Everything in the Israel-Gaza conflict can change in a moment, for the better or the worse. That is both hopeful and terrifying.
This reality is particularly evident during war time and this operation has been no exception. Four days before Operation Protective Edge started, few rockets were entering Israel, air strikes were limited, and it looked like a ceasefire was on the horizon. Soon, however, hostilities escalated.
Last Sunday, our worst nightmare was confirmed that Jewish extremists murdered Muhammed Abu Khdeir in an alleged revenge killing for the murder of Israeli teens Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel. They burned Khdeir alive, stunning Israelis across the political spectrum.
Riots ignited across the country and Gazan terrorists launched scores of rockets toward Israel, including 100 last Monday. Then, early Tuesday, Operation Protective Edge began.
Yesterday, again it seemed like a ceasefire might be on the horizon. But shortly afterwards, dozens of rockets hit Southern and Central Israel, and Israel launched its first commando operation in Gaza. Netanyahu warns that Operation Protective Edge may take a long time. At press time, more than 160 Palestinians have been killed, 1,320 targets in Gaza have been hit, and 635 rockets have been launched into Israel so far during this operation.
Strangely, a memory from Operation Pillar of Defense, the last time Israel started a military offensive in Gaza, gives me hope. On November 21, 2012, a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding 15 people. This was the first bus bombing in Tel Aviv in more than six years.
The bombing occurred only a mile away from the Jerusalem Post’s office, where I was working. I immediately got calls from my partner to check if I was okay, and I wrote on Facebook that I was fine. Everyone called anyone they knew that could be close to the bombing, which was a lot of people. It reminded my Israeli colleagues of the horrific years during the second intifada. I was really scared. Not only was the bus bombing close by, but it could also intensify the operation.
Instead, hours later, Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement, ending the eight-day operation. Both a bus bombing and a ceasefire occurred within the same day: That’s Israel for you.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can often feel intractable. It increasingly is.
But everything can change here in an instant. I just hope that this operation ends as quickly as possible and we can get back to the real work that needs to be done: making peace. Israeli President Shimon Peres almost made peace with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2011. Every day, I’m waiting for that moment to come back.
I’m also hoping for a new, crucial event to occur: the day Hamas leaves and a moderate, two-state oriented leadership rules in the Gaza Strip. We must figure out how to encourage that. Otherwise, we can expect yet another Israel-Gaza war.
Excerpts of this post originally appeared on my personal blog, www.laurarosbrow.com.