By: Dr. Fayez Abu Shamala (Exclusively for al-Zaytouna Centre).
The Gaza Strip (GS) is but a part of Palestine, which is being blockaded by Israel with poverty and firepower. For this reason, GS resolved to challenge its enemies, and prove its existence with the force of arms.
The goal goes much further than opening the crossings, and ending the blockade; the goal is to present a model that the West Bank (WB) must emulate to unchain itself, especially after the Resistance path adopted by GS has proven its worth to this moment. With this, GS has become the official representative of the Palestinian issue, which predates the Oslo Accords by decades, and the true representative of the demands of all Palestinians who yearn for freedom, and refuse to live in humiliation under the yoke of the Israeli occupation.
Resistance is an Idea That the Aggression Cannot Uproot
The resistance against the aggression taking place in GS, and the military confrontation that has reached the extent of parity on the battlefield, have a positive impact on the Palestinian issue.
This will set the parameters for a new political phase that does not depend only on negotiations to resolve the conflict with Israel, but that will adopt all means available to fight the enemy.
This Israeli enemy works tirelessly to uproot the idea of resistance from the minds of some Palestinians, and is keen to strip them of the components of spiritual endurance. For this reason, Israel came down hard on GS throughout the outgoing period, and sought to make the idea of resistance extremely costly by isolating it from the outside world, instigating sedition and division internally, dismembering it socially, and breaking its geographical contiguity with the WB. It wanted to render GS as a repulsive model of unemployment, poverty, and destruction, while at the same time, presenting WB as a model of stability and prosperity.
Palestinian Resistance Decides the Fate of Palestine
Since the first day after the failure of the assault on GS, the Strip’s political and economic future became contingent upon the abilities of the Resistance on the battlefield. The future of the entire Palestinian issue is governed by the results of this confrontation, and so is the future of Israel.
The author believes that this is what promoted the Israeli prime minister to declare that Israel is living under an existential threat. Such statements are grounded in reality, and confirm that whoever prevails on the battlefield will be able to impose his conditions on the party that will suffer a rout. In the author’s estimate, the fateful confrontation on the battlefield has three possible outcomes:
Israel would deploy its full military capacity to reoccupy GS, with the aim of uprooting the Palestinian resistance. But this scenario is now extremely unlikely, especially after warnings voiced by the Directorate of Military Intelligence in a report submitted to the Israeli government.
The report, which the prime minister deliberately leaked to the press, had a huge impact on the decisions made by the Israeli government in this regard, regardless of the threats made in the media by extremist Israeli leaders. If otherwise successful, this scenario would leave the fate of GS in the hands of the Israelis, to do with it as they please.
This scenario would see the Palestinian resistance weakened with the Israelis taking revenge on the civilization population, and by continuing the blockade and the destruction meant to deplete the resistance’s stockpiles and exhaust its capabilities. The aim is to loosen the grip of the resistance and its influence on the lives of the Israelis, and restore life in the Israeli settlements to normal.
This is what Israel wants and seeks, but the course of the events on the field after fifty days of fighting has run counter to the aspirations of Israel, and indicates the endurance of the resistance.
The success of this possibility would keep GS in the same state, and the Palestinian issue hostage to the futile negotiating table, and would perhaps extend the life of negotiations an additional twenty years.
The Palestinian resistance would continue the war of attrition at its current pace, and its policy of well-calculated military escalation, while neutralizing Israel’s military superiority through retrenchment in the tunnels, and disrupting economic and civilian Israeli life.
In this case, the Israeli public will put enough pressure on the Israeli leadership, especially that a Haaretz poll conducted on the evening of the 72 hour truce on 6/8/2014 showed that 51% saw the result of the battle as a draw.
In the assessment of the author, the tie itself represents a victory for the resistance, which will force the Israeli enemy to cave, and consent to a truce with the Palestinian resistance in accordance with the latter’s conditions – and this is the most likely scenario.
What Lies Ahead in the Coming Days for GS?
First: Achieving a truce through the Egyptian initiative, which is preferred by the Israeli prime minister in the recent period. This was the same initiative that Israel rejected when the Palestinian delegation added its conditions. Nevertheless, the Palestinian resistance considers the Egyptian initiative has become obsolete.
Second: Achieving a truce through a resolution to be issued by the UN Security Council, which Britain, France, and Germany, backed by the United States, have sought to draft. Such a decision would bring salvation for the Israelis, especially if it suits their political whims, where it would require the reconstruction of GS to be handled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to be accompanied also by the disarmament of the resistance. If such a resolution were to be issued by the Security Council, it would cater to the desires of the Israeli extremists, who refuse the idea of negotiations and accords with Hamas.
It would also comply with appeals made by some Israeli segments represented by the Israeli Justice Minister and leader of the Hatnua Party Tzipi Livni, who has long sought to promote this idea. In the author’s assessment, this resolution would not be binding for the Palestinian resistance unless it contains two essential items:
1- Stopping the Israeli aggression and completely lifting the blockade of GS.
2- Ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.
These two Palestinian conditions are not compatible with the Israeli efforts, which reject any UN Security Council resolution that calls for an end to the blockade, and that does not link the reconstruction of GS with its disarmament.
Third: Achieving the truce through Arab-regional-international mediation, in a way that would satisfy the conditions of the resistance calling for lifting the siege of GS, takes into account the humanitarian and political needs of the Palestinian people, and at the same time, comply with the security demands of Israel for a number of years to come.
Based on the above, developments in the coming days will dictate GS future. The resistance, which has proven its abilities on the field, would also be able to impose political conditions that will impact the Palestinian scene, especially if the following is taken into account:
1- If the truce of the Egyptian initiative is achieved, it gives the PA the right to supervise the crossings, deploy along the 1948 borders with Israel, monitor incoming and outgoing goods and persons, and oversee the reconstruction of what the Israeli assault destroyed in Gaza.
Consequently, two political factions will appear on the surface, the resistance supported by all segments of the Palestinian people, and the PA backed by international support. This bipolarity will prolong the tug of war and polarization within the Palestinian arena, where one side will attempt to draw the WB into the GS resistance model, and the other will attempt to drag GS to the WB model.
2- If the truce of the UN Security Council resolution is achieved, this means that the entry of construction materials would be subject to international inspection. It does not mean strengthening the PA position in GS, but it means opening the door to further negotiations. This will negatively affect the achievements of the resistance; and the re-operation of the airport and the establishment of the GS port would depend on the outcome of PA-Israeli negotiations in subsequent periods.
3- If the truce is achieved through an Arab-regional-international mediation, based on the new GS reality, and if the interests of the Palestinian people are taken into account, then this means that Israel may enjoy the security the Israelis are looking for, for a number of years.
In return, the Palestinians in GS might obtain the right to develop all aspects of their lives without an Israeli siege. This truce agreement would pave the way to the return of links between the WB and GS, and allow the PA to exercise its functional role in GS, without restrictions on the activities of the resistance.
The Day That Follows the End of the Aggression
The sun will rise in the next day with tears in GS’s eyes. But there will be a smile on its lips, and hope in its heart to shake off the sorrow that haunts its homes. GS knows how to console itself, and how to tend to its wounds. GS takes pride in its ability to stand its ground until victory.
On the next day, people will return to their destroyed homes and dismembered lands, because the GS people have a deep bond with the foundations of their homes and their memory-preserving trees. People will begin to clear the dust of battle left on the Palestinian psyche, before they clear the rubble on the streets.
On the day that follows the end of the aggression, people will need love, tolerance, and to rise above their wounds. GS will need national unity in its comprehensive sense, so that its people can overcome blame, censure, and accusations against some of failure to act or perform their duty.
1- The Palestinian resistance has to avoid falling into the trap of calm in return for calm, and to continue to cause further confusing attrition to the Israeli enemy until a conditional truce is achieved.
2- Disallowing any talk about disarming the resistance, no matter the cost.
3- Being alert to the need to lift the blockade on GS, and not just open the crossings.
4- It would be fine for the PA to shoulder its responsibilities for people’s lives in GS, and to supervise crossings and borders, but only as part of full Palestinian partnership that includes the resistance factions.
5- It is important for the resistance to be represented in the commission handling the GS reconstruction, and to cling to this demand whatever the cost, because the resistance is the sole guarantor of transparency, purity, and sound performance.
6- The need for a constant reminder that the Israeli occupation is the direct cause of war.
7- It is important for the international community to realize that the origin of the conflict with the Israeli enemy dates back to 1948, the year Israel was created at the expense of millions of refugees in GS, WB, and the diaspora. Focus should be made on the fact that about 70% of the GS population are refugees, whose lands, homes, towns, and villages existed in the vicinity of GS.
8- It is important to emphasize in any agreement on the interconnection between GS and the WB, including in trade, and the release of the prisoners of the fourth installment.
9- It must be emphasized that the Oslo Accords were buried under the rubble by Palestinian rockets. Indeed, the Oslo Accords, which require that the Israelis control Palestinian armaments, have met their end with the presence of the resistance’s arms.
10- The Israeli aggression caused a jolt of conscience, and strategic changes in people’s thinking, and in their political awareness. Hence, it is necessary to convene a national conference, which would bring together national figures and political factions, and all field commanders and popular groups in GS, WB, and the diaspora.
There, they must agree on a unified Palestinian political position commensurate with the victory stage, putting the Palestinian political house in order, and holding Palestinian elections that produce a truly representative leadership, which expresses the political ambitions and aspirations of the Palestinians.