The Middle East: taking a turn for the worse

The bombing needs to stop. For anyone unaware of the protestors at the Bell Tower lately, this is the phrase that has been glued to the banners on every news station recently. But despite the talks of a ceasefire, the missile launches from Gaza and Israel have persistently begotten a feeling of terror in the hearts and minds of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians for weeks now. When discussing this particular article with friends and co-workers I was told this is a complicated issue and I hope to approach the topic carefully.

My eyes have had a hard time turning away from the television recently, and I am sure CNN is thankful for the ratings. The reason behind this lure to the news channel is because of the developments in Israel and Gaza. The question on everyone’s minds has been whether or not the two will continue to fight. As of now, no one really knows. All there appears to be is a large amount of mixed feelings: worry and anger. The situation has truly reached a tipping point. This could ultimately result in the state of Israel and the Gaza region bearing large negative repercussions politically, economically, and internationally, affecting the allies of both sides and leaving themselves to bear unforeseen consequences.

So far, Israel’s iron dome has done a solid job of deflecting the majority of the missiles. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Gaza. For anyone keeping tabs on the coverage, they are most likely familiar with the assassination of one of the Hamas leaders who was being driven down a street when the bombing occurred. Since this moment, the tensions have risen like a pot of soup that has been at its boiling point for too long, and Israel has discussed their intent to invade Gaza with ground troops despite the ongoing talks of a truce.

You may be reading this and believe that the turmoil has ended due to the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire that has countries no longer sitting on the edge of their seats. This newest occurrence has both sides celebrating victory over one another. Flags are waved and people praise the weight that has been lifted now that both sides will postpone any military decisions. The situation may be suspended, with people acting thankful for the truce, but it is not certain whether the two will stay peaceful forever. Familiarity with their history would lead us to believe that Israel and Gaza will be at it again. For now, we hope for the best.

If the truce were to be broken and the fighting continued, the consequences would be both more bodies and a financial burden that could lead to an economic standstill. Already eight days of rocket bombardment resulted in spilled blood and wasted funds. The Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, said that the “option to invade Gaza after this victory is gone and will never return.” I can only hope that this statement holds true. Both Prime Ministers seem to still be prepared for a battle. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the military goal was achieved, but if the ceasefire is violated he is ready to get back into action. Haniyeh is also primed for another clash if Israel defies the truce. I do not believe that this armistice will halt the violence forever, but instead indefinitely. Naturally, I am in favor of the peace agreement but realistically the two sides will be back at it again, as history proves to be the trend.

I am eager to see the two consistently aggressive regions stay true to their word. Israel’s main prerogative is to remain an ally with the United States and this was a determining factor when coming to terms with a ceasefire. Israel is afraid that their relations abroad will be altered if they begin another assault on Hamas in Gaza, even though Hamas is considered a terrorist group in the eyes of the western world. Gaza and Israel are determined to prove themselves politically, hoping that the world views the two as politically stable areas with strong and dedicated leaders.

If the ceasefire was not honored, both Egypt—a country that backs Hamas—and the United States would be tempted to intervene. Their first decision would be to approach the U.N. for a resolution. The U.N. will attempt to solve the crisis peacefully but will not support either side with troops or funds if guns begin to be fired. The United States will have to sustain its position with Israel and will have no choice but to support them in some way. This would most likely provoke a backlash in the Muslim communities in the Middle East and perhaps on a smaller scale here in the United States.

Egypt, on the other hand, has a lot to ponder over. Politically, they are in the midst of enduring the consequences of their recent revolution. Their involvement, which would be focused on backing Hamas, would prove to be unwise. The truce was beneficial in keeping their tranquil standing—for now. If the calm situation erupts they could be facing devastating governmental outcomes, mainly an alienation by key factions in the area, including those who supported the Egyptian Movement for Change and large Islamic groups who expected a political transformation after the revolution. Supporting Hamas, if the violence were to begin again, could result in protests of governmental decisions or other social demonstrations. Their economy is reliant on both the Western and the Israeli economy, and the current ceasefire is helpful to the country.

Now that the armistice is in place the worries should dissipate, right? The answer to this is ultimately unclear. The ceasefire could provide a good amount of time for the regions to rebuild their military infrastructure, preparing to strike once again. The now dormant decades-long conflict could implode by spring. Israel would see damage to their military, economy and political system while hoping for Western intervention. Although the cessation of hostilities relieves a temporary stress, something needs to take hold to prevent violent action from taking place once again. A true deal must be made. Smuggling weapons into Gaza has to be addressed, along with Israel’s trigger-happy eagerness, since they will always feel comfortable with an iron dome. And although Gaza fears missile strikes, they will not hesitate to respond. A conference should be held with Egypt, the U.S., and of course the two conflicting constituencies. Without a U.N.-mediated conference with strong warnings or even threats being made to both sides, Israel and Gaza will not be deterred from attacking one another like they have time and time again as history has shown.

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