Saturday, July 29, 2006

Samson's Columns

The war in Lebanon has pushed the situation in Gaza into the background. This is unfortunate, because a tragedy in humanitarian terms is unfolding there as well. The IDF operations in response to the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit by Hamas militants more than three weeks ago have killed over 100 Palestinians. Relative to the population of Gaza, this is about the same as the Lebanese dead, although the percentage of combatants among the Palestinians is higher. Moreover the various diplomatic efforts to secure Shalit's release have taken a back seat to the diplomatic efforts over Lebanon. Weirdly, the IDF code-named its latest operation in Gaza Samson's Columns. The name refers to the Biblical strongman pulling down the temple in Gaza upon himself and thousands of Philistines as he uttered the wish to die with them. The related term Samson Complex has been used to describe a syndrome of uncontrolled, near suicidal rage, fueled by a sense of betrayal. The name could reflect the rage that many Israelis felt over the abductions of Cpl. Shalit and the soldiers on the Lebanon border. This rage also has a feeling of betrayal, because Israelis feel that their leaving Lebanon and Gaza should have removed the grievances of people there against them. On the other hand, maybe the code name is just the work of a remarkably inept junior officer at IDF's General Staff.


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