The conflicts between Israel and Palestine have been going on for such a long time, it’s difficult to know when one conflict stops and another one starts. The latest exchange of missile fire is no exception.
Operation Pillar of Cloud (or Pillar of Defense, depending on what report you read) officially began on November 14 “after Gaza militants fired over 100 rockets at Israeli cities and towns over the course of several days.” However, if one looks closer, they will see that both sides were involved in the aggression. Palestinian’s in Gaza were being shot by the Israeli military, Palestinian’s then detonated explosives near the Israeli military. On November 8, the Israeli military clashed with Hamas and during the raid a 12 year old Palestinian boy was killed by gunfire coming either from a tank or helicopter. The two sides exchanged fire for several days and then Hamas reportedly fired over 100 rockets into Israel on November 10.
There were supposedly talks of a cease-fire on November 12, which the Israeli military claims was broken after a dozen rockets were fired from Gaza. Responsibility for those launches was “claimed by smaller groups, including a radical Salafi organization that rejects Hamas’s authority.”
On November 12, Jason Ditz of AntiWar.com wrote, “The reality is that Gaza poses no real ‘threat’ to Israel. Even before getting the US to pump money into their Iron Dome system the rockets rarely hit anything, and if they did the glorified fireworks in the Gaza arsenal usually did minor damage to someone’s roof at worst. In addition to being the impetus behind more US aid, Gaza is also a chance for Israeli hawks to grandstand. A prolonged Gaza armistice would imperil that policy.”
I believe the Israeli’s knew this, which is why they assassinated Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari just hours after he received the draft proposal of a permanent truce agreement with Israel. John Glaser of AntiWar.com writes, “Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit and maintained contacts with Hamas leaders, said the truce agreement included protocols for maintaining a cease-fire in the case of cross-border violence between Israel and Gaza.”
Baskin told Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper that provides “coverage of Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East”, that senior officials in Israel knew about the pending truce agreement, yet approved of the assassination, knowing it would terminate the truce and escalate the conflict with Gaza.
Baskin said, “I think that they have made a strategic mistake, which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on both sides.” In less than a week, nearly 50 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed and hundreds injured; 3 Israeli civilians and no military combatants have been killed.. Baskin added that Jabari’s assassination “killed the possibility of achieving a truce.”
I agree that it was a mistake to assassinate the man with whom a cease-fire was being negotiated and agree with Ann Harrison, the Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme for Amnesty International, who said, “All sides have to step back from the brink in order to protect civilian lives.”