Behind the Bloodbath
in Gaza

Foiling Another Palestinian
Peace Offensive

Norman Finkelstein
January 28, 2009

Early speculation on the motive behind Israel’s slaughter in Gaza that began
on 27 December 2008 and continued till 18 January 2009 centered on the
upcoming elections in Israel. The jockeying for votes was no doubt a factor
in this Sparta-like society consumed by “revenge and the thirst for blood,”
where killing Arabs is a sure crowd-pleaser. (Polls during the war showed
that 80-90 percent of Israeli Jews supported it.) But as Israeli journalist
Gideon Levy pointed out on Democracy Now!, “Israel went through a very
similar war…two-and-a-half years ago [in Lebanon], when there were no
elections.” When crucial state interests are at stake, Israeli ruling elites
seldom launch major operations for narrowly electoral gains. It is true that
Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s decision to bomb the Iraqi OSIRAK reactor
in 1981 was an electoral ploy, but the strategic stakes in the strike on Iraq were
puny; contrary to widespread belief, Saddam Hussein had not embarked on
a nuclear weapons program prior to the bombing. The fundamental motives
behind the latest Israeli attack on Gaza lie elsewhere: (1) in the need to
restore Israel’s “deterrence capacity,” and (2) in the threat posed by a new
Palestinian “peace offensive.”

Israel’s “larger concern” in the current offensive, New York Times Middle
East correspondent Ethan Bronner reported, quoting Israeli sources, was to
“re-establish Israeli deterrence,” because “its enemies are less afraid of
it than they once were, or should be.” Preserving its deterrence capacity
has always loomed large in Israeli strategic doctrine. Indeed, it was the
main impetus behind Israel’s first-strike against Egypt in June 1967 that
resulted in Israel’s occupation of Gaza (and the West Bank). To justify the
onslaught on Gaza, Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote that “[m]any
Israelis feel that the walls…are closing in…much as they felt in early June
1967.” Ordinary Israelis no doubt felt threatened in June 1967, but—as
Morris surely knows—the Israeli leadership experienced no such trepidation.
After Israel threatened and laid plans to attack Syria, Egyptian President
Gamal Abdel Nasser declared the Straits of Tiran closed to Israeli shipping,
but Israel made almost no use of the Straits (apart from the passage of oil,
of which Israel then had ample stocks) and, anyhow, Nasser did not in
practice enforce the blockade, vessels passing freely through the Straits
within days of his announcement. In addition, multiple U.S. intelligence
agencies had concluded that the Egyptians did not intend to attack Israel
and that, in the improbable case that they did, alone or in concert with other
Arab countries, Israel would—in President Lyndon Johnson’s words—“whip
the hell out of them.” The head of the Mossad told senior American officials
on 1 June 1967 that “there were no differences between the U.S. and the
Israelis on the military intelligence picture or its interpretation.” The
predicament for Israel was rather the growing perception in the Arab world,
spurred by Nasser’s radical nationalism and climaxing in his defiant
gestures in May 1967, that it would no longer have to follow Israeli orders.
Thus, Divisional Commander Ariel Sharon admonished those in the Israeli
cabinet hesitant to launch a first-strike that Israel was losing its “deterrence
capability…our main weapon—the fear of us.” Israel unleashed the June 1967
war “to restore the credibility of Israeli deterrence” (Israeli strategic
analyst Zeev Maoz).

The expulsion of the Israeli occupying army by Hezbollah in May 2000 a
major new challenge to Israel’s deterrence capacity. The fact that Israel
suffered a humiliating defeat, one celebrated throughout the Arab world,
made another war well-nigh inevitable. Israel almost immediately began
planning for the next round, and in summer 2006 found a pretext when
Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers (several others were killed in the
firefight) and demanded in exchange the release of Lebanese prisoners held
by Israel. Although Israel unleashed the fury of its air force and geared up
for a ground invasion, it suffered yet another ignominious defeat. A respected
American military analyst despite being partial to Israel nonetheless
concluded, “the IAF, the arm of the Israel military that had once destroyed
whole air forces in a few days, not only proved unable to stop Hezbollah
rocket strikes but even to do enough damage to prevent Hezbollah’s rapid
recovery”; that “once ground forces did cross into Lebanon…, they failed to
overtake Hezbollah strongholds, even those close to the border”; that “in
terms of Israel’s objectives, the kidnapped Israeli soldiers were neither
rescued nor released; Hezbollah’s rocket fire was suppressed, not even its
long-range fire…; and Israeli ground forces were badly shaken and bogged
down by a well-equipped and capable foe”; and that “more troops and a
massive ground invasion would indeed have produced a different outcome,
but the notion that somehow that effort would have resulted in a more
decisive victory over Hezbollah…has no basis in historical example or logic.”
The juxtaposition of several figures further highlights the magnitude of the
setback: Israel deployed 30,000 troops as against 2,000 regular Hezbollah
fighters and 4,000 irregular Hezbollah and non-Hezbollah fighters; Israel
delivered and fired 162,000 weapons whereas Hezbollah fired 5,000 weapons
(4,000 rockets and projectiles at Israel and 1,000 antitank missiles inside
Lebanon). Moreover, “the vast majority of the fighters who defended villages
such as Ayta ash Shab, Bint Jbeil, and Maroun al-Ras were not, in fact,
regular Hezbollah fighters and in some cases were not even members of
Hezbollah,” and “many of Hezbollah’s best and most skilled fighters never
saw action, lying in wait along the Litani River with the expectation that
the IDF assault would be much deeper and arrive much faster than it did.”
Yet another indication of Israel’s reversal of fortune was that, unlike any
of its previous armed conflicts, in the final stages of the 2006 war it fought
not in defiance of a U.N. ceasefire resolution but in the hope of a U.N.
resolution to rescue it.

After the 2006 Lebanon war Israel was itching to take on Hezbollah again,
but did not yet have a military option against it. In mid-2008 Israel
desperately sought to conscript the U.S. for an attack on Iran, which would
also decapitate Hezbollah, and thereby humble the main challengers to its
regional hegemony. Israel and its quasi-official emissaries such as Benny
Morris threatened that if the U.S. did not go along “then non-conventional
weaponry will have to be used,” and “many innocent Iranians will die.” To
Israel’s chagrin and humiliation, the attack never materialized and Iran has
gone its merry way, while the credibility of Israel’s capacity to terrorize
slipped another notch. It was high time to find a defenseless target to
annihilate. Enter Gaza, Israel’s favorite shooting gallery. Even there the
feebly armed Islamic movement Hamas had defiantly resisted Israeli diktat,
in June 2008 even compelling Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

During the 2006 Lebanon war Israel flattened the southern suburb of Beirut
known as the Dahiya, where Hezbollah commanded much popular support.
In the war’s aftermath Israeli military officers began referring to the “Dahiya
strategy”: “We shall pulverize the 160 Shiite villages [in Lebanon] that
have turned into Shiite army bases,” the IDF Northern Command Chief
explained, “and we shall not show mercy when it comes to hitting the
national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by
Hezbollah.” In the event of hostilities, a reserve Colonel at the Israeli
Institute for National Security Studies chimed in, Israel needs “to act
immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate….Such a
response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent
that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.” The new
strategy was to be used against all of Israel’s regional adversaries who had
waxed defiant—“the Palestinians in Gaza are all Khaled Mashaal, the Lebanese
are all Nasrallah, and the Iranians are all Ahmadinejad”—but Gaza was the
prime target for this blitzkrieg-cum-bloodbath strategy. “Too bad it did not
take hold immediately after the ‘disengagement’ from Gaza and the first
rocket barrages,” a respected Israeli columnist lamented. “Had we
immediately adopted the Dahiya strategy, we would have likely spared
ourselves much trouble.” After a Palestinian rocket attack, Israel’s
Interior Minister urged in late September 2008, “the IDF should…decide on a
neighborhood in Gaza and level it.” And, insofar as the Dahiya strategy
could not be inflicted just yet on Lebanon and Iran, it was predictably
pre-tested in Gaza.

The operative plan for the Gaza bloodbath can be gleaned from authoritative
statements after the war got underway: “What we have to do is act
systematically with the aim of punishing all the organizations that are
firing the rockets and mortars, as well as the civilians who are enabling
them to fire and hide” (reserve Major-General); “After this operation there
will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza” (Deputy IDF Chief of
Staff); “Anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target” (IDF
Spokesperson’s Office). Whereas Israel killed a mere 55 Lebanese during the
first two days of the 2006 war, the Israeli media exulted at Israel’s “shock
and awe” (Maariv) as it killed more than 300 Palestinians in the first two
days of the attack on Gaza. Several days into the slaughter an informed
Israeli strategic analyst observed, “The IDF, which planned to attack
buildings and sites populated by hundreds of people, did not warn them in
advance to leave, but intended to kill a great many of them, and succeeded.”
Morris could barely contain his pride at “Israel’s highly efficient air
assault on Hamas.” The Israeli columnist B. Michael was less impressed by
the dispatch of helicopter gunships and jet planes “over a giant prison and
firing at its people” —for example, “70…traffic cops at their graduation
ceremony, young men in desperate search of a livelihood who thought they’d
found it in the police and instead found death from the skies.”

As Israel targeted schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, and U.N.
sanctuaries, as it slaughtered and incinerated Gaza’s defenseless civilian
population (one-third of the 1,200 reported casualties were children),
Israeli commentators gloated that “Gaza is to Lebanon as the second sitting
for an exam is to the first—a second chance to get it right,” and that this
time around Israel had “hurled [Gaza] back,” not 20 years as it promised to
do in Lebanon, but “into the 1940s. Electricity is available only for a few
hours a day”; that “Israel regained its deterrence capabilities” because
“the war in Gaza has compensated for the shortcomings of the [2006] Second
Lebanon War”; and that “There is no doubt that Hezbollah leader Hassan
Nasrallah is upset these days….There will no longer be anyone in the Arab
world who can claim that Israel is weak.”

New York Times foreign affairs expert Thomas Friedman joined in the chorus
of hallelujahs. Israel in fact won the 2006 Lebanon war, according to
Friedman, because it had inflicted “substantial property damage and
collateral casualties on Lebanon at large,” thereby administering an
“education” to Hezbollah: fearing the Lebanese people’s wrath, Hezbollah
would “think three times next time” before defying Israel. He expressed hope
that Israel was likewise “trying to ‘educate’ Hamas by inflicting a heavy
death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.” To
justify the targeting of Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure
Friedman asserted that Israel had no other option because “Hezbollah created
a very ‘flat’ military network…deeply embedded in the local towns and
villages,” and that because “Hezbollah nested among civilians, the only
long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians…to
restrain Hezbollah in the future.”

Leaving aside Friedman’s hollow coinages—what does “flat” mean?—and
leaving aside that he alleged that the killing of civilians was unavoidable but
also recommends targeting civilians
as a “deterrence” strategy: is it even true
that Hezbollah was “embedded in,” “nested among,” and “intertwined” with
the Lebanese civilian population?

Here’s what Human Rights Watch concluded after an exhaustive

“we found strong evidence that Hezbollah stored most of its rockets
in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields
and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left
populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started, and that
Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared
positions outside villages.”

And again,

“in all but a few of the cases of civilian deaths we investigated,
Hezbollah fighters had not mixed with the civilian population or
taken other actions to contribute to the targeting of a particular home
or vehicle by Israeli forces.” Indeed, “Israel’s own firing patterns in
Lebanon support the conclusion that Hezbollah fired large numbers of
its rockets from tobacco fields, banana, olive and citrus groves, and
more remote, unpopulated valleys.”

A U.S. Army War College study based largely on interviews with Israeli
participants in the Lebanon war similarly found that:

“the key battlefields in the land campaign south of the Litani River
were mostly devoid of civilians, and IDF participants consistently
report little or no meaningful intermingling of Hezbollah fighters and
noncombatants. Nor is there any systematic reporting of Hezbollah
using civilians in the combat zone as shields.”

On a related note, the authors report that “the great majority of
Hezbollah’s fighters wore uniforms. In fact, their equipment and clothing
were remarkably similar to many state militaries’—desert or green fatigues,
helmets, web vests, body armor, dog tags, and rank insignia.”

Friedman further asserted that, “rather than confronting Israel’s Army
head-on,” Hezbollah fired rockets at Israel’s civilian population to provoke
Israeli retaliatory strikes, inevitably killing Lebanese civilians and
“inflaming the Arab-Muslim street.” Yet, numerous studies have shown, and
Israeli officials themselves conceded that, during its guerrilla war against
the Israeli occupying army, Hezbollah only targeted Israeli civilians after
Israel targeted Lebanese civilians. In conformity with past practice
Hezbollah started firing rockets toward Israeli civilian concentrations
during the 2006 war only after Israel inflicted heavy casualties on Lebanese
civilians, while Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah avowed that it
would target Israeli civilians “as long as the enemy undertakes its
aggression without limits or red lines.”

If Israel targeted the Lebanese civilian population and infrastructure
during the 2006 war, it was not because it had no choice, and not because
Hezbollah had provoked it, but because terrorizing the civilian population
was a relatively cost-free method of “education,” much to be preferred over
fighting a real foe and suffering heavy casualties, although Hezbollah’s
unexpectedly fierce resistance prevented Israel from achieving a victory on
the battlefield. In the case of Gaza it was able both to “educate” the
population and achieve a military victory because—in the words of Gideon
Levy—the “fighting in Gaza” was“war deluxe.”

Compared with previous wars, it is child’s play—pilots bombing unimpeded
as if on practice runs, tank and artillery soldiers shelling houses and
civilians from their armored vehicles, combat engineering troops destroying
entire streets in their ominous protected vehicles without facing serious
opposition. A large, broad army is fighting against a helpless population
and a weak, ragged organization that has fled the conflict zones and is
barely putting up a fight.

The justification put forth by Friedman in the pages of the Times for
targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure amounted to apologetics for
state terrorism. It might be recalled that although Hitler had stripped Nazi
propagandist Julius Streicher of all his political power by 1940, and his
newspaper Der Stürmer had a circulation of only some 15,000 during the war,
the International Tribunal at Nuremberg nonetheless sentenced him to death
for his murderous incitement.

Beyond restoring its deterrence capacity, Israel’s main goal in the Gaza
slaughter was to fend off the latest threat posed by Palestinian moderation.
For the past three decades the international community has consistently
supported a settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict that calls for two
states based on a full Israeli withdrawal to its June 1967 border, and a
“just resolution” of the refugee question based on the right of return and
compensation. The vote on the annual U.N. General Assembly resolution,
“Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine,” supporting these terms
for resolving the conflict in 2008 was 164 in favor, 7 against (Israel, United
States, Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau), and 3
abstentions. At the regional level the Arab League in March 2002
unanimously put forth a peace initiative on this basis, which it has
subsequently reaffirmed. In recent times Hamas has repeatedly signaled its
own acceptance of such a settlement. For example, in March 2008 Khalid
Mishal, head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, stated in an interview:

There is an opportunity to deal with this conflict in a manner different
than Israel and, behind it, the U.S. is dealing with it today. There is
an opportunity to achieve a Palestinian national consensus on a
political program based on the 1967 borders, and this is an exceptional
circumstance, in which most Palestinian forces, including Hamas, accept
a state on the 1967 borders….There is also an Arab consensus on this
demand, and this is a historic situation. But no one is taking advantage
of this opportunity. No one is moving to cooperate with this
opportunity. Even this minimum that has been accepted by the
Palestinians and the Arabs has been rejected by Israel and by the U.S.

Israel is fully cognizant that the Hamas Charter is not an insurmountable
obstacle to a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. “[T]he Hamas
leadership has recognized that its ideological goal is not attainable and will
not be in the foreseeable future,” a former Mossad head recently observed.
“[T]hey are ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state
in the temporary borders of 1967….They know that the moment a Palestinian
state is established with their cooperation, they will be obligated to change
the rules of the game: They will have to adopt a path that could lead them
far from their original ideological goals.”

In addition, Hamas was “careful to maintain the ceasefire” it entered into
with Israel in June 2008, according to an official Israeli publication,
despite Israel’s reneging on the crucial component of the truce that it ease
the economic siege of Gaza. “The lull was sporadically violated by rocket
and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations,” the
source continues. “At the same time, the [Hamas] movement tried to enforce
the terms of the arrangement on the other terrorist organizations and to
prevent them from violating it.” Moreover, Hamas was “interested in
renewing the relative calm with Israel” (Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin).

The Islamic movement could thus be trusted to stand by its word, making
it a credible negotiating partner, while its apparent ability to extract
concessions from Israel, unlike the hapless Palestinian Authority doing
Israel’s bidding but getting no returns, enhanced Hamas’s stature among
Palestinians. For Israel these developments constituted a veritable
disaster. It could no longer justify shunning Hamas, and it would be only a
matter of time before international pressure in particular from the
Europeans would be exerted on it to negotiate. The prospect of an incoming
U.S. administration negotiating with Iran and Hamas, and moving closer to
the international consensus for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict, which
some U.S. policymakers now advocate, would have further highlighted
Israel’s intransigence. In an alternative scenario, speculated on by Nasrallah,
the incoming American administration plans to convene an international
peace conference of “Americans, Israelis, Europeans and so-called Arab
moderates” to impose a settlement. The one obstacle is “Palestinian resistance
and the Hamas government in Gaza,” and “getting rid of this stumbling
block is…the true goal of the war.”

In either case, Israel needed to provoke Hamas into breaking the truce, and
then radicalize or destroy it, thereby eliminating it as a legitimate negotiating
partner. It is not the first time Israel confronted such a diabolical threat—
an Arab League peace initiative, Palestinian support for a two-state
settlement and a Palestinian ceasefire—and not the first time it embarked on
provocation and war to overcome it.

In the mid-1970s the PLO mainstream began supporting a two-state
settlement on the June 1967 border. In addition, the PLO, headquartered in
Lebanon, was strictly adhering to a truce with Israel that had been
negotiated in July 1981. In August 1981 Saudi Arabia unveiled, and the Arab
League subsequently approved, a peace plan based on the two-state
settlement. Israel reacted in September 1981 by stepping up preparations to
destroy the PLO. In his analysis of the buildup to the 1982 Lebanon war,
Israeli strategic analyst Avner Yaniv reported that Yasser Arafat was
contemplating a historic compromise with the “Zionist state,” whereas “all
Israeli cabinets since 1967” as well as “leading mainstream doves” opposed
a Palestinian state. Fearing diplomatic pressures, Israel maneuvered to
sabotage the two-state settlement. It conducted punitive military raids
“deliberately out of proportion” against “Palestinian and Lebanese
civilians” in order to weaken “PLO moderates,” strengthen the hand of
Arafat’s “radical rivals,” and guarantee the PLO’s “inflexibility.” However,
Israel eventually had to choose between a pair of stark options: “a political
move leading to a historic compromise with the PLO, or preemptive
military action against it.”

To fend off Arafat’s “peace offensive”—Yaniv’s telling phrase—Israel
embarked on military action in June 1982. The Israeli invasion “had been
preceded by more than a year of effective ceasefire with the PLO,” but after
murderous Israeli provocations, the last of which left as many as 200
civilians dead (including 60 occupants of a Palestinian children’s
hospital), the PLO finally retaliated, causing a single Israeli casualty.
Although Israel used the PLO’s resumption of attacks as the pretext for its
invasion, Yaniv concluded that the “raison d’être of the entire operation”
was “destroying the PLO as a political force capable of claiming a
Palestinian state on the West Bank.” It deserves passing notice that in his
new history of the “peace process,” Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador
to Israel, provides this capsule summary of the sequence of events just
narrated: “In 1982, Arafat’s terrorist activities eventually provoked the Israeli
government of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon into a full-scale invasion
of Lebanon.”

Fast forward to 2008. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated in early
December 2008 that although Israel wanted to create a temporary period of
calm with Hamas, an extended truce “harms the Israeli strategic goal,
empowers Hamas, and gives the impression that Israel recognizes the
movement.” Translation: a protracted ceasefire that enhanced Hamas’s
credibility would have undermined Israel’s strategic goal of retaining
control of the West Bank. As far back as March 2007 Israel had decided on
attacking Hamas, and only negotiated the June truce because “the Israeli
army needed time to prepare.” Once all the pieces were in place, Israel only
lacked a pretext. On 4 November, while the American media were riveted on
election day, Israel broke the ceasefire by killing seven Palestinian
militants, on the flimsy excuse that Hamas was digging a tunnel to abduct
Israeli soldiers, and knowing full well that its operation would provoke
Hamas into hitting back. “Last week’s ‘ticking tunnel,’ dug ostensibly to
facilitate the abduction of Israeli soldiers,” Haaretz reported in

was not a clear and present danger: Its existence was always known
and its use could have been prevented on the Israeli side, or at least the
soldiers stationed beside it removed from harm’s way. It is impossible
to claim that those who decided to blow up the tunnel were simply
being thoughtless. The military establishment was aware of the
immediate implications of the measure, as well as of the fact that the
policy of “controlled entry” into a narrow area of the Strip leads to the
same place: an end to the lull. That is policy—not a tactical decision
by a commander on the ground.

After Hamas predictably resumed its rocket attacks “[i]n retaliation”
(Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center), Israel could embark
on yet another murderous invasion in order to foil yet another Palestinian
peace offensive.

1. Gideon Levy, “The Time of the Righteous,” Haaretz (9 January 2009).

2. Ethan Bronner, “In Israel, A Consensus That Gaza War Is a Just One,” New
York Times
(13 January 2009).

3. DemocracyNow! 29 December 2008;

4. Richard Wilson, “Incomplete or Inaccurate Information Can Lead to
Tragically Incorrect Decisions to Preempt: The example of OSIRAK,” paper
presented at Erice, Sicily (18 May 2007; updated 9 February 2008;

5. Ethan Bronner, “Israel Reminds Foes That It Has Teeth,” New York Times
(29 December 2008).

6. Benny Morris, “Why Israel Feels Threatened,” New York Times (30 December
2008). l “_ednref7″“Memorandum for the Record” (1 June 1967), Foreign
Relations of the United States, vol. XIX, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1967

(Washington, DC: 2004).

8. Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the war, and the year that transformed the
Middle East
(New York: 2007), p. 293, my emphasis.

9. Zeev Maoz, Defending the Holy Land: A critical analysis of Israel’s
security and foreign policy
(Ann Arbor: 2006), p. 89.

10. William Arkin, Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah
(Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: 2007), pp. xxi, xxv-xxvi, 25, 54, 64, 135,

11. Andrew Exum, Hizballah at War: A military assessment (Washington
Institute for Near East Policy: December 2006), pp. 9, 11-12.

12. Benny Morris, “A Second Holocaust? The Threat to Israel” (2 May 2008;

13. Yaron London, “The Dahiya Strategy” (6 October 2008;,7340,L-3605863,00.html
Gabriel Siboni, “Disproportionate Force: Israel’s concept of response in
light of the Second Lebanon War,” Institute for National Security Studies
(INSS), 2 October 2008. Attila Somfalvi, “Sheetrit: We should level Gaza
neighborhoods” (2 October 2008;,7340,L-3504922,00.html

14. Israeli General Says Hamas Must Not Be the Only Target in Gaza,” IDF
Radio, Tel Aviv, in Hebrew 0600 gmt (26 December 2008), BBC Monitoring
Middle East; Tova Dadon, “Deputy Chief of Staff: Worst still ahead” (29
December 2008;,7340,L-3646462,00.html

15. Seumas Milne, “Israel’s Onslaught on Gaza is a Crime That Cannot
Succeed,” Guardian (30 December 2008).

16. Reuven Pedatzur, “The Mistakes of Cast Lead,” Haaretz (8 January 2009).

17. Morris, “Why Israel Feels Threatened.”

18. B. Michael, “Déjà Vu in Gaza” (29 December 2008;,7340,L-3646558,00.html

19. Gideon Levy, “Twilight Zone/Trumpeting for War,” Haaretz (2 January

20. Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, “Israel and Hamas Are Both Paying a
Steep Price in Gaza,” Haaretz (10 January 2009); Ari Shavit, “Analysis:
Israel’s victories in Gaza make up for its failures in Lebanon,” Haaretz (12
January 2009); Guy Bechor, “A Dangerous Victory” (12 January 2009;,7340,L-3654505,00html

21. Thomas L. Friedman, “Israel’s Goals in Gaza?,” New York Times (14
January 2009).

22. Human Rights Watch, Why They Died: Civilian casualties in Lebanon during
the 2006 war
(New York: 2007), pp. 5, 14, 40-41, 45-46, 48, 51, 53.

23. Stephen Biddle and Jeffrey A. Friedman, The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and
the Future of Warfare: Implications for army and defense policy
PA: 2008), pp. 43-44, 45.

24. Human Rights Watch, Civilian Pawns: Laws of war violations and the use
of weapons on the Israel-Lebanon border
(New York: 1996); Maoz, Defending
the Holy Land
, pp. 213-14, 224-25, 252; Augustus Richard Norton, Hezbollah:
A short history
(Princeton: 2007), pp. 77, 86.

25. Judith Palmer Harik, Hezbollah: The changing face of terrorism (London:
2004), pp. 167-68.

26. Human Rights Watch, Civilians Under Attack: Hezbollah’s rocket assault
on Israel in the 2006 war
(New York: 2007), p. 100. HRW asserts that
Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli civilians were not retaliatory but
provides no supporting evidence.

27. Gideon Levy, “The IDF Has No Mercy for the Children in Gaza Nursery
Schools,” Haaretz (15 January 2009).

28. Glenn Greenwald, “Tom Friedman Offers a Perfect Definition of
‘Terrorism’” (14 January 2009;

29. Mouin Rabbani, “A Hamas Perspective on the Movement’s Evolving Role:
An interview with Khalid Mishal, Part II,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Summer

30. “What Hamas Wants,” Mideast Mirror (22 December 2008).

31. Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence
Heritage and Commemoration Center, The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement
(December 2008), pp. 2, 6, 7.

32. “Hamas Wants Better Terms for Truce,” Jerusalem Post (21 December 2008).
Diskin told the Israeli cabinet that Hamas would renew the truce if Israel
lifted the siege of Gaza, stopped military attacks and extended the truce to
the West Bank.

33. Richard N. Haass and Martin Indyk, “Beyond Iraq: A new U.S. strategy for
the Middle East,” and Walter Russell Mead, “Change They Can Believe In: To
make Israel safe, give Palestinians their due,” in Foreign Affairs,
January-February 2009.

34. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s Speech Delivered
at the Central Ashura Council, 31 December 2008.

35. Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle: the United States, Israel and the
(Boston: 1983), chaps. 3, 5.

36. Yehuda Lukacs (ed), The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: a documentary
record, 1967-1990
(Cambridge: 1992), pp. 477-79.

37. Yehoshaphat Harkabi, Israel’s Fateful Hour (New York: 1988), p. 101.

38. Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The abduction of Lebanon (New York: 1990),
pp. 197, 232.

39. Avner Yaniv, Dilemmas of Security: Politics, strategy and the Israeli
experience in Lebanon
(Oxford: 1987), pp. 20-23, 50-54, 67-70, 87-89, 100-1,
105-6, 113, 143.

40. Martin Indyk, Innocent Abroad: An intimate account of American peace
diplomacy in the Middle East
(New York: 2009), p. 75.

41. Saed Bannoura, “Livni Calls for a Large Scale Military Offensive in
Gaza,” IMEMC & Agencies (10 December 2008;

42. Uri Blau, “IDF Sources: Conditions not yet optimal for Gaza exit,”
(8 January 2009); Barak Ravid, “Disinformation, Secrecy, and Lies:
How the Gaza offensive came about,” Haaretz (28 December 2008).

43. Zvi Bar’el, “Crushing the Tahadiyeh,” Haaretz (16 November 2008). Cf.
Uri Avnery, “The Calculations behind Israel’s Slaughter of Palestinians in
Gaza” (2 January 2009;

44. The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement, p. 3


Norman Finkelstein is author of five books, including Image and Reality of
the Israel-Palestine Conflict
, Beyond Chutzpah and The Holocaust Industry,
which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions. He is the
son of Holocaust survivors. This article is an edited extract of the views of
Finkelstein given at His website is