Palestinian American Journalist Rami Khouri on Israel’s Gaza Bombardment & Risk of a Regional War

This is a rush transcript. Copy will not be in its last type.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Authorities in Gaza say Israel’s large bombardment has killed one other 700 Palestinians over the previous 24 hours, bringing the demise toll over the previous 18 days to about 5,800 Palestinians. More than half of Gaza’s inhabitants has been displaced.

Israel is constant to reject rising worldwide requires a ceasefire or a humanitarian pause. The World Health Organization is pleading for extra support to be allowed into Gaza, the place 12 hospitals and 32 well being facilities have been compelled to shut. Earlier immediately, the Ministry of Health in Gaza issued a assertion asserting, “We declare the complete collapse of the health system and hospitals in the Gaza Strip.” The announcement got here hours after the Indonesian Hospital within the northern Gaza Strip went darkish in a single day because it ran out of gasoline, however energy has since been restored.

On Monday, Hamas launched two Israeli ladies who had been held hostage. Seventy-nine-year-old Nurit Yitzhak Cooper and 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz had been seized on October seventh within the Hamas assault that left about 1,400 individuals useless inside Israel. As the 2 ladies had been being launched, Yocheved Lifshitz shook arms with one of her captors and may very well be heard saying “Shalom,” which suggests “Peace” in Hebrew. Israel believes about 220 different hostages stay in Gaza, together with the husbands of each ladies.

As Israel continues to threaten to launch a floor invasion of Gaza, pressure is escalating on the Israel-Lebanon border, the place Israeli troops and Hezbollah are exchanging hearth on a each day foundation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to devastate Lebanon if a new entrance within the combating emerges.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] I can’t inform you now if Hezbollah decides to completely enter the warfare. If Hezbollah decides to enter the warfare, it would lengthy for the Second Lebanon War. They will probably be making the largest mistake of their lives, and we are going to hit them with an unimaginable power. It will imply devastation for them and the state of Lebanon.

AMY GOODMAN: In Washington, D.C., State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller warned Hezbollah towards escalating its assaults on Israel.

MATTHEW MILLER: And so, we proceed to make very clear our messages to anybody within the area who’s hostile to Israel, that if they’re contemplating assaults, they need to rethink them. And that’s why the president ordered the deployment of two provider strike teams to the japanese Mediterranean.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined proper now by Rami Khouri, a Palestinian American journalist, columnist with 50 years’ expertise within the Middle East. He’s a senior public coverage fellow at American University of Beirut, former govt editor of The Daily Star in Lebanon. He is becoming a member of us from Boston.

Rami, thanks a lot for being with us. If you can begin off by speaking about what is going on on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon as pressure and violence escalate?

RAMI KHOURI: What’s occurring is one thing that’s occurred many instances earlier than within the final 30 years or so, but it surely’s barely completely different this time. Hezbollah has develop into a very highly effective power with enormous capabilities in expertise, missiles, intelligence, secrecy, and so on. — each facet of warfare. They’re additionally a a lot greater power now than they had been within the 2006 warfare as a result of of the mobilization of troops who fought in Syria to defend the Syrian regime. They have a lot of expertise, a lot of expertise, and, extra importantly, they’re linked to a regional, what they name an axis of resistance, which is Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Ansar Allah, which is the Houthis in Yemen, and smaller teams in Syria and Iraq. There’s a constellation of forces of numerous levels of functionality, and so they name themselves the axis of resistance. And the northern entrance of Israel and Lebanon now could be much more harmful to Israel if a warfare breaks out than it was earlier than, as a result of of this regional functionality.

And Hezbollah’s technique has additionally advanced. It’s not going to battle Israel by itself, if it involves that. I’d stress that I consider firmly that neither Israel nor Hezbollah need to provoke a warfare. They’ve performed it earlier than. They’ve each suffered enormous disruption and destruction. And they know that a full warfare now can be far more harmful, and civilians, principally, and nationwide infrastructure would undergo. And Hezbollah has deliberate for this in its technique to hit key strategic, industrial, transport, vitality nodes, which it may possibly attain with its rockets. They have precision rockets. They are superb at shifting into Israel surreptitiously. They’ve performed it. They despatched a drone over the nuclear facility at Dimona, I feel, a few years in the past. So, the strain on the northern border with Israel, southern border of Lebanon, is designed to ship messages backwards and forwards between Israel and Hezbollah that they’re ready to battle if they should, however they’d somewhat not, so that they do tit-for-tat maneuvers.

Also, there’s a component right here of testing. The Hezbollah is superb at this. They’re very severe strategic individuals, no matter chances are you’ll assume of them. So, they don’t simply, you understand, purchase new weapons and attempt to use them. They check out issues. They see how Israel reacts. They do a little assault right here, a little assault there. They ship a few troops over the border. They ship a drone. They do some missiles. And they see how Israel reacts. Israel has evacuated villages from 5 kilometers alongside its northern border, in order that’s a enormous disruption already. And that is half of Hezbollah’s technique. They need to preserve testing Israel, probing it, difficult it, taunting it. And they need to disrupt Israel’s fundamental social and financial functioning.

And the important thing purpose of this in the long term is to knock down Israel’s exaggerated sense of energy and dominance. And, you understand, Netanyahu is the prime instance of this. And Netanyahu is sort of like a Saturday morning cartoon character within the United States. He’s a robust man, and he’s sturdy, and if he’s challenged, he’ll beat the hell out of anyone. And he simply stated yesterday that if there’s warfare in Lebanon, they’re going to destroy Lebanon, and so they’re already destroying Gaza. And the Hezbollah technique is to make use of the regional connections it has, together with its personal capabilities, together with strategic ambiguity to not permit Israel or the U.S. or anyone to know what actually it’s going to do, to sort of destabilize the boldness of Israel, but additionally to hit society’s sense of safety. What occurred in Gaza when Hamas attacked on October 7, it was an unimaginable blow to the boldness of the Israeli individuals within the efficiency of its armed forces, who had been overrun shortly, and a few of them dropped their arms and ran away.

So there’s all types of completely different dimensions to the northern border. The simplistic, cartoon-like diplomacy and evaluation that comes out of most of the mainstream American media and the American authorities says that, you understand, there’s a hazard of a warfare between Hezbollah and Israel on the northern border. It’s much more complicated and nuanced than that. But there’s a severe risk that Israel faces, which it may need to battle 5 completely different individuals on the identical time, if it got here right down to a regional warfare, which I nonetheless assume it’s not going, but it surely might occur. And that is one of the important thing new elements, and it explains a little bit why Hamas has achieved what it’s achieved, is that it’s coordination amongst these completely different teams of resistance fighters throughout the Arab world and Iran. They coordinate very intently on coaching and tools and technique and communications and all types of issues. So, it’s a entire new state of affairs within the north. And the United States and Israel, I feel, are making the error of analyzing the state of affairs based mostly on what occurred in 2006.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rami Khouri, I needed to ask you: In phrases of Israel’s technique, if Israel does need to stop a regional warfare, why, as an illustration — what’s your evaluation of its repeated now bombings of airports in Syria and what the affect that may very well be on spreading the warfare?

RAMI KHOURI: Israel has been doing that for a few years, bombing Iraq and Syria and Lebanon. And they’re in all probability principally bombing models which are near Iran or linked to the transport of tools or individuals from Iran to those completely different outposts the place it has allies throughout the Arab world. That’s the belief that most individuals have. And these assaults are designed to disrupt this linkage between Iran and allies in Syria and different Arab nations.

It doesn’t work very properly, although. You know, the Israelis are fairly subtle, however they’re additionally fairly simplistic and silly in terms of not studying the teachings of their very own repeated technique that doesn’t work. You know, they are saying now they need to wipe out Hamas and take away the risk, and so they say if Hezbollah will get concerned, they’re going to wipe out Lebanon. They stated that 4 or 5 instances. They occupied Gaza. They occupied south Lebanon. I used to be in Lebanon. I lived there for 20 years, and I used to be there within the 2006 warfare. So, they’ve performed this stuff. They’ve brought on nice distress to Lebanon and Gaza. And the place are the 2 strongest forces now that problem Israel in a means it’s by no means been challenged earlier than? They’re in Lebanon and Gaza. Why? Because Israel, in its robust man, Joe Palooka cartoon strategy to diplomacy and warfare and relations throughout the area, depends merely on its potential to beat the hell out of anyone and destroy nations. And you’re seeing it in Gaza immediately. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing in bodily destroying a society’s fundamental infrastructure and human wants. But it doesn’t work. They don’t notice all this does is generate better resistance a yr or two down the highway, with better secrecy, larger expertise ranges, extra coordination and a stronger sense of defiance.

And I ought to add right here that, you understand, Hezbollah and Hamas — Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, which suggests the Islamic resistance motion. “Resistance” is the important thing operative phrase in Hamas. Hezbollah calls itself, you understand, informally, the resistance, the Muqawama. And resistance is a key — perhaps the important thing — driver of what these teams and others within the area are doing. And the Israelis don’t appear to know this, as a result of they’re those being resisted. And with the resistance, there’s additionally defiance. So, when the U.S. despatched the ahead naval activity power a couple weeks in the past and it warned Iran and its allies to not do something, the subsequent day there have been three or 4 small little assaults towards American targets or American-allied targets in Iraq and in Yemen and somewhere else. So, defiance and resistance are two dynamics which are so important within the thoughts of people who find themselves standing as much as each Israel and the United States and others. And this must be appreciated rather more severely for anyone who’s making an attempt to investigate the area, and positively for anyone who’s making an attempt to behave politically or militarily or diplomatically, together with the Israelis and the Americans and the Europeans and others.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And all the eye in current days has been on what the Biden administration and the U.S. is doing to help Israel, however there seems to be an rising division in Europe on what is going on. We’re seeing the European Union and distinction states inside Europe calling for a humanitarian pause, in essence, a transient ceasefire — very completely different from what the United States is saying. I’m questioning your evaluation of that.

RAMI KHOURI: Well, I feel the Europeans are waking as much as the truth that they’re human beings, and so they need to react like human beings, not like killing machines, which they’ve performed not too long ago, following the U.S. and Israeli lead. The struggling that’s been brought on in Gaza is unbelievable. And the deliberate, merciless tightening of the — it’s not simply the pressures, it’s the whole squeezing of Gaza to attempt to starve it to demise or make it die of thirst or let the hospitals cease working as a result of they don’t have electrical energy. This is a stage of barbarism and cruelty that in all probability hasn’t been seen since medieval days. And the Europeans went together with the Americans to start with and stated, “Oh, Israel can defend itself.” And that is one of the elements that basically social psychiatrists want to investigate and political psychiatrists have to investigate, was: Why did Europe and U.S. and Canada and others so vehemently and completely help this draconian measure by Israel to kill on an industrial scale that has by no means been seen earlier than on this area? They killed 400 individuals two days in the past, and so they killed 700 individuals yesterday. And the world is simply sitting there, analyzing what’s going to occur, and this, there, right here or there. So there’s a sort of lack of humanity. There’s a lack of individuals utilizing their minds and their hearts to investigate what’s going on.

And I’ll inform you what the reason being. It’s quite simple, in my evaluation. I’ve been now 55 years reporting within the Middle East and doing evaluation and touring round, and I come and go to the U.S. on a regular basis. I’m there now. I feel it’s develop into very clear, since May 2021, two years in the past, once we had the rebellion in Jerusalem and also you had the combating in Gaza and protests throughout Palestine towards Israel. It’s develop into clear that this now could be seen by Arabs and virtually all of the individuals throughout the Global South because the final anticolonial battle. Israel is the final remnant of 19th century European white settler racist colonialism. They got here, they pushed out the Palestinians, who had 93% of the inhabitants in Palestine, and so they created an Israeli state. They succeeded. But they solely succeeded as a result of that they had large help from the white racist colonial British, and now they’ve it from the Americans. So, the colonial nature of this course of — and it’s nonetheless going on. They’re nonetheless within the West Bank. Gangs of settlers are going round burning Palestinian villages. They’ve expelled 500 individuals from their villages within the final month or two. And they’re nonetheless doing settler colonial growth and driving out Indigenous individuals. This is now the driving power for the resistance towards Israel and towards the United States and Europeans who be part of them. This is the final anticolonial battle on the earth. And that’s why you see enormous demonstrations all around the world when issues like this occur.

You know, there’s principally 4 world forces now that entice important human political help throughout your entire world, and so they’re local weather change; #MeToo, gender equality; Black Lives Matter, which is antiracism; and Palestine. And Palestine is a world challenge, and the Americans and the Israelis and most of the Europeans and now the Canadians, to a giant extent, are too blinded to see this actuality. So, they really feel that we are able to ship in additional navy power, be robust on TV, and it’ll work. But it doesn’t work. And so, there’s actually time for a reassessment. And the Americans, of course, realized this in Vietnam. They realized it in Afghanistan. They realized it in Iraq. But they haven’t realized it. And the Israelis haven’t realized from their experiences, both.

So, resistance and defiance preserve driving individuals within the Arab nations and elsewhere to push again towards what the Israelis are doing. And we’re not saying get rid of all of the Israelis or kill them. We’re saying let’s have a negotiated peace the place there’s an Israeli state that’s predominantly Jewish, like it’s now, with a Palestinian state, the place the refugeehood and exile of the Palestinians has been resolved based on worldwide regulation, and now we have our sovereign state, and we dwell in peace. We have made this provide. The Arabs have made this provide repeatedly to Israel, but it surely’s not fascinated about that, as a result of Zionism is a technique, is an ideology, that wishes to create a Jewish state in a land that was 93% Arab. And it succeeded. And it doesn’t need peace with the Palestinians. It desires all of the Palestinian land, and so they need it solely for the Jewish individuals.

You know, the world supported the creation of an Israeli state, and after the Holocaust, that was comprehensible. And not simply the Holocaust, it was a century or extra of white European, North American racism and antisemitism towards Jews. The Jews had been terribly mistreated by white racists in Europe and North America. And they got here to the Middle East as a result of they knew that that they had at all times lived there. They had been accepted in society as an built-in half of society. And the early settlers who got here within the late 19th century and early 20th century up till round 1920, the Jews who got here had been very accepted within the area. There was no downside — that they had at all times lived there — till it turned clear, round 1930, that they needed to create a state. They needed to take over and drive out Palestinian Arabs and have a Jewish state. And this coincided with the rise of the Nazis in Europe, which considerably elevated the migration of Jews out of Europe. And, of course, the United States and Britain refused to take them, refused to let the Jews are available.

So you’ve a number of dimensions of historic accountability. But the ultimate level is that we’re at a stage now the place the world — we, and the world, more and more, clearly see this as an anticolonial battle aiming for a simply peace, equal rights for an Israeli state and a Palestinian state and the opposite Arab nations whose lands have been ravaged or annexed or occupied by Israel. The Israelis are usually not fascinated about that. The Americans completely are bored with that. And so that is a actual dilemma. What the world wants to check, greater than, you understand, what are Hezbollah’s motives, is what’s the nature of North American and European white racist colonialism, as a result of it’s nonetheless going on.

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