And the ceasefire is on, at least at the time of me writing this. Who knows what tomorrow will bring in the never-ending saga that is Israel/Palestine/Gaza/West Bank.
So, after eight days of battle the death of five Israelis and over 140 Gazans, where are we? Well, basically with a whole pile of rubble in the Gaza strip, a whole lot of rocket debris in Israel, and, in the final hours before a ceasefire, a blown up bus in Tel Aviv. Both sides have claimed their own victory. Israel believes it was able to dismantle a good portion of the Hamas infrastructure and kill off a good number of their personnel. Hamas has claimed that they were able to fight off the “evil Zionists,” which some are claiming has given them a new boost and even some legitimacy.
In Cairo, the new Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi probably came out of this looking best by being front and center at ceasefire negotiations and working with both Hamas and the U.S. to help stop the bloodshed, for at least a short period. Here is a man that, it is fair to say, the West has been relatively cool to, being from the infamous Muslim Brotherhood, which are seen as being a little too Islamic and extreme for the liking of most in the West. But, in the end, he was the man that the U.S. dealt with, he was able to wield some power and influence, and from it he has gained a new legitimacy. Kudos to him, I think. What will come of this, I’m not sure. Is a more powerful Morsi really a good thing?
Really, no one directly involved in the conflict is any farther ahead than they were when Hamas fired rockets into Israel and Israel started its airstrikes into Gaza in earnest to try and dismantle Hamas’ military might. According to Israel, over 1,500 “terrorist” sites were taken out, including missile launching sites, smuggling tunnels, and actual Hamas members. Unfortunately, they also ended up killing women and children in Gaza, and this understandably has emboldened the opposition to Israel and its activities in Gaza, including its blockade and control over what goes in and out.
Many in Israel are upset because they are tired of the back and forth cycle of violence, and the unpredictability that comes with it. Many wish that this latest round could have settled things once and for all and completely dismantled Hamas. There are those on the other side who wish that a ceasefire didn’t happen because they wish to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth. See anything new here? No, of course not, that’s because there is nothing new here.
Everyone is right back where they started, with both sides angry and polarized, having gained a bit more verbal ammunition to sling at each other over who did what over the eight days of tit-for-tat. Those who are against Israel have more deaths of children to add to the list to show that Israel is overreacting. Israel has more rockets and a new bus attack to prove that Hamas are terrorists. There have been a few slight concessions made, like a possible easing of border restrictions. Israel has said that it will not fire on Gaza anymore, as long as Hamas doesn’t shoot rockets off or attack border posts anymore. But both have said they will retaliate if the other does something stupid. So, nope, no farther ahead, just further divided.
And again, the whole world is sitting here all asking the same thing: “Now what?” The answer seems to be that no one knows. Both sides are just watching each other to see if the other side screws up. Isn’t that what was happening before? What exactly was the point of all this? Why did all of this happen? Was it just a bad dream? Sadly, it wasn’t. It’s just the never-ending nightmare that is the Middle East. How long can this go on? The answer is too long.