab world, the writer concluded.

The will of resistance makes a difference

Much has changed since the previous Israeli assault on Gaza. But one thing has remained unchanged: the White House's stance, no matter who is in it, wrote Khairi Mansour in the Emirati newspaper Al Watan.

Emboldened by Washington's constant stance that Israel has a right to defend itself, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has held meetings with military leaders, and authorised the call up of 75,000 reserve troops in preparation for a possible ground war in Gaza. This makes it seem as if he is "fighting a war with a country that has an advanced arsenal of all sorts of weapons", he said.

"This excessive display of force has one single meaning: a feeling of panic, because anyone who has developed a psychology of permanent victory ends up a victim to this illusion."

History ordains that the aggression-resistance dichotomy remains at the heart of its dialectic. This dichotomy can take newer and more developed forms, but the essence stays the same. The missile is the sword; the Iron Dome is the armour.

The first war on Gaza came under circumstances, regional and international, that are starkly different to today's. The post-revolution Arab regimes have started to realise the demand to display stronger political positions.

Thankfully, there is another constant beside that of US bias toward Israel. It is the will of resistance among Palestinians whenever they are, he concluded.

Strange philosophy in choice of names

"I do not know the philosophy behind the names of Israeli wars," wrote the Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury in the newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi yesterday.

Is there an ad hoc body tasked with devising such names? Or is it a matter of pure coincidence?

"From the 'Grapes of Wrath' in Lebanon to the 'Pillar of Cloud' in Gaza, Israel seems to be insisting on combining frustrating imagination with bloody transgressions, and cloaking crimes in literature," he said.

In the 2006 war on Lebanon, Israeli military leaders had forgotten to give a name to their war because they thought it was going to be a picnic for their air force. In 2008, they did not. But they chose a bad name that reveals a lack of imagination: Cast Lead, which spelt a moral and political catastrophe for Israel.

And today, Gaza is burning under a poetic name Israel has chosen for its latest attack, P illar of Cloud.

Israel has entered a war on the eve of elections to gauge, with firepower, the effect of the fallout of the recent Arab revolutions may on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

A first analysis indicates that the warring parties in Pillar of Could are seeking new rules for the game, the writer concluded.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk