Chris Hedges Israel Palestine

The Chris Hedges Report: ‘No Sanctuary’: Israel’s Long War on Gaza

Norman Finkelstein explains Israel’s 17-year blockade of Gaza and the context of the war currently underway.

By Chris Hedges / The Real News Network

Israel has unleashed a horrific war of collective punishment against the people of Gaza, the latest in a long history of anti-Palestinian oppression. As corporate media shamelessly provides cover for what is undoubtedly a genocide unfolding in real time, the need to ground our understanding of the conflict in its proper history is more important than ever. Norman Finkelstein joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss Israel’s 17 year blockade of Gaza and its crucial significance to understanding the events of the past two weeks.

Studio Production: Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino
Post-Production: David Hebden


The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. A proofread version will be made available as soon as possible.

Chris Hedges:

On October 7, Hamas fighters broke through the security barrier separating Gaza from Israel. They attacked army outposts, villages, and outdoor concert venues, and kibbutz. Some 1300 Israelis, many of them civilians, were killed. Almost 200 Israelis, including women, children, and the elderly, were taken as hostages and transported back to Gaza. Israel says 1,500 Hamas militants, most young men who most likely had never been out of Gaza, were killed. Israel has now ordered some 1.1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate. The north includes Gaza City, the most densely populated part of the strip, with 750,000 residents. It also includes Gaza’s main hospital, the Jabalia, and Al-Shati refugee camps. Gaza is one of the most heavily populated spots on the planet. Its borders are sealed by Egypt and Israel.

There is no sanctuary; With a tiny landmass, 25 miles long, and only about five miles wide. Israel has cut off food, fuel, water, and electricity, provoking an appalling humanitarian crisis. Joining me to discuss the crisis in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories is the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein. Norman has written numerous books on the Middle East, including Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom. Let’s set the stage before the October 7 attack. Israel has carried out five murderous assaults against Gaza. But explain what life was like. Or is like. But of course, now it’s changing with this on the eve of what will be an incursion into Gaza by the IDF. But explain what it was like to be in Gaza.

Norman Finkelstein:

There are several facts that need to be known. First of all, you described Gaza as 25 miles long and about 5 miles wide. For those of you listeners who need to envisage it, Gaza is about the length of a marathon, and it’s, speaking on a personal basis, the distance I jog every morning at Coney Island: 5 miles. It’s among the most densely populated areas in the world. Beginning in 2006, there were elections held in the West Bank in Gaza, elections that were urged upon the Palestinians by the US administration. The results of the elections unexpectedly brought Hamas, or its civilian party, into power. At that moment, the Israelis, followed by the EU and the US, imposed a brutal blockade on Gaza. I should note that Jimmy Carter was in the occupied Palestinian Territories at the time, and he pronounced the elections completely honest and fair.

Now let’s speak first to the blockade. With the rarest of exceptions, nobody can go into Gaza. Nobody can leave Gaza. The population of Gaza consists overwhelmingly of about 70% of refugees from the 1948 war and the descendants of those refugees, about half the population, comprises children. So when you think about Gaza, you should fix, in your mind, we’re talking about a population that’s overwhelmingly refugees and at least half children. Since the blockade was imposed on Gaza, nobody can go in with the rarest exceptions and nobody can leave with the rarest exceptions. Gaza has endured roughly, it fluctuates with time. So let’s bring it up to the present. About 50% of the population of Gaza is unemployed, 60% of the youth are unemployed. My memory is it has the highest unemployment rate of any area in the world.

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The other facts I would want to bring to bear on Gaza are the humanitarian crisis. The international humanitarian organizations have over time repeatedly described Gaza as suffering from “severe food insecurity.” Now, if you take all of these discreet facts and you try to come up with a comprehensive picture, it fluctuates or vacillates between two images, or hovers between two images: One was the one pronounced by the UK’s conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. He described Gaza as an open-air prison. That would be one pole of the spectrum. The other pole of the spectrum would be Baruch Kimmerling, the eminent Hebrew University sociologist who described Gaza as the largest concentration camp ever. So it’s fair to say that situation has been endured for approximately 20 years, with variations. There was a period when Gaza wouldn’t let in virtually any civilian products. Chocolate was prohibited, potato chips were prohibited, baby chickens were prohibited.

There was a period when Israel calibrated, literally calibrated, the number of calories each Gazan needed above the starvation level, what you might call starvation plus, and didn’t allow in any food beyond that starvation plus calibration. As I said, with minor fluctuations over time, that’s been the situation that the people of Gaza have had to endure these past 20 years. But that’s only half the picture. That’s what you might call the flora and fauna of Gaza, as it used to be called in encyclopedia entries when they wanted to describe an area of the world. But then you have to add in another element. And the other element is the periodic massacres Israel launches on Gaza. Now, it’s been a lot more than five, but I’ll tell you the truth, Chris, I can’t even remember them because there are so many. There are tries I’ve made to commit them to memory. I’m unable to.

So I’ll limit myself to two of the massacres. The ones which are best known. First is Operation Cast Lead which ran from December 26, 2008, to January 17, 2009. When Amnesty International, in the course of the operation, called in a voluminous report it issued, “The 22 days of death and destruction.” In the course of those 22 days, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians, of whom 350 were children. It flattened about 6,000 homes and destroyed all of the vital infrastructure in Gaza: the cement factories, the chicken factories. Targeted and flattened the vital infrastructure. Then, fast-forwarding past several massacres, one was the massacre in the Mavi Marmara, the humanitarian ship that was heading towards Gaza. Then there was the massacre and Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and then there was in July-August, 2014, there was Operation Protective Edge. And in the course of Operation Protective Edge, Israel killed about 2,200 Palestinians, 550 children, and committed such dramatic destruction in the infrastructure of Gaza. It destroyed about 18,000 homes.

But beyond the 18,000 homes, Peter Maurer — Who at the time was the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross — Went to Gaza after the Israeli assault, and he then said that in his entire professional career… Now, bear in mind, this is the president of the ICRC, so his job is to tour combat zones. He said in his entire professional career, he had never seen such destruction as was visited on Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. And then we’ll get to one more massacre, not because it stands out in terms of numbers killed, but because it speaks to one claim that’s constantly made against the people of Gaza and the Hamas leadership. In 2018, March 31 it began, but it could be wrong. I think it was March 31st. In 2018, the Palestinians in Gaza, despairing but also responsive to the exhortations of the international community, attempted a nonviolent Gandhi-like civil rights movement, like resistance in Gaza, what came to be called the Great March of Return.

And Palestinians overwhelmingly nonviolently… Now, I’m referring to the first six weeks because a major massacre occurred. Israel committed a major massacre on May 14, and that changed the character of that nonviolent resistance. So what did the Palestinians who attempted to follow the exhortations of the international community to try nonviolence, what was the result of it? Well, there was several human rights reports. The most exhaustive was carried out by a distinguished committee commissioned by the United Nations. It was the Human Rights Council. And it found that — And now I’m calling it pretty much verbatim. I have not looked at it in quite a while — Remember, we’re talking about nonviolent demonstrators. Israel targeted children, it targeted medical personnel, it targeted journalists, and it targeted disabled people; Palestinians who were in wheelchairs and suffering from other physical disabilities. And not surprisingly, after the massacre on May 14t 2018, the nonviolence quickly, though not entirely, petered out.

So if we fast-forward till today or till October 7, the fair thing to say — Not engaging in hyperbole or exaggeration, and I try not to because the truth speaks for itself — The Palestinians in Gaza were left there to languish and die. I had a lot of respect for Bernie Sanders and I still retain that respect because you have to judge a person as a whole. Otherwise, everybody fails the test of pristine morality. But his last statement, he described this international community as assiduously committed to bring justice to the Palestinians and Gaza, and then along came Hamas and messed up everything. Well, with all due regards to Bernie Sanders, that’s a complete fantasy and fabrication. Nobody was doing anything the last few years for the people of Gaza. And I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. Including myself, by 2020, I had given up. I wasn’t happy about that fact, and I was privately criticized for that fact.

But I had reached a point where I was so minutely documenting each and every crime that Israel has committed, that it seemed absolutely pointless and purposeless. My last book that I published on the subject, I Accuse!, it sold 374 copies of which half I purchased because I was trying to convince the international criminal court to pursue a case based on that book against Israel. So without elevating myself to sainthood, I’m simply saying it’s a factual matter. And contrary to what Bernie Sanders said, I began my involvement in June 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon. So that was 40 years as my entire adult life and I had given up by 2020. I hadn’t written anything for the next three years up until today on the subject, and I barely posted anything on my website.

So the Palestinians in Gaza, it was as if the people housed at Gaza were confined to a game preserve and they were left there to die. They were left there to languish and to die. So when the event of October 7 occurred, first of all, on the first days, it was very unclear what had happened. We knew there was a breakthrough and the numbers originally were about 50 on that morning of Israelis who were killed. Exactly how they were killed in those circumstances, it was not known. And then the dilemma became, as the events unfolded, it was not the question of the factual side. The factual side, slowly but surely, it did become known. The biggest dilemma was the moral dimension. How do you judge what happened?

And now at the risk of self-indulgence for a second time, you’ll forgive me if I point to my own moral dilemma. And that was the following: For most of my adult life, I’ve been a pretty assiduous, fastidious researcher and feel confident about my factual findings. However, I’ve never been particularly confident of my moral judgment. Moral judgment, it’s a discipline. It’s a faculty and it’s a faculty that needs to be refined by serious immersion in a vast field called moral philosophy. And I take the life of the mind seriously. And there is a difference between what you might call snap judgments and having that deep immersion, which is all a long way of saying I’ve relied or deferred to Professor Chomsky, his moral judgment, in most circumstances, and unlimited myself to, as I said, the factual side of these issues that have arisen. Well, this time I was unable to defer to Professor Chomsky’s judgment because he wasn’t available. So I was thrust in a personal crisis. I felt there was a lot of weight on me now to figure this out effectively on my own.

So what do you do? I thought about it. Of course, I thought a lot about what my parents’ judgment would be because they had refined moral faculties, not the deep immersion, but there was something there. They were smart. But that only got me so far. And then I sat down and I thought, okay, let me go back to what the abolitionists said when there were the slavery votes in the US. The slavery votes here in other places were quite ugly affairs if we’re talking about the targeting of civilians and things like that. And I don’t hold it personally but I did know that Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois, they held the abolitionists in very high regard. Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison. When you read Douglass and when you read the Du Bois, they will not brook any criticism of those abolitionists and the heights they soared, S-O-A-R-E-D, in their defense of African Americans, Blacks who were enslaved.

So I looked at the Nat Turner Rebellion, which was the largest slave rebellion in the US and of course, when you look at it, there are some eerie similarities. Nat Turner was a religious fanatic. Incidentally, often forgotten, so was John Brown. Each of them, but we’ll stick now to Nat Turner, each of them was convinced that they were acting on God’s word, that they were agents of God and they were doing God’s will, and their actions were sanctioned by God. You might call them premature jihadis. That’s what they were. And it’s reported in Stephen Oates’ account — He’s a very respected historian, still among us — The Nat Turner Rebellion, that Nat Turner gave the order to his federates, kill all whites. Part of it was revenge, for sure, but part of it, he wanted to create a moral crisis to force the country, the confront, and the reality of slavery.

He was, by the way, a very smart guy like Frederick Douglass, very literate and constantly acknowledged by whites for his intelligence. So he was a zealot, but also very smart. And by the way, so was John Brown. There was very few in academic that could write probes like those folks could back then because they were schooled in the Bible and everything. So they knew the English language. In any event, as I said, they said to kill all whites. In the case of Nat Turner Rebellion, they killed about three score whites, by the current term, innocent civilians, men, women, and children.

So I was reading about Nat Turner — I will mention in passing but I’ll get back to Nat Turner — When I read John Brown, I was very curious because he killed civilians too. He hacked to death civilians. I was very interested in what was both… Frederick Douglass gave this absolutely breathtaking speech on John Brown. And he had come to grips with the question of killing civilians. And the boys wrote a biography of John Brown, not very good, but there weren’t many resources to draw from. He too, in the last chapter, confronts the question of John Brown and the killing of civilians. Neither of them condemned Brown. They circled around it. They recognized they had to confront this question but they wouldn’t condemn John Brown for killing civilians.

So when it came to Nat Turner, I was curious what the abolitionists had to say about that. You can imagine it created complete hysteria in Nat Turner Rebellion. The whites in the South went on a murderous… The sameness was happening now in Gaza, but obviously on a smaller scale because of relative population. So I was curious to read what William Lloyd Garrison had to say. And I’ll tell you, it was so important for me to read that because I refused — and I’m going to be perfectly honest about it — I refused to condemn Hamas. It was too easy. It was too easy to condemn them.

And I looked to Garrison. What did he do? And I’ll tell you now, my regard for the abolitionists went through the roof when I read what Garrison wrote. He acknowledged the horror had occurred. But he very studiously carefully would not condemn the Nat Turner rebellion. He condemned all the hypocrites who are condemning the rebellion. And he said, “We told you so. We told you so. We warned you. We warned you. We warned you that you were going to drive these people mad and they’re going to do something horrible.” I read it and I reread it. And I reread it.

And then in the past couple of days, I had to refresh my memory of my own book, and I started to reread my book, the Gaza book, The Inquest into Its Martyrdom. And I’m telling you, honest to God, I began to get so filled with rage as it went through each detail of what was done to those people. That two things: number one, I understood now why Garrison did not condemn the rebellion, because he saw day in and day out. Unlike Gaza, slavery was not out of sight. He saw, day in and day out, the humiliation, the degradation, the physical assault on the people, the African American slaves, and he realized he could not in good conscience-

He could not in good conscience condemn them for what they did. And then after I started to read my own book and the rage, the rage inside of me… I was sitting in a restaurant yesterday because I didn’t want to sit at home doing it because I lose it, so I started to read it. And then as I read it, I said, Norman, I’m very unpopular because of what I said in those first couple of days. And I lost a couple of close friends over it, but I determined Garrison was right. I don’t know what Professor Chomsky would have said. I know right after 9/11, he called it an atrocity of a large magnitude. And then he went on to focus on what caused the magnitude. As a journalist says the background story of why they did what they did or might have done what they did. Would he have condemned it? I’m not sure, but I’m 70 years old. I’m my own person now. I have my own distinct family history and I find it very hard to condemn people who were born into a concentration camp.

I know this is not going to sound like what people want to say, but whatever they do, I can understand being driven mad. Driven mad by being born into a concentration camp, never seeing anything except it was 25 miles by five miles. No hope at all. Everybody had abandoned them on October 7th, be it remembered, the US administration and Israel were cobbling together in agreement with Saudi Arabia to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and leave the Palestinians in particular in Gaza to languish and die. That’s where we stood. That’s what Bernie Sanders left out, and in my opinion, misrepresented. And I find it very difficult, as I said, because of my family history, I find it very difficult and I felt a lot of consolation that Garrison effectively took the same position as me. Although with a lot more eloquence, on the abolitionists they can write.

Chris Hedges:

I want to stop you there, Norman. You talked about your family situation. Both of your parents were in concentration camps. Your mother was in the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz, right?

Norman Finkelstein:

Both of my parents were in the Warsaw Ghetto when the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was repressed in April 1943, those who survived and estimates are about 20 to 40,000 were deported to Majdanek concentration camp. Both of my parents who didn’t know each other at the time were deported to Majdanek concentration camp. My mother ended up in two slave labor camps afterwards. And my father, I never discussed it with him, but my mother told me he was in eight concentration camps. He ended up in Auschwitz and he was in the Auschwitz death march. And every member of the family on both sides, except for my mother and father were exterminated during the war.

Chris Hedges:

I want to talk a little bit about uprisings. This is actually characteristic, this kind of mass killing. You look back on the Haitian slave revolt, they killed thousands of French planters. C. L. R. James in his great book, The Black Jacobins acknowledges, writes in detail about the same kinds of killings that Hamas carried out. He writes, “The cruelties of property and privilege are always more ferocious than the revenges of poverty and oppression for the one aims at perpetuating resented injustice. The other is merely a momentary passion soon appeased.” If you look also at Native Americans, I’m actually descended from a man who has a boy hid in the chimney in remote part of Maine, while the the entire family, the rest of the family were killed by Native Americans. Red Cloud made a profession of wiping out white settlements. Now we’ve romanticized Native American society and forgotten this.

The French Revolution, if you were a clergy, if you were part of the aristocratic class or even suspected of supporting the aristocratic class, you were wiped out. This isn’t to condone it as I think none of us would, but it is to begin to try and understand it and understand where it has come from. And I think that’s why your voice is so important. I want to talk about where we’re going. It certainly looks to me that we are about to embark on a campaign of massive ethnic cleansing. It looks to me, I’m guessing, I want to know what you think, that Israel will occupy the northern part of Gaza, including Gaza City. And this tiny area, as you said, one of the most densely populated spots on the planet will be reduced, more densely populated and people living who have been existing at a subsistence level will… I think the goal is essentially to force them into flee south over the Rafah border into Egypt, and then they will never come back.

And I will just add that I covered the massive ethnic cleansing campaigns of ethnic Serbs in Croatia and saw a very similar reaction by the international community, basically passive. And the Croats did it fast enough without images to get it done, and those people never came back. But I’ll let you comment on what you think Israel’s goal is. And we should be clear that this is an extremely right wing government filled with bigots and racists who when I was reporting from Israel, were all gathered around Hamir Kalyani and were denounced within Israeli society.

Norman Finkelstein:

Well, first of all, I wonder if I can ask you a question. I was going to pick up C.L.R. James’s book because I’ve not read it. Did he render a moral judgment or he just described?

Chris Hedges:

No, I think like you, he explained it and to a certain extent, inevitable. I had read that the people in Gaza could actually hear the music from the rave that was happening. Imagine, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Gaza, so these young men, they can’t find work. They’re sleeping 10 to a floor and if they can’t find work, they can’t get married. And what I found in Gaza, and I knew Rantisi and Nisarah and all sorts of leaders of Hamas. And what I found is that the only thing that gave them any kind of continuity or structure in their life was this form of Islam, number one. And number two, the only option left by which they could affirm themselves was to become a shahid or a martyr. That’s it. That was really the only route open to them. And we have to remember, most of them were killed, certainly 1500 according to Israel. And I suspect most of them knew they probably wouldn’t be coming back.

Norman Finkelstein:

About that I’m certain. Okay. You can never say it with certainty. What I think happened was, and I know this might sound like a movie script, but I think it’s true. I think the night before, October 7th, they went over to their mother, their father, they hugged them, they kissed them, and they knew it was goodbye. And inside of them, inside of them, they thought about their sister who was killed, their grandfather who was killed, their cousin who was killed, their nephew who was killed in those murderous Israeli assaults. And then they reflect on all the despair, despondency, depression of having been born into a concentration camp. And they resolved to vindicate and avenge. And exactly what you said about the music outside the camp, these folks enjoying a joyous, carefree life. You may recall it was the movie about the Nazi concentration, about the Nazi Holocaust called Shoah. And one of the things the filmmaker did was he interviewed the people who were right outside living normal lives, right outside the concentration camps.

And it filled the viewer with such moral disgust. How could you carry on a normal life knowing or suspecting or intuiting what’s going on inside those camps? And I imagine those folks who broke out were thinking the same thing. I remember, I once asked my late mother, I asked her, “Well, what did you think about those terror bombings on the German cities during World War II?” It’s often forgotten. I’m just giving you statistics. I’m not passing moral judgment, but it’s often forgotten. Roughly 27, 30 million Russians were killed. About 20, 25 million Chinese were killed. The third-largest figure is the Germans, it was nine million. They were the third-largest population which suffered. And I remember my mother’s reaction was quote, “Our feeling was if we’re going to die, we’re going to take some of them with us.”

Now, my mother was a very moral person, very strict morality, but she had no compunction about saying that. In fact, even 30 years later, I was at the trial in Dusseldorf, Germany for the last major trial at the time, 1979. I don’t know what transpired afterwards of the last major trial of concentration camp guards. And this was the trial of the concentration camps from Majdanek. And my mother was one of the witnesses because one of the guards actually lived in Maspeth, Queens in New York City. And my mother had her deported, or she was a witness in the deportation trial. And I went with my mother to Germany and there were the guards. You could imagine that scene. There were the guards. And at one point we were exiting the courthouse in the evening. We weren’t aware that the guards were released on their own recognizance each night. And so we were walking in the street and right on my right shoulder, there was one of the guards, Ragita was her name. And on my left shoulder was my mother.

I looked at the guard and I looked at my mother. It was totally surreal. And this guard was notorious for being the most brutal in the camp. I held my breath. I waited until Ragita was about, let’s say a block ahead of us, the distance of a block. And I turned to my mother and I said, “Mom, do you know who that is?” And my mother squinted and then her eyes lit up, “Ragita.” And I said, “Yeah.” I said to her, “What do you want me to do?” She just went into a complete rage, “Get her. Get her. They think we’re sheep. Get her.” .. think we’re sheep. Get her. Well, as somebody pointed out for all the horrors, the Jews during World War II, and I’m not going any way ever diminish what they endured, it lasted roughly six years, the people in Gaza, for 70%. It started in 1948. It’s very long time. And for those young people who broke free, they’ve never seen anything except a concentration count or a gain preserve or an open hair prison. So are you shocked by the rage? No. You want me to apply moral categories, condemn? I go with Garrison. I’ll describe my reaction. I will acknowledge by a dictionary definition, it constituted a very large atrocity. That’s a dictionary definition, and it’s accurate. However, when you want me to apply a moral category to what happened, you lose me. I mean, at that point, we take separate paths. I won’t do it.

As to what’s happening now, a young colleague of mine, Jamie Stern Minor, he posted a quite detailed account of the statements coming out of Israel now. And it’s quite clear that however you want to configure it all together, they’re talking about a very large ethnic cleansing. It could be or one half of Gaza. But once the gate to Rafah opens up, I don’t see how you can close it. And if Israel is depriving the people of Gaza, as you said, food, fuel, electricity, and water, though now the Biden administration has put pressure on Israel to provide some water. It’s unclear whether Israel has accommodated that pressure from the Biden administration. It’s hard to imagine that everybody won’t flee once that gate is open, Rafah crossing, and then what happens next? That’s very easy to predict. That’s very easy to predict. You know what will happen next? Nothing. After each of Israel’s quote, unquote operations in Gaza, there were promises made about lifting the blockade, especially after 2009. Even people like Hillary Clinton were chiming in. The blockade is untenable. The blockade has to end. Did it end? No.

What happened to Ukraine during this current? It vanishes and the people in Gaza will be left to die in the Sinai desert because there’s no possibility whatsoever, none, that the Egyptian head of state, Sisi, will allow them to integrate with Egyptian life for political reasons. For various political reasons, it will never happen. They will be just left to die. Now, you might say that’s dramatic. What happened after all the Israeli operations? Anybody remember? Anybody remember Protective Edge, nothing. It was all just quickly forgotten. And so they’ll be left to languish and die and nobody will do anything. So in many ways what happened in Gaza, you could say it had an instrumental aspect to it. The same instrumental aspect, or I should say what happened on October 7th. It had an instrumental aspect to it, namely to, as Matt Turner said, to force the world outside to reckon with this fact of slavery.

But there was also, it was the last goodbye. In the case of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, nobody expected a handful of Jews to defeat the German army. I mean, for Christ’s sake, the Red Army couldn’t defeat the [inaudible 00:47:17], so a handful of Jews with a handful of weapons. It was a last hurrah to die with dignity, to die as the expression has it, the die fighting. Now, they took a lot of civilians with them, but you’ll forgive me for quoting my mother. Our feeling was if we’re going to die, we’re going to take some of them with us. And that comes from a very humane human being. So I think that’s the plan. Will it succeed? Politics is a very complicated business, and I think predictions are generally worthless. It does not seem that the Hezbollah will accept it.

And first of all, because of a feeling of solidarity, but also because it will completely discredit it as an organization. If Hezbollah allows Israel to carry on what’s called a second [inaudible 00:48:35] expulsion, they lose all credibility, then they’re just win backs. So just from the point of view, as you can use the expression, just from the organizational point of view, they have to do something and then all bets are off. I don’t know if the reports are accurate, but it’s been reported that they have 100,000 rockets. And they have said that they can target certain factories in Tel Aviv. I think it’s either the chlorine or ammonia factory, which if they targeted, you don’t want to even have to imagine.

And then there is Israel, for the past week, there has been a lot of talk of using the events of the past week to finally dispatch with Iran if they attempt that. The fact of the matter is, and I’m not saying this in a pejorative sense, I’m just saying it factually, Israel is no longer able to fight a ground war. That’s what we learned in 2006 in Lebanon, where they amassed huge numbers of troops on the border with Lebanon, but didn’t want to tangle with the party of God. The Hezbollah, they wade to the last three days before they quote, unquote launched the ground invasion, which was just a photo up of Israeli troops going to the border. So you could see that they launched the ground invasion and same thing happened in 2014, the Operation Protective Edge, when they finally did launched the ground invasion and they lost about 70 or 80 combatants, which is a very high number for Israel.

And now it seems pretty clear they’re doing the same thing. They’re very wary of launching that ground invasion because of the revenge in the hearts of those Hamas fighters. So it’s quite possible. And by the time this is aired, we’ll probably know they won’t launch the ground invasion. They will do to Gaza City what the Nazis did to the village of [inaudible 00:51:08]. They will flatten the whole city, Gaza City, just pulverize it into rumble and then celebrate it as their victory. But my point was they’re not even capable of invading Gaza. So I do not believe, but bear in mind, I know nothing about military matters. And I say that very proudly. It’s possible they will use a tactical nuclear weapon against Iran. I think that’s a realistic possibility. So that’s my way of saying there’s a huge chasm that separates what Israel wants to do versus what will actually unfold.

Chris Hedges:

Great. That was Middle East Scholar, Norman Finkelstein, author of Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team, Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at

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Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He writes an online column for the website ScheerPost. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

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