Palestinians are victims of miscalculation

Palestinians are victims of miscalculation

Listening to Hamas’s political leader Khaled Meshal on Al-Jazeera the other day, I got the impression that he wants the Israeli operation on Gaza to continue. It looked to me like he is calculating that Israel’s grossly disproportionate response to the al-Qassam Brigade’s rockets, and the images of Palestinian women and children being cut down in retaliation, will activate the world against Israel.

In other words, the fact that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is insisting that these rockets are not killing anyone and thus implying they should be discounted in condemning Israel’s response, is misguided. The rockets are clearly calculated to have the effect they are having, which is inviting Israeli retaliation.

Otherwise no responsible Hamas leader would allow them to be continually used, seeing as the only result they are having is the death of innocent Palestinians. If my impression is correct, Hamas’ position amounts to gambling with Palestinian lives.

Israel has, of course, long since lost the image war and its reputation is in shreds. The fact that its actions are being compared to those of Nazi Germany’s in many parts of the world does not appear to disturb the Israeli conscience either. 

To the contrary, Israelis are sitting on hills with beer and Coca Cola cans in hand cheering on the Israeli military as it rains indiscriminate death and destruction on the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has powerful western leaders saying Israel has the right to self-defense.

He actually has it even better this time, seeing the indifference to the plight of the Palestinians on the part of Arab governments, which is also driving Erdoğan to infuriation. So it appears that Hamas is miscalculating if it thinks the increasing number of Palestinian women and children killed will turn the tide against Israel.

There is, however, a miscalculation on Israel’s part too, if it thinks raining death and destruction on Gaza will turn the enclave’s residents against Hamas. Just as Israelis have rallied around Netanyahu, the people of Gaza have rallied around the Hamas leadership again. It would be naïve to expect otherwise in a time of war.

It seems, therefore, that all the killing, much of it amounting to war crimes, being perpetrated by Israel, is ultimately not going to produce the result that Netanyahu and his generals want.

There is a saturation point that Israel will reach in terms of death and destruction, after which it will have to halt.  Meanwhile, the rising death toll among Israeli soldiers will also increase pressure on Netanyahu. Israel will therefore have achieved little, as was the case with its previous Gaza operations.

To all this we have to add Erdoğan’s miscalculations, especially his unwavering support for Hamas. His railing at the west and the Islamic world for their passivity against Israel cannot overshadow the fact that Hamas is unloved, unsupported and unwanted, even in the Arab world.

Egging Hamas on, if indeed this is what Ankara is doing as Egypt and Israel claim, will therefore bear no results. Another of Erdoğan’s miscalculations is blasting Egypt, saying it is run by a tyrant and trying to block Cairo’s diplomatic efforts concerning Gaza.

Egypt was a key regional player, even under its ruthless dictator Hosni Mubarak, and will remain so whether Erdoğan likes it or not. Its current president Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has more regional and international support than Erdoğan. To try and isolate Egypt in the Palestinian issue amounts to flogging a dead horse.

The bottom line is Ankara continues to row against the tide in the Middle East and its position on Gaza merely provides the latest example. Otherwise, just as any and every objective analyst is pointing out, Turkey under Erdoğan has no influence left in the region that is worth the mention.

It is not difficult to see who the victims of all these miscalculations are.