Till 25 minutes after 9.00 pm, the deadline for the ceasefire between the Israeli army and Palestinian fighters, both sides kept on firing so that they don’t become the first one to abide by the decision. A sign of how fragile the ceasefire in the volatile region is. Gaza’s people, under occupation, woke up, the next day shocked seeing the grim pictures of death and destruction carried out by the world’s fourth strongest army. Despite Israel’s claim of accuracy in targeting militants and rockets installations, the bombing campaign left 163 dead, including 37 children and 13 women and 1,035 injured, including 315 children and 191 women. Almost 92 houses were completely destroyed while 963 were partially demolished.
This also affected public properties including 10 hospitals and health centres, 35 schools, two universities, 15 corporates, 30 mosques, 14 media and research centres, 92 industrial units and commercial centres, 14 security and police posts, a bank, three playgrounds, a club, water reservoir, waterlines and wells and electricity supplies.
Israel claims to have destroyed most of the strategic rocket storage centres that Hamas and its military wings had and more than 50% of its rockets were shot down before hitting the targets. All these Palestinian losses against six Israeli deaths.
International law holds the occupier responsible for the safety of civilians under occupation but the attacks on Gaza and rest of the occupied Palestinian territories never stopped and continued under different phases of Israeli military operations. It has been a vicious cycle of violence ever since Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 war, which created such hatred and bitterness that all hopes for a two-state solution have been virtually crushed.
The lessons learnt from this war on Gaza can be seen as follows: for the Palestinian people, it is a victory of the steadfastness against occupation and reviving of the culture of resistance, despite the massive human loss in a week of ferocious attacks by the Israel Defence Forces.
For the Arab masses, it exposed the shameful stand of the US administration in justifying and legitimising the Israeli war on Gaza while supporting militants and insurgent groups in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world under the banner of the Arab Spring. This shows that those victorious in Arab countries are fighting American wars in the region which have nothing to do with freedom and democracy.
Representatives of the Arab League made a quick trip to Gaza after assurances that Israel will not target them wherever they are till they leave the border in an orchestrated show of solidarity with the Palestinians without daring to send a single bullet to the Palestinians to defend their land. Ironically, in many Arab countries, imams of various mosques were allowed to call Allah to defend the deprived Palestinians and defeat the Israeli army by sending in ‘God’s army’.
For Israel, it is a win-win situation. Despite Benjamin Netanyahu’s miscalculation about the locations of Hamas rockets and his failure to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, Israel managed to eliminate Ahmad al-Jabari, the operational commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas’s military wing, who negotiated the prisoner exchange deal that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit released.
The war on Gaza exposed the vulnerability of Israel’s Iron Dome but it will get more sophisticated arms from the US to take on the Israeli Arab Palestinians of 1948 and achieve its aim of converting Israel into a Jewish State in a more hostile Islamist neighbourhood. The new Islamists will fuel the conflict. The Palestinians have learned the lesson many times over that resistance is the only way to gain independence. For the right-wing Israelis it is a matter of survival and achieving the final goal. For the region, the worst is yet to come.
Waiel Awwad is a senior Arab journalist
The views expressed by the author are personal