by Stephen Lendman
Longstanding US and Israeli policies call for regime change in Iran. Replacing its independent government with a pro-Western puppet one is planned.
War is the bottom line option if other methods fail. Both countries have longstanding plans. War could erupt any time. Doing so is madness. It's also lawless, unconscionable, and self-destructive. Attacking Iran assures all combatants lose.
Gaza may be prelude to what's planned. Perhaps strategy and tactics are being tested. In all Israeli wars, so are new weapons. Israel uses illegal ones freely. Victims sustain horrific injuries. Many are killed outright or don't survive.
Hostilities against Gaza continue aggressively. Overnight Sunday into early Monday, over 80 targets were struck. Since November 15, about 1,400 were attacked.
The official death toll passed 100. Perhaps double that number died. Many are buried under rubble. Over 700 were injured. For many, it's serious. Others are maimed for life. Some are so badly hurt they won't survive.
Civilians are willfully targeted. Over half of Al Shifa Hospital casualties are children and infants. Medical staff are hard-pressed. They can't properly handle the growing case load.
Vital medications and other supplies are being exhausted. What's enough for a week or longer is consumed in a few hours. If conflict persists, treating seriously injured patients won't be possible.
Hamas wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians. Its leaders expressed willingness many times to recognize Israel in return for internationally recognized self-determination inside pre-1967 borders. It represents 22% of historic Palestine.
Despite numerous prior Israeli attacks, they agreed unilaterally to observe ceasefire. They never held because Israel provokes conflict. Current negotiations are worthless without internationally enforced conflict resolution terms.
Israel wants things its way. It doesn't negotiate. It pressures, bullies and demands. Washington provides full support. Expect no change now.
UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian human rights Richard Falk noted the grotesque power imbalance between Israel and Hamas. Around 1.7 million Gazans are affected.
Grievances aside, he said, Israel is "militarily omnipotent." Hamas and other resistance groups pose no threat whatever. Israel claims otherwise. At issue is stoking fear and perpetuating conflict.
Western support lets Israel get away with murder. It's "given a free path to do whatever it wishes."
"Such a circumstance is morally unendurable, and should be politically unacceptable. It needs to be actively opposed globally by every person, government, and institution of good will."
It's also true for every country Israel and Washington target. Western-generated conflict terrorizes Syrians. Full-scale war may erupt. The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. Gaza may be target practice for what's planned.
Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire calls Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud lip service for murdering defenseless civilians. Gaza is being lawlessly attacked again, she said.
When will it end, she asked? Israel's "right to defense" is code language for aggressive slaughter. Western leaders and media scoundrels ignore systematic state terror.
Military solutions aren't possible. Endless violence continues. Israelis, Palestinians and others for peace "can lead the way, by their own nonviolent movements, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns, to bring about real political change, and give peace a chance. We can all do something
For peace in the Middle East."
From Cairo, Hamas political head Khaled Meshal told reporters:
Israel must make the first move. It must halt bombing and shelling. "Whoever started the war must end it."
"This is a difficult, but magnificent moment in the history of the Palestinian problem, in our brave journey of resistance and combat, nobility, so deeply rooted in the Palestinian land."
"Whoever attacks Palestine will be buried by it. Anyone who invades our Arab nations will be defeated for generations."
"Netanyahu wanted to achieve several targets but has not succeeded. He succeeded in killing commander Ahmed Jabari but also wanted to damage the military wing's infrastructure, especially the long-range missiles."
"This enemy is trying its weapons and its Iron Dome in anticipation of other wars, and yet the limited weapons in Gaza embarrassed it and its army. How will it succeed in other wars? It has an army, true, but no patience or legitimacy."
Early Monday evening, a senior Egyptian official told Haaretz:
"We are very close to a cease-fire. What is needed is more flexibility on the Israeli side. Tomorrow will be a critical day in the talks."
Terms discussed weren't disclosed. Talks continue. Hamas knows the stakes. Now's the time to hold firm for equity and justice. Nothing less is morally right. Nothing less will work.
Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups have Israel's rogue government to deal with. They also have large numbers of Israelis representing its lunatic fringe.
Ariel Sharon's son, Gilad, is one. On November 18, he headlined a Jerusalem Post commentary "A decisive conclusion is necessary."
Don't end Operation Pillar of Cloud like Cast Lead, he urged. Finish off Palestinians "decisively….To accomplish this, you need to achieve what the other side can't bear, can't live with, and our initial bombing campaign isn't it."
Gaza isn't besieged, he claims. "(F)latten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza." America followed Hiroshima with Nagasaki, he added.
"There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they'd really call for a ceasefire."
If that doesn't work, reoccupying the entire Strip.
Gaza very much is occupied, oppressed, half-starved, denied fundamental rights, bombed and shelled intermittently, and treated like subhumans.
Not enough, says Sharon. He wants more. There's "no middle path," he says. "This needs to end quickly - with a bang, not a whimper."
He urges genocide and mass destruction. Imagine a publication printing what it should condemn and ignore. It happens often in Israel. It's common in America.
A previous article said America's favorite pastime isn't baseball. In Israel it isn't soccer. It's permanent wars. One begets others. Soft targets are chosen. One nation after another is ravaged, destroyed, and plundered.
In 1948, Israel stole 78% of historic Palestine. In 1967, it took the rest. Tel Aviv seeks regional dominance. America wants it unchallenged globally.
Life is being squeezed out of Syria. Iran is next. Peace and stability are spurned. War is prioritized. Debate continues about whether to attack Iran and when. Post-election makes it more likely.
In January, Israel has its own. Netanyahu is favored to win. Doing so frees him for war. He believes attacking Iran assures regional calm. He and Obama are on the wrong side of reality.
Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. Its neighbors know it. So do American, European, and Israeli leaders. Admitting it would undermine their regional agenda.
Who knows for sure if war is likely. Odds favor it. Perhaps bombing and shelling Gaza is warm-up for what's planned. In the fullness of time we'll know.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
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.