The question is just when: Max Blumenthal on war in the …

Posted By on June 28, 2015

If for whatever reason you are one of the very few people on this Earth who wants to go into,rather than get out of,the Gaza Strip, you may want to know what to expect.

Because although its been just a bit less than a year since the Israeli-Gaza conflict of 2014 or Operation Protective Edge, as the Israeli Defense Force called it came to a halt, you shouldnt expect to find a society rebuilding. No, according to The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, the new book from Max Blumenthal, the journalist behind 2013s incendiary Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, what youll see instead is mountains of rubble, barely any less than there was at the conclusion of the war.

Based on his contacts in Gaza as well as his own first-hand reporting, Blumenthals book does two things, neither of which are especially welcome in U.S. politics and the mainstream media. Blumenthal not only provides a methodical breakdown of the run-up to the conflict one that differs in crucial respects from the narrative most commonly found in American media but also offers a more detailed accounting of what was happening behind the fog of war. He also tries to answer some of the still-vexing questions about the war: Why did it last so long? Why so many civilian casualties? And what was even accomplished?

Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Blumenthal to discuss the book, the history of Gaza many Americans dont know, why he believes the war was an almost deliberate result of longstanding Israeli policy, and why he believes it wont be the last. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

You argue that last summers war cannot really be understood in isolation, that one has to see it in a larger context. For example, why do you think the situation today is a consequence of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharons disengagement from Gaza in 2005?

The withdrawal of religious nationalist Israeli settlers (who numbered about 9,000) from the Gaza Strip was celebrated by liberals, because they saw these fanatics being forced by Israeli troops from an area that Israel [had] occupied. This actually should have been a scenario, this unilateral withdrawal, that anyone who had any concern for the people in the Gaza Strip would have opposed, because the agenda was very clear and out in the open. It was to remove [Israel] from the obligations of the Geneva Convention regarding the Gaza Strip, to claim that it was no longer occupied.

What did that new footing do for Israel?

It enabled it to establish a panopticon-style system, where it controls the exterior; the sky, the sea; and can place the Gaza Strip under a very high-tech siege, a robotically-controlled siege. Secondly, it allowed Israel to retrench its control of the major settlement blocks around East Jerusalem. They received a letter from George W. Bush [requesting] the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and guaranteeing these gigantic settlements on top of the Palestinian aquifer which cut deep into the heart of the West Bank and will eventually separate the West Bank from itself will remain in permanent Israeli hands under any US negotiated peace agreement. Thats point number two.

And point number three?

Point number three is that withdrawal, in the words of then Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, allows the military more freedom of action in the Gaza Strip. If there arent Jewish Israelis in the Gaza Strip, that allows you to start using 150-mm artillery shells during these barrages of the border regions; that allows you to use 2,000-pound fragmentation bombs. As soon as the withdrawal took place, you started seeing the use of experimental weapons, like dime weaponry. Gaza started to become a laboratory for the Israeli weapons industry, and for the entire mechanism of control that Israels trying to market and export to the word as field-tested.

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The question is just when: Max Blumenthal on war in the ...

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