World Cup of Gaza? Israel & Palestine renew hostilities

West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements)   On July 8, Germany routed the Brazilian soccer team 7-1. It was unexpected and unprecedented in World Cup history. Politically, we have seen tension building again between Israel, and mostly, insurgents in the West Bank and Gaza,  fuelled by the disappearance and recovery of three young Israeli males: Naftali Fraenkel 16, Gilad Shaer 16, and Eyal Yifrach 19. Some are claiming outright retribution by unknown Israeli assailants who kidnapped a Palestinian youth, and, according to autopsy reports, was burned alive. The young Palestinian youth: Mohammed Abu Khdeir  was just 16 years of age.

The Palestinian government, which boasts delegates from Hamas, the reputed terrorist enclave, has been involved in rocket fire on Israel that is reaching far north into the Jewish state, Israeli territory not thought vulnerable by Hamas crude munitions. However, with all things political in the Near East, Iran has reportedly been supplying militants in the West Bank & Gaza with superior technology that has Israel concerned.

As much as Arabs dislike  each other, they agree on one common trait – their enmity of Israel. Israelites will counter that they have no overt malevolence towards Palestinian’s, only that Israel must defend itself because it’s neighbours would be all too happy if it perished. The aftermath of Jewish statehood is a proxy war, a Cold Near – Eastern war that promises no solution and no conclusion,  unlike the World Cup event that captivates devotees of soccer fans every four years.

According to Reuters, the collateral damage numbers approximately 182 Palestinian’s, including 30+ children, in this latest exchange of hostilities. indicates that from 1967 at the outset of the first intifada, to 2012, 8184 Palestinian’s  lost their lives due to Israeli conflict,   compared to 1518 Israeli casualties. Solutions are necessary to bring peace to the region and settle both Israel and establish a secure Palestine so that it may benefit from international recognition, law, trade, and security.

Palestinians do have the “Right of Return” as expressed in Resolution 194 that was passed by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Unfortunately, as this was passed by the General Assembly and not the Security Council, it remains problematic for Palestinians to reclaim any land that they may have been forced to relinquish to Israel post 1948. Approximately, 840,000 Palestinians were displaced after the re-zoning of Palestine after 1948, according to  Farsoun and Zacharia (1977.) Israel has been steadfast in maintaining any land that it has seized through conflict with Palestine. Between 1967 and 1974, 4425 Palestinians were forced from their homes as Israel was creating a secure buffer zone for those seeking access to the Wailing Wall.(Anthony Coon, 1999.)

The U.S. remains vigilant in protecting Israel due to the tragic circumstances surrounding ‘The Holocaust,’ its energy interests in the region, and geopolitical proximity that acts as its own buffer zone between  North Africa, Central Asia, and oil producing states such as Kuwait, and Iraq – that proved fruitful in the 1st Gulf War (1990-1991.) For Israel, it can take comfort ,  in part, as it has tacit support from multilateral channels such as the U.S., Canada & EU, to name a few.

In a “répéter la performance,” President Obama has  stated that he will work towards a cessation of hostilities in the region, while condoning Hamas for repeatedly launching rockets into Israel. Sadly, loss of innocent life continues to be the endgame between these two warring neighbours. Herbert Simon wrote about and coined the term “satisficing” to promote decision making that seeks the best alternative solution available. Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923) introduced a similar term: “Pareto Optimal” and “Pareto Efficient,” that is distinct for economists.  Pareto Optimal explained Given the complexities of Near East policy, it makes some sense, (even for an idealist like Pres. Obama,) to measure their options carefully, particularly, after the debacle that former President George W Bush and his administration provoked by circumventing the UN with the  intent to ‘rush to war’ alongside unfounded evidence against Iraq. The fallout was detrimental to the U.S. in foreign policy circles (yes, the U.S. left a mess in Iraq) that is threatening to slide the country into turmoil once again, as (now former) Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faces challenges from ISIL and the Levant, not to mention Shi’a and Sunni opposition within his government.

Tibetans have to be watching this stalemate with a jaundiced-eye given the oppressive conditions that they have encountered since China’s occupation and are currently experiencing, the minimalist attention that the Tibet – issue receives from the International Community, and  U.S. support for trade initiatives with Beijing, that fail to link human rights to trade agreements.  According to exile sources, estimations suggest  that up to 260,000 people (Tibetans)  died in prisons and labour camps between 1950 and 1984. ( For comparison purposes we see that, although the U.S. has a principle role to play in multilateral relations since the close of WW2, it, for better or worse, it curry favours to those nation-states that provide the greatest financial opportunity (widgets or cellphones.)

The “Arab Spring” has provided democratic reforms and a warning shot to those states that are mired in past ideologies that restrict democracy, to modernise their political system . Change has been difficult for some, notably, Egypt. The Arab Spring has concerned Beijing; internal protests could expand  should reforms continue to drag on slowly within China under current President Xi Jinping. Unfettered U.S. funding for Israel delays democratic reforms for Palestinians. Perhaps America fears a sweep of democracy in Gaza and the West Bank would continue east, leaving their role opaque in Middle East policy.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th c sowed the seeds of colonialism in the Near East, Britain also had influence (early 20th c) within Tibet briefly occupying Lhasa until a treaty resolved the conflict. History aside, change is afoot; let us hope it reaches those individuals and nation-states that truly need it. Hamas is flouting international law with their ongoing bombing campaign;  Israel has a right to defend itself. A unified Palestinian government has thrust the Palestinian administration towards uncertainty and leaving it unable to speak with one voice,reminiscent of the Arafat era. Competing factions, Fatah and the PLO had difficulty agreeing on issues much like Hamas and Palestine President Abbas (Fatah brand.)  Still, as Diana Buutu explains regarding Israeli interference in Palestinian politics…”Once again, Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are now facing elections. The next round of PLC elections will take place this month, and most certainly, Israel will attempt to ensure that these elections are not free. Whether by determining Palestinian candidates and political parties, by blocking Palestinian participation through the erection of military checkpoints, or by denying Palestinian political prisoners the right to vote (in spite of the fact that many Palestinian prisoners are themselves candidates for PLC elections), the self-proclaimed “Middle East’s only democracy” will attempt to ensure that the Palestinian exercise of democracy is not free.” – from

With an area of 139 square miles, and a 2014 estimated population of 1, 816, 379 according to Wiki, Palestinians are living in very condensed quarters in the Gaza Strip; 13, 069 per square mile. “Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” UNRWA (United Nations Relief & Works Agency)

Final Score: Germany: 1         Argentina: 0 To be continued: Palestine: 1650                Israel: 66

“In a boost to Israel, the U.S. Congress approved $225 million in emergency funding for Iron Dome, sending the measure to Obama to be signed into law. The House of Representatives approved the funding by a 395-8 vote late on Friday, several hours after the Senate passed it unanimously.” reported by Reuters on August 2, 2014 . ???

About Kevin Kieswetter

Hello, I have continued studying part-time at the University of Waterloo, with an interest in the political situation in Tibet, and North America. Recently, I have published a companion or white paper to an earlier work. If you have an interest in the situation on the Ttibetan Plateau, please have a look.
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