We look into the heart of war, a place where it seems that the conquest of the weak is inevitable. The terms of good and evil are simply black and white and as easy to understand as the sayings hidden inside a fortune cookie. If we are Americans of a certain age we are for the most part shielded from the conflict or any conflict since Vietnam, which was the last time there was a draft. Americans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are soldiers of choice and represent a small portion of the American population indeed. The rest of us remain far from the battlefield and for the most part increasingly obtain our foreign policy fix from a quick hit on CNN or Fox or a longer interlude on the Comedy channel laughing at John Stewart or Stephen Colbert. A few of us pay inordinate attention to what I was taught they call; “the situation,” in Israel. We Jews, Palestinians, peacemakers and foreign policy wonks have joined with lobbyists, politicians and political pundits to make reporting the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians into an eternal Main Event according to Matti Friedman, in “An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth.”
But there was a war between Israel and Hamas that lasted fifty days with eleven cease fires and over 2000 Palestinian deaths and 72 Israeli deaths. We know about Iron Dome. We know about the terror tunnels. We know about Red Code warning sirens in Israel. We know about telephone/text warning calls in Gaza. We know about three young Israelis; Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, who were kidnapped and killed. We know about one young Palestinian; Mohammed Abu Khedair, who was kidnapped and burned alive. We know about Operation Brothers Keeper and the arrest of hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank. We know about a possible Hamas coop against Fatah. We know about rockets and drones and F-16s and missiles and bombs and buildings turned to ruble. And we know about Operation Protective Edge.
But after all the fighting who won? The short answer is it remains to be seen. There was no clear winner on the battlefield. Israel stung Hamas by knocking down thousands of buildings, blowing up 32 tunnels and targeting and then eliminating a number of Hamas leaders. Hamas extended the radius of the rocket attack it launched along with Islamic Jihad and other Gaza based organizations and literally forced millions of Israelis inside. It popped out in Israel on the other side of the tunnels it dug and attacked and killed soldiers and created an enormous new threat to the families living along the border. There is a cease fire arranged by Egypt and many different scenarios for what will happen next including some involving Israel, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the Saudis, Jordan, the United State, the European Union, Qatar, Turkey, the United Nations and others. Israel said it is looking for the demilitarization of Gaza. Hamas said it is looking for an end to the blockade at the Gaza borders by both Israel and Egypt, the creation of a port and the reopening of its airport.
Many Israelis disagree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, (his support has dropped from over 90% to under 40%), and believe that this time in Gaza they should have “finished the job.” At the same time Hamas, who fought a war that did extraordinary damage to Gaza, (maybe $6 billion worth), along with significant loss of life and over 10,000 wounded may have regained its credibility? According to a new poll by Dr. Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas would win the Presidency of the Palestinian Authority, (if the elections were held today), with 61 percent of prospective Palestinian voters, against Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah with 32 percent. There are lots of decisions to be made in the aftermath of this war and lots of questions to be asked and answered. Did Hamas start the war to improve its foundering position in which it had agreed to be the junior partner in a Unity Government with Fatah, was cut off from its primary source of support through the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood by General Sisi and the Egyptian military and to use the deaths of too many civilians as the impetus for new international support and opposition to Israel?
While there is a famous line in the second generation of the famous Sci-Fi TV fantasy Star Trek uttered by the nemesis of Captain Picard; the Borg: “Resistance is futile,” in the new 21st century world of limited warfare it may have been transformed into resistance is life.
To take it in deep down we may all have to learn a lesson from the people of Gaza as expressed by Shahd Abusalama on her blog; Palestine From My Eyes:
“Every person in Gaza has become more experienced than the most well-known military or political analyst on earth. Everybody in Gaza recognizes the fact that there is no other option. They believe that they cannot trust any project, except for resistance, as it is the only thing that is able to offer a dignified human life to them. This conviction came after they lost trust in the so-called “peace process’, and anyone who represents it. They also lost trust in the international solidarity and human rights organizations and its agendas. Above all, they lost confidence in the Arab governments which usually exploits their cause to serve their own interest, not them.”