So after a cease fire was called and Israel troops withdrew from their recent assault on Gaza, it looks like things are about to start back up again. I hope that they do not go as far as they did in the past few weeks, but really there is no way to tell, especially since it has only been like a week (if that) since the cease fire was called.
What started it this time? Well, some Palestinian militants set off a roadside bomb which killed one Israeli soldier. This of course prompted a response from Israel, and no, that response was not one of inviting the Palestinians over for some fine Israeli cuisine. No, Israel responded how they always do when something like this happens: they blew the hell out of some buildings and killed some Palestinians–some of which may have been militants.
This whole thing is just ridiculous. I mean, what the hell good is a cease fire if both sides are just going to ignore it? Palestinians should know by now that any act of aggression against Israel is going to be met with force and result in the further deaths and sufferings of Palestinians. I don’t know if the militants were part of Hamas, or some other radical group, but that does not really matter. What DOES matter is that these folks are now directly responsible for another Israeli attack on Gaza. Of course, Israel is not wholly without blame here either, as they had been carrying out artillery and naval strikes since the cease fire was announced. Now, the Palestinian militants probably should not have detonated that bomb inside Israeli territory, or attacked Israeli soldiers at all for that matter, but can we really expect that? To use the argument offered by so many gung-ho pro-Israel types: Would the US stand still and allow rockets to be launched from Mexico or Canada into our borders? No, we would defend ourselves, just like Israel is doing.
Well, can we expect anything less from the Palestinians? I mean really, they just got the hell blown out of them, a cease fire was called but not adhered to apparently, and they are just supposed to sit there and take it? I am not advocating an eye for an eye policy, or saying that the Palestinian militants are blameless in this new potential outbreak of heavy fighting, but the world (especially the US) has to stop being so hypocritical and condemn attacks from both sides–especially when there is supposed to be a cease fire.
It boils down to the fact that both sides are crazy. That is not new news, but it is tragic nonetheless. If Israel wanted to show the Palestinians that they truly did care about the people of Gaza and working toward peace, they would take the higher ground and lift the embargo on Gaza and follow the rules of cease fire–that means no air strikes, artillery strikes, troop movement into the territory. The same goes for the Palestinian militants–if they don’t want Israel to kill more of their people and city then they should stop carrying out attacks against Israel that only exacerbate the situation. But no, that would be too hard. After all, it is easier to hate and strike out of anger than it is to use diplomacy and acknowledge and abide by treaties that you (and your opponent) agreed to.
The cease fire was nice while it lasted, and I truly hope that this newest violence does not turn into another assault on Gaza by Israeli forces. Hope is not enough, of course, and it is up to LEADERS, Israeli, Palestinian, US, and others to step up and find a solution to this issue. It will not be easy–the region has a history of violence and hate–but it still has to be done. It will not happen overnight, and there will probably still be a lot of resentment around for hundreds of years, but the peace process has to start somewhere. And it has to be a REAL process. None of this “ceasefire’ but we’ll still blow the hell out of you business. That is not a peace process. Hell, it’s not even paying lip service to the peace process. Basically it’s just a breather in the fighting, like the time between rounds in a boxing match. Sure the match gets put on hold but there is no doubt that the two contenders will be back to beating the crap out of each other in just a few moments.
The Israeli/Palestinian/Gaza situation is important not only because it has the potential to sprawl into a larger regional conflict that can then spread into a larger world conflict–that thought is scary enough–but civilians are dying on both sides, brutally at that. Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups launch rockets and set bombs that kill Israeli civilians and soldiers, and Israel retaliates with air strikes and artillery that kills militants and civilians. Of course, both sides end up killing more civilians than they do fighters, but that does not seem to matter to anyone. There needs to be a solution to the Gaza problem so that the loss of innocent civilian life can be stemmed. Furthermore, the longer these attacks continue the more hatred is bred, and with this hatred comes more violence. It is cycle, but it does not have to be an endless one.
I leave you with this simply because Tom Waits says it better than I ever could: