CMEP Bulletin: Worst Round of Violence In Four YearsWritten by Churches for Middle East Peace
November 19, 2012
Renewed violence causes civilian casualties
Yet another round of violence and human suffering is rapidly unfolding in the Palestinian territory of Gaza and Israel. Hamas and other armed militias in Gaza have been exchanging tit-for-tat rocket fire and airstrikes with the Israeli military for weeks, but this latest escalations marks the worst fighting since Operation Cast Lead in December 2009-January 2010.
The first thing many want to know is, “who started it?” As with many things in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is not an easy answer. The BBC’s Gaza correspondent gave his take on the question, saying “it is often difficult to pinpoint when a specific escalation in violence started - both sides will always remember what they see as a previous act of aggression by the other which enables them to justify their attacks as retaliation.”
Violence escalated quickly following the targeted assassination by the Israeli military on Wednesday, November 14 of Ahmed Jabari. Jabari had a complex history with the conflict and Palestinian resistance. He spent 13 years in Israeli prison for a 1982 attack against Israel. There he became affiliated with the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, which would eventually become Hamas. He led the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the organization and was a mastermind behind the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for more than five years In 2011, Jabari negotiated with Gershon Baskin, the Israeli initiator of the secret back channel that secured the soldier’s release. After the deal was made, Jabari personally escorted Shalit to the border to Egypt in a rare public appearance. His death drew a fierce response from Hamas leaders who fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel.
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