Since the murder of 3 Israeli teenagers and the revenge killings of more than 2,000 Palestinians, Israel and Hamas have been engaged in a propaganda war. And it appears that Hamas is winning. The disproportionate Israeli attacks on Gaza, including air strikes on hospitals, schools and UN facilities, polls have caused the popularity of Hamas to soar. As recently as March, 58 percent of Gazans disapproved of Hamas. But since the conflict, the approval ratings of Hamas have skyrocketed. 94 percent of Palestinians now approve of the way Hamas conducted the war and 53 percent now believe that military conflict is the best way to achieve a Palestinian state.
This can only be made worse by the Israeli announcement that it is annexing another 1,000 acres of the occupied West Bank.
Despite polls showing that the majority of Israelis favor peace negotiations and a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems determined to provoke Hamas into a prolonged conflict. Israel points to the rockets being fired from Gaza, yet Israel controls everything that goes in and out of Gaza. As a result, Gazans have great difficulty gaining access to building materials and food. There are pronounced shortages of virtually everything.
So if rockets and other arms are being smuggled into the strip, it’s as much Israel’s fault as it is Gaza’s.
Even with the rockets and small arms, Hamas can have little effect on Israel. But thanks, in part, to the $3 billion a year in military aid from the US, Israel can wipe Gaza from the face of the Earth. Indeed, the UN estimates that it will take 20 years or more for Palestinians to rebuild Gaza neighborhoods providing, of course, Israel will allow concrete to cross the border. Yet, despite its military superiority, this is a war that Israel cannot win.
To understand why, one has to examine the region’s history. Even before World War II, Great Britain made the decision to help displaced Jews return to their “promised land.” To implement the plan, Britain drew up arbitrary borders which displaced thousands of Palestinians. In other words, Jewish refugees created Palestinian refugees. By 1948, there were already more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees crowded into Gaza, the West Bank and surrounding nations. With the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Arab nations chose to fight back on behalf of the Palestinians. There has been almost constant fighting ever since.
After Israel won the 1967 war, it occupied Gaza and the West Bank. It filled the West Bank with Israeli settlements. Contrary to previous agreements, it claimed all of Jerusalem as its capital. It has placed a highly restrictive blockade on Gaza. It has refused to negotiate a peaceful solution since Hamas won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006. And it called for its special ally, the US, to block Palestinian membership in the UN.
Those are the facts. How you interpret them and which side you take is largely the result of the propaganda war.