by Stephen Lendman
Discussion ranges from who won, who lost, who cares, what's next. Media scoundrels support Israeli aggression like they always do. More on that below.
Operation Pillar of Cloud, like decades of similar Israeli aggression, wasn't about self-defense in response to Palestinian rockets or other incidents.
It reflects Israeli regional hegemonic ambitions, its culture of violence and belligerence, occupation harshness, land theft, Palestinian dispossession, institutionalized racism, and contempt for rule of law principles and democratic values.
Much more about Operation Pillar of Cloud is important. Washington wholeheartedly supports Israeli aggression. Close collaboration is policy.
Political cover is given. Billions of dollars in annual military aid is provided. Intelligence is shared. Joint military exercises are held. They're strategically planned.
Michel Chossudovsky  explained that one week after US elections "the largest joint war games in Israeli history" took place. Months of joint planning preceded them.
Their objective "was to test Israel’s missile air defense system against attacks from far and near, namely from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas."
Austere Challenge 12 joint military exercises "were conducted over four weeks overlapping with the US elections (November 6) and culminating with the commencement of the Gaza bombings (November 14)."
Operation Pillar of Cloud was planned months in advance. Selecting targets take considerable time. Tactics and overall strategy require careful decision-making.
Joint US/Israeli war games had a purpose. They were planned to precede "an actual military operation."
Washington and Israel partner directly or indirectly in all regional wars and lesser-scale conflicts. The Pentagon maintains command and control operations in Israel.
Washington runs things. "With regard to the joint US-Israel war games which culminated with the attack on Gaza, Israel is visibly the junior partner."
"The United States is not 'supporting' an Israeli military endeavor." It's a "major actor in the attack on Gaza. The US is therefore a perpetrator of war crimes together with Israel."
Seldom are these important observations made. Imperial ambitions are involved. Large and smaller military operations have a purpose.
Expect others to follow Operation Pillar of Cloud. Cessation of current hostilities is a ruse. Israel and Washington will invent pretexts to continue conflict. False flags will be used. So will manufactured provocations.
Hamas, other resistance groups, and regional independent governments will be blamed. The same scheme plays out in disturbing repetition. This time won't be different.
On November 21, each side claimed victory. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It's toxic.
Netanyahu claimed Israel "destroyed Hamas' control over the Strip."
Barak said "all the operation's aims were fulfilled."
Hamas political head Khaled Meshal said Israel's "attack failed and the leaders of the enemy failed in their adventure."
"Eight days of fighting forced them to give in to our conditions. The destruction left by Israel did nothing to change the fact that the resistance won."
After 64 years, Palestinians haven't achieved a single meaningful victory. At the same time, anti-Israel/US sentiment grows.
Global protests condemned Cast Lead. They erupted again after Pillar of Cloud attacks. Hundreds of protests occurred throughout the Middle East, Europe, North America, and elsewhere.
Israel and perhaps America are the world's most reviled countries. Growing millions reject their contempt for human life and well-being.
Debate continues over military and political winners. Palestinian resistance is no match against Israel's war machine. The death, injury, and destruction toll on both sides leaves no ambiguity.
Politically it's different. Pro-Palestinian sentiment grows. So does anti-Israeli hostility. An earlier article asked if Israel overstepped this time. World protests suggest perhaps so if only modestly. What follows remains to be seen.
Another article said peace isn't won on battlefields. It's when dialogue replaces belligerence. Conflicts beget more of them. Endless violence is self-destructive.
Long-term, no one wins. Peace and stability depend on prioritizing diplomacy over confrontation. Regional conditions are deteriorating. Something has to give.
Belligerence doesn't work. One analyst suggested the obvious. Why not give peace a chance. Imagine the possibilities not so far considered.
Ceasefire terms leave much to be desired. Fundamental injustices weren't resolved. Provisions and language leave disturbing wiggle room. Memorandum of understanding terms  include:
(1) Israel to cease air, land, and sea hostilities, as well as stop targeted killings.
(2) Palestinian resistance groups to halt rocket and other attacks.
(3) Easing blockade restrictions modestly. Not enough to matter. Gaza's siege continues. Free movement remains restricted.
Implementation procedures not yet decided. Negotiations will determine them.
Oslo left major unresolved issues for later final status talks. They included borders, Palestinian sovereignty, the right of return, settlements, and East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital among others.
Over 19 years later, no progress whatever was made on these and other important issues. This time won't be different.
(4) Cessation of hostilities took effect at 2PM EST (9PM regional time).
(5) Egypt to act as guarantor. "Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon."
(6) "Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations Egypt as the sponsor of this understanding shall be informed to follow up."
Netanyahu provisionally agreed to halt hostilities. He reserved the right to resume them any time for any reason or none at all.
Agreed on terms resembled what followed Cast Lead. Washington was guarantor. The fox guarded the hen house. It still does. Conflict continued. Nothing this time is different.
Deals don't reflect or determine long-term policy. Nothing will change until Israel and Washington are held fully accountable. They're responsible for decades of crimes of war and against humanity.
Day of reckoning time is nowhere in sight. Resolution won't happen until it arrives.
Haaretz  discussed "behind the scenes" (decision-making to) "accept Gaza truce." Top ministers disagreed. Barak wanted conflict ended. "Lieberman demanded a ground invasion." Netanyahu "vacillated."
Discussions continued for days. They and other hardliners thought Egypt "align(ed) with Hamas and tr(ied) to provide it with achievements."
Barak set the record straight. Ceasefire wording means nothing, he said.
"Israel's power of deterrence would be tested by the reality on the ground."
"A day after the cease-fire, no one will remember what is written in that draft. The only thing that will be tested is the blow Hamas suffered."
"We can put off the Egyptian proposal and go for a precarious ground incursion of Gaza, but at the end of the day, we may end up with the same exact result."
Haaretz  editors headlined "It's all connected." They side with Israel's war machine. They know better but don't show it. They support what they should condemn.
Palestinian self-defense is called "terrorism." They urge Gaza residents to "get rid of the Hamas government." At the same time, they know it long ago proved "unrealistic."
Separate West Bank and Gaza authority doesn't "guarantee quiet and stability, or surrender and political obedience from the Palestinians."
To its credit, Haaretz advocates diplomacy and peace over force. At the same time, vital issues are ignored.
Hamas is Palestine's legitimate government. It's not a terrorist organization. Nor is Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or other resistance groups. Palestinian sovereignty exists. Israel's occupation is illegal.
It bears full responsibility for aggressive wars. It's guilty of crimes of war and against humanity that follow. They're longstanding. They've been ongoing since before 1948.
Palestinians are human beings. Their rights matter as much as Jewish ones. Israel denies them. Conflict will persist until that ends.
There's no ambiguity. Abused people react. Brutalized ones defend themselves aggressively. It's their right under international law.
Until long denied justice is achieved, confrontation and violence will continue. It's not unique to the region. It's the same everywhere.
Media scoundrels don't notice or care. On November 21, a New York Times  editorial headlined "A New Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire," saying:
Peace won't follow without "serious" "two-state solution" discussions. Years ago it was possible. No longer. A previous article explained.
Israel controls over half the West Bank and much of East Jerusalem. More is added daily.
When completed, the apartheid wall will control over 10% of Palestine. Isolated ghettoized bantustans on worthless scrubland won't work. Under those conditions, sovereign viability is impossible.
The only solution is one state comprised of Israel and the Territories. Nothing else will work.
The Times admitted that ceasefire terms leave much to be desired. Netanyahu "left open the possibility of 'more severe military action' " based on any pretext he claims.
How longstanding Palestinian grievances will be addressed remains "unclear." In fact, they'll be ignored like always.
The Times disgracefully calls Hamas a "terrorist organization." It rejects its legitimacy. It praised Obama's role in the conflict. It ignored US complicity with Israel in initiating it.
Belligerents always plan new campaigns. Expect the worst ahead in 2013. Point fingers the right way. Washington, Israel, and key NATO partners bear full responsibility. Don't expect scoundrel media editors to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.