JERUSALEM, August 11 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Israel is seeing a growing and unprecedented violent backlash against its political left due to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, a prominent Israeli peace activist, Maya Wind, told RIA Novosti.
“We are seeing a backlash now. Israeli activists have not been attacked for many years, but now we are seeing many instances of attacks against those who have been protesting against the war. Armed thugs, mobs of right-wing Jewish activists, are walking around and people are being beaten severely and needing hospital treatment,” Wind said.
Wind’s comments came at the time when fresh attempts were made in Cairo to find a longer-term solution to the Gaza conflict, which began on July 8 and has claimed almost 2,000 lives, most of them among Palestinian civilians.
Wind said internal tension in Israel remained. Online discussions often resulted in right-wing groups attacking the critics of the Israeli policy, including Israeli celebrities and high-society representatives.
“Those people have lost contracts, they have been banned, they have been targeted with boycotts and big public campaigns wages against them, both private and public figures. This phenomenon is something we have never seen in Israel before and it’s very troubling,” she added.
In the context of the conflict there was no public forum for a proper debate about the ethics and purpose of the Israeli offensive. In an unprecedented case, Haneen Zoabi MP, a prominent Arab-Israeli, was banned from the parliament for six months.
“The Israeli state is becoming more defensive, not open to any criticism or introspection about what we are doing with Palestinians. The only discourse that exists is how best to rule over the Palestinians and to control them. There is no viable discourse in any mainstream forum about whether we should have the right at all to rule them. That is not even up for discussion,” Wind said.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said he hoped for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, otherwise military decisions would be made.
“If there will not be a diplomatic solution, I am convinced that sooner or later we will have to opt for a military solution of taking temporary control of Gaza to demilitarize it again,” Steinitz said in an interview with Israel Radio on Monday.
Ian White, an expert on conflict resolution, who has previously facilitated talks with both the Israeli government and the leadership of Hamas, said, however, there was no security solution to a security problem.
“Israel has pummeled Gaza so badly that they have actually built resistance and built up Hamas on the West Bank and that is really the same affect that Margaret Thatcher [the former UK Prime Minister] had when she was dealing with the republican issue [the IRA] in Ireland, and when she got firmer with them she created martyrs. Whenever you create martyrs you create more supporters,” White told RIA Novosti, adding Israel was making a strategic mistake and was actually increasing support for Hamas rather than eroding the Palestinian organization.
“This kind of aggression by Israel is counter-productive. My fear is that with the growth of Hamas in the West Bank that will then give Israel the self-claimed authority to eventually go into the West Bank in the same way as they have done in Gaza,” White said.