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Gaza peace more uncertain than ever

Peter Hammond offers analysis on the contentious conflict.

Since and before the establishment of Israel as a state in 1948 there has been trouble in the region. Hitherto conflict has been rife, particularly centred on the heavily disputed and contested West Bank. The tinderbox of conflict was re-ignited on 14 November with the assassination of the military leader of Hamas, Ahmed Jabari, creating new fears of an unending war in the region.

The primary solution offered to the contest of land was that of a two-state solution, where both Israel and Palestine are accepted as two separate nations. This was attested by a poll to both Israelis and Palestinians in 2007, both sides keen for peaceful resolution.

However, since the killing on the 14th deaths and injuries have escalated on both sides, with Palestine sustaining particularly heavy causalities. Israel said the strike was launched to prevent rocket fire from Palestine military outposts. Exactly a week on from the initial attack a bomb was detonated in Tel Aviv, and whilst losses from this latest strike remain unclear, Hamas was quick to condone the action. Israel condemned the action as terrorism, but this did not negate the sounds of elation and celebratory gunfire heard all over Israel.

Many Israelis feel as if their nation was forced into this latest surge in violence because of the frequent rocket attacks that they are subjected to. However, as the far more militarily capable power Israel’s actions against civilians have earned a great deal of international condemnation.

The losses to the Palestinian civilian population in this latest bout have been markedly high (now standing at nearly 140), with Israel’s reluctance to deploy ground troops fuelling indiscriminate rocket attacks. This was affirmed by the Israel Defence Forces’ statement that only roughly half of the sites they attacked were of military relevance.

Throughout these attacks any form of peace talks were being pushed to succeed, headed by Hilary Clinton. It is hoped that the additional input of the Egyptian president in days to come will encourage Israel to submit to a permanent resolution in order to preserve their tenuous links with other neighbouring countries.

A ceasefire was declared on 21 November, but in light of preceding ceasefires the final moments of conflict are often the bloodiest. Additionally, a ceasefire has never yet acted as permanent deterrent against fighting, with recurrent aggression between the two sides. However, efforts were made the previous day to enact an agreement, but that attempt was not successful.

In essence, world leaders deploring the violence may have lead to this temporary solution, but it has brought nothing new to the table. Until a United Nations resolution can solve the contention for one side or the other, the region remains in a state of tumultuous flux.

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