ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.
Palestinian officials say that over 100 Palestinians have been killed thus far since the Israeli military offensive began against Gaza on Tuesday. The UN has also raised concerns about Israeli airstrikes on civilian homes, saying that they are possibly in violation of international humanitarian law. And the in the meantime, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, quote, “no international pressure will prevent Israel from continuing its operation in Gaza”.
Now joining us to give his analysis is Gideon Levy. He is a prominent Israeli journalist and author of the weekly column Twilight Zone in the Israeli paper Haaretz, where he also serves as an editorial board member.
Thanks for joining us, Gideon.
GIDEON LEVY, JOURNALIST, HAARETZ: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
WORONCZUK: So let me get your response to Netanyahu’s recent comments that, quote, “no international pressure will prevent Israel from continuing its operation in Gaza” and also that Hamas is responsible for the deaths of Gazans civilians.
LEVY: That’s obviously ridiculous, because Israel is not totally independent. Israel depends a lot on the United States. And the moment the United States will declare that fire should be ceased, there will be ceasefire. It’s all about the devotion of the American administration, which did not prove itself until now.
WORONCZUK: So, I mean, as there’s continued consideration of a ground invasion of Gaza, I mean, do you think that a ground invasion is a real military objective, or that public statements like these are driven by internal politics?
LEVY: As usual in Israel, it’s very hard to make the difference and to draw the border. Everything in Israel is domestic politics, including the security policy, and everything has also objective roles. In this case there is a big pressure from the army and from the Israeli public opinion and media to go for a ground operation. I can’t think about something more stupid been this, because Israel had tried before. And we know how it ends up: just more bloodshed and no real achievements.
WORONCZUK: So if they already understand that there’s really no military achievements being made by a ground invasion, I mean, are you telling me, then, that nearly 100 Palestinians, and most of them civilians, have died simply because of domestic politics?
LEVY: No, I wouldn’t say so, because the moment the Palestinians started to launch rockets on Israel, Israel could not stay passive. I claim that we should have approached it much before and not get into this situation in which Gaza is launching rockets. But once they started, Israel had to react. No doubt about this. I mean, no state in the world would just sit and wait, tens of rockets to fall on its citizens, and do nothing. But in this situation that we are right now, when the Palestinians are bleeding already, everything must be done to get a ceasefire, because no achievements will be achieved.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And let me get your response to a statement that was made by a military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner. He said that the IDF, quote, “uses its weapons to defend its civilians” and “Hamas uses its civilians to defend its weapons.” Let me get your response to that.
LEVY: In propaganda, like in propaganda—you know, this guy is a propagandist in uniform. Until now, maybe Israel’s guarding its civilians and maybe the Palestinians are regarding their weapons, but the fact is that we are standing in front of 100 Palestinian killed, most of them civilians, and this killing is being made by Israel. Nothing more simple than this.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And why is Hamas continuing to fire/launch rockets onto Israel? I mean, it must know that it has no military advantage to doing so and that it plays into the hands of Israeli officials who are calling for revenge and increased military operations against the Gaza Strip.
LEVY: First of all, let’s remember that the only way of Gaza to remind the world and the Israelis its existence is by launching rockets. When there are no rockets from Gaza, nobody but nobody deals with Gaza. Nobody cares about Gaza. Gaza is even not on the table of the so-called peace process. Gaza is totally denied. And the only way to remind us that there is a problem named Gaza is by launching rockets.
Having said this, this does not mean that I think that there is much logic in launching all those rockets on Israel right now, because finally who is going to pay for it are the people of Gaza who suffered so much. And I think, in a way, that Hamas is using them as hostages.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And let’s get your take on how well the Israeli press and the international press has covered situation in recent days.
LEVY: It’s very hard to call the Israeli press in those days a real press. It’s rather propaganda tool, trying to serve blindly, automatically the narrative that is dictated by the Israeli army. They do it, by the way, voluntarily—nobody forces them to do so—because they want to please their readers and their viewers who want now to get united around one narrative, which is the narrative that we should beat the Palestinians as much as we can.
But at the same time, the Palestinian sacrifice is hardly covered in the Israeli media, and this is obviously very regrettable, because would more Israelis see how does Gaza look in those days, at least part of them, those with some kind of humanity and conscience, would [feel something?] toward the real victims of this operation. In any case, that’s about the Israeli media.
About the international media, I have the feeling that this time it’s still rather reacting in low key relative to former operations, because you feel that the world feels that it [separates?] itself again and again, and how many times can you follow it? So, slowly, slowly, it’s becoming a main story. International media bothers to be in Gaza and show the world or so what’s going on in Gaza. And that’s the most crucial role now, to show the world what is happening in Gaza now, because Gaza is really under a terrible attack.
WORONCZUK: Okay. Gideon Levy, columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, thank you for joining us.
LEVY: Thank you very much.
WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.