Israeli envoy to the United Nations Abba Ebon once said, “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” His haunting pronouncement has become prophetic. The lost possibilities keep mounting up.
During peace negotiations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) went out the back door and signed a peace agreement with Hamas which sunk the ship because the PA knew Israeli’s policy is never to negotiate with terrorists. In turn, Hamas killed three Israeli teenagers and retaliation followed. Now the PA and the Gaza Strip are getting blasted. From opportunity to onslaught in a matter of days.
Personal perspectives on Israel and the Palestinians will shape how people interrupt the current conflict. Currently, Europe is experiencing a resurgence of antisemitism that colors reporting. Having returned from Israel several months ago, I have my own perspective shaped by over 35 trips to the country. I do know that the conflicts remain a powder keg just waiting to blow. This past week put the match to the fuse.
The great tragedy of war is that women and children as well as innocent bystanders get hit in the crossfire. We will hear many of these stories. They are beyond terrible and should never have happened. Neither should the three Israeli teen boys have been murdered that kicked off this conflict. Revenge and retaliation only produce more hate.
Following the killings, Israel launched its largest offensive in the Gaza Strip in nearly two years. Hamas has never stopped firing rockets into Israel and this current assault has the intention of ending weeks of heavy rocket fire. Militants fired around 160 rockets including one strike that came near the northern Israeli city of Hadera. At the same time, Israel hit 150 sites in Gaza. Of course, Hamas rockets had a minimal impact in Israel because of the Iron Dome rocket repelling system Israel has in place. Israeli rockets knocked out Hamas missiles while they were still in the air, damaging nothing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the military to “take the gloves off” in responding to Hamas. Undoubtedly, the Israeli military will not let up until Hamas’s attacks are humbled. The army has called up 40,000 reservists that are prepared for a ground operation in Gaza if necessary. No efforts are underway for a cease-fire.
The Palestinians have compounded their first mistake with another. The cost will be high. It is almost as if their actions are always self-defeating. Of course, the PA didn’t like the deal on the table in their negotiations. Israel didn’t either. A compromise would greatly have been preferred to a war.
One aspect of the conflict is that Israeli and Palestinians have a different view of the value of life. Palestinians send in women wired with explosives to use as suicide bombers. Their view of human existence is that life is expendable. On the other hand, Israel considers life to be sacred. The L’chayim, to life, is a basic tenant of Israeli faith. The death of one Jew is considered to be the loss of a nation. In this philosophical debate, the Palestinians will loose again.