- The Palestinian Government (lead by the Hamas organization) began the escalation after the economic isolation lead by Israel caused them to abandon the ceasefire and mount a tunnel attack on Israeli forced.
- The Israelis responded with their own escalation to pressure for the return of the captured Israeli serviceman.
- Hamas attempted responses but was literally outgunned in any open confrontation.
- Hamas then enlisted Hezbollah which began attacks on Israeli military and civilian positions from Lebanon. The Lebanese government, only recently freed from Syrian control, was unable to spark confrontation with the Hezbollah forces along the Israeli border, and refused to accept responsibility for the acts of war mounted from their territory.
- Israel was faced with acts of war on two fronts from forces that deliberately embedded themselves within the civilian population, thus ensuring civilian casualties would accompany any attacks on guerilla forces.
- The attitude of the global press and most political leaders was motivated by a desire for the conflict to stop for humanitarian and economic reasons (e.g. oil price escalation).
- As both Hezbollah and Hamas are recognized extremist organizations which encourage and celebrate suicidal missions, the only "rationale" power to plead with is Israel. Thus, the pressure is heavily weighted against Israel.
- The rational and historical precendents for Israel's actions are innumerable - nations have always visited "collective" punishment on the populace of other hostile nations.
- The complexity here is that the nations are waging war by proxy (in the case of the Palestinians through a variety of guerilla and terrorist subgroups) and by default (in the case of Lebanon through an inability to control the multiple guerilla armies within their borders).
What to do....
- The criticism of Israel is often framed as "disproportionate" response. From my reading of the "tit-for-tat", Israel has made far more effort to target installation and people with military value than have the attacks from Palestinian or Lebanese land.
Israel needs to continue a "measured" destructive pressure until there is a change in attitudes of the opposing leaders or the Palestinian and Lebanese populace demand the guerrillas are brought under national control.
- The UN should seek a unilateral ceasefire and then negotiate the release of Israeli and Palestinian prisoners. The key sticking point here is the difference between a guerilla and a terrorist.
In my view, a terrorist does not act on the instruction of a state, and targets civilians rather than military or infrastructure.
A guerilla acts on the instruction of a state OR political organization but DOES target military or infrastructure.
I believe that the term "state terrorism" is rhetoric in that it attempts to equate modern terrorism with actions taken by virtually all nations over the past millennia (e.g. acts of total war designed to sap the morale of an enemy nation by deliberately targeting the civilian population through the sword, disease, ground and air bombardment etc etc).
- Israel should attempt to make this distinction when negotiating the release of its soldiers so as to prevent the distinction being lost.
- History is showing us (in particular in the last decades of the 20 century up to the present) that attempts to mix significant percentages of radically different cultures within one society is doomed to failure UNLESS the society experiences change so rapid that the individual cultures are disrupted and mixed.
I would describe the endpoint as a mono-culture with different ethnic flavors.
The best option for the curing of the Middle-East epidemic is:
- the physical isolation of the patients from each other for a half century or more (the Israeli wall may drawn unfairly, but it is the best strategy)
- the reduction and cessation of cross border labor movement in & out of Israel, causing pain for both Palestinian and Israeli economy's but essential to the reduction of opportunities for terrorism, and the encouragement to refocusing and possible relocation towards neighboring states.
- the economic development of each remaining territory using the resources of neighboring Arab states (e.g. citizenship and economic help should be given by Egypt to all Gaza residents; by Jordan to all West Bank residents)
- the reduction in population density in high density poverty-stricken areas (birth rate reduction strategies, encouragement for within neighboring states.
We can only hope....