This just in! The Israelis and the Palestinians are fighting!
Casualties are mounting on both sides, although the latter are suffering at rates orders of magnitude greater. What has the world come to?
I am, of course, being totally facetious. Israelis and Palestinians are ALWAYS fighting and have been doing so ever since the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 (and actually well before then). This conflict has been going on for so long that many people are simply tired of it. I, for one, have devoted next to none of my professional and post-professional life to it, preferring to look at other matters.
Hence, I am not a specialist on the Israel-Palestine ‘issue’ and defer to the legions who are, either really so or self-styled. My comments will thus be of a general nature, although, as terrorism is indeed involved, it naturally does peak my interest, if even to a limited extent.
So, first and foremost
Israel has every right, and in fact a solemn duty, to its people to defend itself from the actions and plans conjured up by terrorists. The Palestinians, alas, have allowed terrorists to carry out plots on their ‘behalf’ – actual average support by everyday Palestinians for these terrorists is uncertain, however. Nevertheless, the main party in the Gaza Strip is Hamas, which is MOST DEFINITELY a terrorist group. The fact that it also runs the territory should not confuse us: Islamic State (ISIS) ran a so-called ‘caliphate’ in Iraq starting in 2014 and no one saw those wankers as anything but terrorists. Hamas should be treated equally as harshly.
As a result, Israel forces have been launching air and drone strikes into Gaza and can, to an extent, justify these actions as purely defensive in nature (if not pre-emptive). However, as I pointed out in An End to the War on Terrorism, the military is a blunt, not a precision, instrument and its actions do kill innocent people (no matter how hard the army/air force tries to pinpoint its targets). Every non-terrorist who dies in this manner is fodder for future terrorists to use in order to garner support for their own actions.
Secondly, and to my mind very importantly, this newest maelstrom of violence was set off, at least in (large) part, by a decision by the Israeli government to eject Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make room for Israelis to move in. While this plan has been put on hold it is merely the latest in moves to remove Palestinians from their land (whether that land is in East Jerusalem – itself a bone of contention on just who ‘gets’ the holy city – or the West Bank).
Furthermore, bands of right wing Jews have been roaming around shouting ‘Death to Arabs‘ and beating up people in the street. These actors need to be called what they are: Jewish violent extremists (I wrote a whole chapter on this in When Religion Kills). They are as equally rejectionist and intolerant as the average jihadi but enjoy the favour of the current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu who has not met an ultra-Orthodox extremist he does not like (he relies crucially on the support of parties of this ilk to form coalition governments).
We are thus where we started
Palestinians launch single actor attacks into Israel proper or Hamas launches missiles (the vast majority of which are intercepted by Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ missile defence system) and Israel retaliates by bombing Gaza. As it was in the beginning so it goes on and on and on…
I see myself as neutral on this front. There is enough blame on both sides to go around making no one party the ‘innocent one’ here. Both sides need to step back and, crucially, both sides need better governance. Netanyahu is a crook and needs to go and both Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank (who has been in charge since what seems like forever) and the terrorists in Hamas, are well past their best-before date. To the detriment of all, no one seems to give a rat’s backside about ‘peace’.
It is often said that the Palestinians ‘never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’: I think this also goes for Israel when it comes to who gets what in this tiny corner of the world. Others have said ‘a pox on both their houses‘. As noted above, I don’t have a dog in this fight but I do know that as long as more innocents die on either side the calls for revenge ramp up. Expect more violence and more suffering.
Read More About the Israel-Palestine Conflict
Several leaders of democracies are stooping to include terrorists and violent extremist groups in their administrations: this ain’t good.
On May 19, 2002 a suicide bomber disguised as a soldier killed himself and three others, and wounded another 59, in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya.
On May 10, 2016 two elderly women were moderately injured in a Jerusalem stabbing attack by two assailants who had covered their faces.