Israel’s Gaza tactics mirror al-Assad’s strategies in Syria : Analysis

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As the humanitarian pause took effect in Gaza, footage has emerged showing the extensive damage in the northern part of the enclave.

These images of destruction bring to mind Thomas Friedman’s concept of the “Hama rules,” which he previously discussed in an article published by The New York Times on October 14. This term was coined by Friedman to refer to the violent demolition of the city of Hama by former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in 1982, resulting in the deaths of over 20,000 Syrians. Friedman argues that brute force holds legitimacy in the Middle East. While this idea is problematic, the significant destruction in Gaza suggests that the Israeli government and military have embraced it.

There are notable similarities between Israel’s war on Gaza and the events that unfolded in Syria. However, we don’t have to go as far back as the 1980s to find these parallels. In 2011, when Bashar al-Assad, Hafez’s son and the current Syrian President, faced a nationwide uprising against his rule, he responded with a violent crackdown on the protesters, resulting in a full-blown civil war.

The tactics employed by al-Assad, including collective punishment and the dehumanization of the opposition by segments of Syrian society, bear resemblance to what we are witnessing in Gaza today. In the early stages of the conflict, Israel used the systematic dehumanization of Gaza’s residents to justify a complete siege on the enclave, cutting off essential supplies like food, water, electricity, and fuel. Israeli officials, such as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, used derogatory language to describe the Palestinians, making starvation as a weapon of war appear acceptable.

This sentiment spread to social media, where videos circulated showing Israelis mocking the residents of Gaza under siege, indulging in clean water and lavish meals. Some went further and produced racist content, making fun of Palestinian victims of Israeli bombardment.

As the Israeli military began targeting hospitals and other civilian structures in Gaza, the campaign to dehumanize the Palestinian population expanded. Israeli government officials, including Netanyahu, propagated the narrative that “terrorists had used hospitals as military bases.” Consequently, medical staff were labeled “terrorist collaborators,” and patients and families seeking refuge in medical facilities were seen as “human shields.” Even Israeli doctors were quoted justifying their deaths.

What we may overlook is that this dehumanization campaign is not unique. Since 2011, al-Assad has employed eerily similar strategies to justify military sieges and attacks on civilian infrastructure in rebel-held areas. The siege of Madaya near Damascus in 2015 strikingly resembles the current Israeli tactic of weaponizing starvation in Gaza. As al-Assad’s regime labeled the local residents as “agents of terror,” Syrians in government-controlled areas bought into this narrative.

While the people of Madaya were reduced to surviving on leaves, social media in Syria was inundated with images and videos of people ridiculing their starvation and enjoying extravagant meals. The hashtag #solidaritywiththesiegeofMadaya was filled with culinary content, further brutalizing an already beleaguered population under siege. Over 420 people in Madaya, including dozens of children, died due to the blockade.

The al-Assad regime continued this “starve or surrender” policy in multiple rebel-held territories, including Aleppo, Ghouta, and Daraya, with little response from the international community.

Simultaneously, al-Assad targeted civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals, as a war tactic. The International Rescue Committee reports that only 64% of hospitals and 52% of primary healthcare centers in Syria are currently operational due to attacks on these facilities. The al-Assad regime justified these offensives under the guise of “countering terrorism,” claiming that 119 healthcare facilities were taken over by “terrorist groups.” However, investigations by Human Rights Watch have refuted these claims, finding no evidence of military equipment or personnel near the hospitals at the time of the attacks.

Israel is currently employing al-Assad’s rules of war, at least partially because the Syrian leader has not been held accountable for his war crimes or the dehumanization of his people that enabled them. In fact, al-Assad has emerged from international isolation, having attended Arab League summits and invited to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai.

The victims of the Syrian regime’s brutality have recognized the parallels with Gaza. Zina Najjar, a Syrian activist, has drawn similarities between the events unfolding in the besieged enclave and the events in Madaya eight years ago. Najjar warns that the international community’s failure and silence in Syria only encourages similar crimes in Gaza.

It is crucial for this international silence to end immediately, both in Syria and in Gaza. More urgently, the Israeli government must face swift condemnation from the international community for dehumanizing the people of Gaza and the collective punishment they are subjected to. Otherwise, starvation and the targeted bombing of hospitals will become chillingly normalized tactics of war.

*Please note that the views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.*

The given article provides an analysis of the current situation in Gaza and draws parallels between the Israeli government’s actions and those of the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad. The author argues that Israel has embraced tactics of dehumanization and collective punishment, similar to those employed by the al-Assad regime in Syria. The article also highlights the use of social media to further dehumanize the population and justify the targeting of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals.

The credibility of sources in the article is not explicitly mentioned, so it is difficult to assess their reliability. The author references Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, social media videos, and quotes from Israeli officials. These sources are not evaluated for their credibility, potentially leaving room for misinformation or biased information to be presented as fact.

The presentation of facts in the article relies heavily on comparisons and analogies between the situations in Gaza and Syria. While there are certainly similarities in the tactics employed by both governments, the article does not provide a comprehensive analysis of the broader context and complexities of the conflicts in Gaza and Syria. As a result, the analysis may lack nuance and could overlook important factors that contribute to the ongoing tensions and violence in these regions.

The potential biases in the article revolve around the portrayal of the Israeli government and military as adopting the same tactics as the al-Assad regime, without questioning the broader context and motivations behind their actions. The article positions Israel as solely responsible for the dehumanization of Palestinians and the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, without discussing the role of other actors, such as Hamas, in perpetuating the conflict.

The impact of the information presented in the article may contribute to a skewed understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Syria. By framing the Israeli government’s actions as analogous to those of the al-Assad regime, the article may overlook the complex political dynamics and historical context of the conflicts. This oversimplification can perpetuate a binary narrative of “oppressor versus victim” and may contribute to the polarization of public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The political landscape and the prevalence of fake news can influence the public’s perception of the information presented. In an era of increased polarization and misinformation, it is important for readers to critically evaluate the sources and arguments presented in articles like this. The lack of explicit evaluation of source credibility and the potential biases in the article’s analysis underscore the need for readers to seek out multiple perspectives and consider a range of reliable sources to develop a well-rounded understanding of complex issues.

Source: Aljazeera news: Israel is using the same tactics in Gaza that al-Assad employed in Syria

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