Peace in the Middle East?

There’s been peace in Palestine since Nov. 21. Following a fragile peace agreement fostered through Egyptian and U.S. diplomatic efforts, last Wednesday marked the technical end to the armed conflict between Israel and the Hamas government in Palestine. According to the Jerusalem Post, however, sporadic rocket attacks against Gaza and Israeli cities did continue into the night of Nov. 21 as late as 9:00 p.m. local time. Although a technical ceasefire remains in effect as of press time, the peace agreement between Israel and Palestine remains tentative as millions in the region recover from thousands of rocket attacks.

Nov. 14 marks the beginning of this most recent war in the Middle East. And after a week and a day of armed conflict, the death toll from both sides numbers just under 170, leaving over 2,000 injured. 160 of those dead, and a large majority of the injured, were Palestinians living in Gaza. So what does this conflict and the subsequent shaky peace agreement mean for Palestine?

Some context is necessary for understanding of this situation. It’s important to note that this is the second armed conflict waged between Israel and Palestine since 2008. According to Reuters, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated the goal of the previous war on Palestine was to make Israeli citizens free from Hamas rocket attacks. This is the same reason that prompted Israel’s most recent round of aggression via missile strikes against Gaza. This begs the question: do these militarized actions prove to be effective? This is a question that the international community is struggling with.

The cycle of violence between Israel and Palestine is only reinforced by the continued military actions taken by both sides. From an outsider’s perspective, these rocket attacks are no solution to these two peoples’ systemic problems. After the last two weeks of destruction and violence, according to Al Jazeera both sides are claiming victory. And at what cost? The U.N. has reported that over 10,000 Palestinians have been displaced as refugees through this most recent conflict. According to Al Jazeera, the total cost for Palestinians to rebuild their infrastructure and to repair local businesses will total in the tens of millions of U.S. dollars.

Al Jazeera correspondence interviewing Palestinians on the ground has reported a reinvigoration of anti-Israeli sentiment among Palestinians, and around the Arab world as a whole. One of these reports detailed a funeral held for a Palestinian boy of only 15; the boy’s father vowed to train his other six sons to wage jihad against Israel in perpetuity. The televised pictures of children and families that have been killed as a result of Israeli air strikes without a doubt further cultivate this hate.

However, the terms of the ceasefire give some hope to local authorities and to the powers-that-be abroad. According to Al Jazeera, this most recent ceasefire deal includes an agreement to ease the blockade on Palestinian borders that the Israeli military has closed through military force for years. This will hopefully ease the significant Palestinian economic woes that have existed for decades.

But Israel remains adamant that the smuggling of rockets and other weapons into Gaza cannot continue. Therefore, it’s hard to see a future where Palestinian borders come under the control of local Palestinian authorities, while simultaneously the Israeli authorities remain confident that no weapons are being smuggled into Palestine. This issue of border control remains as tentative as the ceasefire agreement itself.

From the interviews conducted on the ground, it’s clear that this most recent conflict has only strengthened the resolve of the war-torn population of Palestine. Although rockets and bombs have been launched and detonated in both Israel and Gaza, a large majority of the destruction and death has proved a burden that mostly the Palestinians must now bear.

And historically, this has been the case. Israel and Palestine go to war, and Palestine is left to pick up the pieces. As to the extent this conflict has affected the Palestinian people, only time will tell. But one thing is certain: the Palestinian people have endured another round of high-tech violence, and remain a unified people; all the while Arab opinions toward Israel have hit a new all-time low.

Neither side deserves praise for what they’ve done throughout this war. Militarized conflicts like this always do more harm than good. They ignite more hate than the instill security, and everyone is worse off because of it.

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