Monday, January 5, 2009

Still too early to call

Ten days into the operation and following the first 48 hours of the ground assault there is really very little info coming out of Gaza. Al-Jazeera (the only TV station with a crew inside Gaza) is doing a very decent job trying to report from the Strip, but its reporters clearly lack the ability to move from location to location and thus mostly provide reports from the top of a building along the cost, from the main hospital and from Israeli occupied Palestine.

Most Palestinian news outlets are close to useless in terms of real info.

Ha'aretz regularly publishes very interesting analytical pieces, but is terms of hard facts it is about as useless as Palestinian sources.

Hamas is doing a dismal job in terms of PR or information. For example, Hamas clearly makes propagandistic statements whose shelf life is less than 24 hours (such as the story about the two Israeli soliders allegedly captured by Hamas). Instead of taking their inspiration from Hezbollah (whose credibility among Israeli Jews is *higher* than the one of government or Israeli news outlets), Hamas seems to take its inspiration from "Comical Ali" aka Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Saddam's "information minister"; not a good sign for the future...

All in all, there is little or no info coming out of Gaza.

I just listened to a senior Hamas leader (whose name I did not catch) speaking on al-Jazeera who said that the fact that Hamas would send a delegation to Egypt should not be seen as a sign that Hamas is willing to accept a cease-fire. Considering that Egpypt is beyond any shadow of a doubt an Israeli pawn in this entire affair I simply cannot see the point for Hamas of talking to any Egyptians at all. Same thing for the Sarkozy/Kouchner gang whose dedication to Zionism is always impeccable.

Fatah, for its part, is taking a patriotic stance by declaring its full support for the people of Gaza and unity with Hamas, but it is doing so "on the cheap", without any concrete actions to back its words (such as recognizing the legitimacy of the Hamas government in Gaza, for starters).

The USA back Israel 110%. What else is knew? Ditto for the Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, the Federated States of Micronesia and... ah, yes, the United Kingdom (I always forget this small and utterly irrelevant island).

All this was fully predictable and so far, everything is going exactly according to plan (including the "monumental achievement" of the glorious Israeli armed forces which succeeded in cross the 5 kilometers from its assembly areas to the beach).

So the bottom line is this: this war is too early to call. There are some worrying signs coming out of Hamas, but what will really decide where all this goes is the tactical situation on the ground. My hopes are not so much with the (decidedly unimpressive) political leadership of Hamas as with the people of Gaza. It is their willpower to resist which will determine the outcome of this war.