Saturday, March 23, 2024

2.2 Million Starving Gazans: What Price Victory Israel?

According to a recent United Nations report, 2.2 million people are facing starvation conditions in Northern Gaza along with a lack of drinking water. Approximately half or 1.1 million are facing "catastrophic" famine sometime between mid-March and May of this year.  

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (ICP), a multi-partner initiative involving governments, NGOs, the United Nations, and others, stated that "acute hunger and malnutrition has far exceed  the threshold for famine". In addition, the ICP said this represents the "highest number of people facing catastrophic hunger ever recorded". 

The ICP goes on to warn that people have already resorted to eating grass, animal feed, and drinking dirty water to survive. Pregnant women (or "birthing people" as they are known in "woken parts of the " United States), unable to produce enough milk, are begging government officials for baby formula and any other assistance.

Nevertheless, there are hundreds of tons of food, water, medicine, and other aid lined up on the Israeli-Gaza border waiting to cross over. Ships and cargo planes arriving almost daily bringing relief but little to none are reaching those who need it the most---the people of Gaza.

Some UN officials are blaming the Israeli Government of deliberately holding back the aid in an attempting to starve out the Gazans, and that opinion is spreading among other relief agencies such as the World Relief Programme's Executive Director, Cindy McCain, who said "the people of Gaza are starving to death right now. The speed at which this man-made hunger and malnutrition crisis has ripped through Gaza is terrifying".   

The European Union's top diplomat, Josef Borrell of Spain, has accused Israel of using starvation as a "weapon of war" by preventing humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, which Israeli officials have strongly denied.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel does not intend to promote an artificial famine,  but to allow as much humanitarian aid into Gaza "as necessary". He added that it was Israel's intentions to be the sole entry point of all aide going into Gaza. Israel, according to Netanyahu, would see to it that Gaza got a much aide as it required.

Netanyahu's statements have been vigorously disputed by aide workers from various global agencies and even some government officials from neighboring countries. They report that Israel's "Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories" (COGAT) has been the principal barrier preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the starving 2.2 million people in Gaza. The role of COGAT is monitor access to Gaza .

COGAT has been accused of issuing confusing and contradictory  instructions in which to intentionally delay or prevent food, medicine, fresh water, and other essentials from crossing into Gaza.  So, with an apparent standstill, where does that leave the people of Gaza?

Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to annihilate the leadership of Hamas following its attack on Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023. 1139 mostly civilians were raped, beaten, tortured, and  finally murdered, including small children. Another 240 were taken prisoner.  

The early morning attack, which caught the vaulted Israeli intelligence forces and military totally off guard reminiscent of the 1973 Yom Kipper War. Hamas, along with soldiers from 9 other Palestinian paramilitary groups, the coordinated use of paragliders, scuba divers, small attack boats, and a mechanized unit comprised of several white Toyota pickups full of troops or mounted machine guns, a few dozen Honda motorcycles seating two fighters, and most impressive of all, surveillance/attack drones.

The highly coordinated training for the attacked largely took place just barely a mile from the border and watchful eyes of Israel. The training, which in some instances took over year to complete (such as for the paragliders and drones) took place in 14 training centers scattered throughout Gaza. Some of the training included the most efficient way to seize a house, destroy an Israeli tank, breach Israeli border walls to how to move Israeli hostages quickly while getting the maximum propaganda coverage.

Andreas King, a Senior Lecturer of Security Studies at Kings College in London  gave one of the best descriptions of how Israeli intelligence monitoring was beaten.  According to King, "while there was centralized planning, execution was decentralized, with each squad operating as it saw fit". Secondly, there was no effort to hide anything. Everything was done out in the open to make it look as routine as possible.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization backed, supplied, trained, and financed by the Iranian government. Iran and Israel have a long history of  mutual hatred. Iran has repeatedly promised to "wipe Israel off the map" including the use of nuclear weapons regardless of the consequences to the people of Iran or the region. Iran also backs other terrorist groups regardless of whether they are Shia or Sunni such as Hezbollah, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boku Harem.  

Hamas was first "elected" to government to a series of political campaigns and  open warfare between Hamas and Fatah over the control of Gaza, the West Bank, and Palestinian refugee camps.  Fatah which was previously known as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. Fatah is a nationalist social democrat political party originally founded by individuals like Yasser Arafat and Khalil al-Wazir.

Hamas was originally known as Islamic Resistance Movement, a group of radical Sunni Islamists who follow an extremist form of political religious of the Koran similar to Iran. Historically it has had a close relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, including the pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini.  It emphasizes their version of Sharia law everywhere, anti-Zionism, pan-Islamic unity, and full rejection of non-Muslim influences.

Hamas has managed to "win" and keep control of the Gaza pretty much since 2007. Their control has been a combination of intimidation and placation. However, their goal has always been on the removal of Israel and restoration of a united Palestine under their Sharia law.

In their attacks on Israel, Hamas has routinely used private homes to store munitions and military supplies. They typically operate rockets and missiles from mosques, minarets,hospitals, businesses and schools against Israel and also where they store their supplies.

It's commonplace that the homes of innocent civilians are used to fire on advancing Israelis while the residents are forced to remain in place. Hamas is well aware of the propaganda value of a retaliatory strike by Israel against a school full of students or a mosque full of worshipers, or hospital full of patients. But nothing is mentioned about the military use of these sites which prompted the Israel's retaliatory strikes. 

They've also developed an extensive and highly sophisticated network of tunnels extending well into Israel and Egypt which put the tunnels built by the Viet Cong or the Sinaloa drug cartel to shame. They use these tunnels to move terrorist cells, train, organize and plan. They even had munitions factories, repair shops, and well equipped Hamas only hospitals. Most importantly, smuggling of everything from advanced weapons to food, clothing, and medicine. Smuggling?  

Yes. The majority of what they smuggle is used for Hamas purposes. Most is sold or traded on the black market, while hospitals and the public receive whatever is parceled out to appease the populace. In addition, Hamas takes in millions of aid  which follows a similar path. The smuggling generates between $12 and $15 million a month.

As a result, while the people of Gaza starve, Hamas spends at least $100 million annually on its military infrastructure.  Meanwhile, Hamas receives as much as $360 million dollars from oil rich Qatar as well as  millions more from other Arab countries like NATO/EU member, Turkey, and wealthy Arab families.

As an aside, despite the abject poverty of Gaza, the senior most Hamas leadership are all billionaires thanks to grafted "donations". For instance, its top three leaders are worth a purportedly $11 billion dollars which goes to support their luxury lifestyles in Qatar and elsewhere. 

 The United Nations spends over $600 million to fund and run schools and operate hospitals (much of that money comes indirectly from U.S. taxpayers). This means all of the needs of Hamas are provided from outside, leaving it with millions on it military while its people starve.

Israeli intelligence, including the famous Mossad and Shin Bet failed magnificently on October 7th, and to an extent, so did the numerous U.S. intelligence agencies like the NSA, CIA, and DIA. They never saw what was coming, which is likely how future operations such as this will play out.

Netanyahu is furious, and rightly so. He knows all too well that lesser failures like this have brought down Israeli governments.  He knows too that these kind of failures expose weaknesses in Israel's defenses. Yes, the Israeli military---the IDF---performed with brilliance in its recovering and counterpunch.

There's little doubt that COGAT is intentionally delaying the release of humanitarian aid to Gaza at the direction of  Prime Minister Netanyahu.  He knows better than most, including  some bureaucrat in the United Nations or in some ivory tower NGO, that little of those supplies will actually reach the average citizen in Gaza. The majority of those supplies will be diverted (likely at gun point) to Hamas.

 Just a few weeks ago video footage was secretly shot of bread being selectively passed out to Gazans to keep them from rioting. At the same time, Hamas soldiers were firing their guns into the crowd to keep them back and in abeyance. Obviously, Hamas, which brought the war to Gaza, can't  now lose control over the people. The aid lined up on Israeli check points stand an excellent chance of being sold on the black market by Hamas, and you can be sure than none of Hamas' leadership have lost any weight.

Netanyahu has vowed to destroy  Hamas at any cost. In that, he has been largely successful. As many as 10,000 Hamas and associated fighters have been killed with over four thousands taken prisoner. Several of Hamas' top leaders have been killed, however, their senior most likely left the area before the October 7th attack for someplace safe and relaxing (applying a lesson from ISIS and Al Qaeda).

However, Netanyahu has to be very careful about winning the battle and losing the war. A large number of countries, financial institutions, and powerful NGOs have openly accused Israel of genocide (and withholding aid would seem to support that). Even in the United States and Germany, two of Israel's strongest allies, public opinion shows 65% blame Hamas while a large minority---35%---blame Israel.

 But let us remember that it was Hamas---not Israel---which started this war knowing full well the hellfire which would rain down on the people of Gaza, and chose to do it anyway.  Let us also not forget that Hamas regularly launches tens of thousands of rockets and missiles against Israel on a monthly basis, although that's of cold comfort to the starving 2.2 million men, women and children Hamas has bequeath to the world. 

Israel must reach as a realistic deal for a single Palestinian state. That's at the heart of Israel's national security and would deprive its enemies of their key weapon. Perhaps a good start would be for Israeli troops to accompany a relief convoy into Gaza and pass out the aid themselves, thus ensuring the food, water, and medical supplies  goes where need and denying Hamas both a propaganda and humanitarian victory. Nevertheless, Hamas has to go. It must be replaced by a government which sincerely cares for the wellbeing of Gaza and truly wants peace. Until then, this level of carnage will only continue. 

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How Hamasbuilt a force to attack Israel on 7 October

Integrated  Food Security Phase Classification

Hama's Main Source of Funding Might Surprise You

How Hamas secretly built a "mini-army' to fight Israel

Whichcountries have criticized Israeli attacks on Gaza

How HamasAttacked Unfolded----In Videos

Hamas leaders worth staggering 11B revel in luxury---while Gaza's people suffer

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