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November 21, 2014

Editorial: 'Storming and raging' in the Middle East

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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 6:25 pm

Today’s bloodshed in Gaza and Israel isn’t abnormal. It has happened before, for reasons both similar and different than the causes of this edition of violence.

Casual watchdogs of the Middle East quest for peace may believe the violence is continual, like a free-flowing stream, never-ending. That isn’t the case, of course, which is why the modern search for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so infernally frustrating for those not living among the dying. Periods of peace — no rockets, no mortars, no retaliatory bombings — occur. They’re also followed, in one way or another, by what we have today.

Needless bloodshed that’s hard for laymen to understand.

Of all the paragraphs in author Howard M. Sachar’s 1,000-page tome, A History of Israel From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, one of the many modern books written about that small nation, this one is quite prescient:

“Skeptics may inquire whether a treaty fashioned under these auspices (of outside influences) could be imposed in practical fact on Israelis and Palestinians. And even if both parties, storming and raging, were chivied into accepting a functional document of accommodation, could the agreement then actually be put into force under American and European diplomatic and economic incentives and penalties?”

Sachar wrote those words in 2007 when he updated his book first published in 1976.

Some things, seemingly, never change.

In this latest outbreak of hostility, Wednesday was a particularly ominous day. Videos of the aftermath of Israel’s bombing of Gaza beaches showed the carnage: Palestinian children, four of them, being rushed to ambulances. They all died. Similar photographs of damage from Hamas-fired weapons circulated, as well.

Here in the United States, data-research website Vox.com reported that a poll by a noted researcher at Tel Aviv University shows a majority of Israelis and Palestinians no longer favor a two-state solution to the conflict.

Later Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Forces agreed to a short, five-hour ceasefire. In four posts on Twitter, in language both cold and crisp, the IDF explained its reasoning.

“As a result of dialogue between the IDF and the UN, we will enable a humanitarian window in Gaza tomorrow between 10:00 and 15:00.”

“During this time, we will hold our fire in Gaza. This humanitarian window is meant to allow civilians to resupply needed goods.”

“If Hamas fires rockets at Israel during the humanitarian window, the IDF will respond with force.”

“When the scheduled window ends at 15:00, Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya & Zeitoun residents, for their own safety, should not return to their homes.”

Only the foolish would try to predict the outcome of this month’s violence. It’s impossible. History in the Middle East is cruel, and it reminds those of us watching from afar that there is nothing uncomplicated about Israel and Palestine. Alas, peace is eternally elusive.

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