The Grand Inquisitors

Up to a hundred Palestinians in Gaza who have defied house arrest orders have been tortured in children's hospitals and schools converted into interrogation centers.  People have been shot in the legs or had their hands broken.  The campaign has been described as a "new massacre". One victim had his eyes put out. No one was safe from the torturers, not even those attending funerals. When is will the UN act to put a stop to this horror? Won't President Obama intervene to stop these barbaric acts? Aren't international human rights monitors going to put a stop to this? When will War Crimes charges be preferred against the perpetrators?

Never.

Why? Because Hama is in charge of the torture and their victims are simply Fatah members. If it were Israel who had done these things, well then ... But since it's Hamas, the same Hamas for whom thousands have been marching in 'solidarity', it's a non-story. The Jersualem Post cites reports from Fatah members describing the events.

The eyewitnesses said that a children's hospital and a mental health center in Gaza City, as well as a number of school buildings in Khan Yunis and Rafah, were among the places that Hamas had turned into "torture centers."

A Fatah activist in Gaza City claimed that as many as 80 members of his faction were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas's house-arrest orders."What's happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah," he said. "Where were these [Hamas] cowards when the Israeli army was here?"

Why, waiting for the ceasefire, of course. That turns out to have its own costs, even though they are not widely recognized. But when the cost-benefit of leaving Hamas in posession of Gaza was calculated, was the price of reprisal included in the bill?  Did anyone take into account how many people, who might otherwise have been open to negotiating peace, have now decided it will never be worth the risk. In other words, is it possible that ceasefires which leave the aggressor in possession of the field may have the effect of undermining genuine peace rather than promoting it?

In another strategic world, the Israeli incursion into Gaza would be create an opportunity for peace akin to those which sprang into existence in the latter parts of the Second World War. The recent move Valkyrie is a reminder that the defeat of extremists -- like Hitler -- could empower the real moderate elements. The Strategy Page believes that Hamas was sorely wounded in the last attacks, mostly in the initial sorties.

January 21, 2009: Hamas thought they were invulnerable to Israeli attack. By placing so many of their military and government facilities in densely populated residential neighborhoods, they believed any Israeli bombing or shelling would cause high, and politically unacceptable, civilian losses. But the Israelis used surprise, more precision than expected, and innovations like calling civilians in the target area and telling them to get out before the bombs hit nearby. As a result, most of the 1,300 Palestinian dead were Hamas personnel, and nearly all the damaged structures were those used by Hamas.

This should have provided a golden opportunity not only to remove the main roadblock to a negotiated settlement, but to lift the yoke of oppression and hardship from the Palestinians.  The defeat of Hamas would have made it easier to open the border with Egypt; easier to solve the terrible dilemma of curtailing Iranian arms shipments while allowing the free passage of supplies for civilian use.

However it now seems likely that Hamas will not only be saved from destruction, but given vast monies for reconstruction, funds which are most likely to be used to torture its opponents and prepare for the next war. This is the peace process, Middle Eastern style.