It is common knowledge in the international affairs that Palestine, especially Gaza Strip and Israel fight against each other regularly and the news reporting them has become like scheduled services recently. In 2014, “Gaza War,” which caused the record numbers of dead and injured, broke out and killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis. Israel often insists that we should learn from history with mentioning holocaust by Nazis and pogrom by imperial Russia; however, Israel itself repeats its tragic history against Palestinians without end. Why is a chain of cursed history duplicated in such a short term?
The direct prompt of war was an incident that three Israeli hitchhikers was abducted and killed in West Bank in June 2014. Israeli government concluded it to be the organised crime of Hamas and started to search for three Israeli students, who were still treated as missing at that time, on a large scale. Israel attacked the headquarters of Hamas and homes of Hamas executive officers; the attack resulted killing citizens. Hamas reacted to the Israeli attacks by launching rockets towards Israeli-controlled Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa as the exchange of actions escalated. In the beginning of July, Israeli PM Netanyahu one-sidedly demanded Hamas the cease fire against Israel; but there was no reason for Hamas to say “Okay, I’m sorry.” Israeli forces began bombing Gaza Strip before dawn on the morning of 8 July, which was the start of 50-day Gaza War.
Israel blamed Hamas for kidnapping Israeli hitchhikers in the first moment when the incident came to light; however, it makes no sense for Hamas to provoke Israel and cause a crack in coalition government with Fatah only to make the peace process recede from the goal. Since then, Hamas did not have the external initiative as Fatah was recognised as the representative of Palestine by Israel, Egypt and the West. Therefore, Hamas’ activities were limited to grass-root welfare work and military campaign, which is considered as terrorism and Fatah had already abandoned. But nonetheless, there is no reason for Hamas to ruin its political floor which it gained in the coalition government; rather, Israeli government was who take advantages if the incident was done by Hamas. By releasing such view, Israel can make a good excuse to attack Hamas, which is the most considerable threat to the Israeli national security, and can arouse suspicion amongst Hamas and Fatah within the coalition government of Palestine. In fact, Fatah announced it would decide upon “firm determination” against Hamas. The antagonism between Hamas and Fatah is still deeply rooted; as a result, Israel succeeded to divide the Palestinian government.
As mentioned above, Palestinian casualty was over 2,000; and more than 1,500 of them were civilians, who were not related to Hamas. It is said that the number of the injured was over 11,000 and most of them are citizens, according to the UN and Human Rights Watch. At the end of this war, there were 470,000 domestic refugees and 22,000 houses were destroyed including infrastructure such as water service and power plant, which still bring people in Gaza trouble in water and electricity. In the meantime, Israeli death toll was 71 overall; this figure includes civilians, which was only five. The Israeli damage is said to be drastically decreased by its air defence system called Iron Dome but the number itself can be described that it was “the greatest war sacrifice” since Lebanon War. However, there is a significant difference between the numbers 2,000 and 71 as the war between Palestine and Israel cannot be called anything but the asymmetric war.
Although the direst trigger of Gaza War was abducting murder, it is clear that there was the characteristic of asymmetric war in the basis of the war. For Palestinians, they cannot reap any harvest from the negotiating table with Israel; on the other hand, they also cannot defeat Israel with military forces. In such a political dead end, quite a few Palestinian youth think terrorism is the only resisting way against Israel. After this war, ISIS called for “jihad” against Israel as the agitation with thorough preparation for the time when the hatred amongst Palestinian youth against Israel had been produced. The imbalance of forces lead to terrorism and Palestine is at this level now. However, as the condition are fulfilled and scale expands, it then could be called guerrilla warfare; if the guerrilla war get bigger, it should be regarded as civil war. Fortunately, the countries which border upon Palestine are only Egypt and Jordan, which have friendly relations with Israel; therefore, the number of incoming weapons should be not many. But think about it: if Palestinians during intifada had AK-47s instead of rocks, that would be a civil war.
Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian military theorist who wrote “On War” in 19th Century, gave three factors which are essential for war such as “nation”, “military” and “government”. Among these three, “nation” is operated by one key element: the hatred. In other words, war does not be fought without hostility as the public opinion amongst nations. State of Palestine barely has a provisional government but its national forces is still far from being set up; so far, some military sections of various political organisations in Palestine are attacking Israel under loose cooperation or completely individually. From the military standpoint, Palestine has to establish its own national defence forces to unite Palestinians and to receive leadership well as soon as possible.
This argument would sound like as if the war between Palestine and Israel was affirmed. However, the absence of integrated Palestinian forces has led infesting terrorist organisation; in fact, rocket launching and mortar shots from Gaza Strip was operated by PFLP, Islamic Jihad and so on with no cooperation with each other. These reactions could be considered as the voice of Palestinians, but they are recognised as terrorist organisation by not only Israel but also the West. By contrast, if “the Palestine Defence Forces” were reconstituted from these military organisations, the conflict between Palestine and Israel should be properly regarded as “war,” not an iridescent expression such as “invasion” or “incident”.
Moreover, once the conflict is understood as war, the Law of War would be applied to both sides; it would make Palestinian military organisations, which were merely “terrorist organisations” and did not really care about observance of the international laws, reform their consciousness of law-abiding combat; as to Israel, it can no longer do whatever it wanted to in the name of “anti-terrorist operation” domestically since the conflict is fought between two states. Actually, it is said that the numbers of Israeli frequent violation against the international laws and the usage of crimes against humanity decreased in this Gaza War. The reason why Israel continuously advocates the disarmament of Gaza Strip for its national security is because it wants to exclude “military,” one of three war factors defined by Clausewitz, to make the military conflict against Palestine remain the war on terrorism and deny the international laws and attendant humanitarian spirit.
The Gaza War in 2014 contained much suggesting significance. One is the restructure of hatred against Israel amongst Palestinians and temptation to go over terrorism which is peculiar to asymmetric war. And another is that establishing Palestinian national forces could destroy Israeli theory of “war on terrorism,” which justifies its violation against the international laws and inhumane attacks. It is needed for various parties of Palestine to reconcile with each other and establish national forces next to the coalition government.