Some Questions To Ask About The Latest Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The rapidly escalating conflict that has recently exploded between Israel and Palestine caught many extra-regional observers by surprise, even though many in West Asia had been expecting something of the sort for quite a while already. The hybrid military-political movement Hamas accused Israel of violating the Palestinians’ rights after the Israeli authorities sought to expel some of those people from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, prohibited Ramadan gatherings near the city’s famous Damascus Gate due to COVID-19 concerns and restricted the number of worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is among the most important places in Islam. Israel, in turn, accused the Palestinians of resorting to unnecessary violence and even terrorism.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque was recently the site of intense clashes between both sides after some Palestinian protesters inside that house of worship threw bottles and rocks at members of the Israeli security services, who then fired rubber bullets and stun grenades, causing many injuries. Hamas subsequently issued an ultimatum to Israel to vacate the premises, withdraw from Sheikh Jarrah and release all the Palestinians who were recently detained—or face a barrage of attacks. Israel refused to heed this warning, after which Hamas lobbed hundreds of rockets at Israel, which promptly responded with retaliatory airstrikes. Both sides have since accused the other of deliberately targeting civilians, with each regarding the actions of the other as manifestations of terrorism.
The purpose of this piece is not to argue in favor of one of the sides against the other, nor to share the author’s personal views about recent events. Rather, it seeks to simply list off some pertinent questions about the conflict that should be pondered more deeply in light of the latest violence:
* Can local violence be contained?
The Israeli city of Lod is in a state of emergency after the mayor accused some Palestinians of carrying out a “Kristallnacht” against their Jewish neighbors Tuesday night, raising fears that violence might spread.
* Who will be held responsible for attacks against civilians?
Both sides accuse the other of attacking civilians, yet it’s uncertain whether either of them will be held responsible for these alleged crimes, whether in terms of domestic or international law.
* How far will the latest violence go?
Both parties have been preparing for this conflict for quite a while, as evidenced by their decisive attacks against the other, thus reducing the chances that either will back down until they achieve something tangible.
* How effective is Israel’s “Iron Dome”?
Israel’s much-touted “Iron Dome” missile defense system has reportedly intercepted many of Hamas’ rockets, yet critics claim that it’s still not effective enough to have been worth the hefty investment.
* What role do foreign parties have in the latest violence?
Israel previously accused Iran and others of arming Hamas with rockets, while the Palestinians have always claimed that American military support of Israel occurs at the expense of their own people’s human rights.
* Will Muslim countries come closer together as a result of this conflict?
The latest violence occurred against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s incipient rapprochements with Iran and Turkey, but it remains to be seen whether these pairs of rivals will come closer together due to this conflict.
* What is the future of U.S.-Israeli relations?
Some Israelis are unhappy with the Biden Administration’s recent regional policies and comparatively more balanced approach towards the Palestine, which might worsen relations if the U.S. doesn’t support Israel more.
* Is the “Deal of the Century” dead?
The future of the former Trump Administration’s so-called “Deal of the Century” is in doubt after the Palestinians proved that they are ready to resort to violence to oppose what they believe to be unfair Israeli policies.
* What can realistically be done to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace?
This complex issue has thus far failed to be resolved despite decades of efforts, yet neither side is capable of imposing their desired maximalist outcome upon the other, thereby creating a deadly dilemma for all involved.