As the world looks on with horrified eyes at the devastation that is being wreaked in Gaza, the Israeli authorities have vowed that the strikes will continue.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the Israeli authorities would expand the attacks “as much as necessary” to “deal a heavy blow to Hamas”.
Officials estimate that the Palestinian death toll currently stands at over 383 with hundreds more injured, though the lack of medical supplies promises many more. As the hours pass and the body count rises, it becomes ever more certain that the ramifications of Israel’s actions will be felt far beyond the rubble of Gaza.
Yet, despite the relentless barrage of Israel’s rockets, it seems inconceivable that they will succeed in their espoused aim to rid Gaza of their government and ever less likely that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas will be able to advance peace talks on the West Bank.
Wayne White, a Middle East expert, believes that Israel’s attacks will fail because they are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Palestinian mindset.
He argues that they are predicated on “a salient and mistaken psychological assumption: that the attitude of a defiant population typically can be changed and its will broken through military force and siege.
“This assumption was disproved in the course of a number of case studies related to the Second World War alone.
“Whether it was Germany’s effort to undermine British morale in late 1940 by bombing urban areas, the Germans’ attempts to break the will of Russians in besieged Leningrad during 1941-1943, or of Britain’s to break German civilian morale by laying waste to city after city during a campaign that spanned several years, this strategy largely has been discredited.
“The military force being brought to bear against Gaza, jarring as it may be, does not begin to compare with the examples above. Nor has the blockade been nearly as severe as that employed against Leningrad, especially during the winter of 1941-1942.”
As Palestinians in Gaza are besieged by the Israelis, this will only make their compatriots in the West Bank question any potential deal with Israel and undermine any attempt at negotiations. Words of peace as people are dying in their hundreds are nothing more than a farce.
For the Palestinians, it is not just an ideology but their homes and lives that are under threat. What the Israelis are ignoring, but must understand, is the conviction that rises from necessity when everything around you is razed to the ground.
As Johann Hari of the Independent argues: “This morning, and tomorrow morning, and every morning until this punishment beating ends, the young people of the Gaza Strip are going to be more filled with hate, and more determined to fight back, with stones or suicide vests or rockets.”
The most detailed poll of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that less than a fifth want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine while 72 per cent want a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.
The 1.2m people living in Gaza are not militants, they are civilians and children who are watching their friends and family die around them. But the longer this continues, the more likely it is that these children will grow up defiant and radicalised.
Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, believes that Hamas are “ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state in the temporary borders of 1967.” But this dream is quickly fading amid the smoke.