Gaza: A Soldiers’ Graveyard   

Israel Soldier Gaza Tank

Despite the ongoing destruction of Gaza from the air, sea and on ground, the Palestinian resistance fighter still says: “I exist”, “I and here” and “will continue to fight and beat Israeli soldiers, officers and commanders”.

These are certainly very uncomfortable statements and punchlines for the Israelis who have killed over 21,000 Palestinians so far and injured around 55,000 women, children and old people. Israeli warplanes have also displaced around 1.9 million Gazan and destroyed over 80 percent of their homes and infrastructure.

This has never happened in the history of mankind. Not during World War II when the allies massively bombed different cities in Nazi Germany, nor when the USA nuclear bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Already, the Israelis have dropped around 80,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, starting from its northern tip to its southern point. This is equivalent of three to four atom bombs!

Apparently, Israeli Jews have never learned from history and the Holocaust for this is another one.

Not afraid

While the Israeli killing machine is destroying and creating mayhem to civilians and infrastructure, the Palestinian resistance is in top form, fighting Israeli soldiers in Jabalia in the north, in east of Gaza, in refugee camps like Bureij, and Al Nuseirat in the center of the Strip and Khan Younis, Bani Suhaila and Rafah to the south.

The resistance – Izz Al Din Al Qassam fighters, Saraya Al Qodus and others – are saying “we are here” and “we are fighting” and are providing documentation of the bombing of tanks. This is despite what Israeli officials are saying, who are, incidentally, are having to admit the daily losses in their ranks.

The Palestinian resistance on day 84 of the war is still delivering sustained daily losses to the Israeli enemy. Retired Major-General Dr Fayez Al Duwairi has definitely something to say, speaking of the “massacre of the tanks day” where 74 Israeli military hardware were destroyed in 48 hours.

He explains this is not to mention the manpower lost accompanying these destructions for each tank is manned by at least four soldiers and this is excluding the troop carriers and the bulldozers and not to say anything about the snipers and expert shots.

Like it or not Gaza is becoming a graveyard for Israelis.

The intensity of the war has been increasing, something which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who have always said they aim to destroy Hamas. The problem with that is Israeli soldiers are getting deadly clobbered in a daily basis despite having a top army in the world in terms of equipment, manpower, technology and training.

Apparently here, having an elite paraphernalia does not matter. You are only as good as your faith.

‘Boot the man out of politics’

Today as well, more and more Israelis including Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, both ex-prime ministers, are saying beating the guerillas of Gaza is an impossibility judging from what they see on the ground. Olmert, for example is scathing about Netanyahu and wants to boot him out of politics for the debacle of Gaza.

History will remember the fierce battles in the cities, town and refugee camps of Gaza. The Israeli warplanes destroyed Beit Hanoon in the north, but they are being smashed in Jabalia, Shiekh Radwan, Al Tufah and Daraj neighborhoods as well as Dier Al Balah, Al Shujayia, Hujr Al Deek and Beni Suhaila.

They are unable to move their tanks and military hardware because of the destruction of the social communities and roads, their American-made planes and bombs created. It’s an ungodly attempt to annihilate 2.2 million people and/of forcing them to move to the Sinai.

Consequently, Palestinian fighters are getting at the Israeli soldiers from ghostly underground tunnels and bombing their tanks and military hardware machines from above. Ever since Israeli insisted on its ground land war last 26 October and beyond, their soldiers fell into a quagmire of unexpected threats and dungeons of defeat. 

The problems, deaths and losses have become so bad, the Israeli media started to talk. The soldiers’ injuries, daily hospital lists, incessant funerals are all coming up. With casualties come the handicap elements. Thousands of soldiers are no longer fit for the army with permanent disabilities and many being confined to wheelchairs.

Psychological damage

Netanyahu visits the soldiers in their hospitals beds to attempt to give them comfort but many have refused to see him or talk to him and shake his hand, adding to his great embarrassment.

With this also, is the psychological damage from the injuries. Soldiers have trouble sleeping, they have nightmares and shocks to the extent health officials are saying ‘we now have a psychological emergency’ in Israel. This has long been manifested in the fact that soldiers started shooting at each other in the battlefields in many so-called friendly-fire incidents.

This is not to mention the fact that three escaped hostages in Shujayia were killed by soldiers who wouldn’t believe they were Israelis even though they waved white sheets and shouted out in Hebrew. The soldiers were too busy aiming. The third Israeli who tried to escape was chased and shot dead.

Only later did the soldiers realize they were part of the captives. But it shows Israeli soldiers are very nervous and prepared to shoot at anybody because their nerves are wrecked by what they see in front of them on a daily basis.

The Palestinians are fighting to free themselves from occupation and subjugation. These Israeli soldiers – most in their early 20s want to return to the good life of going home every night, going out to dinner and have a drink without being bothered.

This war is making many Israelis nervous, no least all the relatives of the hostages who are telling Netanyahu and Gallant to cut a deal with Hamas and bring those in captivity – dubbed at 138 or so – back to their homes. But the beleaguered Israeli prime minister is not listening as he insists the war should go on, and this is the only way to get to those in captivity and to hell with the consequences.

But the soldiers have not succeeded so far. In around Khan Younis, they have seven brigades that increased in number on a daily basis. According to Al Duwairi 35,000 soldiers make up these brigades, they have been fighting to get into the city for the past few weeks but are still plugging through and facing much resistance. They are in tight spots of different small Palestinians areas who look upon them with disdain.

‘Come further, be blown up’

The Israelis have not managed to control the Gaza Strip despite their mass bombs. It’s true they are fighting in different areas, and in some cases among the Palestinian population like in Jabalia and Al Bureij camp but they are meeting stiff resistance from fighters, something they have been consistently warned about by the Americans, who have 2000 soldiers there advising them.

They are not dominating nor are they in position of control with the message: “This is war, came further and you will be blown into smithereens.”

The geography of the Gaza Strip is new to them despite its smallness. Even if they try to stay on the periphery, just after the border into the Palestinian enclave, they are in difficult situation because of the Palestinian urbanization of towns and cities they are seeking to destroy.

But the resistance is continuing. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not letting up with daily skirmishes. They think strategically and tactically in an urban guerilla-warfare style and environment, something that is not in tune with the normalized army of Israel.

And hence the war is set to continue at least for the time-being and until Netanyahu decides to call it a day which he will sooner or later.

Marwan Asmar, who has a Phd from the UK’s Leeds University, has long worked in the field if journalism in Amman, Jordan.

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