New WikiLeak Explodes Gaza War Myth

February 08, 2011 1:34 pm ET — MJ Rosenberg

Back at the end of 2008 when the Israeli government launched its war against Hamas-controlled Gaza, it insisted that it had no choice: Hamas had not maintained the cease-fire with Israel and the IDF had no choice but to respond.

But a WikiLeak cable released yesterday indicates the cease-fire was working well, perhaps too well from the point of view of Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak. 

A secret cable, sent by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department reports that Barak had told Egyptian officials that the cease-fire (it is referred to by the Arabic term, tahdiya) was working fine.

Quoting an Israeli official, David Hacham, the cable reports:

Regarding the Tahdiya, Hacham said [that] Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table. The Israelis reluctantly admit that the Tahdiya has served to further consolidate Hamas' grip on Gaza, but it has brought a large measure of peace and quiet to Israeli communities near Gaza.

Let's go over that slowly.

The ceasefire "was holding."  Violations took place "but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible." Hamas was "making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars." The cease-fire had "brought a large measure of peace and quiet to Israeli communities near Gaza."

This was all good news, right?

Not necessarily. Israel was "concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the tahdiya  to increase their strength" and to "further consolidate Hamas' grip on Gaza."  

In other words, although Hamas was maintaining the cease-fire it was also (like Israel) preparing for the time when the cease-fire would end.

The Israeli conclusion: "at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table."

It was. 

During  a 22-day Israeli assault on Gaza that began in December 2008,  1,417 Palestinians were killed. The vast majority were civilians including several hundred children.  13 Israeli soldiers were also killed. 

All in a war that was utterly unnecessary.

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