Here's the meat:
What really is behind the numbers reported on the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip? Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel's Operation Cast Lead.
"The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article.snip
Despite the claims, the IDF stood behind its estimate that between 1,100 to 1,200 people were killed in the Strip during the fighting, more than two-thirds of them Hamas members.snip
The army initially believed that the number of civilian casualties was higher, as many Hamas men walked outside their houses dressed in civilian clothes, leaving their weapons at home.
A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper's reporter, "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes."
The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas' exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?"
These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.
I remember the Jenin incident well, and that the UN had to eat it when the truth came out.
The simple fact of the matter is that we are not going to know the truth about the number of dead, just as we do not know the truth about much that goes on in this conflict. When the Israeli government censors information, and Hamas and the PA just flagrantly make shit up, in the end you never know who is crying wolf and who isn't.
As I said when this conflict began, there is no black and white here. Everything is gray but for a few things. Those are:
- Hamas and Fatah are not interested in a two state solution. To them there is only one solution...no more Israel.
- Israel will do what it must to survive.
- As long as number 1 is true there will never be peace.
What we can say is that with the appointing of George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, Secretary Clinton is serious about handling the parties in Israel and the territories, as well as India and Pakistan. That's good news, because there is a lot more at stake than simply Israel's survival, the improvement of life for Palestinians, and peace in the region. She is not screwing around.
Kindasleezy Rice actually believed in the two state solution, and I believe she considered Abbas a genuine actor in the process. I expect that we will be seeing signs as to how Secretary Clinton sees him soon. This is a situation that needs to be massaged carefully. And nothing is really going to happen until after the Israeli elections. If Netanyahu wins, Clinton is going to have item #1 pointed out to her very quickly, though I suspect that by now, she understands this reality.
Netanyahu will discuss nothing of any substance if Fatah/PA is supposed to be the one coming to the table. Hamas is a non-starter for final status talks as far as he's concerned. And frankly, I don't think the two-state solution is even an option in his mind.
If I were her I'd say the first step in moving forward is two-fold. Dealing with immediate infrastructure needs on behalf of Palestinians, while simultaneously building new political institutions not based on the failed notion of destroying Israel. There is no moving forward without the latter, and from what I've heard from Clinton so far, the former is key to achieving the long term goals there. She has made it quite clear at State, and at USAID, that development is essential to promoting American security interests. Translation: helping countries have more profitable economic ventures than violence and terror is good for America. I couldn't agree more. But I would be very hesitant to undertake any sweeping development plan in the territories when they are controlled by terror kelptocracies. They must be swept away for there to be any long term success, or security. Secretary Clinton would do well to lean on Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to help make this happen. The Saudis have been big time funders of the terror regimes. It's time they started pumping in investment capital for legitimate industries. Terror is not plan, and does not look good on a resume′ (unless you're looking for a job with al-qaeda).
The question is how far can this development be taken. Places like Afghanistan, Africa, the territories, need to develop strong economic engines. This means not simply improving the quality of life for ordinary people, but generating new, thriving economic powerhouses to revitalize and maintain global capitalist systems. Ours are about to be devastated by Congressional stupidity in what asshats like Soros think is going to be a controlled economic collapse. I think it's going to be more like a balloon sputtering and flipping out of control until it flops to the ground.
The territories are relatively easy in that I suspect there are Israeli companies that would be willing to invest in job creation within the West Bank, if these investments were safe guarded by legitimate Palestinian political institutions. It is my understanding that Netanyahu sees economic development as the vital step. But again, Israel cannot sustain the territories as an economic canton dependent on Israeli investment. But this is the best way of achieving a one-state solution/federation (the only long term solution that's viable and will make everyone happy. We don't have a united Ireland either, but I feel that day is coming.). I honestly have not fully researched his current positions as I've been a little busy dealing with Gaza, and Martin Luther Lincoln Jr. Jr.
I'd be having a very frank conversation with Mr. Abbas that basically says, "You either lead the way to building the new Palestinian body politic, or consider yourself put out to pasture." There's nothing a kleptocrat fears more than being cut off from the teat.
Carrots and sticks, baby. Carrots and sticks.
As far as I'm concerned, everything of any real interest is going to be happening out of Foggy Bottom. The crap that Congress and Martin Luther King Jr. Jr. are trying to pull; collapsing our economy, etc. That's very much out of our hands and we're just going to have to figure on how we're going to ride that out. But how we handle our foreign affairs, what we cultivate, what we sew, that's going to tell the tale as to what will be left once the storm has passed. Will there be a lifeboat or an anvil? I have a feeling that will be a better indicator as to how devastated things could become. Basically it's the difference between being fucked, and being as fucked as fucked can be.