This has been the narrative of much of the mainstream press. The New York Times, for example, stated earlier this week that
Israel began dropping bombs in Gaza “after persistent Palestinian rocket
But, as Paul Pillar points out, “who appears to be retaliating against whom
depends on when you start the clock.” Although it’s true that Palestinian
militants often fire rockets into Israel,
it’s also true that Israel
regularly aggresses against those living in Gaza.
The blockade itself is a continuous act of aggression, one which continues to
cause tremendous suffering among Palestinians.
Pillar further points out that, while many media outlets have stated that the recent conflict began when Palestinian militants attacked IDF soldiers on November 8, these outlets have generally failed to mention that the soldiers were attacked after they, buttressed by four tanks and a bulldozer, invaded
Myth #2: Netanyahu just wants peace; he only ordered the assault on
to force Hamas to stop firing rockets into . Israel
If Netanyahu just wants peace, then it’s not clear why he ordered the assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari on November 14. Jabari’s assassination, you’ll recall, triggered Hamas to declare that “the gates of hell” had been opened and to fire a flurry of rockets into
We now know that on the morning of his assassination Jabari received a cease-fire
proposal from Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin. Baskin has for the past
few years served as a liaison between Israel and Hamas and helped secure
the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
Baskin recently learned that Jabari was interested in establishing a long-term
ceasefire with Israel,
and so he drafted a proposal with Hamas’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Ghazi Hamad.
Baskin believes that the proposal had a good chance of working, for, unlike
previous proposals, this one “included both a mechanism for dealing with
impending terror threats and a clear definition of breaches.” Israeli security officials
were aware of the proposal, and yet Israel assassinated Jabari on the
very morning he received it.
If Netanyahu wants peace, then it’s also not clear why he doesn’t end the blockade. For a strong case can be made that the blockade is the cause of Palestinian terrorism. Just about any group that was daily subjected to the brutality and humiliation of the blockade would respond by trying to strike back at its oppressors. At the very least Netanyahu could ease the blockade—e.g., by allowing more exports—when Hamas reigns in extremist groups. Hamas has shown that it’s willing and able to reign in such groups, but
Israel has given
it few incentives to do so. By reversing this policy, Netanyahu could do much to protect Israelis.
 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory, “Easing the Blockade: Assessing the Humanitarian Impact on the Population of the Gaza Strip” [.pdf], March 2011.
 “Hamas says ‘gates of hell oepned’ as Israel kills military leader in Gaza,” The Guardian, 11/14/12
 “The Israeli academic who played a critical role in the Shalit deal,” Haaretz, 10/14/11.