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Israel Bombs Gaza – “When you can’t hit the donkey, hit the saddle instead”

August 7, 2022

Palestinian Youth, incarcerated in Israeli Prisons

So … Although it is not a formal ceasefire, there is a truce organized between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel, one organized through the good graces of Egypt at Tel Aviv’s request. It was supposed to go into effect tonight at midnight. As it is already midnight in the eastern Mediterranean, it should be in force. Hopefully it will hold for all concerned.

The truce comes after three days of intensive Israeli bombing killing 50 plus Gaza Palestinians including a bunch of children whose innocent faces were plastered all over social media. Palestinians responded with missiles of their own. Israel claims that most of them – 90% – were intercepted, but I read one report, unsubstantiated that 50 % got through. Some landed, I was told, in Tel Aviv and at least one near the main Israeli Lod Airport. I have not seen an stats on Israel statistics.

What was the Israeli pretext for these three days of rage?

The Israeli government claimed that Palestinian Islamic Jihad – their favorite target now that Hamas and before it the PLO can no longer play the role – was planning some kind of military action close against the Israeli military forces bordering the electrified fence separating Gaza from Israel. In response Israel launched a pre-emptive attack. That is the mainstream narrative, as usual, an unverified claim that could not be proven or disproven, the usual excuse for premeditated attacks against Palestinians in the name of self-defense. Nothing new here.


But let me offer another “narrative”, which admittedly I cannot prove either but I think far more persuasive.

As a friend of mine related “When you can’t hit the donkey, hit the saddle instead”, a Persian proverb. In this case the “donkey” is Hezbollah in Lebanon, “the saddle”, the Palestinians in Gaza. Turns out that there is a rather sharp tension between Israel and Lebanon over the exploitation of natural gas off that extends into the territorial waters of both countries. Israel had plans to develop the site and this caused a protest from Lebanon. In response Israel threatened to bomb Beirut if Lebanon (and or Hezbollah based in Lebanon) threatened to interfere with the drilling operation. Hezbollah, not particularly frightened by this threat sent a low level drone, apparently undetected by Israel radar to the site of the drilling ship. It was unarmed and an old model – so it was related. But the threat was real enough. In response to Israel’s threat to bomb Beirut, Hezbollah threatened to bomb the drilling operation, the ship and platform involved unless the legal issues surrounding the project were resolved. Taking Hezbollah at its word, and stung by the fact that, given the threat of violence several international investors withdrew, Israeli froze the drilling and turned to big brother in Washington to lean on the Lebanese government to permit the Israeli drilling project to continue. No luck so far (as far as I know, sitting here in Denver).

But even from my vantage point high in the Rockies one thing is clear: having gotten its fingers burnt in 2006 from its invasion of Lebanon, Israel is rather careful not to provoke Hezbollah unnecessarily. And Hezbollah today, I am told – again I know little about weaponry, balance of military forces, etc.  – Hezbollah is much stronger today technologically and with far more sophisticated missile technology than it was 16 years ago.

Needless to say, from where I’m sitting, Israeli caution not to provoke a military confrontation over the matter with Hezbollah, showed a modicum of wisdom.

Then what was the problem?

The problem is that the Israeli press went ballistic, calling the government cowardly for not standing up to Hezbollah and demanding a military response – what else? – to resolve the situation. Fearing that the government might be brought down or at least seriously weakened rather than bombing “the donkey” – Hezbollah – the Israeli government decided to attack the weaker party – the Palestinians in Gaza, weaker but increasingly more organized, technologically savvy and bolder than in the past. The Palestinians have developed ways to respond (meaning missiles) and as Israel bombed Gaza, Gaza Palestinians sent missiles into Israel… and from what I can tell, it is the Israelis, not the Palestinians who cried “Uncle” asking the Egyptians to intervene.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    August 7, 2022 7:46 pm

    Three cheers for Hezbollah 

  2. Tom Moore permalink
    August 7, 2022 9:25 pm

    Thanks Rob, I’ll share outside the local circles! Tom


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