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Israel, Gaza and the search for the “image of victory”


Increasing international pressure on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza has failed to have an immediate impact and air strikes continue. US President Joe Biden reportedly called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for a “significant cut” and moves toward a ceasefire. But Netanyahu later said in a statement that he was “determined to continue this operation until its objectives are achieved”.

But there is another aspect at work here – something that has been observed in previous Israeli military operations. Over the past week, conversations about the Israeli Defense Force’s military operations in Israeli TV studios and opinion columns and blogs have centered around the idea of ​​getting a “winning image” to show the world – and Israeli voters – that Israel has “won”. Haaretz’s military correspondent, Amos Harel, wrote on May 15 that: “After vigorous efforts – Israel has finally found an image of victory that allows it to establish a justification for a ceasefire to end fighting in the Gaza Strip.” He spoke of the “Gaza Metro” tunnel bombing built by Hamas. But plans to liquidate senior Hamas commanders in the tunnels are reportedly not as successful as hoped. Traditionally, the image of victory is an iconic representation of military achievements.

Think of the American flag on Iwo Jima or the Soviet flag over the Reichstag in world war two. Recently, this idea was revived and it has become a central feature of the way the Israeli army operates. Over time, this has morphed into a series of conditions that legitimize a “halt” of military operations. As I discovered while researching this issue, during the 2006 Lebanon conflict, the image of victory became the stated goal of any Israeli military operation. The IDF attempted to display an iconic image of a soldier raising an Israeli flag over a house in the town of Bint Jbeil in the Lebanese region, four miles from the Israeli border.

Heavy smoke and fire rise from Al-Sharouk tower as it collapses after being hit by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City on May 12, 2021. – An Israeli air strike destroyed a multi-storey building in Gaza City today, AFP reporters said, as the Jewish state continued its heavy bombardment of the Palestinian enclave. (Photo by QUSAY DAWUD / AFP) (Photo by QUSAY DAWUD/AFP via Getty Images)

The city was known as the “capital of the resistance” and the home was used by Hezbollah’s then head, Hassan Nasrallah, to give a speech after the Israeli Defense Forces withdrew in March 2000 in which he said Israel was “weaker than the spider web.”

The image of the Israeli flag waving over the balcony six years later was intended to send a message to Israelis and Hezbollah that would serve as an “image of victory” but the result was unimpressive and grainy and the image was never used for propaganda purposes.

‘Scoreboard’ update

Sometimes, the winning image takes the form of an infographic, a collection of statistics arranged in a manner similar to a computer game scoreboard, such as the one in this image, created by the IDF in 2014 following the “Edge Guard” operation.

The visualized data provides a powerful and familiar narrative that appears to legitimize operations in Gaza, embodies achievements and paints an image of success. But it provides an incomplete story. According to Israeli human rights NGO B’tselem, Israel’s three main military operations in Gaza over the past 15 years have resulted in the death of 3,758 Palestinians – many of them non-combatants. Meanwhile, Israeli casualties, including soldiers on the ground in Gaza and civilians in Israel who were killed by rockets, have reached 83 deaths. So, while the barrage of missiles fired at Israel by Hamas is lethal and traumatic, the 45-fold difference between the number of Israeli and Palestinian deaths is a good measure of the difference in strength between the two sides. Target Hamas ‘celebrities’ The extent and manner of spreading violence in Israel and Palestine is utterly unpredictable. But the way in which deadly violence is carried out in Gaza, unfortunately follows a familiar text. Currently, political commentators in Israel suggest possible accomplishments that could be considered an “image of victory” – for example, the assassination of a top Hamas official.

At the start of the current operation in Gaza, the popular Israeli website, Walla News, published an article with the headline: “The celebrities of the Hamas leadership are still alive”, arguing that “it only concerns symbols such as [Mohammed] Deif or [Yahya] Sinuar. (Hamas leaders) will give Israel an image of victory.

”Meanwhile, Israeli television networks are full of speculation who should be targeted. Writing about the deployment of a “victory album” in Israel after the 1967 war, American scholar Daniel Bertrand Monk reflects on “the horror of a world in which war can be fought for their image”. The pursuit of an image of victory as an integral part of Israel’s air strike campaign on Gaza puts a modern face on the monk’s horror vision.

Written by saadghufran25

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