Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict 2 Derek Hudson

As Derek’s paper was written before the outbreak of this August 2014 war, for our meeting he added these notes.

Some statistics The total population of Israel plus Palestine is around 12 million, split about 50 – 50 between Jews and Arabs. The Arabs have a higher birth rate and the Jews have a higher immigration rate. There is almost no “return” of exiled Palestinians to either Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem from abroad.

 Until the beginning of 2014, about 55% of both Jews and Palestinians were hoping for a two state solution. Sadly, positions have recently hardened considerably.

For every Jew killed in the recent conflicts between Israel and Palestine, a much large number of Palestinians have been killed. The “kill ratio” varies a great deal from one period to another, but over the last ten years it has averaged out at around 6.  Almost all the Israeli deaths have been soldiers, whereas on the Gazan side, a high proportion of the deaths have been women and children.

The number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons under ‘administrative detention’ is very large and keeps on growing. This includes Palestinians who were previously released under negotiated agreements between Israel and Palestine, and then re-arrested.

A further threat against Israel’s security is the recently discovered network of very large infiltration tunnels, from the north of Gaza towards nearby Israeli towns and villages. Some of these tunnels were big enough for a jeep to drive through. Their military objective was to enable Hamas to launch surprise attacks in the middle of the night so as to capture or kill as many Israelis as possible.

 The Gaza Strip    25 x 7 miles     size of Gaza;   1.6 mn     population of Gaza; Gaza is one of the world’s most densely populated areas;

3,000 poorly guided rockets, with lower explosive power, have been fired from Gaza in      Israel; recently, the rockets’ engines have become more powerful, with some landing close to Ben Gurion airport; about 25% of incoming Hamas rockets are destroyed in the air by the IDF; more than ¼ of Israel’s population are directly  affected by these rocket attacks, including many Israelis who regularly spend part of  each day sheltering in fortified underground shelters.

200  accurately guided rockets, with high explosive power per week have been fired from Israel into Gaza; the Israelis have used five ‘platforms’ from which to fire their rockets, namely fighter aircraft, drones, helicopters, tanks and offshore warships; the                        destruction caused inside Gaza has been immense.

7  Israelis have been killed by rockets launched by Hamas; +/-    70  Israelis have been have been killed in the present conflict, nearly all soldiers.  2,150 Gazans have been killed.

100,000 Gazans have been wounded, including patients in hospital.

17,000 housing units in Gaza have been destroyed; any aerial photo of Gaza City makes it look as if it has been blitzed. 100,000 Gazans have been left homeless.

134  countries, not including the UK and the USA, have recognised Palestine as an                                 independent state

a small  number of international organisations, including UNICEF, have accepted Palestine as a full member; the big prize for Palestine will be their eventual membership of the                International Court of Justice at the Hague. Palestine will then be able to charge                            Israel with genocide and other crimes against humanity.

The latest peace proposals    On 27th August 2014, Israel and Palestine agreed to an Egyptian-brokered plan to end the fighting.

Agreed points:

No more rockets to be fired by Hamas into Israel

Israel will halt all military action in Gaza and the West Bank

Israel will re-open some of the closed border crossings from Israel into Gaza

Egypt will re-open the closed border crossing at Rafah between Sinai, Egypt and Gaza

Israel will allow Gaza to slightly expand its tightly controlled fishing zone

Points remaining to be negotiated:

How many Palestinians will be released from Israeli prisons?

Hamas wants a proper sea port built in Gaza, plus a much larger permitted fishing area.

Not yet on the negotiating table:

Will Gaza’s wrecked airport ever be rebuilt, and will Gaza ever be allowed to use it as Gaza’s          own international airport, as originally intended?

Today’s conclusions:

Physically, the Israelis have won the war against Hamas in Gaza; But strategically, many people believe that the Palestinians have won the psychological battle.

The shaky coalition between Hamas and Fatah still exists, but Abbas is less popular.

Hamas has shown its contempt for the rule of law by declaring 11 Palestinians to be Israeli spies and executing them in public.

Hamas’ political popularity is continuing to grow throughout Palestine, while Fatah’s           prestige is dropping steadily; if Abbas ever wanted to enter Gaza, he would need a strong         bodyguard to prevent him from being assassinated by supporters of Hamas.

Netanyahu is within a whisker of losing a vote of No Confidence in the Israeli Knesset        because, to many Israelis, it looks as if Hamas has won the war and Israel has lost. The majority of Jewish Israelis believe that Netanyahu has been much too soft on Hamas.

Egypt has been forced to regard Hamas as the major Arab participant in the fighting; Egypt         has softened its previous strong dislike of Hamas.

Thinking out loud:  Where is it all going to end? How do you prevent children on both sides growing up to believe that all the right is on their side, and all the wrong is on the other side? And that one of their jobs in life is to hate the other side?

Derek Hudson  3rd September 2014

[1]     Source: Wikipedia