The conflict between the military and paramilitary entities of these two political domains is perhaps the most polarizing and protracted conflict of modern times.
The latest escalation of violence began after three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the West Bank on 12 June. On 30 June, the bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar were found. They were murdered. In an apparent retaliation attack, on 2 July in Jerusalem a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdair, was abducted, beaten and burned to death. Without the need to get into the gory details, this is pure gothic horror.
The killings of the four teenagers have been broadly described as terrorist attacks by both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Many other adjectives have been used, which we shall not repeat. However, what began with these two linked tragedies has escalated into a bloody ongoing battle in which the gothic horrors of June and July have multiplied manifold.
Proportionality is something missing from the latest round of the Israel and Palestine conflict. Since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July, constant rocket fire and now a ground offensive have resulted in over one thousand Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, and over forty members of the Israel Defense Forces. Jon Snow produced a powerful little piece entitled ‘The children of Gaza’ (watch the video). The following day Israel shelled the same hospital where the video was shot. To follow, HAMAS and other linked paramilitary groups will brainstorm ways to punish Israel for the onslaught.
Amidst all the pain and the relentless battle, this is the part when the United Nations Secretary General jumps out of his seat and shouts enough is enough. This is the part when no one listens to him. This is the part when the U.S. President (who arguably is the only one Israeli Prime Ministers listen to but has not been the case for a while) is paralyzed by Washington lobbying interests. This is the part when European leaders enter the battle of words but do little else. This is the part when the UN Security Council becomes a little pointless. This is the part when brilliant journalism gives you stories that will live in your mind for a while and perhaps win some prizes. This is also the part when your opinion on the conflict does not ultimately matter, as the fighting will go on.
If geopolitics was a playground, we could see the parties to this conflict behaving like selfish and stubborn children who do not care to listen to what fellow pupils, teachers, or parents say. Carrots or sticks do not work either. It seems both parties only answer and react to pain and suffering. You can put together the best team of negotiators and conflict resolution experts to try to engineer a solution –Act Two of this gothic horror play. The expert panel will in the end be told by either or both of the Israelis and the Palestinians that they do not really known or understand what is going on. Shut up and let me finish is what they usually tell experts and world leaders. Ultimately, if any sort of compromise is reached, it will be long forgotten after recess. Curtains fall; this is the e end of yet another short-lived ceasefire.
How many more ordinary civilians will die this time? How many jihadists and martyrs this new spiral of violence will engender? Has this lethal cocktail ensured the survival of the conflict for at least another decade?
Technically speaking, the only alternative seems to be containment. But how can we contain a conflict in the era of internet communications and social media? Shot your ears and close your eyes! What about diaspora communities and waves of migration? Maybe we need to start talking about enhanced and tailored law enforcement targeting these communities, as we do not want hate to be exported. The stubborn children have the immaculate timing of launching into a new round of fighting when things are bad enough in the geopolitical playground. With the escalating conflict across Syria and Iraq, there are greater chances of avoiding a new regional of world war if we focus our energies on more solvable crises.