Saturday, 1 February 2014

Analysis: Is Israel building up for an offensive against Gaza?


Abdulrahman Murad is a Gaza-based blogger and freelance journalist. His writings have appeared on Middle East Monitor, Mondoweiss, and Al-RAY Media. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

Gazans fear another Israeli military offensive is imminent, as Israel flexes its military muscle and Egypt joins the band, beating the drums of war.

A rush to exercise

In November 2013, the Israeli military for the first time ever hosted a multinational military exercise; Greece, the US and Italy arrived to carry out the Blue Flag 2013 drill in the Negev simulating a ground incursion into Gaza.

The move was described as the largest-ever aerial maneuver shared by international forces.

A similar drill was also jointly organized by Israel and the US in July 2013.

Mounting threats

I have received two inquiries from oversees friends during the past few days regarding the high-pitch Israeli threats against Gaza, and Hamas in particular. The last one was asking for a confirmation of Israeli TV channels warning foreigners in Gaza to immediately leave, in anticipation for military action.

The people here are accustomed to such intimidation; however, the explicit statements of Israeli officials, the latest of which is Netanyahu's threat to 'teach Hamas a lesson very soon,' drew their attention to the prospect of a war targeting the unarmed, before proceeding to the armed citizens of Gaza.

Both Israel's 2008-2009 and 2012 offensives were said to be aimed at removing the threat of the firing of crude rockets into Israeli territory. However, this goal was never achieved: on the contrary, the assaults only resulted in the majority of the casualties being civilians.

Up to 82% of the 1,400 and 103 out of the 156 Palestinian deaths killed during Operation Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense respectively were civilians. more

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