What Happened in 2014?
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, May 20
According to a quote widely attributed to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” I’m bringing up this quote in the context of what is currently happening in Gaza. As I monitored the devastating events unfolding on the ground, I couldn’t help but refer back to a report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This report, published on June 15, 2015, reviews the final results of what was called the 2014 Gaza War. Some numbers cited in it caught my attention right away. According to the report, 2,251 Palestinians were killed during that onslaught, including 1,462 civilians, 551 children, and 299 women. 11,231 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children and 3,540 women, 10% of whom suffered a permanent disability. More than 1,500 Palestinian children have been orphaned. 18,000 housing units were totally or partially destroyed. On the other side, six civilians in Israel and 67 Israeli soldiers were killed. Up to 1,600 Israelis were injured, including 270 children. The direct damage to civilian property in Israel was estimated at some $25 million. As a reminder, the 2014 war on Gaza actually began on July 8, 2014, following a wave of violence that erupted with the kidnapping, torture, and burning of a Palestinian child by a group of Jewish settlers on July 2, 2014. This event was followed by widespread protests in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and inside Israel. The ground was made for this unrest several weeks earlier, following the kidnapping and killing of three settlers on June 12, 2014. The declared Israeli goal of the operation was to stop the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, which increased after the Israeli campaign against Hamas in the West Bank. The fighting extended to August 26 with the declaration of an open cease-fire agreed to by both parties, including Hamas. The end result was, as mentioned in the UN report, that both sides – the Israelis and Palestinians – celebrated their victory. The question remains: What victory? Make no mistake: I’m a proud supporter and believer in Palestinian resistance. I also think that the Palestinian national resistance movement must be strengthened and supported by international players and the Arab world. However, I think that these rounds of violence are fought for narrow political goals, leaving the average Palestinian citizen to pay the price for policies that have little to do with his wellbeing. Military power should be used as a means of last resort; not as a tool to undermine the interests of the weakest and most vulnerable groups in Palestinian society. –Abdul Latif Al-Manawi (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)