Israel already threatens war on Iran. It's also involved with Washington, Turkey, Jordan, and other rogue Arab states behind Syria's externally generated insurgency.
Gaza's also threatened. On January 1, Haaretz writer Amos Harel headlined "Will 2012 bring another Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza?" saying:
Repeated Israeli air strikes and incursions target Gaza. Perhaps they precede a broader offensive. Israel's IDF chief Benny Gantz "said on Army radio that 'Operation Cast Lead was carried out in a professional, determined manner, and significantly strengthened Israel's deterrent strength.' "
At the same time, he suggested another round of fighting is likely. "Particularly worrisome (are the alleged) weapons smuggl(ed) into the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have....many thousands of rockets; hundreds" able to reach central Israel, said Harel.
As a result, "the IDF is preparing itself for the possibility of a land operation in another few months."
On January 16, Jerusalem Post writer Yaakov Katz headlined, "IDF preparing for major Gaza action within months," saying:
"The IDF General Staff has ordered the Southern Command to prepare for a possible large Gaza operation that could occur within the next few months, the Jerusalem Post has learned."
If true, preparations have been ongoing much longer. Three years ago, Southern Command head General Yoav Galant trained forces for two years prior to Cast Lead. Plans involved inflicting major damage while limiting Israeli casualties.
Now, said Katz, operational plans are being finalized and distributed to IDF units to be deployed against Gaza.
During Cast Lead, brigade units were used. They combined armor, infantry and combat engineer forces. Cast Lead's model will be replicated. Gaza Division head General Yossi Bachar plans "significantly larger" operations than last time.
"Every officer will need to know where he needs to be with his troops and what his mission will be," according to an unnamed senior IDF official. "Gaza has changed and the weaponry in Hamas' and Islamic Jihad's hands has significantly grown in quantity and quality."
Katz said Hamas' military wing is over 20,000 strong in five brigades. Each has a number of battalions. "(S)pecial teams" have "anti-tank missiles, mortar and rocket fire and anti-aircraft shoulder-to-air missiles."
Orders to attack aren't issued. Preparations are ongoing to be ready "at a moment's notice and if needed."
According to an unnamed General Staff official, "Gaza is possibly Israel's most volatile front today. It is a front that can explode at any given moment." In fact, Hamas and other resistance groups respond only when attacked. Israel does it belligerently. Victims are blamed.
Perhaps more slaughter's coming. If so, civilians will suffer most. Israel calls them legitimate targets. International law prohibits attacking them. Doing so constitutes crimes of war and against humanity. Nonetheless, they're standard Israeli policy. Lawlessness and brutality define its agenda. War strategy embodies them.
Israel notoriously uses false flag incidents to justify attacks or all-out war. In June 1982, Arafat was falsely blamed for Abu Nidal militants' attempted assassination of Israeli UK ambassador Shlomo Argov.
War on Lebanon followed. Around 18,000 Palestinians were massacred. Israel occupied South Lebanon until May 2000. It still illegally holds Sheba Farms, a 14-square mile water-rich area near Syria's Golan. It's also been lawlessly occupied since 1967 along with Ghajar, a bordering Lebanese village.
If Israel plans Cast Lead II, expect one or more manufactured incidents preceding it. The possibility is real. Like Washington, Israel chooses confrontation, not diplomacy; hostility, not conflict resolution; and war, not peace. The business of both countries is war. Expect new theaters opened in 2012.
At the same time, sham peace talks continue in Jordan. Two rounds were held. Two more are planned on January 21 and January 26. Nothing's been accomplished. Israel doesn't negotiate. It demands. Longtime collaborator Abbas never represented Palestinian interests and doesn't now.
WikiLeaks cables disclosed Israel informed him of Cast Lead before launching it. During the slaughter, his silence showed complicity. Defense Minister Ehud Barak's telegrams to US deputy ambassador Luis Moreni said Israel asked if Egypt and Fatah would take over Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.
At issue now is what do they know about possible new attacks, and how will they respond if launched?
A Final Comment
On December 26, Israel's High Court ruled that state and private Israeli companies may plunder Palestinian West Bank quarries. Doing so violated international law and past Supreme Court decisions.
Expect Israel to take full advantage. At issue is controlling all Palestinian resources and valued land. In March 2009, Yesh Din human rights volunteers petitioned the High Court to prevent it. On January 10, they requested another hearing for reconsideration. It posed the following questions:
(1) What are Israel's boundaries with respect to Palestinian resources? In addition, under military occupation, how do 1907 Hague Convention Articles 43 and 55 apply?
Article 43 says occupiers "shall take all the measures in (their) power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country."
Article 55 stipulates that occupiers are regarded only as administrators with temporary possession over "public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct," reflecting temporary possession only.
(2) Have long-term occupiers authority to grant its citizens or corporations exploitive power over territory not their own?
(3) May occupiers exploit the principles of "continuity" and "reasonableness?"
(4) Do Israel quarries employing Palestinians justify exploiting them?
Yesh Din said the High Court decision "revolutionizes the international law of belligerent occupation, in its ruling that the State of Israel, as an Occupying Power in a prolonged occupation, has the authority to grant Israelis and Israeli corporations the right to quarry (Palestinian) natural resources, including in quarries that did not exist prior to the occupation - and with only limitation being the reasonableness of the use of the natural resource."
In other words, what right has Israel to exploit Palestinian resources lawlessly? None whatever.
In the mid-1970s, Israeli West Bank quarry operations began. Ten sites exist. Eight remain active. Israel declares them all "state land." They produce 12 million tons of mined material annually. Nearly all of it goes to Israel.
In 1983, Israel's High Court ruled occupied areas off-limits for "open field....economic exploitation." In its December decision, President Dorit Beinisch said the Court called the quarry issue political to be settled under final status negotiations. She also claimed Yesh Din's petition 40 years after quarry operations began justified denying it.
Twisting international law, she said Israel may "utilize natural resources in a reasonable manner" despite no legal basis for doing so. She also claimed Israel's decades-long occupation justified it. She called it the "reality on the ground."
In fact, occupiers only have temporary trustee authority. It excludes exploitation. It requires administering natural resources for the benefit of occupied people, not the occupier. Ruling otherwise effectively justifies Israel's illegal settlements and all stolen Palestinian land.
In this and other rulings, the Beinisch court trampled on international law and lost legitimacy in the process.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.