Prelims cum Mains

Why Israel and Gaza keep fighting brief battles?

The news

  • In a recent fight between Israel and Gaza, more than two dozen people were killed and homes and businesses were destroyed.


Understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict

  • Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, located just east of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Palestinians, the Arab population that hails from the land Israel now controls, refer to the territory as Palestine, and want to establish a separate country.
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over who gets what land and how it is controlled.
  • In this battle between Israel and Palestine, the 1967 war is particularly important, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two territories home to large Palestinian populations.
  • The West Bank is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority and is under Israeli occupation.
  • Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist party, and is under Israeli blockade but not ground troop occupation.



Background for Israel and Gaza battles

  • Gaza is a densely populated strip of land that is mostly surrounded by Israel and peopled almost exclusively by Palestinians.
  • Gaza is governed by the Islamist group Hamas, which formed in 1987 as a militant “resistance” group against Israel, and won political power in a 2006.
    • Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and it seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state.
  • Hamas’s takeover of Gaza prompted an Israeli blockade of the flow of commercial goods into Gaza and hence Gaza is currently under Israeli blockade.
  • Since then, Gaza and Israel have been involved in battles with each other.
  • Hamas and other Gaza-based militants have fired thousands of rockets from the territory at Israeli targets.
  • On the other hand, Israel has launched a number of military operations in Gaza.
  • The latest escalation of tensions is a part of a cycle of violence that Gaza and Israel have been locked in.



Summary of the news

  • In the fight between the two, more than two dozen people were killed and much property was destroyed.
  • However, the leaders on both sides declared that they are satisfied with the outcome of the battle.
  • The ongoing cycle of violence-ceasefire-repeat between Israel and Gaza is seen as serving the interests of both the parties.



Understanding the adversarial but symbiotic relation between the Israel and Gaza

Adverse relation between the two

  • Their relationship is adversarial, with great associated risks as it could anytime spiral into a protracted ground conflict killing many innocents on either side.
  • The fighting between Israel and Gaza sometimes last little more than a day, ended quickly in a cease-fire, which shows that neither side, wants a full-fledged war.
  • Experts see Israel’s approach towards the Hamas is contradictory.
  • On one hand, it sees Hamas as a terrorist organization and it doesn’t intend approve Hamas legitimacy or allow it to gather strength.
  • On the other hand, it doesn’t even want to destroy Hamas, as it does not want to takeover Gaza completely along with the responsibility for its two million inhabitants. Israel also allegedly fears that destroying Hamas will allow even more radical groups to seize power, like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or the Islamic State.


Symbiotic relation between the two

Benefits of battles to Israel

  • Oppose two nation theory: Israeli Prime Minister gets to attack Hamas and strengthen his argument that the Palestinians are not ready for peace and hence a two-state solution is impossible.
  • Support from Israelis: Israelis now a days showgreater tolerance for casualties than in the past, supporting Israel’s Prime Minister.
  • Preventing division of Israel: The Palestinian Authority governs the West Bank and Hamas is in charge of Gaza, and as long as those two exist, two-state solution is not seen as feasible.
  • Reliable adversary: Hamas is seen as a reliable adversary by Israel, and as a more credible partner than the Palestine Authority.

Benefits battles to Hamas

  • Support from Gaza: Hamas negotiates for Israeli blockade and receives some assurances, which makes the Gaza residents believe its strategy of armed resistance is working.
  • Better deal: Some of attacks are interpreted as attempts to seek a better deal from Israel.
  • No peace agreement: The Hamas wants the same form of government they currently have rather than the one who aspires to advance the peace process because that would require the advancement of the Palestinian Authority whereas Hamas wants to weaken it.
  • Seeking authority in West Bank: Hamas is also looking to try to gain the upper hand against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. For this, it hopes that Israel will take over regions of West Bank and weaken the Palestinian Authority.



Concluding remarks

  • Thus, with each cycle of conflict and ceasefire, Israel and Hamas are serving one another’s purposes.


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