Thursday, 24 April 2008

Hamas's evolving guerrilla tactics

Courtesy of Gabriel Ash*

Hamas guerrillas deliver a smart and successful blow to an "elite" unit of the Herrenvolk Army of Israel

Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers from the elite Givati Brigade were killed on Wednesday in an exchange of heavy gunfire with Palestinian militants next to the Gaza Strip security fence....Three other soldiers were wounded in the clashes, two of them moderately.... (Haaretz, 17 April 2008) Who says the media doesn't publish the good news!

The guerrillas did it by the book!

The soldiers were killed after troops spotted two Hamas militants planting a bomb near the Israeli border. Troops pursued the militants, only to fall into an ambush by another Hamas force lying in wait...

The Herrenvolk army is embarrassed: the natives are supposed to be the stupid ones. The soldiers too are confused. They're used to shooting fish in a barrel, or children from a watchtower.

The Herrenvolk Army must therefore avenge its honor. It is one thing to bomb Sderot with fire crackers. Who cares about Sderot? Certainly not the Israeli elite. But to kill soldiers – "elite" soldiers – that is the most horrible offense.

So here is a question for the Chief Rabbi of Israel. Are 20 dead Palestinians, including five children and a cameraman, enough vengeance for three dead soldiers? I want an official fatwa.

Yet, with all the sadness that such a bloody day brings, never forget that a success for the resistance is a success for humanity, and the defeat of an "elite" Herrenvolk unit is always also a cause for celebration.


Hamas evolves in the right direction, or spot the fascist

According to military Analyst Rob Ben Yishai Hamas is moving towards a strategy of "quality" guerrilla attacks on military targets. The reason?

Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus who are carefully, if not passionately, following Israeli media reports apparently concluded, just like Hizbullah realized in the Second Lebanon War, that the Israeli public is sensitive to casualties among troops more than it is sensitive to moral and physical damage caused to civilians as a result of the Qassams and Grads in Sderot and Ashkelon. (Ynet, 21 April 2008)

This is fantastic news!! The focus on military targets is important both morally and strategically. It also reflects increased self-confidence and greater operational capacity.

But let's just think for a moment about what Ben Yishai says. The Israeli public cares more about the life of soldiers, whose very job description implies the risk of death and injury, than about the life of civilian residents, including children in Sderot.

It is a bit warped, isn't it? Soldiers are supposed to take risks defending civilians. That is the theory behind the official name of the Herrenvolk army, i.e. "Israel defense forces."

But that is not how fascist ideologies work. Civilians are unimportant. The fascist state isn't an institution whose purpose is to secure inalienable rights or promote the pursuit of happiness. The state of Israel is sacred. Moreover, this sacred status is not based on religious belief. Moshe Dayan, who was as irreligious as one can ever be, referred to the state of Israel as "the third temple." The sacred state is its own religion. The state is the altar and the temple at which Israelis are supposed to worship and, when necessary, sacrifice themselves.

Uniformed soldiers are therefore sacred. They are the altar boys of fascism. Killing them is blasphemy and lèse majesté. In contrast, the death of civilians can be sad, painful, scary. But it remains a purely secular affair. And since it is a secular affair, it is subject to rational cost-benefit considerations. Israelis living around Tel Aaviv have a good degree of tolerance for civilians casualties, especially when the casualties are from Sderot or Shlomi.

Finally, how does Ben Yishai think the Herrenvolk army should counter the new direction taken by Hamas?

In order to deter Hamas from implementing its new strategy and combat methods, a strategic balance of terror must be created vis-à-vis the organization... the fuel supply and humanitarian aid directed into the Strip should be curbed to a minimum, until the attacks stop.

Ben Yishai believes that merely killing the guerrillas and frustrating their operations is not going to be enough. They won't be deterred unless the ratchet is tightened and Palestinian noncombatants suffer a great deal more.

No brownie points for noting that Ben Yishai advocates terrorism, massive human rights abuse and potentially genocide. This is what colonialism looks like.

But consider this: according to Ben Yishai, in Israel, the public is more sensitive to the death of soldiers than to the suffering of civilians. Hamas, according to Ben Yishai, has the very opposite sensitivity, it values reducing the suffering of civilians over and above the life of its guerrilla units.

Perhaps Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas because Hamas is just not fascist enough for Israel.


*Gabriel Ash is an activist and writer who writes because the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not. He welcomes comments at:

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