As a tenuous ceasefire begins, I remember something I read at the beginning of the Israeli incursion. The statement appeared in a story online in Israel’s National Post. It was a quote offered by Hamas spokesmen, Sami Abu Zurhi and read simply, “The ground offensive does not scare us.”
I thought at the time, as I always do when debating the goings-on in the Middle East that I can never imagine what either side goes through, so subsequently I’m reluctant to offer even the slightest of critiques. But that statement stuck in my mind; I mean, bombs going off outside my front door would surely scare the hell out of me.
That declaration laid wide open a really big issue; that either Hamas is terribly out of touch with its people or it is systematically using its people, not only as human shields but also as fodder in the building and recruitment of a whole new army of would-be martyrs. And it really becomes insidious when you start to pay close attention to the word “systematically”.
But it also made me think about the Israeli side of things; that right to defend oneself against aggression. They know about Hamas’s predilection of using Gaza citizens as cover and have taken as many precautions as they feel they can in efforts to spare civilian casualties while at the same time, proceeding with what are considered deadly necessary battle plans.
The problem is that it’s like oil and water. There’s no humane way to wage war and I think the Israelis know that. On the other hand, that hasn’t stopped them from being sucked into this vicious circle over and over again. They’ve had countless skirmishes, incursions and cease-fires in this past decade alone, not to mention the long history of hostility between the two people.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s one truly big impediment to peace in the Middle East. And that is that neither side likes the other very much.
I’m sure there exist pockets of love; I don’t think that every body in Israel hates everybody in Gaza. But I do think that not enough people on either are stepping up to say enough is enough; far too few when so many are needed.
Besides that, Hamas’s stance is very well-known; death to Israel. Although I wonder what the man on the streets of Gaza really thinks. One wonders would he or she take the opportunity, if one presented itself, to enter into commerce ($$) with a Jew from Israel, because that’s what it’ll take to stop the bleeding; a concerted social and economic effort, at the grassroots level, from both sides. Unfortunately a political show of unity is always apparent in Gaza and it’s not that pro-Israeli.
Across the border, it’s time to start to question the ease with which Israel is drawn in to these types of conflicts. I won’t say they go into battle gleefully but they do know beforehand that there’ll be civilian casualties. But that doesn’t stop the count. In that way, it becomes a battle of attrition, to the last man standing. And that’s a battle that Israeli may ultimately win. The question becomes, at what cost?
On the one side, Egypt is attempting again to broker a peace while at the same time Iran and Turkey joined with other Arab leaders recently to condemn the Israeli aggression. Neither is the world idly watching; all nations are forming an opinion. What’s next; world involvement, wide-spread aggression?
I guess my point is that when two people hate each other so much, the only ones that can successfully stop the fighting is them. I know it’s a simple metaphor that doesn’t cover the intricacies of foreign policy so entrenched in the history of this whole scene.
Yet unless both Israeli and Hamas want to take the steps to recognize each other’s right to existence, cease their attempts to kill each other and reconcile to share equally the wealth of the region, this is just going to continue. And frankly, the world can’t stand it and should stay out of it.