On Dresden, now and then - Tom Stevenson in LRB:
“In Israel the desire for retribution for the 7 October attack was widespread. But the Israeli army clearly knew much less about what was happening inside Gaza than it thought it did. If Israel had been blind to an assault so meticulously planned and on such a large scale, how was it now to conduct a coherent military operation? Removing Hamas or destroying it as an organisation would have been extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, even if Israel had good intelligence in the strip. Faced with the fact that it didn’t, Israel’s solution has been to raze Gaza. Israeli officials and ambassadors have themselves compared the air campaign to the bombing of Dresden.”
“The Merkava tank has an active protection system (called Trophy) designed to protect it against anti-tank weapons. During the 2014 and 2021 assaults on Gaza, Trophy worked. But there’s some evidence that this time al-Qassam fighters have been able to approach tanks on foot and place munitions under active protection systems to disable them before launching their RPGs. Gazan militias have also made use of rifles locally manufactured using lathes and basic machine tools. As of 23 January, Israel had lost 217 soldiers in Gaza, some killed fighting Palestinian militia, others (like the 21 reservists killed on 22 January) dying after the explosives they had planted blew up prematurely.”
“The Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem concluded that mass hunger in Gaza ‘is not a by-product of war but a direct result of Israel’s declared policy ... allowing food into the Gaza Strip is not an act of kindness but a positive obligation under international humanitarian law. Refusing to comply with this duty constitutes a war crime.’”
“The Israeli government’s declared objectives in Gaza were to eliminate Hamas and recover the hostages. But very few senior Hamas figures have been confirmed killed or captured in Gaza and just one hostage, not a civilian, has been rescued by Israeli troops as a result of a military operation. Tens of thousands have been killed, but the two most prominent Hamas leaders in Gaza, Sinwar and Deif, are not among them. The most significant Hamas leader to have been killed since the start of the war is Saleh al-Arouri, assassinated in Lebanon on 2 January. Israeli troops are still clearing northern Gaza, but the al-Qassam Brigades continue to operate in Gaza City and Khan Younis. The IDFhas killed thousands of Palestinian fighters, but it’s very likely that the war has led to new fighters being recruited. Israel’s military operations haven’t achieved any of their public objectives; the real purpose appears to be collective punishment and full-scale destruction.”
“Negotiations with Hamas have been taking place through Egypt and Qatar. Some reports suggest that Israel offered a two-month ‘pause’ in exchange for the release of all the remaining hostages; Hamas countered that further releases of hostages would come only when Israel agrees to stop the attack and withdraw.”
Read the article here.
Hamburg and Dresden indeed.
See also my article in November in NRC, only in Dutch, read it here.
Israel’s strategy can be compared to père Assad’s strategy in Hama in 1982.
Some would call it deterioration, whether it’s moral is a whole different question.
Syria got quiet till 2011. Israel won’t get that.
Père Assad, a brutal war criminal, fought against zealots, too many Israeli politicians seem to believe in grandiose supremacy and messianism themselves. It's a war between zealots and more zealots.