It almost seems like the inescapable destiny of the Gazan people is that every two years a war breaks out in their country, with airstrikes and an Israeli ground offensive that takes a heavy toll on civilians. They must repeatedly suffer material losses and destroyed homes as well as the loss of life and limb, prompting thousands of people to flee from the shelling each time.
Each time, fighting drags on for weeks as regional and international mediators and envoys flock to Gaza before they finally clench a ceasefire deal and make the necessary arrangements for appeasement. This is despite them knowing these steps are only temporary solutions incapable of preventing another war from breaking out later. This was the case in 2012, and the same scenario is being repeated now.
The current crisis was simmering for some time in both Gaza and Israel. It was only a matter of time until the spark became a fire. This time, the kidnapping and then killing of the three Israeli teens was just an excuse; it was not a reason. Instead of the collective punishment policy Israel has adopted, its response could have been proportionate to the kidnapping. But Hamas, too, was able to maneuver diplomatically through the Palestinian Authority in order to put Israel in too embarrassing a situation to justify its military actions against the West Bank before the Western powers, which in turn have publicly justified Israel’s military operation.
Evidence suggests that, despite the military imbalance between then, the two sides were wishing and hoping that things would reach the point of explosion. Israel saw a threat in the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority that led to the formation of a national unity government. The step would have ended Hamas’s political isolation. It also might have led to the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, particularly if the arrangements for the border crossings that were in place in place when the Authority ruled Gaza were returned.
Hamas, for its part, felt that the political isolation imposed on it had started to compromise its position in the region. Regional and international equations had led to a decline in interest in the Islamist group. The raging crises in the region, whether in Syria, Iraq or Libya, were more pressing and threatening to both regional and international parties. What used to be its allies have become its enemies. This is the case with Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, which used to host the group’s leaders. Iran was and is busy with the situation in Syria and Iraq. And, after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in Egypt, Hamas’s ties with Cairo became strained due to the Islamist group’s antagonistic position towards the new regime in Cairo.
That was an ideological stance more than anything, and sparking this crisis was merely a tactic to put Gaza on the map once again. The high cost of war is being paid by the people of Gaza with their lives and livelihoods, as the choking blockade on Gaza continues with no hope for change in the foreseeable future.
One thing certain about the current Gaza crisis is that there will be a ceasefire at some point. In order for this ceasefire to be different, there must be some arrangements made to find a permanent solution that makes people’s life normal. The key to this lies in the arrangements being made in coordination with the globally recognized Palestinian Authority, especially with regard to the movement across the border crossings.