Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The World Today And Remembering 9/11

Memory is a powerful tool of introspection, a medium for vicarious voyages and both a route for melancholic nostalgia and euphoric reminiscence. It has helped me reconstruct the days of those terrible events back in September. I knew where I was, what I did the whole day and discussions which I had with my parents – so vividly.

Five years ago yesterday, I remember being awoken from my slumber to a surreal dreamy-like chatter from my parents in Arabic. I was only five days shy of starting my orientation at the University of Chicago. My parents and I were staying at a nearby rented apartment close to the university campus. We had taken an American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Chicago on the eve of September 11th 2001.

“America is being hit! One of the World Trade Centers in New York is burning…” is what I heard my parents discussing. Having had a mediocre nights sleep due to chest wheezes and allergies, I disregarded the fact that it was 8 am CT and jumped out of bed only to see United Airlines Flight 175 crash in to the second World Trade Center tower almost 3 minutes later.

The whole day was incredibly surreal. My family and I were contemplating the perpetrators, but most importantly discussing the repercussions. Thankfully, having been admitted to an incredible liberal and intellectual university, I came under no scrutiny as an Arab.

September 11th opened my eyes to a new reality and to the “War of the 21st Century.” The 20th century witnessed a long, draining list of battles most notably WWI, WWII and the Cold War. On the other hand, the War of the 21st Century was to be something no government or nation-state has ever experienced – a war of ideas and principles. The ideals behind democracy and freedom (as is defined in the West and the US) have geared their heads on to a clash with a misconstrued version of Islamic jihad.

So what is the world like today?

The world remains replete with hatred and tension. The US refuses to understand the roots of the terrorism problem, al-Qaeda continues with its fascist ideologies and the cleavages between the West and the East is constantly growing. More people have been innocently slain during this battle of ideas in all corners of the world: from London to Madrid to Palestine.

Palestine remains stateless while Israel continues its state-sponsored brutality and the presence of American troops in Iraq has encouraged more sectarian bloodshed and divided the region.

Iran remains the only true state which seeks to challenge Israel and the United States (the country’s official rhetoric from Ahmadinejad has been indicative), while Syria’s draconian regime (supporting Iran and Hezbollah) has remained quiet in the background yet an instigator of further antagonism.

All summer long, Lebanon had been the playground of the IDF and Hezbollah’s militants while Russia and China play power politics diplomacy with the US a la the Cold War.

The world still remains at grave danger post 9/11. This is certainly not a fatalistic, pessimistic perspective yet the truth. Osama Bin Laden and his right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri remain at large, more importantly their ideology has been spreading like fire.

Al-Qaeda copycat zealots have caused further security breaches around the world with amateurish-style bombing techniques (i.e. such as the recently foiled plot to bomb US-bound airplanes from the UK) and have caused major efficiencies in traveling and any joys derived from a globalizing world.

What should one expect after the 10th anniversary of September 11?

Will my decade anniversary post contain such abysmal observations or will a new American administration along with its Western allies start to think about their actions and the root of the problem? Will Palestine finally gain its own state and live in some sort of peace next to Israel? Will the Islamic fascists finally come to a halt? Will some sort of harmonious survival exist or will people continue to live in fear and hatred?

When will all this just stop?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Status quo ante bellum: A Possibility In Lebanon?

A ceasefire has finally taken place.

Regardless, Hezbollah and the IDF still fired against one another in ‘lighter’ skirmishes post the 0500 GMT deadline yesterday. In fact Sunday night and early Monday morning saw the most intense fighting between both sides as they sought to inflict more damage before the ceasefire was to take effect.

The ‘official’ end of the war brought detrimental economic, civilian and infrastructural damage to both sides. According to the Lebanese government, 1,071 Lebanese have been killed (mostly civilians). On the other hand, the news agencies estimate conservatively that 900 Lebanese have been killed and place an upper aggressive estimate of 1,150. The Israeli side witnessed the death of 114 IDF soldiers and 43 civilians.

Even worse, according to the UNHCR and the Lebanese government, 700,000 – 900,000 Lebanese have been displaced. Human Rights Watch estimates 500,000 Israelis have been displaced as well. The actual 34 days of fighting cost Lebanon a conservative estimate of $2.5 billion in losses and $1.1 billion was incurred by the state of Israel.

However, the costs are just beginning to kick in. Lebanon’s foreign real estate investments as well as the income continuously derived from tourism have plummeted. Moreover, the ‘expected’ income from these two sources for the following years has also plummeted.

The results of the conflict:

1) The passing of UN resolution 1701 which called for a peacekeeping force stationed in southern Lebanon (15,000 Lebanese army personnel and 15,000 UN troops).

2) Israel did not accomplish its goal of ‘eliminating’ Hezbollah. In fact, in many respects Hezbollah has gained more credibility as a viable political and military power in Lebanon.

3) Contrary to the previous point, it is still unclear what will become of Hezbollah’s position within Lebanon’s borders. They have angered many Shia businessmen who had poured millions of dollars in investments around the country.

4) The Lebanese population (to an extent) remains split with regards to their position on Hezbollah. The poor echelons of society see Hezbollah as their liberator and savior whereas on the contrary the richer niches of society see peace with Israel and the absence of violence more beneficial to their well being (regardless of their sectarian affiliation – even Shia).

5) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been greatly criticized in the Knesset by both the Labor and Likud parties for various reasons. Firstly, he initiated a conflict which Israel did not finish and was not able to complete in a timely manner and instead wasted the lives of the civilians and of the IDF. Secondly, he was criticized for not being tougher with Hezbollah thus achieving the government’s goal of incapacitating the group and halting all future threat to Israel.

6) Hezbollah has gained further support from Syria and Iran who rejoiced after Hezbollah’s resistance against Israeli forces and their ability to inflict substantial damage on Israeli soil. Both countries considered the battle a victory for Hezbollah

7) The war was overall a complete waste with lives lost, economies tarnished and no peace agreement signed. However, it did send very powerful messages which have rippled across the Arab world and as far West as the United States. Ahmadinejad and Assad embodied such a message in their post-bellum speeches,

“[Israel] is in front of an historic crossroads — either it [Israel] moves toward peace and gives back rights or faces constant instability until a generation comes and puts an end to the issue”

Hezbollah is much more powerful than Israel previously anticipated and as I mentioned in my previous post, the crux of its foundation relies on an ‘idea’ and a ‘concept’ of resistance which will continue to prevail.

8) The apathy and acquiescence of neighboring Arab governments cannot continue. The conflict proved that one can certainly not rely on the West and especially the United States to find a solution to the overall Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as the general hatred towards the state of Israel. Leaders of the Arab world must take a more proactive and pragmatic approach to the situation and most importantly need to decide which side they belong to; in this case among Israel, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Iran – quite a decision to be made.

The status quo ante bellum in Lebanon? Not for a while.

Lebanon has much work to do to reach its position prior to July 12th. More important than the mere status quo is the assurance that security will be maintained. While Hezbollah’s future remains somewhat esoteric at this point, the current situation within Lebanon’s borders is floating on a sponge which is willing to absorb a multiplicity of changes such as the:

• Empowerment of Hezbollah politically
• Weakening of Hezbollah politically
• Reintroduction of Syria in Lebanese politics
• Repulsion of Syria from Lebanese politics
• Shifting of relations among the sectarian lines within Lebanon

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Close Observations and Long Deliberations: Hezbollah, Israel and Lebanon

Sincere apologies for my remiss; work, time off and the unprecedented wave of events has abated my frequency of posts.

It’s been almost one month since Israel started its bombing and ground force campaign against Lebanon. The estimates of those killed during the attacks has varied, the IDF has confirmed 98 Israeli citizens and soldiers have died while the Lebanese authorities have placed a conservative estimate of 750 civilians (with some sources reporting as high as 900).

For the last few weeks, these are the observations which have recurred or have been reinforced in my mind:

1) Hezbollah is the only true Arab organization (pseudo state actor) which has put up a formidable resistance against Israel since the 1980s.

2) Hezbollah has made the puppet leaders of the Arab world (i.e. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia) look shameful in the eyes of their citizens as they remain idle and acquiesce to Israel’s aggression.

3) Hezbollah has started to gain more support among skeptical Lebanese citizens as the savior, guardian of Lebanon per se and not the instigator of violence (however the opposite is also true and still exists). Hezbollah’s popularity has also increased among Michel Aoun's Tayyar Wataniya al-Hur, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) since the FPM has been welcoming Shia refugees in to their homes and supporting them.

4) Hezbollah has been able to inflict more damage on Israel and IDF than previously anticipated. Hezbollah’s arsenal has proven to be more destructive than had been initially calculated.

5) The war looks like an adapted version of Vietnam minus the jungles. In addition to the difficult terrain, the true difference is that this time the war is taking place in the Middle East with much more sophisticated guerilla warfare.

6) The asymmetric war has frustrated Israel who has inflicted a much higher fold of citizen casualties than Hezbollah fighters – this has been the protagonist in fueling opposition to the war (i.e. the bombing in Qana dubbed Qana II after Israel bombed the same area during the 1980s).

7) The Bush administration has absolutely no idea what is truly going on within Lebanon’s borders and in the region on the whole. It is easy for them to support Israel in its fight against ‘terrorism.’ In fact this has been the easiest way out for the Bush administration in justifying its acts as well as those of Israel.

8) A ceasefire is essential at this point, however Israel will not stop until it feels it has disarmed Hezbollah.

9) It is difficult to defeat Hezbollah since the organization is an ‘idea’ a ‘concept’ and an ‘outlet’ for resisting Israel. This implies that even if Hezbollah is defeated militarily, the legacy and the support the organization has will live on and a new Hezbollah will surface with a vengeance, more powerful than ever (i.e. a la al-Qaeda and Zarqawi in Iraq).

What next?

A UN backed ceasefire will take place sooner or later and it is merely a matter of time. Hassan Nasrallah has publicly stated through Hezbollah’s owned broadcasting station al-Manar that if Israel’s halts the shelling, Hezbollah will stop as well – a simple tit for tat.

Lebanon will have years of rebuilding to come. The 1980s civil war was obviously much more detrimental however the damage the country has inflicted has been absolutely disastrous. The war will also leave room for a ‘reshuffling’ of sectarian order and hierarchy – a little early to determine the ultimate outcome since it rests on Hezbollah’s residual influence (i.e. post-war mortem analysis).

The geo-politics of the region will certainly change. A peacekeeping force will probably be deployed in Southern Lebanon in order to patrol the border and maintain order. Ehud Olmert has sarcastically stated that Lebanon’s voluntary decision to send 15,000 troops to help patrol is “interesting,” highlighting the lack of responsibility he places on the Lebanese government. Granted Syria stays out of the war militarily, Bashar al-Assad could find this a golden opportunity to extend his umbrella of influence back in Lebanon after Syrian troops were kicked out after the Cedar Revolution of 2004 and the assassination of former Lebanese prime-minister Rafik Hariri in February of 2005.

Israel is frustrated and has severed a blow to its confidence. The war has fueled more anger towards it as well as the US and the UK since they are the only three countries which continue to support the war and believe that a premature ceasefire would only make things worse.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Proxy War: The Israeli-anti-Israeli Debacle

Lebanon has become a battlefield.

The past few days have witnessed continued bombings and tit-for-tat between the IDF Hezbollah’s militants in Beirut.

My friend Lebanon Profile is currently in Beirut and has been writing extensively on the day to day events. Hezbollah unleashed its biggest and deadliest missile in to Israel today killing eight people in the major port city of Haifa. The Israeli cabinet decided to immediately step up their military campaign in order to drive Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon.

Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz stated that, “for those who live in the Hezbollah neighborhood in Beirut and feel protected – the situation has changed.” The crisis has showed no signs of abatement or de-escalation – it has been progressively exacerbating.

Amr Moussa, the current Secretary-General of the League of Arab States stated that the Middle East process is ‘dead.’ The situation is a complete catastrophe for the region.

The IDF has claimed that rockets fired in to Israel have been built by the Syrians and the Iranians (the recent missile fired on Haifa was allegedly a Syrian-produced model of a Iranian Fajr-3). If credible evidence ascertains such claims this would open a new chapter in the history of the region. Syria has been suspected in former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s death in 2005 and Iran has been unsuccessfully pressured by the international community to halt its uranium enrichment program.

If Syria and Iran are implicated, this would be a great opportunity for the US to intervene. Despite the shortcomings in Iraq, the US still has its eyes set on Iran and Syria. Both countries have caused trouble for Israel and they’ve maintained a hard-line attitude towards the West and Ahmadinejad of Iran has been notorious for using ranting rhetoric.

The situation in Lebanon has been disheartening and has cast a dark shadow over the future of security in the Middle East as well as any chance of establishing a Palestinian state. As the situation continues to exacerbate, more refined observations began to surface:

1. The rhetoric exchanged between Israel and Hezbollah has proven that a ceasefire can only take place if a mutual agreement is to be arranged (i.e. exchange the soldiers for prisoners)
2. Sectarianism has become more prominent among Lebanese political factions with a formidable size of the population supporting Hezbollah’s retaliatory attacks against Israel
3. As per Moussa’s statement during the recent Arab League meeting, any chances of peace in the Middle East have been curtailed and possibly rendered merely a fantasy
4. Arabs across the Middle East are frustrated of their respective government’s apathy and nonchalance towards Israeli aggression. Regardless of the peace treaties, Egyptian and Jordanian citizens (for example) express agony and anger towards the Israelis yet their governments cannot take hard-lined decisions towards the situation (vis-à-vis Iran which saw Ayatollah Khomeini praise Hezbollah’s resistance).
5. Pan-Arabism has failed in 1960s and the current situation has revealed its absolute fantasy – it will never work.

What should an Egyptian/Palestinian/Jordanian think of this situation? These are some of the sentiments:

1. Anger towards Israeli aggression
2. Anger towards Hezbollah’s hastiness and irresponsibility
3. Anger towards the destruction of Lebanon
4. Anger towards Arab reaction
5. Disappointment of Arab response
6. Anger towards historical negligence of the Palestinians by the Arabs
7. Anger towards viewing the Palestinians as a liability among certain Arab governments
8. Anger towards Islamic extremism, fanaticism and fascism
9. Approval of general European government opinion (i.e. France, Russia and EU) towards Israeli aggression
10. Disgust towards the US’ laissez-faire attitude with a disregard to Lebanon’s destruction
11. Approval of the G8’s stance on the situation

A ceasefire HAS to take in to effect to give both sides ample time to think and resort to the negotiating table. Prisoners must be returned from both sides and Israel needs to halt its aggressive and unilateral approach to the problem as it has so far achieved absolutely nothing.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lebanon In Turmoil Déjà vu?

Lebanon is currently under attack.

After Hezbollah abducted Ehud Goldvasser, 31, from Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, from the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin, Israel decided to take more serious measures – targeting Lebanon and the Lebanese government.

Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport was forced to close after Israeli fighter jets hit all three of its runways, leaving huge craters that rendered them completely unusable. All flights had been diverted (mostly to Cyprus) and all other scheduled flights have been grounded trapping swarms of tourists vacationing in Lebanon for the summer.

Hezbollah retaliated (although they deny their involvement) and fired rockets against the Israeli port city of Haifa which is only 30 km (18 miles) away from the Lebanese border suggesting that Hezbollah potentially possesses rockets which have a much further range than previously thought. Israel responded only an hour ago by hitting fuel tanks in the airport causing them to explode like fireballs. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is certain that the Haifa rockets came from Lebanon and from Hezbollah specifically and they place the blame on the escalation of violence on the guerillas who attacked inside Israel yesterday killing 8 soldiers and capturing Goldvasser and Regev. So far, 50 Lebanese civilians have died during the Israeli raids and most of them were citizens.

In the eyes of the Israelis, since Hezbollah has political leverage in the country and the Lebanese government, this implies that the government is to blame as well. However, Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi denounced the attacks and called for a cease-fire stating that the Lebanese government has nothing to do with Hezbollah’s attacks.

My previous two posts have in essence foreshadowed the current events and thus this is not surprising. However Israel’s retaliation on Beirut and on its airport is grief striking, moreover Israel have also blockaded Lebanese ports and have shelled other Lebanese towns. Israeli jets have also bombed Lebanese army air bases at Rayak and Baalbek TV transmitter in the Bekaa Valley.

The region is on the brink of full-fledged war.

Lebanese citizens are immediately reminded of the civil war in the 1980s and Israel’s occupation in 1982, they are stocking up on food supplies and heading to their other residences in the mountains – away from Beirut. Israel has been dropping Arabic leaflets in Beirut warning citizens to evacuate the southern suburbs of Beirut (essentially the areas concentrated with Hezbollah’s operations/bases).

The following are several observations made:

1) The situation could escalate very quickly despite efforts from Hezbollah to de-escalate. This could further incite Hamas to be involved from the Gazan side and create a ‘real’ two-front war.

2) Rhetoric of violence will continue to originate from Iran and Ahmadinejad. Iran, a Shiite Muslim state helped create Hezbollah under Ayatollah Khomenini. Such rhetroic will certainly incite further antagonism.

3) It will be much easier for Israel to place the blame on Syria and Iran for their military involvement with Lebanon and in planning the organized abduction of the two Israeli soldiers.

4) Israel has acted completely irrationally which the governments of France, Russia and members of the EU highly condemning the attacks and stating that the response was disproportionate.

5) Israeli soldiers have been killed/captured during clashes between Hezbollah, Hamas and the IDF in the past and yet Israeli retaliation has never been this severe.

6) The US might use current events as an excuse to further pressure Iran and Syria and possibly use coercion (military or economic sanctions) against both of them.

7) Israel has the Joker in its playing deck and is the only one capable of de-escalating and halting all the tit-for-tat. If they used the abduction of soldiers in Gaza and southern Lebanon as sparks to ignite the region then the controls are on one side of the playing field (i.e. if they eventually decided to light the cigarette, they should be the ones to extinguish it).

8) Hezbollah will not negotiate with Israel and will only agree to release the soldiers for a prisoner exchange.

9) Lebanese citizens are at the mercy of the Israelis and the stubbornness of Hezbollah. Syrian appointed President Emile Lahoud is a strong Hezbollah supporter and will not allow the Lebanese Army (who are weaker than Hezbollah) to stop the group’s activities.

Hezbollah has acted irresponsibly and Israel responded irrationally and in an erratic manner. The situation is extremely delicate and can reverse years of Lebanese rebuilding and any wounds which might have healed from the civil war.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Back to Tit-For-Tat and Quid Pro Quo: A Regional Intifada?

Just weeks after Palestinian militants captured Israeli Cpl Gilad Shalit on June 25, Hezbollah (a shia Lebanese resistance group considered a source of terrorism by the United States and Israel) captured two more Israeli soldiers. In the process three Israeli soldiers were killed in crossfire as well as two Lebanese civilians during Israel’s retaliation. (The fighting is ongoing at this time)

In my previous post, I asked whether the Palestinians were inciting a third intifada. One can argue that the second intifada had not ended per se. However there is no doubt that a regional intifida has officially commenced, yet remains in its nascent stages.

This has been Israel’s first incursion in to Lebanon since 2000. While the major offensive is taking place in Gaza, Israel continues to push in to Southern Lebanon at the same time facing a two front resistance. Hezbollah sought to capture the soldiers so that they could bargain their exchange for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Tantalizing with Israeli borders and their posts has been a strategy used by all anti-Israeli resistances including Hezbollah and Hamas (as well as the PLO during the 1970s and 1980s launching attacks from Jordan and Lebanon). Since the Palestinians and their supporters have a much larger damage-infliction threshold than their Israeli counterparts, they have managed to obtain hefty concessions in the past. For example, Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers in 2000 and in exchange for their dead bodies (since the soldiers died during Hezbollah’s mission), Israel released 430 Palestinians and Lebanese held in Israel jails – quite a bargain.

Israel is certainly making a statement with its recent incursions, it would do anything in its power (legal or illegal) to secure its borders and keep its population safe. The resistance (Hamas and Hezbollah) will continue to proceed with their missions regardless of international pressure as well as any retaliation from Israel – in fact the latter would probably incite the groups further (i.e. after the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004, Hamas gained even more momentum and power as opposed to losing its ground and becoming incapacitated). In essence, decapitation attacks against Palestinian militants and their supporters simply do not work – they backfire completely. Moreover, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has placed the blame on Beirut and the Lebanese government for Hezbollah’s actions since the group has political influence in the country. This has given Israel the right to proceed with its incursion since it is an invasion of its sovereignty by another nation-state (Lebanon).

Hezbollah is concerned primarily with the security of Southern Lebanon and secondly with the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation. Hamas is concerned with the latter. The dilemma Palestinians face in Gaza and the West Bank is where to draw the line between moving on with their already damaged lives and continuing to resist Israeli occupation and liberating Palestine. Hamas and to an extent Hezbollah have already solved such a dilemma for them regardless of their wishes – continue to fight Israel.

Olmert’s government should understand that using full fledged force in retaliation is futile on a wider perspective since Hamas and Hezbollah will simply come back stronger and more determined. Ideally, negotiations with Hamas would be ideal however last month’s capture of the Israeli soldier has exacerbated (or rather rendered improbable) that possibility since Hamas does not recognize Israel and sees that regaining back Palestine is impossible through negotiations.

Both organizations will continue to blackmail Israel and use tit-for-tat and quid pro quo strategies to free their people from Israeli jails. Israel is not battling a simply weaker military adversary, it is battling an ideology far more powerful than anybody can perceive – it should find another solution to its problem. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah stated that he does not intend to turn the region in to a full fledged war zone however if Israel desires so then that will take effect. Moreover, Israel has been using violent rhetoric which could very well blow the situation in to much larger proportions. Similar to the Gaza situation, a small incident could ignite the region (again a la WWI).

Thus decisions and actions from both should be very calculated and careful, if not the region as the Israelis stated ‘would be turned back 20 years.’

Friday, July 07, 2006

The New Intifada?

Palestinian-Israeli tensions have greatly exacerbated in recent weeks. After Palestinian militants captured Cpl Gilad Shalit on June 25, Israel launched its largest ground offensive in the Gaza strip.

Israel’s reaction reveals some interesting observations.

The US has used human rights abuses as excuses to intervene in conflicts around the world while at the same time satiating their ulterior self-interests. The US has done that exceptionally well in Iraq, claiming to remove a tyrannical regime while it accumulates petrodollars and oil supplies in the process. It appears that the US places a valuable premium on human life yet as argued in my previous post “Iraq: No Chance of Perpetual Peace?” a double standard surfaces once Abu Ghraib, Haditha and Guantanamo are mentioned.

A similar case goes for Israel. Israelis place a very high premium on human life (since the population of 6.2 million is only slowing growing at a 1.18% population growth rate with approximately 20% of the population being Arab and 16% being Muslim – these figures exclude Gaza and the West Bank – and thus the country cannot afford to lose its citizens) and would make headlines for a single soldier captured.

Or would they?

In the past, there have been Israeli prisoners of war held by Palestinians for longer and under worse conditions yet Israel has not reacted the same way. It seems that the capturing of Shalit was merely a symbol of action, a spark (a la Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in June 1914 which sparked WWI) and an excuse for Israel to drive back in to Gaza.

A major problem when discussing who’s to blame in this case rests on several factors:

1) Where does the story start? Should one go back and assess Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinian women and children as well as those held in captivity or is it merely that Palestinians are savages and that the world needs to sympathize with the captured Israeli soldier and place the blame on the Palestinian Authority? Should one take the ‘easier’ way out and merely blame Hamas since they do not want to recognize Israel and continue to encourage militant attacks? Or should one step back and think why Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and try to dig deeper in to the reasons?

2) Should one view the conflict in a quid pro quo manner? In other words, should an observer equate the Palestinian perpetrators to those of Israel and vice versa? How should standards be set?

Israel has certainly gained incredible media attention for the captivity of the soldier. Despite the fact that acts of terror against Palestinians gain media attention, they are not of the same intensity as their Israeli counterparts. This is in part due to the general bias of the Western media towards Israel as well as Israel’s much lower damage-infliction threshold (i.e. they won’t tolerate large losses of their citizens and large infliction of damage on their society).

On the other hand, Palestinians (with a 'nothing-to-lose-mentality') have a much larger damage-infliction threshold indicating that they will continue to fight Israel and lose thousands of their citizens (as martyrs) in order to establish a state and gain back the land which was rightfully theirs.

The escalating events could very well trigger a third intifada, Israel needs to be very careful of their responses and Hamas should take up the offer of a roundtable discussion. Until then, the situation will continue to exacerbate and any progression made will be rendered entirely futile.
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