Israel’s Bombardment of Gaza: What Is Different This Time?

This originally appeared on Truth-Out.

The current Israeli onslaught on Gaza which so far resulted in 120 dead and counting, as Israel is attempting to a final blow to Hamas after many failed attempts, appears to have been planned in advance, regardless of developments on the ground. Following the abduction of three Israeli youth and their subsequent murder several weeks ago, Israel laid the blame on Hamas although the latter denied responsibility and said it wants calm with Israel. It then went on to conduct a major crackdown on the movement in the West Bank and arrested over 500 people. Israel is now launching a massive aerial bombing campaign on Gaza, claiming its goal is to eradicate Hamas. Hamas was a convenient target for the Israeli government that has been fretting over the fact that it joined a unity government with the PLO, which received international recognition. By framing Hamas as the culprit initially, Israel probably sought to disrupt the government and chose an escalation at a time when it was faced by increased international criticism as peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed.

In a way, the current Israeli onslaught on Gaza is not much different than the earlier aerial bombing campaigns that took place in 2009 and in 2012. Then, as now, the Israeli government claimed it was doing so to protect its civilians from rocket fire while failing to acknowledge the fact that the illegal blockade of Gaza, in which 1.8 million people are confined to a tiny strip and in which anyone who approaches a buffer zone next to the border is automatically shot, will mean that Palestinian will attempt to practice resistance with by available means. While Israel systematically attempts to gain international solidarity by asking the world what would they do if they were attacked by rockets, it does not ask the question of what would one do if confined to a blockaded area from which there is no escape and without a functioning alarm system. (Similarly, while Egypt has also closed its border with Gaza, Israel remains the occupying power in strip due to siege it imposes. It was also Israel, and not Egypt, that occupied the area in 1967). Then, as now, Israel claimed it was not targeting civilians intentionally although it was doing just that. Then, as now, the international community turned a blind eye to what a former Israeli pilot described as war-crimes, until the number of the dead became ‘unbearably’ high beyond what the international community can accept. Then, as now, Israel continuously violated the ceasefire it had with Hamas and at the same time ignored its own violations. Then, as now, Israel refused to negotiate directly with Hamas, although a rabbi of a West Bank settlement who has done so managed to achieve an agreeable cease-fire.

What is different, however, this time, is that even some in the US mainstream media that traditionally tends to unquestionably adopt Israel’s narrative, began to depict life in Gaza. The Washington Post, for example, posted a video of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip from the ground level, a perspective not often seen on the American press and issued a list of children killed. What is also different, this time, is that Israeli politicians have openly declared the entire Palestinian people to be the enemy, and radical right wing Israelis have staged demonstrations calling for "death to the Arabs". Indeed, the brutal burning to death of a Palestinian child, carried out by Israeli radicals, has indicated the degree to which the anti-Arab incitement has been that severe that the Israeli government may be losing control of the situation. Additionally, this time, unlike in earlier events, Hamas leader Khaled Masha’al issued a statement directly to Israelis arguing they should blame Netanyahu for their current predicament. This time too, unlike in previous attempts, an Israeli ground invasion in Gaza, and even a recapturing of the entire strip, is a realistic possibility. While it is hard to say whether Israel has escalated the situation because of its desire to get rid of Hamas or due to its interest in gas reserves found near the Gaza coast, Israeli citizens, who are rightfully fearful due to the constant rocket attacks, are for the most part still united behind the Israeli government’s "Protective Edge" operation, just as they support "Pillar of Cloud" and "Cast Lead" although none of the previous operations has provided them with security or a lasting peace. To what degree the international community will continue to support Israel’s actions in Gaza remains to be seen.

Joshua Tartakovsky is an Israeli-American independent journalist and a graduate of Brown University and LSE.

48 thoughts on “Israel’s Bombardment of Gaza: What Is Different This Time?”

  1. Hello Joshua, interesting article. I just would like to ask you to kindly provide me with references where I can find facts about the following which you mentioned in your article:
    1- that Israeli politicians have openly declared the entire Palestinian people to be the enemy
    2- the brutal burning to death of a Palestinian child, carried out by Israeli radicals
    3- gas reserves found near the Gaza coast
    Many thanks,

    1. Good morning Steven,
      Thank you for your questions.
      Regarding (2) and (3), the references have links.
      Regarding (1), the original post was in Hebrew (, here is the translation of some of the relevant parts:
      Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked in her quote of an essay she adopted as her opinion:
      "The Palestinian people declared war on us, and we need to wage a war back.
      Not an "operation", not a "rolling action" and not a "low intensity conflict" and not a "calculated escalation" and not a "destruction of terrorist infrastructure" and not a "targeted assassination". Enough with inventing vague terms. This is war. There is meaning to words. This is war. And not a war against terror, or a war against extremists or even a war against the Palestinian Authority… this is a war between two nations. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they began.”
      "I do not know why it is so difficult for us to define reality in the simplest words language provides. Why do we need to invent a new name to this war every two weeks, instead of calling it by name. What's so shocking in understanding that the entire Palestinian people are the enemy. Every war is between the two nations, and in every war, the people who started the war, as a whole, are the enemy… Morality of war (and there is such a thing) is based on the assumption that when there are wars, and war is not a normal condition, and in wars usually the enemy is the entire people, including its elders and its women, their cities and villages, property and infrastructure. And the morality of war knows that you can not but harm the civilians of the enemy."

      1. It's an argumentative error on your part. You say "policians", then you cite what A politician has said. It's dishonest to try and make one politician's statement respresentative of the whole Knesset.

      2. That's how we fought WW2.
        War is evil. War is the sum of all evils.
        "The morality of war"?
        Maybe she meant the logic or dictates or evil of war "… knows that you can not but harm the civilians…"

  2. Also it’s pretty hard not to hit civilians when they launch rockets and missiles from in middle of a nursery or hospital lol and when they get warning of a Hamas leaders house being targeted they run on the roof to act as a shield. That is not civilians

  3. Joshua,
    Many of the links in this article seem to have been entered incorrectly, so the browser does nothing when they are clicked. Otherwise, very enjoyable article.

    1. Hi,

      Thank you for the feedback. When you click on a given link, the name of the will show up followed by the actual link. If you delete the former, you will be able to see the link.

    2. Hi,

      The links work now after the editor kindly corrected a technical error I must have committed.

    1. More evidence that "Hamas wants calm with Israel":
      7/15 – "After Hamas rejected an Egyptian-initiated ceasefire proposal and continued to rain rockets throughout Israel on Tuesday, the IAF carried out a devastating series of airstrikes on thirty targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening."

  4. Hi, Joshua

    Very good article. Fearless. Was able to build a connection between violent action of the Zionist state against Palestine today with the events of 2009 and 2012. Able to discern what is similar and what is unique in the current onslaught. Able to denounce the ultimate goal of successive waves of violence: fully expropriate the Palestinians of Gaza.

    Thank you.

    1. A logical point of view but historically inaccurate. A Zionist Israel taking over arab land had its roots in the early 1900's and late 1800's or earlier. Can't give you the references. Maybe we can blame Hitler for aggravating the situation but he didn't cause Bengurion and company to generate the idea.

  5. “…the entire Palestinian people are the enemy. Every war is between the two nations, and in every war, the people who started the war, as a whole, are the enemy…”

    Joshua, thank you for the translation of the Facebook post. It is as clear a statement of the intent to engage in genocide as could be imagined.

  6. The war between Israel and Gaza is on and growing more tensed. Despite so many efforts of ceasefire, bombing is still on from both sides. According to reports, Israel is ready for a ground invasion on Gaza with his 20,000 soldiers, because, to end the violence, world’s leaders have appealed Israel to halt bombing on Gaza.

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