esterday, Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas. The operation “wont end in just a few days,” he said, adding that “we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas.”This morning, he said:”We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command… The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy.”But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Yaalons concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion. Yaalon dismissed the notion that “Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state” as “misguided.” The problem, he said, is that:”Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israels past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel…A gas transaction with the Palestinian Authority [PA] will, by definition, involve Hamas. Hamas will either benefit from the royalties or it will sabotage the project and launch attacks against Fatah, the gas installations, Israel – or all three… It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”Operation Cast Lead did not succeed in uprooting Hamas, but the conflict did take the lives of 1,387 Palestinians 773 of whom were civilians and 9 Israelis 3 of whom were civilians.Since the discovery of oil and gas in the Occupied Territories, resource competition has increasingly been at the heart of the conflict, motivated largely by Israels increasing domestic energy woes.Mark Turner, founder of the Research Journalism Initiative, reported that the siege of Gaza and ensuing military pressure was designed to “eliminate” Hamas as “a viable political entity in Gaza” to generate a “political climate” conducive to a gas deal. This involved rehabilitating the defeated Fatah as the dominant political player in the West Bank, and “leveraging political tensions between the two parties, arming forces loyal to Abbas and the selective resumption of financial aid.”Yaalons comments in 2007 illustrate that the Israeli cabinet is not just concerned about Hamas – but concerned that if Palestinians develop their own gas resources, the resulting economic transformation could in turn fundamentally increase Palestinian clout.Meanwhile, Israel has made successive major discoveries in recent years – such as the Leviathan field estimated to hold 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – which could transform the country from energy importer into aspiring energy exporter with ambitions to supply Europe, Jordan and Egypt. A potential obstacle is that much of the 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin Province lies in territorial waters where borders are hotly disputed between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Cyprus.Amidst this regional jockeying for gas, though, Israel faces its own little-understood energy challenges. It could, for instance, take until 2020 for much of these domestic resources to be properly mobilised.But this is the tip of the iceberg. A 2012 letter by two Israeli government chief scientists – which the Israeli government chose not to disclose – warned the government that Israel still had insufficient gas resources to sustain exports despite all the stupendous discoveries. The letter, according to Haaretz, stated that Israels domestic resources were 50% less than needed to support meaningful exports, and could be depleted in decades:”We believe Israel should increase its [domestic] use of natural gas by 2020 and should not export gas. The Natural Gas Authoritys estimates are lacking. Theres a gap of 100 to 150 billion cubic meters between the demand projections that were presented to the committee and the most recent projections. The gas reserves are likely to last even less than 40 years!”As Dr Gary Luft – an advisor to the US Energy Security Council – wrote in the Journal of Energy Security, “with the depletion of Israels domestic gas supplies accelerating, and without an imminent rise in Egyptian gas imports, Israel could face a power crisis in the next few years… If Israel is to continue to pursue its natural gas plans it must diversify its supply sources.”
Last week there was a six-year-old boy wandering in the street, with either autism or post-traumatic stress disorder, and he was screaming. It sounds awful, but somebody had tied him to a tree. The International Committee of the Red Cross talked to the combatants, and it was arranged for an ambulance crew from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society to go to rescue him. But when they went to save the child the crew was attacked and the driver shot dead.Another time I was at a hospital dealing with 180 casualties who came in. A Palestinian doctor there was in tears, sobbing uncontrollably. He told me he had been called over from another hospital in the middle of the night because of an attack.One of the casualties was a girl, about 19 or 20, who had lost her baby and sister. This surgeon amputated her right leg, performed a vascular bypass graft, shortened her femur, and fixed up her abdomen. He was crying because she was his sister.There is terrible human suffering here. It needs to stop.
In a flagrant violation of international law, Israels assault on Gaza has killed hundreds of civilians and devastated civilian infrastructure.